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Florida is the perfect state for female golfers looking for variety

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Florida has some standout golf courses that appeal to women, including SouthWood in Tallahassee, the Ocean and Lagoon at Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, The Villas of Grand Cypress in Orlando and PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie.

Ponte Vedra Inn and Club
The two courses at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club are both suited to women, not to mention the club's spa.
Ponte Vedra Inn and ClubGrand CypressSouthWood Golf Club

The great state of Florida has more golf courses than any other state in the union. Florida also has the worst female drivers in the country, based purely on personal opinion.

Why? Maybe they're in a hurry to get to the golf course.

In any case, there does seem to be quite a few female-friendly golf courses in Florida. What makes a course attractive to women, besides men?

Primarily, it's the way they are treated. Women want to be treated the same as men in the pro shop, not condescended to. If you're looking to attract women to your golf course, and statistics show they are one of the fastest growing segments of those new to the game, try not to address them as "honey" any more than necessary.

Women also want a course that is playable, which means few forced carries and different sets of women's tees to choose from, at least two. Open greens, where they don't have to hit it high and soft would be nice, too.

Whereas men prefer trees, women like nice, clean bathrooms interspersed around the layout.

Here are some of our selections of some of the most female-friendly Florida golf courses, based on personal experience, input from female golfers and information from various golf publications geared to women. All of these courses fit most, if not all, of the above criteria:

SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee has multiple tee ratings for women and is one of the few golf courses to have both a female general manager, Beth Murphy, and director of instruction, Becky Sauers.

The club keeps its women busy with a variety of events and activities for women, including its popular Grove Park Ladies Match Play Championship. Southwood recently made its debut on Golf for Women magazine's "Top 50 courses for Women."

The two courses at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, the Ocean and Lagoon, are attractive to women, primarily because of their length, or rather their lack of same. Both courses are short, and the Lagoon in particular is fit for the non-gorillas. The course has three sets of tees, and two are less than 6,000 yards.

But, the primary reason women like the club is because of the spa. The Inn has a full-service, luxury spa with more than 100 "beauty and pampering services." The Inn also has 10 boutiques and shops.

The Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort in Orlando has 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus golf, not that Nicklaus himself is a ladies man. The resort caters to women; LPGA veteran Mary Bryan and current LPGA pro Barb Mucha recently joined the resort's golf schools for women. They're scheduled to teach more than 30 two- and three-day women's schools this year.

The huge resort, 1,500 acres, has a Hyatt-Regency on the grounds, and the golf villas are all within easy reach of the golf or golf schools. There is plenty to do for the kids while Mom is on the course. The North/East course is especially attractive to women. An equestrian center is an added bonus.

Celebration Golf Club in Celebration is 20 minutes from Orlando. Celebration has women's clinics and women on staff, as well as family leagues. It opened in 1996.

Atlantis Country Club in Atlantis is near Boca Raton. The club has "parent-child" tournaments, in addition to "father-son" events, on a well-groomed course that isn't daunting to women. Julie Kintz is an assistant pro. Plus, the rates are family-friendly: from $45-$95.

Cypress Creek Country Club in Boynton Beach is a 40-year-old, traditional layout with wide fairways. Designed by Robert Von Haage - his first work, in fact - the forward tees are 4,773 yards.

The Links at Boynton Beach is another Von Haage design, which he shared with Bruce Devlin. It's a 27-hole facility, including a nine-hole executive course, perfect for women to practice on. Again, green fees are reasonable, in the $50 range.

Tara Golf and Country Club is in Bradenton, about 40 miles south of Tampa. No Rhett Butler, but they have a good Sunday brunch. The course has five sets of tees and two for the ladies, 5,328 and just under 6,000. It also has a nice selection of ladies' apparel in the pro shop.

The PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie has 54 holes of golf by Pete Dye and Tom Fazio, with the recently restored Dye Course being the friendlier for women. It also has a 35-acre PGA Learning Center. Green fees are decent for this facility, ranging from $55-$99.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Women-friendly golf courses

    Wendy (UK) wrote on: Feb 11, 2008

    Your article (well, most of it) almost persuaded me to tell Jennifer that of course I would prefer to play golf with you - although to be fair she was only asking the fellas. Realistically, however, I suspect that you would also prefer GolfGirl although some El Cheapo (I was asked to refrain from using inappropriate language) seems to have already captured her affections.
    PS My "driving" has much improved since I started taking the blood pressure tablets


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