Polk County is a land of surprises, and perhaps one of its best kept secrets is its collection of golf courses.
Once a major playground for the rich and famous at the turn of the 20th century, Polk County features several historic golf courses built in the early 1900s, with vintage designs by some of the sport’s masters. These include:
- Mountain Lake, built in 1917
- Bartow Golf Course, built in 1921
- Lake Wales, built in 1925
- Cleveland Heights, built in 1925
- Highland Park, now known as Lekarica, built in 1927
The region’s many lakes, hilly terrain and breathtaking natural surroundings make it an ideal place for golf in any era. Recently built golf courses have made the golfing scene in the region an interesting mix of the old and the new.
There are over 80 golf courses in Polk County, both public and private. Many of these are found in scenic golf communities featuring some of the most desirable real estate in the region.
Here’s a look at some of the best golf courses in the county:
ChampionsGate Golf Resort
Located in the city of Davenport, ChampionsGate Golf Resort offers two Greg Norman signature design golf courses – the National Golf Course and the International Golf Course, both of which have received high ratings from Golf Digest, Golf Week and Zagat Golf Guide.
The 18-hole National Golf Course measures 7,128 yards from the blacks and has four sets of tees to suit golfers of different abilities. Incorporating the natural beauty of its surroundings, it winds through wetlands, woodlands, and old citrus groves.
The newly rejuvenated 18-hole International Golf Course measures 7,363 yards from the longest tee, and has a links-style design featuring wide greens and challenging sand dunes. Recent modifications include replacing the original Paspalum turf with more durable and firmer Bermuda grass, and the introduction of new pin positions.
The golf club includes the 4-diamond Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, as well as a spectacular clubhouse that features a golf shop, a sports lounge, a banquet facility and stunning views of the golf courses.
Southern Dunes Golf and Country Club
One of Central Florida’s top-rated golf courses, the Southern Dunes golf course has received many accolades from golf publications like Golf Digest, GolfWeek and Golf World.
Located in Haines City, the club boasts an 18-hole, links-style championship course designed by Steve Smyer, stretching more than 7,200 yards on a picturesque hillside. It features 5 sets of tees, large undulating greens, sizable bunkers, water hazards, and 100 feet of elevation change.
The 12,000-square-foot clubhouse features an updated golf shop, a restaurant and bar, and banquet facilities.
Grenelefe Golf & Tennis Resort
Also found in Haines City, Grenelefe Golf & Tennis Resort features two spectacular 18-hole championship courses that are playable and challenging at the same time.
The South Course was designed by Ron Garl and Andy Bean and was a host to the final stage of the PGA qualifying school. Measuring 6,869 yards from the longest tee, it features a winding terrain with plenty of scenic lakes, and large greens and landing areas.
The East Course was designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, and stretches 6,802 yards. It is characterized by tight fairways and small green traits that require precision rather than power.
Ridgewood Lakes Golf Club
Located in Davenport within the Del Webb Orlando community, Ridgewood Lakes Golf Club features an 18-hole championship course designed by Ted McAnlis. Measuring 7,031 from the blacks, the scenic course is both challenging and player-friendly, with features that include large greens and strategically placed bunkers and water hazards.
The club features a golf shop, golf lessons and clinics, and the Championship Grill – an inviting restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating.
Lake Ashton Golf Club
Situated within the Lake Ashton retirement community in the city of Lake Wales, Lake Ashton Golf Club features two 18-hole private golf courses– the West Course and the East Course.
The West Course measures 6,048 yards from the longest tees, with 5 sets of tees to accommodate various skill levels. The East Course measures 6,316 yards from the longest tees with 6 tee sets. Built around scenic Lake Ashton, these golf courses offer stunning views and wonderful landscaping for a challenging but relaxing golf experience.
The community also features a clubhouse that includes a bowling center, an exercise and fitness center, a grand ballroom, dining and lounge facilities, a spa, and many more.