Florida

10 places you gotta see in the sunshine state

CelebrationWalt Disney World. We know what you’re thinking. And while we’re somewhat guilty of taking pleasure in riding the Peter Pan and Dumbo rides, the Walt Disney World mecca is also home to some outstanding golf. There are 99 holes there, with top-rated golf courses that include the Magnolia and Palm, two courses that regularly play host to the PGA Tour every year. Say what you will about the theme parks, Walt Disney World has some awesome golf courses to boot. www.disneyworld.com

Westin Innisbrook Resort. Like the golf at Disney World, the Westin Innisbrook Resort (just outside of Tampa) screams “Play me!” to the golf enthusiast. There are 72 holes of golf to choose from on a property that’s big enough to account for 900 acres of outstanding golf. The best course is the Copperhead course­—an awesome layout stretching 7,300 yards that plays host to the Chrysler Championships every fall. Better yet, accommodations and restaurants are plentiful at the resort, leaving very little reason to leave and go elsewhere. www.innisbrookgolfresort.com  

DoralGrand Cypress Resort. There are 45 holes (all designed by Jack Nicklaus) and four combinations to choose from, making Grand Cypress among the nicer upscale resorts in the Orlando area. Our favorite is the 18-hole New Course, designed by Nicklaus, who was intent on paying homage to the Old Course at St. Andrews. It has double greens, pot bunkers, stone bridges and stone walls, just like several of the courses across “the pond.” Some purists may scoff at the notion of such artificiality, even though the course is surprisingly fun to play. It’s also a good challenge, especially for golfers who opt to swing from the back tees. www.grandcypress.com

Doral Golf Resort. After (or before) checking out Little Havana, play Miami’s most recognizable course: the Blue Monster at Doral. Not only is this course storied, but it has been made over during a near yearlong closure at the resort. No doubt it’s better than ever, as are the remaining four courses to choose from. Accommodations are plentiful at Doral, and with five courses to choose from, it’s a safe bet you’re never going to play the same shot twice on any course. www.doralresort.com

World Woods (Pine Barrens Course). Tucked about an hour north of Tampa, World Woods seems light-years away from the buzz of the city. Tom Fazio took an excellent piece of land and made his own magic with 18 holes that cut through dense forest and over expansive waste areas, consistently providing a treat for the senses. Just a few holes into the round, and you’ll quickly see why Pine Barrens is considered one of the top 100 courses in the world. www.worldwoods.com

World Golf Village. For those who can’t get enough golf, the World Golf Village in St. Augustine is where to find it. It features two courses (King & Bear and The Squire), an IMAX theater, a Renaissance Resort and the anchoring World Golf Hall of Fame (as seen in the commercials with Gary Player). Visitors can walk over a replica Swilcon Bridge, walk through a Trophy Room and even play a famed course, such as St. Andrews, through a computer simulator. All this is just the beginning...www.wghof.com
 
Arnold Palmer Invitational. Don’t let the name change fool you. The Arnold Palmer Invitational (formerly the Bay Hill Invitational) is still the same tournament it has always been, thanks to the guidance of the King himself, Arnold Palmer. Dubbed as the best preview to see which stars are playing their best in time for the Masters, Tiger Woods has left an indelible mark on this event having won it four times in row, though not once since ’03. We don’t doubt he’s hungry for another streak. By the way, if you can’t make it to the tourney, stay at the Lodge and play both courses at Bay Hill for yourself.  www.bayhillinvitational.com

TPC At Sawgrass. The most famous course in Florida, the Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass is getting a new look and name for 2007. It will be dubbed the Players Course when the PGA Tour rolls into town next May, and the adjacent Valley Course will be known as Dye’s Valley. Much of the renovation work took place underground, with the exception of a few new bunkers and tee boxes on a few select holes. Nevertheless, the island-green 17th hole remains untouched and is still among the most visually daunting short par-3s ever conceived. To not try it once would be a huge mistake. www.tpc.com




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