Courses and Travel

Tampa Bay

Photo: Dick Durrance

Play misty for me: The 18th hole at the TPC Tampa Bay.

SOMETIMES being third has its perks. Tampa may lack Miami's party-town buzz or Orlando's status for family pilgrimages, but nor does it suffer from the overpriced courses and overcrowded fairways that come with popularity. Florida's third largest city is the state's best destination for affordable, quality golf. This is best you can get in town for a handful of bills.

World Woods Golf Club, Brooksville
Pine Barrens Course:
6,902 yards, par 71
Rolling Oaks Course:
6,985 yards, par 72

Why it's worth it
Pine Barrens is one of Tom Fazio's finest and ranked No. 17 on GOLF Magazine's Top 100 You Can Play. Its sister track Rolling Oaks is no slouch, either. The dailydouble price is a great value and well worth the one-hour drive.

April 1-May 7 you can play Pine Barrens for $80, or enjoy both courses for $105 total (Mon-Thurs, add $10 for weekends). From May 8-Oct. 31 doubling up is an even better bargain: $70-$80.

TPC Tampa Bay, Lutz
6,898 yards , par 71

Why it's worth it
Length isn't the issue at one of the few TPC courses to have won near unanimous acclaim. The challenge is controlling your ball in the coastal breezes on a course laced with bunkers and wetlands.

A great value as long as you don't have to play early in the day. From April 9 through May 28, you can tee it up after 12 p.m. for $79 (Mon-Thurs.; $89 on weekends). After 3 p.m. the Super-Twilight rate takes prices down to $69 and $79, repectively.

Fox Hollow Golf Club, New Port Richey
7,138 yards, par 71

Why it's worth it
This late vintage Trent Jones Sr. course 25 miles north of Tampa has more contouring than seems natural in the Sunshine State, but it does offer a stern challenge thanks to the numerous water hazards.

April-October, you can play for as little as $30 (Mon-Thurs after 1 p.m. on six days or less notice). The peak rate of $90 allows more than six days advance booking and includes a $25 golf-shop credit.


Where to stay

Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa-North
The location is ideal for the best courses and the price is right: $109 a night. 813-903-6000,

Where to eat

Family-owned since 1935 and famed for its moderately priced seafood, try the Colonnade (813-839-7558, Sit by the window for postcard views of Tampa Bay.

Where to drink

Sample the best thirst quenchers in town at Tampa Bay Brewing Company (813-247-1422). Don't miss the cask-conditioned ales brewed in the bar.
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