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|Pete Dye's Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is among the top Florida golf destinations. (Chris Condon/Getty Images)|
Great golf course architects can enhance your play experience.
There are so many key design features of a golf course -- some obvious and others hidden or subtle -- that make the difference between an ordinary course and a truly memorable great layout.
Florida has always attracted the best golf course designers in the game. Name any highly respected course architect and most likely he has a layout in the Sunshine State.
Here are some notable designers, style features and some of their courses you can play:
The Dye style: island and peninsula greens, bulkheads on water hazards, exotic mounding, undulating greens, pot bunkers and varied tee settings.
The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach: world-renowned layout with a great selection of short, medium and long holes, and, of course, the ominous island green at No. 17.
Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach: a bit kinder and gentler than The Players Stadium but still a demanding test. It's the site of 2013 Web.com Tour Championship.
Ocean Links at OMNI Amelia Island Plantation in Fernandina Beach: five oceanfront holes, 10 holes with lagoons and marsh, narrow fairways and prevailing winds highlight this par-70 course.
The Fazio style: high-profile elaborate bunkering, no blind shots and hazards typically on the left sides of holes.
Camp Creek Golf Club in Panama City Beach: Large, white sand dunes, preserved wetland areas and large, rolling greens provide the quintessential northwest Florida golf setting.
Disney's Osprey Ridge in Orlando: an undulating layout with elevated greens and fairways rimmed by tall pine trees and large oaks.
World Woods Golf Club in Brooksville: A spectacular complex featuring two Fazio layouts -- Pine Barrens, which has a Pine Valley in New Jersey feel, and Rolling Oaks, with huge oak trees draped with Spanish moss and white sand bunkers.
The Nicklaus style: dogleg-right holes, dramatic settings, reachable par 5s, left to right par 3s and ultra-challenging finishing holes.
Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando: The Golden Bear offers 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature golf, which includes the 27-hole East/North/South configuration and the 18-hole New Course, a tribute to the Old Course in St. Andrews.
Nicklaus Course at Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach: Offering views of the Grand Lagoon and St. Andrews Bay, this course is a classic "high risk/great reward" layout.
The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach in Palm Coast: If you want to play near the ocean, this is the place to do it. Six holes directly border the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than any other golf course in Florida.
Hammock Creek Golf Club in Palm City: Designed by Nicklaus and his son Jack Nicklaus II, the course is a fun and playable gem with five sets of tees on every hole.
The Norman style: little or no rough, wide fairways, open fronts to greens and shaved collars.
ChampionsGate in Kissimmee: Reminiscent of courses in his homeland of Australia, ChampionsGate's International Course has grass-topped dunes; massive, undulating greens; and deep pot bunkers.
Trump National Doral's Great White Course in Miami: Water comes into play on 14 of 18 holes on this layout that uses crushed shells (coquina) as a unique design feature on every hole.
Shark's Tooth in Panama City Beach: A stunning course with white sand bunkers, amazing natural foliage and tall pines framed by a pristine coastal lake in an isolated setting.
Parkland Golf Club in Parkland: Beautiful water features, innovative bunkering and high maintenance standards are part of the overall appeal of this Greg Norman Signature Course.
The Palmer style incorporates natural features when possible, wide fairways, high risk-big reward holes and short par 5s, and driveable par 4s.
Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando: Arnie lives part of the year at Bay Hill, and his stamp is all over the property. The course, home to the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational, winds through a former orange grove near the Butler chain of freshwater lakes.
Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa: Saddlebrook Resort's Palmer Course (half of a 36-hole complex) has rolling fairways and a terrain dotted with several lakes, streams and ponds.
The Ross style features small, crowned greens with subtle undulations, limited water hazards, strategic and penal bunkering, innovative fairway shaping that rewards accurate shots.
Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables: Originally built in 1925 and later restored by Brian Silva, the course is known for its greens dominated by subtle dips and contours that make every putt interesting.
Lakes Wales Country Club in Lake Wales: This classic layout built in the 1920s is pure Ross with holes that are difficult to par and easy to bogey.
August 5, 2013
Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.
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