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Practice makes perfect: Great golf courses with phenomenal practice complexes in Florida

Ed SchmidtBy Ed Schmidt,
Jim McLean Golf School at Doral
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Trump National Doral Miami and the Jim McLean Golf School combine world-class instruction with world-class vacation amenities. (Courtesy of Jim McLean Golf School)

Do you like to practice? If you're a two- or three-bucket golfer who can chip and putt till the sun goes down, there are several great places to hone your game in Florida.

Whether you're getting sharp for amateur tournaments, a run at the mini tours or you're a high-handicapper on a self-improvement kick, Florida has some of the best practice complexes in the world.

Better still, these practice facilities are situated at top-notch golf courses and resorts.

Orange County National in Winter Garden

Set on 911 acres near Walt Disney World, there are two 18-hole championship layouts at Orange County National. Panther Lake incorporates rolling terrain, 60-foot elevation changes, scenic wetlands and freshwater lakes. Its sister course, Crooked Cat, has a wide-open feel with spacious, terraced fairways, few trees and large, sloping greens.

Practice Facilities: One of the most comprehensive practice facilities anywhere, the complex encompasses a circular, 42-acre range, 22,000-square-foot putting green, chipping and pitching areas, golf academy and a nine-hole practice and learning course.

World Woods Golf Club in Brooksville

For Tom Fazio design fans, World Woods is nirvana. Pine Barrens is sculpted through an expansive pine forest with dramatic elevation changes and innovative bunkering. World Woods' Rolling Oaks Course has a distinctively different ambiance with massive oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and bleached white sand bunkers.

Practice Facilities: The centerpiece of the facility is a circular, 20-acre range with grass teeing stations. Designed for all sorts of shots, the arrangement has target greens, fairways and bunkers of both native and white sand. There is also an iron range, two-acre putting course and three practice holes -- a par 5, par 4 and par 3.

Grand Cypress Resort in Lake Buena Vista

Forty-five holes of Jack Nicklaus-designed golf are the draw at this popular resort near Walt Disney World. The menu features the 27-hole North/South/East configuration, which has terraced fairways and platform greens, and the New Course, a tribute to the Old Course in St. Andrews, replete with stone bridges and walls, a starter's hut, simple white fences and deep pot bunkers.

Practice Facilities: A favorite practice spot for professionals who live in south Orlando, this complex has a driving range with targets, three-hole practice and learning course, and the Grand Cypress Academy of Golf.

ChampionsGate in Orlando

For a links-style course with an Australian flair, Greg Norman's International Course features deep pot bunkers, dunes sprinkled with tall grasses and large, undulating greens. His National Course is a parkland experience with pine, oak and cypress groves and spring-fed lakes.

Practice Facilities: It includes a large driving range, putting green, short-game area and the David Leadbetter Golf Academy world headquarters.

PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens

Highlighted by the Champion Course -- home to the PGA Tour's Honda Classic -- PGA National offers five golf courses, which have all been updated in recent years. Other courses include the Palmer, Fazio, Squire and Estates.

Practice Facilities: In addition to an expansive putting green and driving range, the resort is home to the Dave Pelz Scoring Game Golf School and David Leadbetter Golf Academy.

Timacuan Golf Club in Lake Mary

Designed by Ron Garl with later design influences from Bobby Weed, Timacuan Golf Club, which annually hosts a U.S. Open qualifier, features a links-style front nine with rolling hills and lots of sand and a back nine with a Carolina Lowcountry feel.

Practice Facilities: Home to the Eagles Dream Golf Academy, the complex has a driving range, short game wedge range with numerous targets, junior summer camps and the Get Golf Ready Program, which offers five lessons for only $99.

Trump National Doral Miami

The Blue Monster, home to the WGC-Cadillac Championship, was recently enhanced by Donald Trump and golf course architect Gil Hanse. Other courses at Doral include the Red Tiger, the Silver Fox and the Golden Palm. Trump has pumped millions of dollars into improving the resort and all of the golf experiences.

Practice Facilities: The recently revamped practice area has nearly tripled in size and now features an LED lighting system that allows golfers to practice in the evening. The short game area has a sprawling, 8,500-square-foot green designed for chipping, pitching and bunker practice. On site, too, is the Jim McLean Golf School and Taylormade Performance Lab.

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Grand Cypress Academy of GolfOrange County National practice centerOrange County National - sand trapsWorld Woods Golf Club - practice facilitiesOrange County NationalChampionsGate Golf Club - Leadbetter AcademyPGA National ResortTimacuan GC - Eagles Dream Golf Academy

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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