While folks up north are counting snow in feet and temperatures in single digits, there's no better time to play some golf in the "Sunshine State." Tampa offers dozens of courses to choose from. So whether you’re in town for business or pleasure, there's a golf course perfect for your budget, style and handicap.
Rocky Point and The Claw
Two courses on the budget end of the spectrum are Rocky Point Golf Course and The Claw at the University of South Florida. But don’t let the price fool you. These are both kept in very good shape and have everything you need for an enjoyable round of golf.
Watch out for the wind on Rocky Point Golf Course, located next to Tampa Bay — Photo courtesy of Eric Rodgers
Rocky Point isn’t a very long course, and it's wide open, which is nice when you don’t have a lot of golf balls. However, the lack of length doesn’t make this an easy course. The greens are on the small side, and it's always windy due to the location next to Tampa Bay.
The Claw, on the other hand, isn’t as forgiving. Home to the USF men’s and women’s golf teams, it's a much tighter course, with the tree-lined fairways making even the straightest ball hitter nervous.
Both courses have plenty of water for you to navigate around, as well as strategically placed sand traps. For the price, either course is well worth it.
The Eagles Golf Club is popular with local golfers, offering two challenging courses: The Forest and The Lakes.
The Forest course plays shorter than The Lakes, but water can come into play on several holes. The Lakes seems a little tighter, with well-placed trees and water to make this a challenge from any tee.
The Eagles is only a short drive from downtown Tampa, and this course falls in the mid-range cost category.
Easily the most challenging course in Tampa Bay, Innisbrook's Copperhead course even stumps the pros — Photo courtesy of Eric Rodgers
TPC Tampa Bay and Innisbrook
If you want to feel like a PGA tour pro, then the area’s two must-play courses are TPC Tampa Bay and Innisbrook Golf Resort’s Copperhead Course. You'll also have to spend like a pro, as these are two of the most expensive courses in the area.
TPC Tampa is widely considered the best public access golf course in the Tampa Bay area. It challenged the PGA Champion’s Tour for years and will challenge you as well. With the TPC name, you can expect a first-class facility.
The course is dotted with numerous bunkers; lots of water; and large, fast undulating greens that give you an idea of how the pros feel hitting long breaking putts. It’s always in great condition, no matter what time of year, and a tee time can usually be made on short notice.
Another premier golf experience can be found a short distance out of Tampa at the Innisbrook Golf Resort. Here, you can play the Copperhead Course, home to the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship. This course features surprising elevation changes and rolling terrain. There are also plenty of water, sand and trees to make course navigation difficult.
This course is always in great shape, and the staff will make sure you have a pro-like experience. But watch out for the "Snake Pit," three of the most difficult finishing holes in golf. If you want to play here, you should definitely plan ahead to make sure you can get a tee time while you’re in town.