There is plenty of golf to be discovered all over Florida, and if you look close enough, each destination has a very distinct flavor to it.
Florida has a handful of large metro areas and all are loaded with golf courses for residents, snowbirds and tourists. But some destinations have more resort courses, others a deeper roster of privates, while others are best for locals or value-seekers.
The clear difference between Tampa-St. Petersburg and its peer Sunshine State metros is the sheer amount of golf courses, and in particular public and semi-private courses. Within 45 miles of the city center our golf course directory calculates more than 200 facilities. Within 30 miles that number is still more than 130 choices. Its land and cost of living is also generally lower than the Atlantic side of South Florida.
With quantity comes steep competition for play, and it makes Tampa-St. Pete's the best value golf destination in Florida among the major metro areas. Orlando may have more resort courses and a little better median product, but in Tampa it's pretty easy to name your price for a tee time and find a public or semi-private course for you.
Here are some of the best value golf courses around Tampa.
North of Tampa is the sleepy little enclave of Brooksville, which has a big golf reputation. Semi-private Brooksville Country Club is an exciting Bobby Weed design that features a collection of holes that are routed through an old quarry. Green fees: $35-42
Amidst the wide array of courses throughout the area, you may be surprised there are some historic and even publicly accessible courses to play. Chief among the public, afforable offerings is Dunedin Golf Club, a semi-private club with a Donald Ross-designed course dating back to 1927. It was the home of the PGA of America from 1945-1962 and is a former host of the Senior Tour Championship. The club underwent an extensive renovation in 2006. Green fees: $40-57
About 15 minutes from Busch Gardens, Pebble Creek opened in 1967 and presents a charming layout full of mossy oak trees that give it a pleasant and low-key vibe. It plays just over 6,400 yards from the championship tees and features relatively new Champions Bermuda greens. Tee times can easily be found for less than $50 and kids play free in the summertime.
"Have played here many times and always return because of the upkeep and fairness of the course and the friendly and welcoming attitude of the staff." - shadow4366
Heritage Isles opened in 2000 and sports a layout just under 7,000 yards. It's current review rating of 4.3 is thanks to quick greens and attentive staff.
**GolfPass members, this is a GolfPass Perks partner and offers members complimentary green fee replay (space available), 2-for-1 range balls and 20% off in the golf shop.
Green fees: $40-48
Opened in 2002 and located in Sun City Center, The Club Renaissance features green fees $39-59 and a water-heavy, residential layout just over 6,700 yards.
"The course is great and fun to play. Was in very good shape. It’s not overly difficult, but there are some holes that will seriously test your game." - wtodd1
Tampa Sports Authority's three courses
The Tampa Sports Authority operates three affordable public golf courses around Tampa. The oldest is Rocky Point, which dates back to 1911. Rogers Park, a Ron Garl design from the 1970s, is the longest and most modern of the facilities, playing over 6,800 yards.
Reviews are currently the strongest for Babe Zaharias Golf Course, which is located in a residential community and plays a modest 6,000 yards. Green fees are dynamic at all three courses and range from $30-45 during peak season.
This is a historic Tom Bendelow design from the 1920s that is on the National Register of Historic Places. While recent reviews haven't been kind, the course is undergoing many improvements including new irrigation and turf that has the course poised for a better experience into 2021. This semi-private course offers guest rates for $55-60.
The Tampa area certainly has its courses paying homage to greats, whether it's Bobby Jones (facility closed until 2022 for renovations) or Babe Zaharias Golf Course. Throw Chi-Chi Rodriguez into the mix with his foundation's facility in Clearwater. This 18-hole layout is on the short side at just 5,400 yards and a par 69. Recent reviews point to conditioning improvements, especially on the greens, and a friendly vibe Chi-Chi would approve of. Green fees: $35-49.
"Chi Chi's is always in good shape and the staff is very friendly. They act like they are glad to see you," wrote reviewer peterbosco in their June, 2020 review. "Chi Chi is challenging and it is a great place to test your short game."
Another big reason worth making the drive north to Brooksville, World Woods is the most expensive club on this list with peak season green fees for 18 holes soaring past $100. But it's still a value because it holds its own with any of the resort courses nearby and also because it represents one of the best opportunities to play designs by Tom Fazio, an architect typically associated with lavish private communities or upscale resort courses.