Birds and golfers have a lot in common, they head south for the winter to get away from snow, sleet and ice. It’s common for the folks from the Midwest in states such as Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota take I-75 and end up on Florida’s West Coast in cities such as Tampa, Sarasota and Naples (Innisbrook and Saddlebrook). “Snow birds” from Boston, Connecticut and New York take I-95 and end up in Palm Beach or Miami (PGA National and Doral). Humans… we’re simple creatures.
2015 has been rather warm in the northern parts of the U.S. and Canada. In fact, Bear Creek Golf Club in Alberta opened for golf on 209 days this season, which is good, but that still leaves 156 days of missed birdie opportunities… For players coming from Traverse City, Champagne, Ames, Brooklyn or Boston, here are a few places to tee it up in the Sunshine State this winter.
Mission Inn Resort & Club, Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida
Located in Florida’s most hyphenated city, Howey-in-the-Hills is appropriately named – there is actually elevation here (by Florida standards). Just west of I-75 and about 45 minutes north of Orlando is Mission Inn Resort & Club. The family owned resort offers 36 holes of golf, four restaurants, Spa Marbella, bass fishing, tennis and even trap shooting.
Now through January 14, deluxe guest room, unlimited daily golf and shared carts, unlimited use of all practice facilities, breakfast buffet, club storage and cleaning for $233 per person, double occupancy, two-night minimum package, January 15 to April 2, 2016, package starts at $210 per person, visit missioninnresort.com.
PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Home of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, the legendary “Bear Trap,” nine options for eats and drinks, a full-service spa, a racquet club and nearby beaches, PGA National is a staple in the game of golf. PGA National Resort recently upgraded its 33,000-square-foot Sports & Racquet Club, which includes state-of-the-art exercise equipment, racquetball, three aerobics studios, five-lane saltwater lap pool, indoor cycling with video road mapping, indoor volleyball court, two lighted paddle ball courts and 18 Har Tru tennis courts… something for everyone.
PGA National Resort & Spa’s most popular golf offer, the Gold Golf package, features a daily round on one of the resort’s five layouts (surcharge for The Champion Course). Rates start at $269 per person, visit pgaresort.com.
Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, Palm Harbor, Florida
For those coming down I-75, Innisbrook near Tampa is home to the PGA Tour Valspar Championship and offers some of the best golf on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Tee it up on their four golf courses and play till you can’t see the ball. And if anyone in the family doesn’t play golf, there are plenty of other activities. Lay beside or soak in their six pools including their largest pool, the Loch Ness Monster Pool complete with waterslides. Innisbrook also offers tennis and courtesy transportation to nearby Honeymoon Island Beach.
Deluxe accommodations, one round of golf per golfer per night of stay, $10 per person retail credit in pro shop, unlimited use of practice facilities, club storage and locker room service and unlimited fitness center access, starting at $199 per person, per night, visit innisbrookgolfresort.com.
Saddlebrook Resort, Wesley Chapel, Florida
Stay in one of Saddlebrook’s 540 suites and play its 36 holes of golf designed by Arnie, “The King.” Its tennis program is one of the most heralded in the world, the resort offers 45 courts and all four Grand Slam surfaces. Guests enjoy watching some of the world’s best players during their training at Saddlebrook, players such as: Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Martina Hingis, James Blake, and currently, John Isner, Jack Sock and Bob and Mike Bryan. Saddlebrook offers exceptional restaurants and lounges, ranging from the prime steaks and famous table-side Caesar salad at Dempsey’s Steak House to the lively atmosphere at T.D.’s Sports Bar and The Poolside Cafe.
Available January 5 through April 9, 2016, Saddlebrook’s Golf Package includes one round of golf on arrival and departure day, additional rounds for cost of cart (subject to availability), daily breakfast, unlimited use of the practice facility, nightly club cleaning and storage, full resort access and additional perks, the packages starts at $260 per person, visit saddlebrook.com.
Some restrictions apply, see the respective resort’s website or call for more information.