Ultimate Value: Best season to play golf in Tampa-St. Petersburg

Florida golf escape on your mind? Your course ratings found us a sneaky-good month to find value on courses around Tampa Bay.
Saddlebrook Resort is one of the Tampa area's most popular 36-hole facilities.

Tampa-St. Petersburg is one of the deepest metro areas for golf in the country with more than 200 golf courses within 45 miles of the Tampa city center. The area attracts plenty of snowbirds from the north as well as year-round golf fanatics.

Set along the Gulf of Mexico, this balmy Florida metro is one of the best U.S. destinations to play winter golf. But that doesn't mean the experience each month can't drastically change. In the winter months, snowbirds and dwindling daylight makes tee times harder to come by. In the summertime, oppressive heat and tropical storm activity hampers play and impacts turf.

Compared to nearby Orlando, Tampa's market is less defined by pure resort golf facilities and moreso by 18- or 36-hole semi-private and public-access facilities.

So when is the best time to play golf in Tampa-St. Pete's, anyways?

Most of the golf courses around Tampa are dynamically priced based on demand, but an examination of nearby Streamsong Resort's seasonal green fees provides a glimpse into when demand is typically highest in the market. Their peak season green fees run mid-January through March. Surprisingly, April rates drop sharply, and then green fees bottom out for summer by Memorial Day weekend.

I write these Ultimate Value data dives because I'm a Shoulder Season superfan. I prefer lighter crowds and lower green fees and am typically willing to endure less-than-perfect weather for it. To find out if there are any months better than others to play golf around Tampa's public and semi-private courses, I took a sampling of over 7,000 Golf Advisor course ratings & reviews from our golfer community from the past six years from 20 popular courses in the Tampa area.

When writing a review at GolfPass, golfers can leave an Overall star rating as well as six subcategories. Value and Conditions are the two most prone to seasonal swings, so we're going to look at these three metrics.

The verdict on the best month for Tampa golf

Demand-wise, we can see that the most reviews were submitted during the popular February and March months, while review volume dwindled in the summer to a low in August. That's certainly no surprise. August on the gulf is for beaches and resort pools.

From a conditions and overall rating perspective, December is the best month to play golf around Tampa, but value marks have dropped a little bit as the tourists descend on Florida and operators adjust their rates accordingly.

The sneaky-good month for golf in Tampa? May's overall and value ratings are sky-high even as conditions have dropped from its early-winter peak as heavy play likely starts to show some wear on turf.

If you're hoping to save some money, don't go during peak spring break season in March when value is waning (accommodations are likely costly as well). If you favor solid course conditions, avoid September, as scores crater after a grueling summer. October ratings bounce back quite strongly as the heat breaks, so hold out your Tampa golf trip until then if you can.

Tampa vs. Orlando golf seasons

Each golf destination in Florida has many different dynamics in play that can alter their rates and overall experience. If you view my Orlando Ultimate Value article, you'll see that Orlando and Tampa's average scores by month are by no means mirror images despite the fact the two are within 90 minutes drive of one another. It's likely a result of a heavier resort influence and more significant demand-based pricing swings due in part to more high-end options. Every golf destination in Florida has a slightly different sweet spot for golf travelers.

Ultimate Itinerary: 5 days in Tampa

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Ultimate Itinerary: Tampa
FROM $207 (USD)
TAMPA BAY, FL | Enjoy 1 nights' accommodation at Saddlebrook Resort and 1 round of golf at Palmer or Saddlebrook courses with unlimited use of practice facilities.
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Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
Commented on

I have enjoyed all of these Ultimate Value articles. Great idea. Living in the Tampa area I can say that October, November, December are great months to play and rates are favorable. In January and February conditions are dry and the snowbirds slow down play a bit.

Commented on

Absolute waste of time trying to read one of these articles with all the pop up ads and not finding the link to continue. I give up.

Commented on

I completely agree!!

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Ultimate Value: Best season to play golf in Tampa-St. Petersburg