I’ve been blessed through my career to visit dozens of this country’s most beautiful golf destinations. Work has called me to explore alluring places from sea to shining sea, from Pinehurst to Pebble Beach.
And from those trips I have created memories that will stay with me until I’m too old to remember my own name.
Truth is, however, that most of those resorts and destinations are far too expensive to be more than a bucket-list trip for the majority of golfers.
Recently duty called me to a different kind of destination, one known more for racecars than golf carts. Sebring, Fla., has hosted the 12 Hours of Sebring road race annually since 1952 at Sebring International Raceway, placing it among the elite destinations for racing enthusiasts worldwide.
But what I didn’t know about Sebring was that is home to some outstanding golf courses at very attractive prices. The recently-created Citrus Golf Trail consist of a dozen golf courses that offer solid golf at rates that fit anyone’s budget.
And that’s something the golf industry sorely needs.
They include a Donald Ross design that was site of the first nationally televised golf tournament back in the ‘50s. The recently renovated Pinecrest Golf Club is carved out of orange groves and features the nuances Ross is known for – small, elevated greens with false fronts that test even the best short games.
The history lesson continues at Harder Hall Country Club, where players like Christie Kerr, Natalie Gulbis, Brittany Lincicome, Charley Hull and Stacy Lewis have won the Harder Hall Women’s Invitational held every January.
The Citrus Golf Trail is located in the center of Florida among cattle ranches and orange groves, offering a glimpse of what the state use to be before the arrival of Walt Disney just an hour away, and the glitzy resorts that dot each coastline.
The relaxed and welcoming nature of the folks who live and work here is reflected in THE place to stay for a golf getaway in Sebring – Inn On The Lakes. Set in lush landscaped gardens, this relaxed lakeside hotel offers a true home-away-from-home feel, with a terrific restaurant and bar – Chicanes – that serves a free hot breakfast as part of every golf package.
Diverse activities for post-golf adventures abound. You can tour the town of Placid Lakes and its dozens of fascinating murals that cover the sirs of buildings. And check out the American Clown Museum and School while you’re there.
Highlands Hammock State Park is a 9,000-acre park that opened in 1931, four years before the Florida state park system was created. Over the past 80 years Maxwell Groves has evolved from a small open-air fruit stand into a packinghouse with a country store that offers a sprawling front porch with orange rockers where customers relax, enjoy homemade orange ice cream or freshly squeezed orange juice. And Cowpokes Watering Hole is a combination restaurant, lounge and dance hall that once had a live gator housed inside.
But more than anything, the Citrus Golf Trail offers a solution to one of the golf industry’s biggest issues – solid golf at affordable prices. It’s a bucket list item that can be enjoyed time and time again.