It is a well-known fact to all of us in the Northern States and Canada that Florida has a ton of golf courses. Most of us think of the major centers such as Miami, Naples and the land of Mickey Mouse – Orlando as major golf destinations and easy to get to with the many flights into those centers. Often enough we find the destinations that maybe are not so well known have the hidden gems and the bang for the buck that puts a smile on just about every golfers face.
Welcome to Sebring and the Citrus Golf Trail. Located just about an hour south of Orlando among cattle ranches and orange groves, the region remains undisturbed and somewhat unaffected by Disney’s Mouse! Rich in history with some of the friendliest people in the south, Sebring is also home to America’s oldest road racing track – Sebring International Raceway and the gruelling “12 Hours of Sebring,” an endurance race that is part of the American Le Mans Series.
Golf along the Citrus Golf Trail offers up the natural beauty of authentic Florida, courses designed by top architects and, best of all, great rates – in fact Stay & Play packages start as low as $99.00 per person per night, (dbl), accommodations, breakfast and of course golf with cart.
OK trivia buffs…What golf course hosted the 1th ever nationally televised PGA tour Event? Drum roll please …and the answer is – Pinecrest Country Club – a Donald Ross gem, designed in 1926 and recently restored bringing back to life the false fronts and bunkers that are Donald Ross. There are no condos or homes bordering the fairways. This course was routed through beautiful orange groves and natural wooded areas.
My old friend and golf course architect Ron Garl recently described golf in Sebring “This area has been an undiscovered gem for many years. People who know this area are well aware of the quality of golf that exists. Those who don’t know the area, don’t know what they’re missing.” Ron has left his mark in Sebring having designed the semi-private Golf Hammock Country Club in 1978.
What might be consider the must stop in Sebring’s Citrus Golf Trail might be Sun ‘N Lake Golf Club with two acclaimed courses; Deer Run is the more highly touted and lengthier of the two championship tracks, a classic Don Dyer design featuring length and challenging green complexes. The 18th hole is a beautiful par three that requires carry over water into a large, tiered green. Deer Run has played host to the annual PGA Latinoamerica Qualifier and the Canadian Tour.
Accuracy over distance is what the Turtle Creek layout is all about at Sun ‘N Lakes. Built in the unique and beautiful setting of the “Scrub Jay Preservation Area” you will find narrow landing areas with grassy moguls and deep bunkers leading you to fair but challenging greens.
Inn on the Lakes located just 3 miles from downtown Sebring might just be your ideal place to stay. In fact the only official hotel partner for the Trail. Upon arrival a Welcome Pack awaits golfers with …… get this vouchers for $2 draft during Happy Hour in their terrific Chicanes restaurant and bar. They certainly know the way to golfers hearts! Set in lush landscaped gardens, this relaxed lakeside hotel offers a true home-away-from-home feel, and conveniently located a short distance from any number of courses. Chicanes also is where you will find yourselves enjoying a hot breakfast as part of every golf package, open all day, a lively bar where you can grab lunch overlooking Little Lake Jackson during the day, or a fine meal or just hang out in the evening. A golfer’s favorite.
Other courses that you may want to consider on the Citrus trail include:
- Harder Hall Country Club, home to the LPGA Tour Harder Hall Women’s Invitational.
- 36 holes at Highland Ridge Golf Club.
- Placid Lakes Country Club with possibly the most difficult stretch of finishing holes on the Trail.
- The family owned and environmentally friendly River Greens Golf Course
All golfers need to recharge so make sure that you indulge in some of the great eateries that the area has to offer.
Blue Lagoon Saloon – gotta love the name, great sports bar, great food and a fun time. Might want to try the Tugboat – large chicken sandwich!
Caddy Shack Bar & Grill – another great name in golf – awesome American cuisine that covers all spectrums
Cowpokes Watering Hole – and the names of the bars and restaurants alone make you want to stay long enough to try them all. Bring your cowboy boots and experience one of the coolest bars in Florida. Phenomenal food, steaks and seafood a specialty you can satisfy cravings for garlic. Sit back relax and enjoy!
Eighteen East – where you might just find the best steak in the area or maybe even all of Florida. An unpretentious, comfortable and fun dining experience in a restaurant and bar in the historic section of Avon Park.
There is so much to discover, visit Sebring’s Downtown Historic District and find out why this city in Highlands County, Florida has been nicknamed the “The City on the Circle”.
Lakes abound in the gently rolling hills and orange groves Highlands County which has more than 84 lakes, with Sebring at the southern end of Lake Wales. This rural area has an abundance of native habitat whose ecosystem is ideal for rare plants and animals inhabiting areas of hammocks and cypress swamps.
Sebring and the Citrus Golf Trail are yours to discover www.visitsebring.com