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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips.

As stadiums and arenas shuttered their doors and cancelled events last year, one sport experienced an unprecedented surge: golf. Sprawling courses provided socially distanced outdoor fun for millions of Americans. In fact, the National Golf Foundation says golf hasn’t seen interest rise like this since 1997 when Tiger Woods burst onto the scene.

Another activity on the rise is the road trip. So why not combine the two and hit the road on a Florida to South Carolina journey that  includes some of the best golf the Southeast has to offer? In less than 300 miles, hit up some of the best golf in the Southeast without ever losing sight of the Atlantic Ocean.

RELATED: 5 best golf resorts that happen to be in wine country

Day 1: Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, FL

The Ocean Course at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

The Ocean Course at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club (Photo: Ponte Vedra Inn & Club)

One of Florida’s oldest golf courses, the renovated par-71 Ocean Course at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra, Florida, reopened in September 2020. Approaching its centennial, the Ocean Course has been the site of the U.S. Open qualifying five times and has hosted the Gate Invitational since 1985.

From the greens to the bunkers, everything was rebuilt in 2020 to meet current USGA standards with an emphasis on strategy and overall aesthetics. There’s a new 13th hole on the back nine, while the 14th hole has a new look from the tees and is now a longer, more challenging par-5. Lastly, the 9th hole with its historic Island Green is a highlight and was visually enhanced during the renovations to provide a better view of the putting surface.

Where to stay: Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

Day 2: The Players Championship at Sawgrass, FL

The famed 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass (Photo: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

Where better to play a round of golf than at the world headquarters of professional golf? THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass (also in Ponte Vedra) was built in 1980 to host THE PLAYERS Championship. Today, golfers of all skill levels get the chance to play on a championship-caliber course open to the public, walking in the footsteps of their favorite pros.

Famously, this course was designed so it doesn’t favor any particular player or style of play. With short, medium and long holes, both right and left doglegs and a mix of par-3, par-4 and par-5 holes, the course is laid out so that no two consecutive holes ever play in the same direction. The 17th hole is one of the most recognizable in golf with its island green. This one is a course every golfer should play at least once in their life.

Where to stay: Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa

Day 3: The Golf Club of Amelia Island, FL

The Golf Club of Amelia Island at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island

The Golf Club of Amelia Island at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island (Photo: Amelia Island CVB)

This oceanfront course is adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island in Fernandina Beach, Florida. The first nine holes include lakes and towering live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, while the back nine open into wider fairways and head through marshes toward the ocean.

Accommodating all levels of play, the par-72 course was designed by PGA Tour veteran Mark McCumber and legendary golfer Gene Littler. Strategic bunkering and the shifting ocean breeze make each round here unique.

Where to stay: Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island

Day 4: King and Prince Golf Course, GA

Aerial view of the King and Prince Golf Course (Photo: King and Prince Golf Course)

If you want to play golf where professional golfers have flocked to live, St. Simons Island (and neighboring Sea Island) in coastal Georgia is the place to do it. From Davis Love III to Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Harris English, and Brian Harman, many professional golfers have called St. Simons Island home.

Although many of the courses in the area are private, the par-72 King and Prince Golf Course is semi-private and more accessible than other nearby options. The course bends through ancient live oaks across lakes and lagoons, but it’s signature is the four salt marsh island holes accessed by 800-feet of elevated cart bridges.

Where to stay: The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort

Day 5: Atlantic Dunes, SC

The 15th hole at Atlantic Dunes, Hilton Head

The 15th hole at Atlantic Dunes (Photo: The Sea Pines Resort / Rob Tipton)

With more than 15 courses open to the public, Hilton Head Island, in South Carolina is a golfer’s paradise. Perhaps some of the best golf on the island, however, is situated at the Sea Pines Resort, which features three courses. Home of Harbour Town Golf Links, the host of the RBC Heritage, Sea Pines Resort also offers Heron Point by Pete Dye and Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III.

Atlantic Dunes was a complete reconstruction unveiled in 2016 of the original Ocean Course, the first course built on Hilton Head. Five-time RBC Heritage winner Davis Love III seemed the obvious choice to modernize the course, which included restoration of natural sand dunes and creation of new dunes. Tens of thousands of indigenous plants were installed along with accents of coquina shells and seaside grass to enhance the seaside feel of this beachfront 72-par course.

Home to one of the only oceanside holes in Hilton Head, Atlantic Dunes is a must-visit for those who want extraordinary views while they play.

Where to stay: The Inn and Club at Harbour Town

Day 6: Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, SC

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island (Photo credit: Kiawah Island Golf Resort/Steve Uzzell)

Boasting the most seaside holes in the Northern Hemisphere, the Ocean Course is unlike anything else you can find in the United States. Ten of the holes hug the Atlantic Ocean, while the remaining eight sit parallel to those. There are ocean views from every hole, but that comes with a price. With no prevailing wind on the course, it can play differently depending on whether there’s an easterly or westerly wind, meaning a player can experience up to an 8-club difference on holes from one round to the next.

The Ocean Course can be more like playing in the United Kingdom or Ireland than in South Carolina. Designed by Pete Dye, it has hosted the Ryder Cup (1991) and the PGA Championship (2012 and returning in 2021) and was named the most challenging course in America in 2010 by Golf Digest.

Where to stay: The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort

Tagged: Florida

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Kristi Dosh
Kristi Dosh is a recovering attorney, published author and freelance writer. She previously served as ESPN's sports business reporter and continues to cover sports business for Forbes and other outlets. She writes novels and blogs about travel under the pen name Savannah Carlisle.
Kristi Dosh

@savvycarlisle

Author currently writing a contemporary romance #beachread. 🏖️ My alter ego writes about sports: @sportsbizmiss. Recovering Attorney. Rep'd by @bradfordlit.
I've had a very productive rainy Sunday. ☔ I cleaned out my closet and have watched three @hallmarkchannel movies on my DVR. - 2 days ago
Kristi Dosh
Kristi Dosh

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