A couples of months before The Masters golfers throughout the world, especially those travelling with Your Golf Travel, start to get a certain buzz around the sport we know and love.
In the buildup to the first major of the year, the PGA Tour sets up camp in the Sunshine State for four weeks of action packed golfing which has been affectionally labelled as the Florida Swing.
Recent years has seen the swing somewhat disjointed, but from the end of February and through March the tour will start in Miami and then head to Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa uninterrupted.
Seeing these four courses through a TV screen is impressive enough, but what about playing them yourself? Below we dissect the Florida Swing and showcase the courses & resorts that make the four events on the PGA Tour.
Kicking off the Florida Swing is the Honda Classic which has been played at the revered PGA National Resort since 2007. Australian Matt Jones took the trophy last year winning by a margin of 5 strokes.
The Champion Course sees all the professional action; first designed by Tom Fazio and then redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1990, it has all the hallmarks of a true American great.
Nicklaus’ touch can be seen on holes 15 thru 17, which are dubbed as ‘The Bear Trap’ and considered amongst many to be the hardest stretch in golf.
Incredibly, the resort boasts no less than four more courses plus a short fun par 3 course, with one laid out by none other than Arnold Palmer himself – a hugely popular second choice for visiting golfers.
The Champion: 18 holes | 7,054 yards | par 72
The Palmer: 18 holes | 7,079 yards | par 72
The Fazio: 18 holes | 7,050 yards | par 72
The Estate: 18 holes | 6,694 yards | par 72
The Match: 18 holes | 6,447 yards | par 72
The Staple: 9 holes | 809 yards | par 27
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Miami - South East
Rated 9.4 by 3 golfers (Read reviews of PGA National Resort & Spa)
Flights, 5 Nights, 5 Rounds
Arnold Palmer’s mark on the game of golf stretches far beyond 18 holes, but the layout at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge goes a long way to show just how much of a genius he is.
“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”
Each year the Orlando resort, just 15 minutes from the world-famous Disneyland, hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational – an event every professional wants to play in respect of the king.
In 2018, Rory McIlroy got himself back in the winner’s circle, navigating best round two of the three nine-hole loops which make up the course.
For lovers of ‘The King’, the recently refurbished lodge and clubhouse are adorned with Palmer photos and memorabilia, making for a one-of-a-kind golfing experience.
Champion: 9 holes | 3,763 yards | par 36
Challenger: 9 holes | 3,616 yards | par 36
Charger: 9 holes | 3,309 yards | par 36
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Rated 9.4 by 20 golfers (Read reviews of Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge)
Flights, 5 Nights, 3 Rounds
As golf’s unofficial fifth major, The Players Championship is one of the most iconic golf tournaments, played at one of the most iconic courses, which has golf’s most iconic hole.
The TPC Stadium Course at Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort is typical of golf in Florida, offering risk-reward golf throughout, especially on the famed 17th.
Every golf fan would love the chance to take on the 137 yard island green, recreating memorable moments from Players Championships of yesteryear, but the daunting hole really does test your mettle.
TPC Stadium: 18 holes | 7,245 yards | par 72
Dye's Valley: 18 holes | 6,847 yards | par 72
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Jacksonville - North East
Rated 9.2 by 47 golfers (Read reviews of Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa)
Flights, 5 Nights, 4 Rounds
The Copperhead layout at Innisbrook Resort, described by Stewart Cink as good enough to “host a U.S. Open”, is a stern 7,300 yard examination that tests even the pros.
In 2019, Paul Casey took the title, but Tiger Woods stole the headlines as he mounted his first challenge since returning from his layoff.
While the Copperhead is undoubtedly the headline act of the Innisbrook Resort’s four courses, with various elevation changes meandering through deep vines, the Island Course is a more than worthy runner-up – measuring some 7,300 yards from the tips, this U.S. Open qualifying host venue is anything but a leisurely stroll through the woods.
Copperhead: 18 holes | 7,209 yards | par 71
North: 18 holes | 6,325 yards | par 70
South: 18 holes | 6,620 yards | par 71
Island: 18 holes | 7,194 yards | par 72
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Rated 9.2 by 7 golfers (Read reviews of Innisbrook, A Salamander Resort)
Flights, 5 Nights, 3 Rounds
1981 - PGA National Champion
1961 - Bay Hill Club
1981 - TPC Sawgrass Stadium
1974 - Innisbrook Copperhead
Bay Hill: Dick Wilson, Arnold Palmer Design Company
Innisbrook - Copperhead: Larry Packard
PGA National - Champion: George & Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus (renovations)
TPC Sawgrass - Stadium: Pete & Alice Dye
7,045: PGA National - Champion
7,209: Innisbrook - Copperhead
7,245: TPC Sawgrass - Stadium
7,381: Bay Hill
Part of PGA Tour since
1979: Bay Hill
1982: TPC Sawgrass - Stadium
2000: Innisbrook - Copperhead
2007: PGA National - Champion
Iconic Water Holes
TPC Sawgrass Stadium: Hole 17
PGA National Champion: Hole 15
Bay Hill: Hole 8
Innisbrook Copperhead: Hole 7
No. of bunkers
82: TPC Sawgrass - Stadium
82: Bay HIll
80: PGA National
71: Innisbrook - Copperhead
Tournament scoring record (4 rounds)
Bay Hill: 264, Payne Stewart (1987)
Innisbrook - Copperhead: 266, Vijay Singh (2004)
PGA National - Champion: 264, Justin Leonard (2003)
TPC Sawgrass: 264, Greg Norman (1994)
Longest par 5
Innisbrook - Copperhead: Hole 5 - 607 yards
Bay Hill: Hole 6 - 589 yards
TPC Sawgrass - Stadium: Hole 9 - 583 yards
PGA National - Champion: Hole 18 - 556 yards
Shortest par 5
Innisbrook - Copperhead: Hole 1 - 460 yards
Bay Hill: Hole 16 - 510 yards
TPC Sawgrass - Stadium: Hole 16 - 523 yards
PGA National - Champion: Hole 6 - 488 yards
Longest par 4
Innisbrook - Copperhead: Hole 16 - 458 yards
Bay Hill: Hole 18 - 460 yards
TPC Sawgrass - Stadium: Hole 14 - 481 yards
PGA National - Champion: Hole 14 - 465 yards
Shortest par 4
Innisbrook - Copperhead: Hole 12 - 373 yards
Bay Hill: Hole 13 - 371 yards
TPC Sawgrass - Stadium: Hole 12 - 338 yards
PGA National - Champion: Hole 1 - 365 yards
Longest par 3
Innisbrook - Copperhead: Hole 8 - 232 yards
Bay Hill: Hole 2 - 230 yards
TPC Sawgrass - Stadium: Hole 8 - 237 yards
PGA National - Champion: Hole 7 - 226 yards
Shortest par 3
Innisbrook - Copperhead: Hole 4 - 188 yards
Bay Hill: Hole 14 - 216 yards
TPC Sawgrass - Stadium: Hole 17 - 137 yards
PGA National - Champion: Hole 5 - 171 yards
"Arnie's Place" (Bay Hill)
"The Bear Trap" (PGA National - Champion)
"The Gauntlet" (TPC Sawgrass - Stadium)
"The Snake Pit" (Innisbrook - Copperhead)
No. of holes at the resort
90: PGA National
90: TPC Sawgrass
27: Bay Hill