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Best Spring Training Golf Courses, Bradenton, Florida’s Pittsburgh Pirates

Florida’s MLB’s Grapefruit League now boasts 15 teams playing in twelve different cities dispersed throughout the state from Interstate 4 South. The season runs from February 24 to March 31, and during this time we’ll profile the best public golf courses in the areas convenient to the stadiums.

First off, the Pittsburgh Pirates play at Lecom Park just south of downtown Bradenton and the Manatee River on 17th Avenue. It’s an ancient stadium built in 1923 and is the third oldest stadium currently used by MLB after Fenway and Wrigley. It’s a classic design as well, old Florida Spanish Mission white stucco exterior with covered bleachers-at least over the reserved seating.

There’s 60+ golf courses in the surrounding Bradenton/Sarasota area with a mix of private, municipals, or public daily fees. To save you time in finding the better courses to play, we list just eight of the best public golf courses you can play in the area which range from resort offerings to upscale semi-privates. Next year, we hope to be able to include the newly renovated Bobby Jones Municipal Golf Course where Richard Mandrell is tackling a presumably faithful restoration of a Donald Ross original design.

New courses we’re playing in 2023

Raindance National Golf Course is located just southeast of Fort Collins in Windsor off I-25 at Crossroads to the east sited with 180 degree views of the Front Range.

The layout, opened in 2022, is on a large, 300 acre tract of land with over 250 feet of elevation change from the top of the ridge to the Cache la Poudre River bottom. It’s routed along broad fescue fairway corridors bordered by arroyos generally devoid of trees but with with massive green complexes. It’s pricey when compared to most other public access tracks in the area and is part of a master planned community with a planned 2,500 homes. It’s possibly the second longest golf course in the world yardage-wise, but mitigated by the 5,000 feet above sea level. There’s six sets of tees from 4,919 yards to 8,463 yards off the Tour tees, the White tees are 6,273 yards, 68.6/126, course/slope ratings, designed by Fred Funk/Harrison Minchew, a former Arnold Palmer Golf Design architect. There’s also a 65,000 square foot putting green and short games area, the G.O.A.T. Ranch.

New golf courses for 2023 we’ll be visiting this year

Another Nebraska golf course, new in 2022 is garnering widespread and appropriate attention. Problem is, it’s located on the far northeastern corner of Nebraska, a good 6 hours from Mullen in the Sandhills. Landmand Golf Course is 20 miles southwest of Sioux City on the north side of Homer, NE surrounded by rolling farmland. It’s situated on 550-acre tract of silty soil in the Loess Hills 200 feet above Homer providing views over thousands of acres of farms and on to the Missouri River.

The layout is characterized by broad, 80 yard wide and undulating fairways through towering dunes. It boasts massive green complexes, and gigantic, blowout and pot bunkers while it traverses over 150 feet of elevation change. It features a Punchbowl green on steroids and a sand bunker named “The Milk Carton”-we’ll leave that to the imagination. There’s five sets of tees at Landmand from 5,420 yards to 7,200 yards, the middle tees play to 6,440 yards, 71.3/130, course/slope ratings, designed by Rob Collins and Tad King (Sweetens Cove, Inness), their first original 18 hole layout.

The best public golf courses in Saratoga Springs

The Saratoga race season starts this year on July 14 and runs for seven weeks ending September 5. Horse racing and golf go perfectly together in this Upstate region in the lower Adirondack foothills. Consequentially, finding the best public golf courses in Saratoga Springs is essential to making the most out of your visit.

First off, Saratoga National might be the feature golf attraction in the area. It’s on the north side of Lake Lonely and if you only have time for one game, this is it. Saratoga Spa Golf Course is a full 18 hole layout and a 9-hole executive course in the state park just south of town.

The Saratoga Lake Golf Course on the south side of Saratoga Lake is a challenging layout where every hole seemingly plays uphill!

McGregor Links was designed by Devereaux Emmet who apprenticed under C.B. Macdonald and designed over 150 courses in the early 1900s. It’s a more reasonable alternative to the higher end courses in the area and certainly a classic. Ballston Spa is another classic on the south side of town carved through the woods with Gordon Creek slicing through the middle.

Airways Meadows is between Saratoga Springs and Glen Falls. There’s a bit of entertainment when playing Airways as there’s a general aviation airport in the middle of the course. In addition to the occasional Cessna taking off or landing there’s also a skydiving center!

Finally, there’s the Fairways of Halfmoon located southeast of Saratoga Springs on the west side of the Hudson River. It’s a bit more recent design partially routed through a residential community along broad and narrow fairways over rolling topography.

As always, should we have missed one of those best golf courses you can play in the immediate area or we have one in the guide which doesn’t belong, please let us know here. Also, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve been selected as one of the Top 100 Best Golf Blogs and Websites to follow in 2022 and are honored to be included.

Fairways for Warriors and PTSD

Fairways for Warriors serves our nation’s combat veterans from all conflicts through golf. The organization uses golf outings, instruction, and therapy to assist combat vets in addressing post traumatic stress injury (PTSD) recovery. It also assists combat vets in the general assimilation back into civilian life.

Every single day 22 of our veterans of the armed services commit suicide. The US lost 58,000 lives during the Vietnam War, but over 60,000 lives through suicide since 2010.

What is PTSD. From

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.

Many in authority are today challenging the notion that PTSD is a disorder. Instead, they argue that it’s an injury suffered as a result of a tragic, unimaginable event. An injury definition elevates the condition to one that can be resolved vs. a disorder which may continue indefinitely. It seems clear that “injury” is a proper classification since there are promising new therapeutic strategies that are making great strides in curing this injury. Many of these same approaches Fairways for Warriors has been providing for its members for over 10 years.

As a society, most of us are far removed from war as well as those who have fought those wars and served our country. A Fairways for Warriors volunteer hosted a couple of 20 year combat vets at The Masters this year. As they toured the golf course he’d regale them with where many of the iconic shots over the years had taken place. Phil Mickelson’s shot from the pine straw on 13; Bubba Watson’s snap hook wedge around the trees to win in sudden death; Fred Couples ball hanging up on #12’s slope, etc.

As he pointed out these areas and described the shots and their implications, he was met by blank stares. Was this most significant of all golf tournaments of no meaning or consequence to these guys, were they bored with his storytelling, or were they just not up to or care enough about the history of the game??? Later, while pausing and reconsidering their responses, he came to this conclusion. While he was lounging comfortably in an easy chair sipping a glass of wine or beer enjoying watching golf tournaments, these gents have been in the Gates of Hell’s risking their lives for our country. What say you?

Fairways is a 501-3c charitable organization with an extremely light administrative cost below 10% and is recognized as Top Rated by Great Non Profits. The funds are utilized to hold instruction clinics, golf outings, and provide therapy to effectively deal with and resolve PTSD and assist in the general acclimation from military to civilian life.

How can you help? Fairways has chapters in Orlando, Jacksonville, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, San Antonio, and Phoenix, Tampa, and Tidewater. Generally, they hold several golf tournament/fund raising events per year in each chapter. There are numerous sponsorship opportunities from purchasing a tee box sign to becoming a major sponsor.

You can also put a threesome together and be paired with a combat vet which tends to be therapeutic for all involved. You can find their various chapters though their main website link or from their Facebook page. Also, if you’re a combat veteran, you can join the organization here and participate in the free clinics, golf, and therapy while enjoying the fellowship of other combat veterans.

There’s also many other fine organizations out there to assist with our veterans. K9s for Warriors provides service dogs for combat veterans. The Wounded Warrior Project has recovered nicely from their top-heavy administrative cost debacle to help all wounded combat vets and advocate on their behalf. The Gary Sinise Foundation provides programs and services to wounded service members and is one of the highest rated charities devoted to veterans. The Folds of Honor provides educational scholarships for military families. There’s are literally hundreds of organizations out there, here’s a list of those vetted by Charity Navigator.

Golf Trails, first off the South Carolina Golf Trail

Retirement Systems of Alabama initiated the concept of golf trails with the development of the Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Golf Trail, currently a collection of 26 golf courses and 468 holes spread across Alabama. As a result of their success, other states have followed, the Tennessee Golf Trail is composed of Jack Nicklaus designs in Tennessee state parks. The Florida Historic Golf Trail features golf courses across the state designed by golden age golf course architects. The Audubon Golf Trail profiles courses in Louisiana which seemingly fit into their unique, environmentally sensitive settings.

  • The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, one of South Carolina’s best golf courses you can play!

Our website features the best golf courses and resorts that you can play across the United States. By zooming in and out of our Google Maps feature, you can find the best golf courses to play in any given area. We thought we’d simplify this exercise for you and provide our unique golf trails across every state.

We’ve chosen South Carolina first since it has a variety of golf destinations as well as major cities. Here are the major markets with the best golf course and golf resorts that you can play. If your destination is outside one of the following area, please use our general South Carolina guide. As always, it you find we’ve missed one of your favorites or we have a course which is no longer considered the best in the area, please let us know here.

Columbia Greenville

Hilton Head Charleston and the Islands

Myrtle Beach Pawleys Island

It’s officially Spring if you’re planning your Masters Golf Tournament trip, here’s an option for traveling to the tournament from southern Georgia and Florida while avoiding the high costs of Augusta.

Georgia Southern University Golf Course
  • Statesboro is a city of 35,000 with a lively downtown area featuring  shops, restaurants, and lodging. It’s home to Georgia Southern University enrolling 26,000 students in the University System of Georgia. The University capitalized on an opportunity to acquire the shuttered Southern Links Golf Club in town in 2010. Southern Links was designed by Arthur Davis in the mid-1980s.

His influences and work history in golf course architecture include Robert Trent Jones, Sr, George Cobb, and WIlard Byrd, and ultimately created a partnership with Ron Kirby. Once the University acquired the course, they hired Robert Walker, a longtime Arnold Palmer Course Design architect for a course remake in 2013. So, all in all, a rather substantial pedigree of architectural influences on the Georgia Southern University Golf Course.

The layout meanders through a residential development with most of the holes bordered by homes. It’s a parkland style layout with pine trees lining the broad fairways with water in play on the majority of the holes. Maybe the most interesting stretch comes from 7-9 as it winds counterclockwise around a large lake. The course is also well bunkered with 35 contoured sand traps and pot bunkers along the fairways and greens of varying shapes and sizes. It can play as long as 6,850 yards, 73.2/134, course/slope ratings with four shorter tees down to 5,304 yards.

It’s Spring and time for #TheMasters-where to play golf on your road trip to Augusta just off I-95

The Pinecrest Country Club

Coming up on Spring now and #TheMasters is just a month away. Over the next month we’ll be profiling golf courses convenient to the major Interstates approaching Augusta from all directions for #TheMasters.

The first course in our series is the Pine Crest Country Club and Golf Course located midway between Richmond and Augusta just north of South of the Border in North Carolina on I-95. ultimate tourist trap.

There are rumors of a Donald Ross and Dick Wilson collaboration here, but it’s difficult to confirm their involvement. It does possess many of the characteristics of both architects as it follows along narrow, pine tree lined fairways over generally level terrain with a sparing use of sand bunkers mostly defending the modest, turtleback greens. The course plays to 6,578 yards, 71.3/128, course/slope ratings with two shorter tees, with rates under $40 for a round. Of course, you can always check out our guide here to the best public golf courses for other options to play in every state.

Closest public golf course to SoFi Stadium for the Super Bowl

SoFi Stadium in Englewood has a few nearby municipal and par 3 courses available, but if your in town for the Super Bowl and looking for quality golf, one must head south 20 miles to Rancho Palos Verdes in the hills atop the Palos Verdes Peninsula high above the Pacific and literally a world away from Englewood’s density and traffic.

  • There you will find a Billy Bell classic, Los Verdes Golf Course, providing some of the better views of the Pacific of any golf course in the state, and certainly the least expensive. It’s a parkland style layout with a slight change in elevation along fairways defined by trees above the cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes. From the tips it plays to 6,617 yards, 72.2/121, course/slope ratings with four shorter tees.

A little further south and out on the tip of the Peninsula is Terranea, a 9-hole, par-3 oceanfront layout and part of the Terranea Resort.

The course features views of the Pacific and Catalina Island from all the holes as it flows over a scenic setting once occupied by Marineland. There’s a good amount of elevation change with the greens well protected by sand bunkers. On the third tee you’re aiming at the Point Vicente Lighthouse, with the next hole overlooking Point Fermin, and the finishing holes along a bluff overlooking the Pacific. The course was designed by Todd Eckenrode and accommodates players of all levels with tees ranging from 50 to 180 yards with a total of 1,239 yards, par 27 from the tips. 

Alternatively, if money is no object, then head over to the Trump National Golf Club on a bench overlooking the Pacific. The course, formerly Pete Dye’s Ocean Trails Golf Club, is a faux links style layout with views of the Pacific from every hole and Catalina Island on a clear day. The broad, undulating fairways are bordered by a variety of conventional, pot, and long waste area sand bunkers filled with crushed marble in addition to multiple water features in play including a 45 foot waterfall on the way to the 17th green. From the tips it’s 7,242 yards, 75.0/146, course/slope ratings with three shorter tees, designed by Tom Fazio.

Shula’s Golf Club in northwest Miami is no longer….

It only took a couple of years since Don Shula’s passing to remove almost all references to his legacy in Miami Lakes. The former Shula’s Golf Club and Resort is now Miami Lakes Golf Club and Hotel. The former Shula’s Steak House is now ML Steaks & Sports. The former Shula’s Athletic Club is now the Miami Lakes Athletic Club. Shula originally became involved in these businesses when he joined the Dolphins in the 1970s by lending his name to the golf club/hotel. Both were originally builtin the early 1960s by the Graham Family, the original developers of the Miami Lakes Community. There are a few reminders of Shula’s presence remaining in the Miami Lakes area as he was among the inaugural class in the Miami Lakes Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 and a plaque in his honor hangs in the clubhouse at Miami Lakes Optimist Park.

The Miami Lakes Golf Club remains a well regarded layout in the Northwest Miami area. while the clubhouse and facilities are a bit dated, the golf course is generally well maintained and rates reasonable for the quality of the layout and the market.  

  • The layout is over level terrain with water hazards on most of the holes along the narrow oak, cypress, and magnolia tree lined fairways with a liberal use of sand traps along the landing zones and guarding the greens. There’s five sets of tees with the tips playing to 6,757 yards, 72.1/127, course/slope ratings, originally designed by Bill Watts in the early 1960s with a redesign by Kipp Schulties.

And, if you plans call for travel throughout the Sunshine State, please use our guide to find the best golf courses and resorts open to public play.