What do you look for in a golf course? Are you impressed by setting, by scenery, by level of difficulty?
Maybe you’re an avid golfer with a competitive streak or a recreational player who simply enjoys the peace of a well-landscaped fairway. We like golf courses with personality. We look for good design, accessibility for every possible level of golfer, and a good use of environment and landscape. We appreciate smart holes and a natural setting.
In Florida, golf is a year-round activity. It’s one of the reasons so many people flock here in the winter months. Who doesn’t love a tee time in February?
We’re highlighting some of the best golf courses in Lakewood Ranch today.
What makes Lakewood Ranch such a special place for golf?
Lakewood Ranch is one of the most celebrated and sought-after master-planned communities in the country. It covers more than 30,000 acres and 50 miles outside of Sarasota, near Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast. The multi-generational neighborhoods and 55+ communities provide a residential sanctuary that’s just minutes from shops, restaurants, entertainment, and recreation. Full-time residents and part-time visitors enjoy clubhouses, fitness centers, pools, pickleball, tennis, and miles of trails and parks.
There’s also a lot of golf.
There are five golf courses in the Lakewood Ranch community alone, and then visitors have another 82 golf courses to play that are less than half an hour from Lakewood Ranch, including 42 public courses, six municipal courses, four plantation courses, and 29 private courses.
Lots of options.
Let’s take a look at the golf courses you don’t want to miss when visiting Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
1. The Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club – Lakewood Ranch, FL
Starting with the Ritz-Carlton seems pretty obvious. How do you top the Ritz?
The Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club is an 18-hole course designed by Tom Fazio. It covers more than 300 acres and the landscaping is lush, tropical, and irresistible. Try not to get distracted while you’re playing.
The course knows how to optimize the natural beauty provided by abundant Florida sunshine, mature trees, and just the right amount of rain. Most people think of Florida as being completely flat (it is), but this course manages to surprise golfers with some elevation changes that provide views of scenic lakes.
Not easy to find in these parts.
The 18 holes meander through some wetlands where you might find a heron or an egret looking for breakfast. The shrubs and flowering plants are a canvas of color, and the grassy areas feature native grass and aquatic plants. You’ll love the marshes, the oak trees, and the sheer walkability of this course. You might leave the cart behind.
Each hole offers six sets of tees, allowing you to play this course as a novice or a pro. Tee off from a championship length of 7,417 yards or come forward to the 5,175-yard tee. When asked about this particular course, Fazio said: “The strong low handicap player will want to attack the direct lines of play. But for the higher handicapper, we’re creating options and varieties around strong hazards.”
Here’s what to expect from The Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club:
- The Ritz-Carlton Innovative Caddie Concierge® program, which delivers trained professional caddies with detailed course strategy and design information.
- Chilled, rum-and-lime-soaked oshibori towels.
- Fresh-cut Florida citrus fruit.
- Refreshments throughout your game.
Count on practice areas, which include a chipping area, short game area, chipping greens, putting greens, and practice tees. You can ask for a quick lesson and get some professional golf instruction when you need it.
Amenities include the Grand Clubhouse with The Golf Club Grille and Bar, attendant-serviced gentlemen’s and ladies’ locker rooms, and a pro shop.
You don’t have to live here to enjoy a membership. Make your vacation to Lakewood Ranch unforgettable and play at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. It’s been recognized by Audubon International for its environmental excellence, and is designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
2. Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club – Lakewood Ranch, FL
Three 18-hole championship courses can be found at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club. Two of them are designed by Arnold Palmer.
The country club comes with loads of amenities, including a pro shop that was named the best among private clubs by PGA Magazine in 2020.
Here’s the rundown on the three courses you can play at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club:
- Cypress Links
This is one of the courses designed by Arnold Palmer, and features bunkers over seven feet deep, so bring your best game. Elevated and slopey greens are fun to play.
- Kings Dunes
Also designed by Arnold Palmer, this course is 7,324 yards of greens on Bermuda grass. Watch for long trees bordering parts of the fairways, water elements everywhere, and a few holes where the green won’t be visible from the tee.
- Royal Lakes
This course was designed by Rick Robbins. On the second hole and seventh hole, you’ll find double greens. There’s sand, water, and some steep bunkers.
Each of the three golf courses gives players differing challenges depending on their level of play. The overall design of this course is smooth and pretty. Additionally, you’ll want to try both of the world-class practice facilities on site. Each of them includes a 400-yard driving range. There’s also a Golf Academy, and membership is open to everyone.
3. Lakewood National Golf Club – Lakewood Ranch, FL
Lakewood National Golf Club is extremely welcoming. From the approach, visitors and players are greeted with palm trees, sparkling blue water, and an oasis of scenery and promised relaxation.
Lakewood National Golf Club was designed by Arnold Palmer and includes over 900 acres of land. There are two courses with 36 holes of golf. When you play here, you’re treated to small rolling hills, stunning course design, and natural landscapes.
In addition to golf, there’s a grand clubhouse, state-of-the-art fitness center, lighted clay tennis courts, a beach entry lagoon pool, a full-service spa, and a casual restaurant on the patio of the sprawling outdoor pool.
This is one of the newer courses on our list of favorites in Lakewood Ranch. Players get a challenge and a deep demand for accuracy on each green while enjoying stunning backdrops. The water hazards and sand traps will move you towards an improved game and some friendly competition. Varying topography is often a surprise in Florida’s flat regional terrain, and you’ll need to strategize how to navigate the slopes and angles between you and your hole. Watch for ridges and knolls.
Play here comfortably, as a beginner or an advanced golfer.
Preserves, ponds and lots of palm trees give the entire landscape a uniformity, but each hole looks a little bit different. You’ll want to try different angles of approach and embrace your most creative play.
This is a luxury golf club for people who want to turn a game of golf into an entire experience. Book a lesson and a massage if you want, and enjoy every luxury that Lakewood National is known for.
4. Legacy Golf Club – Lakewood Ranch, FL
The best public golf course in Lakewood Ranch is Legacy Golf Club. No membership is needed, although if you’re planning a longer stay in the area, you might consider joining the Legacy Club, which comes with three different tiers and rewards.
We like Legacy Golf Club because it’s a classy, fun 18-hole championship course that was designed by Arnold Palmer Signature Design. You’ll find multiple elevated teeing areas, and sand as well as water at every single hole. The design and layout of this course is unique, with ample space in the landing areas, which can create some tension as you’re teeing off. But, it’s good tension and it will certainly make you think through every shot you take.
Golf leagues and lessons are available and if you work up an appetite after you play, try the pizza. It’s delicious.
5. Esplanade Golf and Country Club – Lakewood Ranch, FL
Try to book your tee time a week or two out because Esplanade Golf and Country Club is a popular Lakewood Ranch golf facility.
The championship 18-hole golf course quickly earned a reputation as one of the best places to play in the Bradenton/Sarasota/Lakewood Ranch area, and you’ll also love the practice areas.
At the driving range, enjoy both a grass tee top/hitting area. There’s also a synthetic grass hitting area which is ideal for those soaked or dry days where the grass tee areas are closed. Lesson tees are also available for when you’re working with your instructor, and there’s a large putting green, two chipping and pitching greens, and some practice bunkers.
We’ve got more than enough golf to keep you busy when you’re planning a trip to Lakewood Ranch. Where do you plan to stay while you’re here? Because we can help with that, too.