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:
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 picturesque greens of Dunedin Stirling Links' 27-acre course challenge golfers with 18 holes of eye-pleasing play nestled among scenes of natural beauty. The par 3 course hones sphere-slinging skills with small greens and water hazards and highlights the coastal surroundings and plaid fairways characteristic of a Scottish-style layout. Players can hop into golf carts to zoom from each ball borough to open plain, enjoying the cool breeze off the marsh as they ride. The course's scenic setting is peppered with natural marvels, such as copses of shady pine trees and nests of ospreys⎯the golf ball's only natural enemy.
The golfing gurus at Edwin Watts Golf Academy diagnose and correct their students' poor swing and putting habits in an effort to help them improve their shots and lower their scores. In one-on-one swing-analysis sessions, students learn a repeatable swing that eliminates tendencies they may have to slice, hook, push, or pull the ball. A special laser attaches to the end of the player's club and tracks the swing path while JC Video swing-analysis software records the session from two separate angles, lest analysis be thrown off by only looking at the golfer's good side. Putting analysis employs Tomi technology to measure eight separate parameters of the putting stroke, from clubhead orientation at address to swing path and tempo. After swing and putting lessons, students may access the recordings on a password-protected website, so they can forward videos to friends or sports-documentary filmmakers.
With a successful career as a golfer and a coach that earned him a 2011 induction into the U.S. Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, Mike Stevens draws from a lifetime of experience to foster golf-game improvement in his clients. Mike’s custom, six-week golf training program—the flagship curriculum for his On Target Golf Schools—uses a biomechanics-based understanding of the golf swing to help students hit the ball farther and straighter without having to sell their soul for a corked 3-wood. Mike enhances lessons with the competitive insight gleaned from his continued success in tournaments, including a 2011 victory at the Copperhead Cup in Tarpon Springs. In addition to his six-week course, Mike offers clinics designed for kids and one-on-one lessons for those who want more private counseling.