For every great course that made GOLF’s 2020-21 ranking of the Top 100 Courses in the U.S., dozens of more must-plays were left on the outside looking in — including at least a handful in your home state. Some of these designs just missed out on a Top 100 nomination, others finished deeper down the ranking, but all are worthy of your time. To shed light on the best courses in every state, we broke out the full results of our Top 100 Courses polling into state-by-state lists. Here’s a closer look at Florida.
Florida golf by the numbers:
Number of courses and U.S. rank: 1,281 (1)*
Number of golfers per capita rank: 21*
Average public-course greens fees: $$ out of $$$*
Average daily temp and rank: 70.7 (1)
Annual precipitation and rank: 54.5 in. (5)
*Source: National Golf Foundation
Gear up for your next round in Florida
Best Florida golf courses (2020/2021)
1. Seminole (Juno Beach) [1, 2]
What a good thing the club did by hosting a televised event to raise money to fight Covid in May 2020. Few golfers get to experience this posh coastal retreat and they were rewarded with first-time views of what is arguably the finest site on which Donald Ross ever worked. The course plays along and between two main dune lines, and Ross made the most of the opportunity with holes continually tacking in different directions. The club prides itself on its firm playing surfaces and when the coastal breezes kick in, watch out. Some grouse that the course’s reputation is built on the club’s exclusivity, which is unfair given that standout holes abound, including the 4th, 6th, 13th and one of the great trio of finishing holes in the sport. So impressed was Ben Hogan with Seminole’s virtues that he would play and practice here for 30 straight days each year leading up to the Masters.
2. TPC Sawgrass – Stadium (Ponte Vedra Beach) [1, 2, P]
Some sniff at the artificiality of a course being hewn from a swamp, yet that’s also what makes the Stadium Course stand out from the crowd. Home of the Players Championship since 1982, the design has evolved into a handsome battleground (however you feel about the towering clubhouse), highlighting Pete Dye’s talent for envisioning something from nothing. The short par-4 4th, reachable par-5 11th and the long par-4 14th rank among Dye’s all-time best. For shotmaking options and memorable individual holes that require a blend of power and finesse, the Stadium Course has few peers.
3. Streamsong – Red (Bowling Green) [1, 3, P]
When the modern minimalism of Coore and Crenshaw meets the heaving, sandy landscape of a former phosphate mine, the result has more in common with a Scottish links than it does with a typical Florida design. Forget soft landings on flat, water-laden fairways. Like its Streamsong siblings, the Blue and Black courses, the Red is built for bouncy, rollicking play. There’s some leeway off the tee. But attacking from the proper angle is essential. So is a knack for creative shot-making. The ground game is more welcome here than almost anywhere in the Sunshine State.
4. Streamsong – Blue (Bowling Green) [1, 3, P]
Tom Doak and Bill Coore literally shared holes and land as they built the Blue and Red courses in a collaborative spirit. To a certain extent, that means the two courses also share the spotlight, which may not be fair to either, as both are standouts. A talented greenkeeper pushes the dormant Bermuda fairways to tawny perfection during the winter months (no overseeding here!) and the firm playing surfaces can make a hole like the 6th, with its green that races away, exasperating. The in-your-face 4th climbs a ridge and some contend this is the best hole of the 54 at this luxe resort. The par-5 17th, with its appealing cross hazard, and the long two-shot 18th, where the ground game is the star are as good a 1-2 finishing punch as Doak has ever built.
5. Calusa Pines (Naples) 
Unusual for Florida, this is a pure, secluded golf club with no homes. Quiet rounds are guaranteed. A beautiful Hurdzan-Fry artistic creation, the course encapsulates the best that Florida has to offer: scrubby, sandy soil; pine trees; the occasional lagoon; and some shockingly fine land movement. Generally speaking, either an expansive sandy area or lagoon is on one side of the fairway and plenty of short grass is to the other. The more you flirt with the hazards, though, the better the angle for your approach. The stretch from 4 to 6 highlights that design thesis. Adding to the challenge are the perched greens, which require demanding approaches and deft recovery shots. The cadence of the holes and the ever-changing asks of the player add to the experience.
6. McArthur (Hobe Sound)
7. Mountain Lake (Lake Wales)
GolfLogix Greens Books
8. Streamsong – Black (Bowling Green) [3, P]
9. The Grove XXIII (Hobe Sound)
10. Jupiter Hills – Hills (Tequesta)
11. Indian Creek (Indian Creek)
12. World Woods – Pine Barrens (Brooksville) [P]
13. Pine Tree (Boynton Beach)
14. Concession (Bradenton)
15. Bear’s Club (Jupiter)
16. Black Diamond Ranch – Quarry (Lecanto)
17. John’s Island – West (Vero Beach)
18. Old Memorial (Tampa)
19. Pablo Creek (Jacksonville)
20. CC of Florida (Boynton Beach)
21. Redstick (Vero Beach)
22. Lake Nona (Orlando)
23. Trump National Doral – Blue (Miami) [3, P]
24. Bay Hill (Orlando) [P]
25. Isleworth (Windermere)
Ed. note: Some courses were omitted from our rankings because they did not receive enough votes.
Course spotlight: The Grove XXIII (Hobe Sound, Fla.), ranked 9th in Florida. Michael Jordan’s home course is surprising in the amount of attention paid to bunker placement along with subtle land movement within the fairways and green complexes. The key to playing well here is being able to position your tee shot near fairway bunkers opening the proper angle of attack into the greens. — GOLF Top 100 Course Rater
How we rank America’s best golf courses
For the newly released 2020-21 U.S. list, each panelist was provided a list of 489 courses. Beside that list of courses were 11 “buckets,” or groupings. If our panelists considered a course to be among the top three in the country, they ticked that box. If they believed the course to be among Nos. 4-10 in the U.S., they checked that box, followed by 11-25, 26-50, and so on.
Panelists were also free to write in courses that they felt should have been included on the ballot (we had fewer than a handful of such additions in the U.S. vote).
Points were assigned to each bucket; to arrive at an average score for each course, we divide its aggregate score by the number of votes. From those point tallies, the courses are then ranked accordingly. It is an intentionally simple and straightforward process. Why? Because it invariably produces results that are widely lauded. Like the game itself, there’s no need to unnecessarily overcomplicate things.
For much more on how we rate courses, click or tap here.
Meet our course raters
We empower and hold accountable a group of 97 well-traveled — and well-connected — golfers/aficionados, each capable of expressing their own sense of design excellence at the highest level. The group is seasoned and experienced — we look for raters who know what’s out there, what’s changing and what’s coming down the pike. And from judging posts across four continents, our panelists are positioned to place courses from different regions around the globe into proper context, one of the main reasons GOLF’s Top 100 Courses rankings are the most esteemed in the game.
Other ranking outlets employ thousands of raters. Our less-is-more approach creates a more meaningful and thoughtful list. Think about it: When you plan a golf trip, do you call every golfer you know for their take? No. You contact a handful of people whose opinions you value most.