It’s not uncommon to stumble upon fake alligators as you make your way around a mini-golf course. But at Smugglers Cove's locations, live American alligators snap their jaws in exhibits nestled amid the miniature fairways. With an old-fashioned bamboo pole players can dangle a treat above 20–50 of the predatory alligators, which leap from the water to snatch their treat. Between feeding frenzies, games take place on Smugglers Cove’s 18-hole outdoor courses, where balls roll past rushing waterfalls, into caves, over mountainous terrain, and into a hole in a pirate ship.
Snaking alongside the Boca Ciega Bay, The Tides Golf Club's 18-hole course confronts golfers with oceanfront breezes that are both relaxing and a challenge to tee shots on tree-lined fairways. Waterways come into play on 12 holes and figure more prominently on the back nine, where a pond imperils errant golf balls on every single track. Tidwarf grass adorns the course's elevated greens, which provide a true surface for golfers to roll their putts or roll their toy-sized golf carts.
Course at a Glance:
Missing Links Driving Range beckons to serious athletes and fun-seeking families alike with three batting cages, a 37-hitting-stall driving range, an 18-hole miniature-golf course, and a golf school helmed by two PGA-certified pros. Pin-hunters can assume their stance in virtually any conditions at the driving range, as 20 of the hitting stalls are covered and the entire complex is lighted to cater to late-night practitioners or 9 irons with a knack for astronomy. Putt-putt posses can tap like trumpet players at dawn through a mini-golf course that features a lagoon, lighthouse, waterfalls, and other tropical-themed obstacles, or hone their game more meticulously with lessons from the expert instructors at Smith 'n Barber Golf School. Line drives, grounders, and fly balls carom off of whirring bats or oversize hot dogs inside Missing Links' three batting cages, where automated pitchers serve up both fast-flung baseballs and high-arching, slow-pitch softballs. After a long day of swatting spheres, guests can cool off with 24 flavors of soft serve and other subzero savories served at the onsite ice-cream parlor.
After a $1.8 million makeover in 2007, Largo Golf Course invites visitors to meander through its fairways and experience FootGolf. The course includes 8 par 5s, 1 par 4, and 9 par 3s, adding up to a total distance of 3,700 yards. The game combines soccer with golf and is played with a regulation soccer ball. The holes are typically shorter than regular golf holes, with 21-inch diameter cups adjacent to the standard cups.
Course at a Glance:
The course at Belleview Biltmore Golf Club finds itself among storied company as a signature design of famous architect Donald Ross, who sculpted such legendary courses as Pinehurst No. 2 and Seminole Golf Club. Built in 1925, the 18-hole layout features the hallmarks of a classic Ross course, including narrow fairways and strategically placed obstacles that force players to rely on accuracy as opposed to distance or telekinetic irons. In order to play to the course par of 71, golfers must avoid numerous water hazards and bunkers en route to greens made of Tiff Eagle bermuda grass, each meticulously mown to roll true. Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 6,614 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 71.9 from the back tees * Course slope of 124 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole
Pinebrook/Ironwood’s 3,964-yard executive course challenges every golfer’s stroke and strokes every retina with its beautiful Gulf Coast surroundings. Water borders 16 of the fairways, with 37 bunkers, or 6.4 million years in hourglass time, buffering the well-manicured greens. Budding Ben Hogans can cruise the course in their own golf cart and line up on super-quick Champion Ultra-Dwarf Bermuda grass, which is said to outperform traditional Bermuda for producing a true roll and distorting Mayday signals.