From Origins to West End: 10 great Florida golf courses for juniors and beginners

If you're a junior or just starting to play golf, teeing up at a long, arduous, 18-hole layout is intimidating and frustrating. These 7,000-yard behemoths are not exactly great places to score well and keep neophyte golfers coming back.

Shorter courses -- many that allow walking -- are more conducive to development and provide a more realistic setting to help boost confidence, not deplete it.

Here are 10 of the best golf courses in Florida for youngsters and beginners:

Origins Golf Club, WaterSound

Weaving through pristine, pine-dotted terrain, this exceptionally maintained Davis Love III layout was specifically designed for families. A six-hole regulation course that plays to approximately 1,800 yards, Origins can also be played as a 10-hole, par-3 course through the use of alternate tee boxes and auxiliary greens.

Designed by Tripp Davis and PGA Tour pro Tom Lehman, this revolutionary routing arrangement can be played as a six-hole, par-24 routing with one par 3, four par 4s and one par 5; a six-hole, par-18 course; an 18-hole, par-54 layout; and an 18-hole, par-72, 6,700-yard routing (six holes played three times). Maintenance standards are high at Trilogy, and it looks and feels like an upscale, regulation, 18-hole layout even though it's not.

Opened in 1968, Winter Pines is one of the busiest golf courses in central Florida, because it offers a great experience for all skill levels. An 18-hole course measuring 5,401 yards, it plays to par 67. The longest hole is the par-5 ninth, which requires an approach shot over water. "The Pines," as regulars call it, features several fun-to-play par 3s on the back nine that can either make or break your score.

Framing the north end of the New England-style town of Winter Park, three miles north of Orlando, this 2,470-yard, walking-only, nine-hole gem was established in 1914. Streets and houses surround the entire course, which has become somewhat of a cult classic with holes such as no. 4, a par 5 that doglegs around a cemetery, and no. 9, a par 4 set alongside Casa Feliz, an opulent historic Spanish farmhouse.

A nine-hole, 1,563-yard, par-29 short course, The Tooth has elevated tees, strategic bunkering and well maintained greens. With a lake that's in play on four of the holes, there's lots of challenge on this well designed course where you can walk or ride a cart.

Disney's Oak Trail, Lake Buena Vista

The quintessential family golf experience, Oak Trail is a nine-hole, par-36, walking-only course that measures 2,913 yards from the back tees and 1,713 yards from the junior tees. It's a picturesque and challenging layout that's certified by Audubon International as a Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary. Holes 5, 6, and 7 are routed around a canal and pond requiring lots of strategy.

Palm Beach Par 3, Palm Beach

Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway, this legendary par-3 course was originally designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee when it opened in 1961. Raymond Floyd later redesigned it. Dotted with palm trees and white-sand bunkers, this postcard-beautiful course is both visually appealing and challenging.

Holiday Golf Club Par 3 in Panama City Beach

Set on Back Beach Road just a few blocks from the beach, this nine-hole, par-27, par-3 layout incorporates water hazards and smallish, undulating greens to provide challenge. It's lighted for night play giving visitors a great entertainment option after a day at the beach. Better still, it's located next to a driving range as well as a regulation, 18-hole course.

Situated directly behind the hotel, this pitch-and-putt layout is lighted for night play. It's ideal for family outings and working on all phases of the short game.

West End in Gainesville

Opened in 1969 and designed by John O'Connor, this par-60, 3,940-yard, executive course features two sets of tees for different skill levels. The course is lighted, allowing for evening play.

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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From Origins to West End: 10 great Florida golf courses for juniors and beginners