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Florida's Hidden Golf Resorts

Beth Perkins Florida

Photo: Beth Perkins

25 Belleview Boulevard, Clearwater, Florida. Architects: Donald Ross, 1925; Chip Powell, 2001. Yardage: 6,614. Par: 71. Greens Fees: $45–$90. Rooms: from $99. Contact: 800-237-8947, belleviewbiltmore.com.

Howey-in-the-Hills

Mission Inn Resort & Club

This thirty-six-hole resort is only a forty-five-minute drive northwest of Orlando, but it feels much farther afield than that thanks to its location in a sleepy lake region of central Florida. Its Mission-inspired architecture of villas, courtyards and gardens will have you relaxed and thinking of a siesta the moment you arrive.

The original course, El Campeón, is believed to have opened in 1926 as the Floridian Country Club. It is still officially the design of a Scotsman named Charles Clarke, but recently discovered materials suggest the layout was the work of American George O’Neil a decade earlier. The resort dates to 1970, when a commodities broker from Chicago who had purchased the property after seeing it advertised in the Wall Street Journal, opened its first lodging, a sixty-four-room hotel. His family still owns Mission Inn today.

The two courses offer vastly different experiences. El Campeón is mostly an old-school layout of gentle tree-lined doglegs and small, steeply sloped greens. But six holes exhilaratingly play up and down an eighty-foot-high ridge. The second course, Las Colinas, was designed by NBC analyst and Champions Tour player Gary Koch in 1992. It’s a contemporary layout that rambles through uneven terrain. A minor reconfiguration this year by Ron Garl includes five new holes that play across a large dune. —Derek Duncan

10400 County Road 48, Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. Rooms: from $165. Contact: 800-874-9053, missioninnresort.com.

El Campeón Architect: Charles Clarke, 1926. Yardage: 7,003. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $75–$150. Las Colinas Architect: Gary Koch, 1992. Yardage: 7,217. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $75–$150.

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