Playing the PGA Tour’s Florida Swing
Posted by George Blackwell
With The Masters in the sights of golfers around the world, especially those travelling with Your Golf Travel, there is a certain buzz around the sport we know and love.
In the buildup to 2019’s first major, the PGA Tour is setting camp in the Sunshine State, as for the next four weeks we have the famed Florida Swing.
Recent years has seen the swing somewhat disjointed, but throughout 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?
Here we dissect the 2019 Florida Swing and show you all four courses which you can play…
Honda Classic at PGA National
Kicking off the Florida Swing is the Honda Classic, won in 2018 by Justin Thomas and played at the revered PGA National Resort.
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, with one laid out by none other than Arnold Palmer himself – a hugely popular second choice for visiting golfers.
Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill
“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.”
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.
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.
The Players Championship at Sawgrass
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.
Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort
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.