Central Florida, the hidden gem of Florida Golf

Golfers who live in Central Florida already know, and more visitors are beginning to learn, some truly fantastic golf opportunities abound throughout Central Florida’s Polk County. With more than 40 public access courses offering 612 holes of golf, Central Florida’s Polk County boasts one of the top collections of golf courses in the United States. Golf groups traveling to the area will find a wide range of course options and unforgettable off-course activities that will make your Central Florida trip one to remember.  

Unique Course Offerings

With so many course offerings it is very difficult to pick our favorites, but when it comes to distinctive course design, one has to begin the conversation with Streamsong Resort. Streamsong Resort’s Red Course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the Blue Course designed by Tom Doak and the Black Course designed by Gil Hanse, utilize the natural contours, sand dunes and native grasses to offer a golf experience that is reminiscent of the links-style courses of the British Isles. Built upon reclaimed phosphate mining land, Streamsong’s courses are atypical of most Florida golf courses. 

Southern Dunes Golf & Country Club stretches out to more than 7,200 yards from the championship tees and this demanding layout features high ornamental grasses and decorative plantings, paired with 180 distinctively colored bunkers that provide spectacular visual appeal throughout your round of golf. 

The Club at Eaglebrooke provides a challenging, but fair test of golf for players of all ability levels. Oak trees, numerous lakes and strategically placed mounding define the lush rolling fairways, and visually frame each hole as from the tee. 

Brews, Blues and Barbeque

Once the golf clubs have been put away, and the side bets settled, your group can then explore some of the great local dining and entertainment offerings that are available throughout Central Florida’s Polk County.

With more than 550 lakes dotting Polk County, locals and visitors alike all have their favorite lakeside dining spot. In Winter Haven, with full length windows and a lakeside patio, Harborside Restaurant is a modern American steakhouse, seafood and oyster bar featuring the finest cuts of dry aged meat and daily delivered fresh fish. Also in Winter Haven, with its neighborhood restaurant feel and its location on the shores of Lake Ned, no place epitomizes casual lakefront dining more than Harry’s Old Place. Situated on the shores of scenic Lake Pierce.

Lakeland’s Lake Mirror is best known for its large events and being a perfect place to catch a spectacular sunset over downtown Lakeland, the lake also serves as the backdrop for Texas Cattle Company, the place for those that have a craving for a nice juicy steak cooked over a specially built open-pit mesquite wood fire.

A trip to Florida wouldn’t be complete without fresh seafood. Gary’s Oyster Bar & Seafood House in Lake Alfred is known for its eclectic décor, friendly service and fresh seafood. Crazy Fish Bar and Grill is well worth the drive to Lake Wales. For a little taste of Louisiana, Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille in Lakeland, serves up some good ‘ole down home Cajun favorites. 

Mojo Federal Swine and Spirits has transformed Lakeland’s Federal Building into the newest culinary and entertainment experience. Mojo Federal is a premier barbecue, southern food, and craft cocktail destination. 

In Central Florida, Lakeland has served as the leader in the brewpub movement. Brew Hub is a partner brewing enterprise that brings together a number of smaller craft brewers to brew their beer. The Brew Hub Tasting Room serves locally sourced, naturally raised, made to order food options that are great for pairing with their beers. Swan Brewing offers lakefront views and microbrews just a few blocks from downtown. Kick back in the taproom or relax on the patio as you sip on a selection of more than 20 seasonal and small-batch beers. Brimming with authenticity and local love, Winter Haven’s Grove Roots Brewing Company looks to create inventive, artisanal beers. With names like “Rind & Shine” and “6am Pickers” scrawled onto the chalkboard tap list, there’s no question Grove Roots is serious about bringing Polk County’s citrus heritage to life. While they don’t serve food, Grove Roots has a rotating roster of food trucks available for those wishing to eat. On Friday and Saturday nights, live music is offered at the venue.

After a long day on the course, and after a delicious meal, the way to cap off the evening is with a trip to the Lakeland Loft Cigar Bar and Jazz Club, an ultra-premium upscale Jazz and cigar lounge, located in historic downtown Lakeland. The Lakeland Loft offers a unique musical experience featuring talented local musicians, with live Jazz performances every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. 

Take in a Game

No matter what time of year you visit Central Florida, your group can catch some professional sports action. Lakeland has been the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers for more than 80 years. From late February through the month of March, you can catch the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium as they face other Grapefruit League teams such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and the Baltimore Orioles. In fact, there are five other MLB teams within an hour’s drive of Lakeland, making it the perfect “home base” for an extended golf and Spring Training tour.

If you prefer the hardcourt to the baseball diamond, Lakeland’s RP Funding Center is home from November to March to the Lakeland Magic, Orlando Magic’s G league affiliate. The Center also plays host to the Major Arena Soccer League’s Florida Tropics from December through April. Each May through July, the Tropics take to the outdoor soccer pitch as they compete in the United Soccer League, one of the MSL’s professional soccer development leagues.

Choose Everything

Central Florida’s Polk County is one of the most beautiful and affordable golf destinations in Florida. While not as widely known as its more commercial neighbors, Orlando and Tampa, Polk County is a “hidden gem” that offers hundreds of unique attractions, both natural and man-made, that will provide your golf group with plenty of off-course thrills for the young and old alike. For more details or information on all of our local restaurants and craft breweries, our nightlife and entertainment offerings and exciting area attractions, log on to VisitCentralFlorida.org to begin planning your group’s Central Florida golf experience.