Tampa's Saddlebrook Resort excels in tennis, golf and relaxation

If you love golf and tennis, Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa is your spot

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. -- If you love golf and tennis, Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa, Florida is your ticket. While the resort is probably better known for its tennis program, the golf certainly holds its own, and might even surprise you.

As a resort, Saddlebrook is complete with spa, restaurants, wonderful pools and more than 500 different accommodations and more than 95,000 square feet of meeting space. In fact, it's very similar to another nearby resort, Innisbrook, primarily because they were created by the same companies. Innisbrook, of course, is home to four golf courses, including the famed Copperhead Course, host of the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship.

The difference between the two, besides Saddlebrook exceling at tennis, is that Saddlebrook is more centralized and compact than Innisbrook. Once you check in at Saddlebrook, you valet your car, have a bell hop deliver your bags to your room or condo, then you can simply walk to the golf and tennis clubhouses, restaurants, bars or spa. It's all in one place.

We're golfers first, of course

There are actually two golf courses at Saddlebrook Resort, and they're better than you might think. In a way, though, that shouldn't come as a surprise. Saddlebrook is home to an excellent prep school that prepares not only some of the best tennis players in the world, but the best golfers as well. And that wouldn't happen if the resort and community of Saddlebrook didn't offer good challenging golf courses and practice facilities.

Along with the prep school, it's only natural that Saddlebrook would have one of the finest golf academies in the region, the Saddlebrook Golf Training Center and Range. Led by Andrew Dawes, the center offers a large practice facility with both a short-game area and full range as well as indoor bays with all the latest technology, including TrackMan, SamBalanceLab, and SamPuttLab.

As for the courses, they're very different from each other.

Both have Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay's names on them, but the original Saddlebrook Course came first in 1976 as a Dean Refram design and is the signature golf look at the resort with its magnificent cypress trees lining fairways and wetlands. There are plenty of doglegs and choices to make off the tee, which means it's certainly a shot maker's course and good training for the kids in the golf program.

The same could be said for the Palmer Course, but it doesn't have the cypress trees (there are plenty of pines and water). It's only 6,200 yards, but it's no pushover since not every par 4 or 5 is a driver hole. Again, you have to manage your game.

Video: Golfing World goes behind the scenes at Saddlebrook

Beyond golf, there's tennis, dining and spa

If you play tennis, too, you can do that in either the morning or the afternoon on the resort's 45 courts on four different surfaces, including grass, and still get in a round of golf. (John Isner trains there before Wimbledon.)

Also, like golf, you can get the premium instruction in tennis or take part in one of the program's many drills. You can also book a spot in one of the resort's tennis camps, which combines drills with personal instruction.

Or you could spend the week at Saddlebrook improving both your tennis and golf game. Yes, Saddlebrook can put together custom packages that would cover both. Just contact the golf or tennis shop.

After tennis and/or golf, you can dine at several different restaurants, including Dempsey's Steak House, TD's Sports Bar or the casual Poolside Café and Pool Bar. Among the can't-miss items are the carrot cake and Key lime pie, both made from scratch at the resort's own bakery and possibly among the best in Florida.

And finally, after all that golf and tennis, you might want to check out the 7,000-square-foot European-style Saddlebrook Spa. Treatments feature a full menu of spa and salon services as well as whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, and a courtyard terrace for lounging, sunbathing and dining. Massage techniques range from sports recovery to reflexology and hot stone treatments.

There are a number of golf packages at Saddlebrook. The Preferred Golfers Package starts at $173 and features daily golf, unlimited use of the practice facility, deluxe accommodations, breakfast and more. You can browse more stay-and-play offers here.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
Commented on

Nice article Mike, heard a lot of good things about Saddlebrook. Will definitely be on my list next time I'm in Tampa

Related Links

After checking out the newest addition at Streamsong Resort, Gil Hanse's Black Course, senior writer Mike Bailey pays a visit to Saddlebrook, Grand Cypress and Shingle Creek.
5 Min Read
Tampa has an impressive line-up of stay-and-play options with golf courses sporting designer labels such as Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio and Tom Lehman. Veteran Florida golf writer Ed Schmidt offers up some of his favorites.
4 Min Read
No matter the level of your golf game, you'll enjoy testing your skills on the excellent lineup of golf courses in the Tampa, Fla. area that serve as sites for professional tournaments, U.S. Open qualifiers and collegiate matches. Ed Schmidt looks at Tampa's finest, which are superb designs with multiple tee placements and consistent maintenance standards.
3 Min Read
More from the author
6 Min Read
May 28, 2019
PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Golf is being redefined at Palmilla Beach Resort and Golf Community on the Texas coast.
9 Min Read
May 24, 2019
University programs, both large and small, continue to invest in their golf facilities
5 Min Read
May 21, 2019
New owner Escalante Golf has made considerable investment since 2017.
8 Min Read
May 20, 2019
Not all Texas country clubs have had the steadfast history of Fort Worth's Colonial. But while some of these sites have been lost, others are now public and affordable.
5 Min Read
May 3, 2019
Debate rages on whether a golf course property be based on current or highest use
7 Min Read
April 25, 2019
How four facilities got their stride back, and what struggling courses can learn from it
6 Min Read
August 9, 2022
GolfNow Compete, developed with input from Rory McIlroy, offers GPS yardages, hole maps, multiple games to play and a place to fire up your friendly, competitive juices.
5 Min Read
July 25, 2022
Dundonald's new luxury accommodations and clubhouse complement a Kyle Phillips-designed links that has hosted men's and women's Scottish Opens.
5 Min Read
August 1, 2022
Tips to enjoying special golf trips to Scotland, Ireland and Pinehurst highlight this month's Secrets column.
7 Min Read
August 10, 2022
Now 30-years mature, the statewide system of affordable golf courses offers adventure that doesn't have to break the budget.
Load More
Now Reading
If you love golf and tennis, Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa is your spot