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Florida's Hidden Gems

Among a certain species of migratory golfer, the map of Florida is divided up not so much by major city as by legendary golf resort. In the northeast corner of the state, near Jacksonville, there's Sawgrass; in the hub of Orlando lies Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill; and down in Miami stands Doral. But along the byways in between, hundreds of lesser-known courses beckon with charms of their own. From the Panhandle to Palm Beach, here's a rundown of some of the best.

Abacoa Golf Club, Jupiter
Just fifteen miles north of West Palm Beach, not far from the sacred ground of Seminole, this Joe Lee design features some notable elevation changes (by Florida standards, at least), shifting winds and terrific greens.
Yardage: 7,200. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $55–$95. Tee Times: 561-622-0036, abacoagolfclub.com.

The Club at Hidden Creek, Navarre
A tree-lined layout of gently rolling terrain twenty minutes east of Pensacola, Hidden Creek is challenging enough to serve as a U.S. Open qualifying site. It was designed by the prolific Florida architect Ron Garl.
Yardage: 6,844. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $29–$39. Tee Times: 850-939-4604, hiddengolf.com.

Crandon Park Golf Course, Key Biscayne
Until the tournament sponsor pulled out this year, this Robert Von Hagge/Bruce Devlin design had hosted a Champions Tour event for years. Known for its steep greens and swirling winds, Crandon Park opened in 1972 and remains the only course on Key Biscayne, the barrier island off the coast of Miami. The course is owned and operated by Dade County.
Yardage: 6,842. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $59–$149. Tee Times: 305-361-9120, miamidade.gov/parks/golf.asp.

Dunes Golfers Club, Brooksville
This is a tucked-away Arthur Hills course an hour north of Tampa, near Tom Fazio's renowned World Woods complex. During the Second World War, the site was used as an Air Force target range. When Hills arrived, he found the property pockmarked with sandy craters, many of which evolved into bunkers on the golf course.
Yardage: 7,140. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $40–$45. Tee Times: 352-596-7888, dunesgolfclub.com.

El Diablo Golf and Country Club, Citrus Springs
Woven through the lovely and isolated hardwood forests ninety miles northwest of Orlando, El Diablo resembles the Garden of Eden far more than it does any underworld. The only thing diabolical about this graceful Jim Fazio course, opened in 1998, is the pot bunker on the par-three fifteenth, Florida's version of Pine Valley's "Devil's You-Know-What."
Yardage: 7,145. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $33–$43. Tee Times: 888-886-1309, eldiablogolf.com.

Fernandina Beach Golf Club, Fernandina Beach
Located on Amelia Island, forty minutes north of Jacksonville, this municipal course is a fine example of mid-twentieth-century minimalism: simple tee boxes, small greens and deep bunkers set in an enchanted maritime forest. Two former club pros designed the three nines here between 1956 and 1972. The layout is, by turns, quirky, monstrous and strategic.
Yardage: 3,940 (North); 3,683 (West); 3,318 (South). Par: 35 (North); 37 (West); 36 (South). Greens Fees: $39–$45. Tee Times: 800-646-5997.


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