Bradenton, FL

A local scratch golfer compares these Florida gulf coast courses to help you navigate through the links


Summer fun adventure in Florida is not hard to find. The choice of outdoor activities here is endless. There is definitely more to this beautiful state than just amusement parks and beautiful beaches. Florida golf is one of the biggest industries in the state. According to the Tampa Bay Times, 167,000 people play golf, generating about 13.8 billion for the economic engine here in Florida. It’s considered one of the largest golf states in the U.S. Which is why I am sharing an inside look at these Florida Gulf Coast golf courses to help you navigate through the local links.

Most of these excellent golf courses will impress you just as much as challenge you. They can bring out the best in you when playing a round at any of these beautiful local tracks. There are 26 golf courses in Bradenton, Florida and there are 40 golf courses in Sarasota County. Let’s narrow it down a bit and offer you an inside closer look at these Florida gulf coast golf courses around Bradenton-Sarasota and how they compare.

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Grab a pen and take notes as I share these features, highlights, and tips from a local scratch golfer. He goes by Mr. Golf and I’ve included some specific details here to help you have fun, enjoy improved play and hopefully have a better overall experience. So if you love golf, you’ll want to arrange a few rounds at these local links.

River Run Golf Links Bradenton

If you are determined to play to break par, then you'll have a good chance at this course.The city of Bradenton runs and operates River Run Golf Links course. As you play here, take advantage of the big greens. It’s a course that you may not like the first time; you may have to allow it to grow on you. The fairways are a little tight and provide an opportunity to shape shots. Meanwhile it’s suggested that you try to land your ball above the hole on the greens. One of the nice features of this course is there are no houses, its quiet, and is surrounded by nature.

Rosedale Golf and Country Club on SR 70
Rosedale Golf CourseFitLifeTravel

Lakewood Ranch offers some beautiful golf course communities and Rosedale Golf Course is no exception. This track offers very tight but superior fairways and can be tough to hit it straight. Some of the holes are generously spread out, aligned with water and can be isolated. The undulated greens are pretty good but are challenging. And if you if you do not position your ball just right, you will miss the putt. Although located within a community of homes, the course is lovely and surrounded by majestic oak trees and pristine lakes that allow you to enjoy a round of golf in a peaceful quiet setting. Keep in mind, there are alligators out there, and you may see one so just be aware.

University Park Sarasota

This little golf gem of Sarasota is semi private, has holes beautifully spaced out, but can be quite expensive. You will find plenty of water and sand; however it is not as tight as other courses. On each hole, there is always a chance to get into trouble. With 27 holes, about half of these have homes. The course is always maintained, and some of the most pretty holes. A Ron Garl design, in Mr. Golf’s opinion, it is similar to Lakewood Ranch and River Strand courses.

IMG Academy Golf Club Bradenton

Part of the old school golf courses and formerly named El Conquistador, this Bradenton golf club was built in the 1970s. The IMG Academy Golf Club at one time was a place where people would walk the course as there aren’t a lot of distances between holes, etc. It’s not really aesthetically beautiful, and there are no signature holes; however, the course is usually in good playing condition. You will often find the greens in decent condition, but the remainder of the course is not up to par and can contain a lot of weeds. The fairways are mostly good and you will notice homes along areas of this course.

Florida Golf Tip Reminder:

The main defense is that it can be very breezy. Additionally, there are a lot of adjoining fairways so you must take caution when driving the ball.

Sara Bay Country Club Sarasota

Although this private course is full of history and beauty, there are opportunities for folks other than members to play the same course that Bobby Jones played. Sarasota offers another golf gem along the bay. A Donald Ross design and built during a time when land was not wasted. The holes are positioned closer together to make it easier to walk. There are also big fairways to help ease any intimidation you might have while teeing off.
Sara Bay Country ClubFitLifeTravel

Florida Golf Tip Reminder:

You must have good distance control on approach shots. Also keep in mind that there can be tricky wind directions out there.

Riverwood Golf Club Port Charlotte

Port Charlotte brings together the best of nature as well as the best of golf. Riverwood Golf Club offers you great fairways and putting greens. There are also several houses on holes located throughout the community. This course offers a little more difficult challenges off the tee as it presents more demanding tee shots.

Manatee Golf Course Bradenton

Manatee Golf Course is a Manatee County public golf course offering a full practice facility that includes a grass-tee driving range and separate putting and chipping greens. The golf course is a par 72 with a course rating of 71.0 and slope of 125 from the back tees. The fairways and greens are Bermuda grass that is over-seeded with rye grass in the winter season.

The course is generous off the tee with mostly wide fairways. However, water does come into play on 14 of the 18 holes and a couple of the holes do require accuracy off the tee. Particularly hole number four. A par 5 that plays only 469 yards from the back tee, but requires a well placed tee shot in the fairway. This hole is accompanied with mangroves on the left side of the fairway and a strand of trees on the right side of the fairway.

The green complexes are rather small and flat with some subtle breaks. A round of golf usually includes a prevailing wind from the west, southwest off the gulf. Overall, the Manatee GC is a good course for a beginner golfer but also offers enough of a challenge for experienced golfers as well. Finally, with this course being a county public facility, it is kept up with decent conditions and offers a reasonably priced round of golf. This provides the local golfer with a positive golf experience with value.

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Florida Golf Experience

So, it is really no surprise to know that Florida is the home of golf. Whether playing for recreation or for amateur competition, golf is making a serious impact on the economy in the state of Florida. But the key thing to remember here too is to have fun! It doesn’t always have to be about economics and money. Playing golf or even practicing the game can be a great way to make memories with your friends and family. And this is what truly is important.

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