Top 10 reasons for a golf trip to Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida doesn't have the weather and wealth of nearby Naples, the theme parks and resorts of Orlando or the glitzy appeal of Miami and famed South Beach.

But it's still one of Florida's biggest and best cities. Golfers will appreciate its 100-plus courses, and families flock to the region's beautiful beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.

Here are the top 10 reasons to play golf in greater Tampa Bay:

10: Vacation intangibles

Tampa has more culture (with its Spanish and Cuban influences) and less traffic than Orlando. The sun shines on average 361 days a year, and in summer, the breezes off the Gulf keep things cooler than central Florida.

9: Off course, on target

Weeklong golf trips work out best when there's a day off to try something other than golf. Water sports such as boating, sailing, diving and fishing are great on the Gulf. Families can try the Africa-themed Busch Gardens and Adventure Island, its 25-acre water park. The Florida Aquarium remains one of the 10 best places in the country to see sharks, sea horses and other creatures of the deep.

8: Athlete training grounds

The Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel north of Tampa and the IMG Academy in Bradenton south of the city both offer a classy training environment for golfers and tennis players. There are academies for learning and fine courts and courses for playing.

7. Day trip to Streamsong

The hot new destination of Streamsong Resort is just 55 miles southeast of Tampa. Golfers can play 36 holes on its two new Top 100 courses (Red and Blue) or even spend the night in luxury at its newly christened lodge.

6. Nightlife

Ybor City gives a Latin-inspired heartbeat to downtown Tampa. Set a night aside to frequent its bars and restaurants. The historic Columbia Restaurant, Florida's oldest restaurant dating to 1905 and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world, features Spanish dancers every night but Sundays.

5. Don't avoid the sand

Golfers who normally avoid the sand will want to check out the beach. The best are in nearby St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

4. TPC love

All the spoils of the TPC network -- top service and conditioning -- accompany a round at the TPC Tampa Bay in Lutz, Fla., a former Champions Tour host.

3. Sports galore

In my mind, there's no better day than a morning playing golf followed by an afternoon or night attending the big game. Tampa Bay's got the Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning, along with the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day and spring training for the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The Tampa Yankees, the team's Class-A affiliate, average approximately 1,500 fans per game each summer.

2. Top 100 bonanza

Two rounds at World Woods Golf Club in remote Brooksville might be the most affordable Top 100 experience in the country. Sandy waste areas add scenery and challenge to the Pine Barrens Course. Rolling Oaks looks a little bit like poor man's Augusta National.

1. Tee it up with the pros

The Copperhead Course, an annual host of the PGA Tour, stars at Innisbrook Resort, but there are three other courses and plenty of pools and restaurants as well.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

Related Links

If you play golf in the Tampa/St. Pete area, you're rewarded with amazing land diversity encompassing everything from abandoned rock quarries to pine-dotted, North Carolina-style terrain and quintessential palm and palmetto-studded terrain. For those who've never visited the area, however, it's sometimes befuddling to get around as you navigate long bridges over bays and state and county roads that lead to smaller towns with great golf courses.
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.
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.
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Top 10 reasons for a golf trip to Tampa, Florida