Published: August 2009
By M. Brandon Wall
Eight great escapes to famous Sunshine State resorts
Amelia Island Plantation
The Deal: All-inclusive: lodging in a hotel room with a view of the ocean; unlimited golf with cart on the Oak Marsh, Ocean Links and Royal Amelia courses; use of the fitness center and tennis courts; nature tours; full meal plan
The Golf: Five holes on Ocean Links, a Pete Dye collaboration with Bobby Weed, abut the Atlantic. The ocean isn’t a factor on Dye’s classic Oak Marsh, but salt marshes and lagoons are—on all but three holes. Royal Amelia is a more open layout with large greens.
Price: From $470 for two per night, available through March 1; two-night minimum stay
Contact: aipfl.com; 888-261-6161
Bay Hill Club & Lodge
The Deal: King for a Day: room with a patio; one round with cart on Bay Hill, designed in 1961 by Dick Wilson and updated by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay; a lesson at the golf academy and a massage, each one hour long; buffet breakfast
The Golf: The famously well-conditioned Bay Hill is the King’s winter home—he can often be found there this time of year—and the annual host of the Tour invitational that bears his name. Water comes into play on nine holes, including the final three.
Price: From $907 for two per night, available through September 30
Contact: bayhill.com; 888-422-9445
Doral Golf Resort & Spa
The Deal: Blue Monster: three nights in a garden-view room; one round on the legendary Blue, one on the Great White, and one (plus replay rounds) on either the Red, Gold or Silver; use of the driving range; full breakfast daily
The Golf: Designed by Dick Wilson and restored by Raymond Floyd, the Blue Monster underwent a four-month renovation before playing host to a World Golf Championship event in March. In 2005, Greg Norman redid his Great White, boosting playability.
Price: From $279 per person per night until December 19; from $369 through April 28
Contact: doralresort.com; 800-713-6725
Grand Cypress Resort
The Deal: Four for Three: four nights in a suite for the price of three; one round per day with cart on either the twenty-seven-hole East/South/North course or the eighteen-hole New course; reduced fees for same-day rounds; rental clubs
The Golf: Jack Nicklaus designed each of the forty-five holes at Grand Cypress, and he went back this year to revamp several greens and tee boxes on the South nine. The New course is Nicklaus’s fun homage to the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Price: From $210 per person per night, available through December 23
Contact: grandcypress.com; 877-330-7372
Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club
The Deal: Preferred Golf: one night in a privately owned condo; one round per day with cart on Copperhead, Island, Highlands North or Highlands South; bonus round on day of arrival or departure; hour-long lesson; daily breakfast
The Golf: Paul Azinger has said Copperhead is the finest layout on Tour, but the lesser-known Island course reopened in mid-October after a multimillion-dollar renovation (it’s been stretched to 7,310 yards), and some say it’s now the best eighteen at the resort.
Price: From $199 per person per night, available through January 16
Contact: innisbrookgolfresort.com; 800-456-2000
Palm Beach Gardens
The Deal:Platinum Golf: one night in a room with a private balcony or terrace; two rounds per day at either the General, designed by Arnold Palmer, the Estate, by Karl Litten, or the Squire or the Haig, both by Tom Fazio; full daily breakfast
The Golf: Each course has its own personality: The General is links-style and watery; the Estate is more secluded; the Squire is short and exacting; and the Haig is forgiving. Pony up an extra hundred bucks and play the Champion, host of the Tour’s Honda Classic.
Price: From $300 per person per night through January 12; from $440 through April 6
Contact: pgaresort.com; 800-633-9150
Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
The Deal: Luxury Golf: one-night stay in a room with a private balcony; one round per person on either the Black or Gold course at Tiburón, designed by Greg Norman and host of the PGA Tour’s Merrill Lynch Shootout; breakfast for two
The Golf: The two courses at Tiburón (Spanish for "shark") feature coquina-shell waste areas, plenty of water and some wide-open fairways. What they lack is traditional rough that can bury your ball—or catch it from rolling into an undesired nook.
Price: From $489 for two per night, available through April 30
Contact: ritzcarlton.com; 239-593-2000
Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa
Ponte Vedra Beach
The Deal: Dye’s Duo: two nights in a recently renovated room; one round with forecaddie on the Stadium course, Pete Dye’s magnum opus and home of the Players Championship, and one on Dye’s Valley course; a one-hour lesson
The Golf: The Stadium course’s greens, tees and fairways were renovated in 2006 to firm up the terrain, and the Tour pumped $30 million into a new clubhouse. Dye’s Valley, also recently upgraded, may not have its older sibling’s renown, but it’s long on drama.
Price: From $595 per person, available through December 20
Contact: sawgrassmarriott.com; 800-457-4653