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Semi-annual guide to Tampa Bay area golf courses

The dog days of summer are behind us, which means the golf days of winter are upon us. Northerners are trickling back to Tampa Bay, and natives should be coming out of their summer golf hibernation any day now. • There are courses for all kinds of players in the area. So many, in fact, that it can get confusing finding the right one to play. No worries. Here's our (semi) annual breakdown of local courses, in hopes you'll find a course that fits your style, or perhaps even one you haven't tried before. • And don't forget to check out www.tampabay.com/golf for complete listings of all are public courses.

Five courses where you need your "A'' game:

1. TPC Tampa Bay (Lutz): In typical TPC fashion, it has plenty of undulation, sand and water. Add in some length and speedy greens, and you've got your hands full.

2. Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club (Dade City): There is a North Course and a South Course. You can't go wrong with either. The hills of Pasco County are on display at these courses.

3. World Woods (Brooksville): There is the Rolling Oaks Course and the Pine Barrens Course. Rolling Oaks has a Carolina feel while Pine Barrens has waste areas and elevation.

4. Saddlebrook Resort, Saddlebrook Course (Wesley Chapel): Designed by Arnold Palmer, the course is tight and can play long. Good luck.

5. Wentworth Golf Club (Tarpon Springs): Used to be private. It is narrow with lots of sand and water.

Five courses where the "B'' game is enough

1. Clearwater Country Club: It is not long and there aren't a lot of trees. But that doesn't mean there aren't challenging holes and some water to deal with.

2. Pebble Creek Golf Course (Tampa): Just 6,400 yards from the tips, it is a target golf course. But lots of woods and water can make it difficult.

3. Silverado Golf and Country Club (Zephyrhills): It's not going to test your physical game, but it will test your mental game. Course requires lots of imagination due to many unique holes.

4. Seven Hills Golfer's Club (Spring Hill): A mostly wide open course with some length, some trees and some elevation.

5. East Bay Golf Club (Largo): Not a test for long hitters, but definitely a test of accuracy.

Five most unique courses:

1. The Dunes Golf Club (Weeki Wachee): Different because it has sand dunes, elevation and trees. No houses lining fairways.

2. The Golf Club at Cypress Creek (Ruskin): A stereo-typical Florida course, with relatively flat fairways, small greens and lots of water.

3. Brooksville Country Club: The quarry holes on the back nine are some of the prettiest holes you can play in our area.

4. Diamond Hill Golf and Country Club (Dover): Doesn't look like much from the parking lot, but it has some darn tough holes. There are long par 5s and the par 3 15th hole from an elevated tee over water is scenic.

5. Belleview Biltmore Golf Club (Belleair): Unique because it is an old Donald Ross design with a beautiful clubhouse. The course itself can be a bear, with marsh and water and those "upside down bowl" style Ross greens.

Five best executive courses:

1. World Woods Golf Club, Executive Course (Brooksville): Well kept, hilly and challenging.

2. The Landings Golf Course (Clearwater): It's a par 63, so there are some long par 4s. And some of the par 3s can be long as well.

3. Countryway Golf Club (Tampa): It's an 18-hole, par 61 course with some longer holes. But for the most part it features straight-forward par 3s.

4. The Quarry Golf Course (Brooksville): A nine hole, par 29 course, it has the unique undulation of Hernando County.

5. Cypress Links Golf Course (St. Petersburg): Well kept with some challenging holes and small greens.

Five best private courses:

1. Innisbrook Copperhead and Island Courses (Palm Harbor): Technically, it's a stay and play course that also offers private memberships. It is not the kind of course where you come off the street and get a tee time. But if you can play the Copperhead or the Island Courses, do it.

2. Feather Sound Country Club (Clearwater): Rambles through the wetlands of Tampa Bay. A beautiful Florida style course with water everywhere.

3. Avila Golf and Country Club (Tampa): A Jack Nicklaus designed course with trouble everywhere.

4. Pasadena Country Club: There are several to choose from in Pinellas County (Belleair, St. Petersburg CC, Bayou Club, etc…) but Pasadena has tons of history. Walter Hagen used to be a club pro during the winters.

5. Palma Ceia Country Club (Tampa): One of the oldest clubs in the area. It is old school target golf and always in immaculate shape.

Five courses for beginners:

1. Treasure Bay Golf Course (Treasure Island): Just nine holes on a spit of land on the intracoastal. All are par threes. Perfect for the novice.

2. Mainlands Golf Course (Pinellas Park): A par 67 course, so it has some long holes. Gets a lot of play, so it's like graduating to the next level for beginners.

3. Silver Dollar Golf Club (Odessa): The good thing about this place is that it has three nine-hole courses. They all have a little bit of water, but are short and generally wide open.

4. Saint Leo Abbey (Dade City): No water, wide open. Hit it hard and have fun.

5. Triple S Golf Ranch (Dade City): Just like the Abbey Course. They welcome beginners and have special deals for youth.

This week on Tour

PGA: Frys.com Open, CordeValle Golf Club, San Martin, Calif. TV: Today-Sunday, 4 p.m. on Golf Channel.

LPGA: Hana Bank Championship, Sky 72 Golf Club, Incheon, South Korea. TV: Friday-Sunday, 1 p.m. on Golf Channel.

Champions: Insperity Championship, The Woodlands Country Club, The Woodlands, Texas. TV: Friday-Sunday, 8:30 p.m. on Golf Channel.

PGA Europe: Madrid Masters, El Encin Golf Hotel, Alcala de Henares, Spain. TV: Today-Friday, 9 a.m., Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Sunday, 8 a.m. on Golf Channel.

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This week on Tour

PGA: Frys.com Open, CordeValle Golf Club, San Martin, Calif. TV: Today-Sunday, 4 p.m. on Golf Channel.

LPGA: Hana Bank Championship, Sky 72 Golf Club, Incheon, South Korea. TV: Friday-Sunday, 1 p.m. on Golf Channel.

Champions: Insperity Championship, The Woodlands Country Club, The Woodlands, Texas. TV: Friday-Sunday, 8:30 p.m. on Golf Channel.

PGA Europe: Madrid Masters, El Encin Golf Hotel, Alcala de Henares, Spain. TV: Today-Friday, 9 a.m., Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Sunday, 8 a.m. on TGC

Semi-annual guide to Tampa Bay area golf courses 10/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 5:28pm]

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