For the sun-starved golfer whose sticks have been stowed away for weeks if not months, there is no better quick winter escape than a buddy trip to Florida: Get away for a long weekend, play thirty-six holes a day when you want to, and unwind in casual acommodations at night. One of the many pleasures of a getaway like this is that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Although better known for luxury resorts, Florida has an abundance of outstanding yet affordable places to play. From Fernandina Beach outside Jacksonville to southwest Orlando and PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, here are five destinations to consider the next time you and your golf pals get that inevitable midwinter itch.
Don’t be dissuaded by Daytona Beach’s party reputation; avoiding the masses is easy, and there are enough exciting, affordable courses here to satisfy serious golfers. More adventurous groups, however, will have little problem finding out why college students flock here every March on spring break.
LPGA International, Legends 386-274-5742; lpgainternational.com; $50-$75. Don’t be fooled by the name—this lovely Arthur Hills-designed course will eat erratic players alive with holes that jump across wetlands and snake through lakes and densely wooded areas.
LPGA International, Champions The longer holes on this Rees Jones–designed course are wide open and framed by mounds, but the undulating greens demand well-aimed approach shots and water threatens on ten of the holes.
Victoria Hills Golf Club 386-738-6000; stjoegolf.com; $69–$109. Ron Garl’s lovely Victoria Hills, twenty-two miles southwest of Daytona Beach in DeLand, rises and falls through the property’s mature pines and oaks with unusual grace. Sexy green complexes and several excellent short par fours add luster to this design, host of numerous state and local tournaments.
The Shores Resort & Spa 386-767-7350; shoresresort.com; $139–$259/night. Located in the slightly less harried area of Daytona Beach Shores, this is a well-appointed hotel overlooking the Atlantic and within close range of the area’s nightlife and golf.
Ocean Deck Restaurant (Seafood); 386-253-5224. A spring-break institution, this oceanfront spot serves fresh seafood and has live reggae.
Stonewood Grill & Tavern (Steak); 386-671-1200. This is the original location of a popular chain known for its oak-grilled steaks and seafood.
Daytona International Speedway; 386-947-6800; daytonausa.com. Witness firsthand the incredible scale of what is arguably the world’s most famous racetrack by taking a tour or, better yet, catching a live event—NASCAR and motorcycle series races run through March.