Still water next to the serpentine green lined with trees on one side.

Hole 5 of the Palmer Course at Saddlebrook Resort. Photo courtesy of Saddlebrook.

If you are thinking about picking up the sport, the Saddlebrook Golf Academy (5700 Saddlebrook Way, Wesley Chapel, 800/729-8383) at the Saddlebrook Resort teaches golfers of all skill levels. Classes combine classroom and practice time with course play on surfaces designed to test specific skills. All training packages include accommodations, 18 holes of golf a day, instruction, meals, and use of resort facilities. There are two 18-hole Arnold Palmer–designed championship courses.

About 25 miles south of Tampa, the Ben Sutton Golf School (1007 Cypress Village Rd., Ruskin, 800/225-6923) was the first American school devoted to golf instruction. There are two-, three-, four-, and six-day courses, plus three- and six-hour lessons.

Golfing in Tampa

Tampa has a couple dozen public and semiprivate courses for the visitor to try. Many of them are located in Tampa’s swankier northeast residential developments. Here are a handful of the area’s top public courses (par and yardage from the men’s tees, rates for the summer):

  • Babe Zaharias Golf Club 11412 Forest Hills Dr., 813/631-4374): 18 holes, 6,244 yards, par 70, course rating 68.9, slope 121, greens fee $15–42.
  • Heritage Isles Golf & Country Club (10630 Plantation Bay Dr., 813/907-7447): 18 holes, 6,236 yards, par 72, course rating 70.4, slope 133, greens fees $19–37.
  • Rocky Point Golf Course (4151 Dana Shores Dr., 813/673-4316): 18 holes, 6,444 yards, par 71, course rating 72, slope 122, greens fee $16–23.
  • Rogers Park Golf Course (7911 N. Willie Black Dr., 813/356-1670): 18 holes, 6,802 yards, par 71, course rating 72.2, slope 121, greens fee $15–42.
  • TPC Tampa Bay (5300 West Lutz Lake Fern Rd., Lutz, 813/949-0090): 18 holes, par 71, 6,610 yards, course rating 73.6, slope 135, greens fees $59–159.
  • University of South Florida Golf Course (“The Claw,” 13801 N. 46th St., 813/632-6893): 18 holes, 6,288 yards, par 71, course rating 72.1, slope 137, greens fee $20–30.
  • Westchase Golf Course (11602 Westchase Golf Dr., 813/854-2331): 18 holes, par 72, 6,233 yards, course rating 70.6, slope 127, greens fee $21–59.

Golfing in St. Petersburg

Mangrove Bay and Cypress Links (875 62nd Ave. NE , St. Petersburg, 727/893-7800, pro shop 6:30 a.m.–5 p.m., driving range 6:30 a.m.–7 p.m.) are two city-owned courses that sit right beside each other. Mangrove Bay is the better course, an 18-hole, 6,770-yard, par-72 facility that also includes a lighted practice range, pro shop, and lessons. Cypress Links is a nine-hole, par-three course. Hole lengths vary from 105 to 187 yards. It has its share of challenges, including lots of water.

Travel map of Tampa, Florida


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Tampa Bay & St. Petersburg.