Forelinksters is, as the name implies is “for linksters”, we’ve gathered up the best rated public golf courses from Golf, Golf Digest, and Golfweek magazines, and created a guide to the best golf courses to play in America. The website is supported by limited advertising, and our tee times reservation system with the Golf Channel’s GolfNow. If we help you in finding the best golf course to play when traveling, please consider using our GolfNow tee times system to book a tee time, they’re the same rates you receive directly on GolfNow.
For a most reasonably priced golf trip, Ocala doesn’t feel like what most people are looking for in Florida. The closest beach is 80 miles to the east. The countryside might remind you of Lexington, KY with terrain of rolling hills, large mature maple and oak trees, and is dotted with over 200 horse farms and training centers. It’s only real “theme park” would be the Silver Springs Nature Park. With a population of about 55,000, there is a mall, Trip Advisor lists the Hilton and Howard Johnson’s as the best hotels, while Urban Spoon lists a surprisingly number of good restaurants.
So, in summary, reasonably priced dining and lodging options, uncrowded from the normal Florida tourist destinations, and a unique Florida landscape. The public golf courses don’t disappoint, and offer plenty of variety within 20 miles of the area, here’s our choice for the best to play in Ocala:
1. Juliet Falls is about 20 minutes west of Ocala in Dunnellon, a John Sanford design, parkland style of layout, well conditioned, interesting and varied holes, and would be the most expensive of the choices at $75 in season.
2. Stone Creek is on the west side of Ocala, a Terry Doss design in a newer Del Webb community, wonderful Champions Bermuda greens, a wide open links style layout through the community, well conditioned and reasonably priced.
3. El Diablo is back out in Citrus Springs near Juliet Falls. It’s a Jim Fazio design carved through the woods with each hole isolated and unique, a real test for shot makers over rolling hills and tree lined fairways, a 147 slope from the tips! Fortunately, they have 5 sets of tees for the rest of us.
4. The Ocala Golf Club is on the east side of town, a muni owned and operated by the city that’s been updated and redesigned recently. A traditional style of golf course with tree lined fairways over slightly rolling hills, reasonably priced, and slow at times, maybe the best value in town.
5. Candler Hills is a Gordon Lewis design through a partially developed residential neighborhood of the Top of the World development, and is the only public access course in the community. Very fair and playable layout with scattered tree lined fairways but open off the tee, well conditioned, and a good amount of variety.
6. Country Club at Silver Springs is a Desmond Muirhead layout on the southeast side of Ocala, partially routed through a residential community, with half the holes isolated and unique, the rest routed along the homesites. Private club feel to the conditions and clubhouse, and as interesting layout as its maker Mr. Muirhead!
7. Lakeside Golf Club is 30 miles southwest of Ocala in Inverness. While it won’t make many best golf courses you can play, it could possibly be considered a hidden gem. The course is part of an old, established residential community, designed by Bill Campbell, and is a parkland style of layout with tree lined rolling fairways, and maybe a poor man’s Black Diamond with four holes routed around an abandoned phosphate mine.
8. Ocala National Golf Club used to known as Golden Hills GC but went through a name change, and opened to the public. It’s an older layout routed through a residential subdivision on the west side of Ocala off I-75 a few miles at the US 27 exit. The course has been around since the 1960′s, but was redesigned by Rees Jones in 2002, and is a quality layout. Long and tough from the tips at 7,300 yards with a 138 slope, the white tees are 6420 yards, with a 127 slope and 71.3 course rating.
9. Rainbow Springs is back out in Dunnellon, and is a Joe Lee design, not your typical Florida course, it’s adorned with grand daddy oaks creating some narrow shoots for your tee shots with tight approaches,