It?s not uncommon to stumble upon fake alligators as you make your way around a mini-golf course. But at Smuggler's 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: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,329 yards from the tips * Course rating of 70.6 from the tips * Slope rating of 123 from the tips * Three tee options * See the scorecard
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:
Dunedin Stirling Links' 18 par 3 holes sprawl across 27 acres of Scottish links-style fairways. Whereas a typical links course has few trees, this one is lined with pines and palms, blocking the wind from knocking shots off course and blowing up kilts. The course is short overall—its longest hole is just 163 yards—welcoming novice golfers and giving experienced players a chance to hone their short games. What the course lacks in length, it makes up for in challenging shots—the 10th, 17th, and 18th tee shots must each clear water hazards. Golfers can work toward improving their personal best at the practice facility, complete with a lighted driving range for evening repetitions and a 4,000-square-foot putting green. Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 54 course * Total length of 2,264 yards from the back tees * Two sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
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.