ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida is one of the few states where you can golf year-round, and the Orlando area is home to some of the best public courses in the country.
Because of my lack of consistency -- I'm roughly a 15-handicap -- I never try to break the bank when I get the itch to play a round with my buddies. So, I've compiled a list of my five favorite public courses that are both affordable and fun to play.
1. Royal St. Cloud Golf Links
5310 Michigan Ave, St. Cloud, FL 34769
This 27-hole links-style course is quite possibly the best hidden gem in the central Florida area. There are three wonderfully designed nines -- the Scottish side, the British side and the Irish side -- that give you a glimpse of what it would be like to play St. Andrews, Carnoustie and the rest of legendary courses in the British Isles, minus the ocean, elevation, cool accents, etc. With greens fees hovering around $25 with a cart, this is a course that, in my opinion, provides you the best bang for your buck. But if you find yourself teeing it up on a windy day, don't expect to go low.
2. Winter Park Golf Course
761 Old England Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
WP 9 is where I play the majority of golf. Nestled in the heart of Winter Park near Park Avenue, this nine-hole walking course is fun to play for golfers of any talent. In 2016, the course, which originally opened in 1914, went through a major renovation that improved the course's track and greens, which are now three times larger. At $17 ($15 for Winter Park residents), WP9 is a great place to scratch that golf itch while also taking in the beautiful homes and scenery that surround it. Side note: Beers are only $2.
3. LPGA International
1000 Champions Dr, Daytona Beach, FL 32124
Since 1994, LPGA International has been the home track of the LPGA Tour and offers two 18-hole courses: Hills Course and Jones Course. Because it plays host to many professional tournaments, LPGA provides not only a tough layout but some of the nicest greens around. FYI: If you're spraying your driver off the tee, you will not score well (I know from experience). Many holes have water on one side of the fairway and thick brush and trees on the other. But if you're up for a challenge -- and a great clubhouse -- give LPGA a shot. Greens fees are generally around $30-$35 with a cart.
4. Dubsdread Golf Course
549 Par St, Orlando, FL 32804
Located in the College Park community near downtown Orlando, Dubsdread is one of the busiest courses in the central Florida area. Designed in 1924 and renovated in 2008, this classic course has plenty of history attached to it as the former site of the Orlando Golf Open, which hosted golf legends Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. Dubsdread isn't the longest course but its narrow fairways, abundance of bunkers and occasional water can make for a tricky round. It's also home to the popular and tasty Tap Room at Dubsdread restaurant. Weekend rates are usually pretty steep, sitting around $40, but if you're looking for a quality course and quality food, Dubsdread offers quite the combo.
5. Wekiva Golf Club
4100 Wekiva Club House Dr, Longwood FL 32779
Growing up near Lake Brantley, Wekiva is where I learned how to play golf -- albeit poorly. The course has a great practice area, and its front nine and back nine are quite diverse. The first hole, a 410-yard par 4, is a really cool layout because of the blind tee shot and downhill approach. It should be noted that the course is surrounded by homes on nearly every hole, so don't be surprised if your drive ends up in someone's yard, on top of their roof or through their pool screen. For only $25 to $35, cart included, this is a great course to work on your game or split a 12-pack with some buddies.