Golf in Tallahassee Feels “Just Right”
The story of how Tallahassee became Florida’s Capital City bears some resemblance to the tale of Goldilocks. Located between the then territorial capitals of St. Augustine and Pensacola, the lands that once served as a meeting place for the Apalachee Indians were “just right” for what Floridians needed in a new capital — an accessible location that was easy for all parties to get to. Since that founding nearly 200 years ago, Tallahassee has grown into a thriving Capital City that is increasingly known for Southern hospitality, culinary delights, cultural wonders and world class outdoor pursuits. It’s also a place that serves up some of the most accessible and affordable golf in the deep South. Much like those who sought out these hills, streams, and fields for a seat of government, people are finding that Tallahassee is “just right” for an affordable and interesting Florida golf trip.
What sets Tallahassee apart from other golf destinations in the Sunshine State is both the scenic beauty of North Florida and the abundance of affordable playing options. The first thing that most golfers notice when playing in Tallahassee are the hilly landscapes that are ideal for framing golf holes. With a terrain shaped by the forces of nature during the last ice age and a deep red clay soil, the region is known around the world as the Red Hills. Because of the unique ecosystem and relentless local conservation efforts, the Nature Conservancy once declared the area one of America’s Last Great Places. It’s hard to imagine a more unique setting for golf in Florida.
The range of public golf offerings in Tallahassee paints a full picture of why so many people fall in love with the area. Golf in Tallahassee is a fantastic way to experience the charms of the Capital City and its surrounding region. Golfers visiting Tallahassee will find a menu of options that include historic layouts, bucolic southern retreats, and challenging holes for every skill set. Amazingly, this collection of publicly accessible golf also comes at a highly affordable price. With conveniently located scenic courses in the city and easy to reach day trip destinations, there is no shortage of great golf available to those who bring their clubs to Tallahassee.
Capital City Country Club
Located in the Myers Park Historic District and less than one mile from Downtown, Capital City Country Club is Tallahassee’s most historic golf course. First established in 1908, the club’s course was designed by the renowned architect A.W. Tillinghast – a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Known for its sweeping vistas and ancient live oaks, Capital City has become a must-see course for enthusiasts of classical course design. The course offers both views of the Capitol and some of the most unforgettable holes in Tallahassee. As part of the Florida Historic Golf Trail, Capital City Country Club offers golfers the chance to experience another era while enjoying a timeless golf experience.
Killearn Country Club
As the former home to the PGA Tour’s Tallahassee Open, Killearn Country Club has hosted many of golf’s legendary players. With winners including major champions like Lee Trevino, Hubert Green, and Jeff Sluman, the Tallahassee Open was a notable event on the tour for twenty years. Today, the course at Killearn remains popular with residents and visitors alike. Winding among the quiet streets of the Killearn Estates neighborhood, each hole presents a little taste of Tallahassee’s natural beauty in a tranquil setting. Legendary FSU football coach, Bobby Bowden, was a frequent player there in his younger days and still lives on the course. Golfers seeking to discover why some people come to Tallahassee and never leave might just find the answer here.
Southwood Golf Club
As the centerpiece of a master planned community, the Southwood Golf Club was built on the grounds of a former hunting plantation which was once owned by Florida land baron Edward Ball. The course was designed by Masters Champion Fred Couples and features some of the most dramatic holes in all of North Florida. Players will find risk/reward scenarios set among the hills, live oaks, and laid back living that Tallahassee is known for. The course was also home to the FSU golf team during an era that saw PGA Tour winners like Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger leading the squad. If you like your golf served with sweet tea and southern charm, this is the spot to find it.
Hilaman Park Golf Course
The City of Tallahassee operates Hilaman Park as one its municipal golf facilities and the course is one of the most popular places for local residents to enjoy the game. Originally founded as Winewood Country Club, the city purchased the course for the public use and has invested heavily in its presentation for decades. Hilaman features a hilly layout that offers both great scoring opportunities and demanding shots for anyone wanting to test their game. Hilaman Park hosts the annual City Championship each Summer and always presents a fun challenge no matter your handicap. Scrappy players will find the course suits their game well.
The Golf Club at SummerBrooke
Located in Northeast Tallahassee, the Golf Club at Summerbrooke is considered a “hidden gem” by many local golfers. Tucked away behind one of Tallahassee’s world-famous canopy roads, Summerbrooke is a neighborhood course that offers some of the most challenging holes in the area. With riveting par threes and many holes that require old school shot making skills, Summerbrooke makes for an entertaining golf experience. Players must avoid the pitfalls of the infamous “Devil’s Elbow” holes in order to score well. You won’t have to fight crowds at Summerbrooke, but you will need to fend off errant tee shots if you want to make pars.
Jake Gaither Golf Course
As the City of Tallahassee’s only nine-hole golf course, Jake Gaither is highly regarded among local players looking to play a quick round of golf. This municipal course is named after the legendary Florida A&M University football coach who lived nearby. During his tenure, Coach Gaither compiled one of the greatest winning records in college football history. The golf course that bears his name is a testament to sportsmanship and Tallahassee’s strong athletic traditions. Originally built for minority golfers during the segregation era, today, the Gaither course is a popular place for all golfers to remember why the game is such a wonderful way to connect with neighbors, family, and friends. It may only have half the holes as other courses, but the golf requires your full attention.
Day Trips from Tallahassee
These nearby communities are the ideal way to extend your trip for a few more rounds.
The Golf Club of Quincy
Designed by famed golf course architect Joe Lee, The Golf Club of Quincy is well worth the drive to neighboring Gadsden County. The City of Quincy is known for its former shade tobacco industry and having numerous citizens who became “Coca Cola Millionaires” during the twentieth century. The golf course there is set among the charms of rural North Florida and offers golfers the chance to take in the countryside while playing a stunning layout. With holes that showcase the topography of the Red Hills along with the abundant wildlife that call our region home, The Golf Club of Quincy is sure to be a memorable round for anyone who ventures to play there.
St. James Bay Golf Club
Located just off the Big Bend Scenic Byway in seaside Franklin County, St. James Bay Golf Club is the perfect place to play for anyone seeking a taste of the Forgotten Coast. As an Audubon Signature Sanctuary, the course is home to many of the wildlife species that are unique to Florida’s gulf coast. With marshes, estuaries, bays, and harbors along the way, players seeking to play at St. James Bay will enjoy one of the most beautiful drives in all of Florida. The golf at St. James Bay is only eclipsed by the stunning beauty of its surroundings. With challenging holes and America’s best seafood all within an hour’s drive of Tallahassee, St. James Bay makes for a compelling road trip from the Capital City. If you can’t find any birdies on the course, oysters on the half shell make for a great substitute.
Tired Creek Golf Course
Located in the sleepy surrounds of Cairo, Georgia, Tired Creek makes for a great reason to cross the State border. Formerly known as Cairo Country Club, the course’s new name speaks to the easy-going nature of the golf there. With views of nearby farms and memorable walks through towering pines, Tired Creek offers golfers the chance to experience a taste of Southwest, Georgia while only having to travel a short distance from Tallahassee. Taking the backroads makes for a pleasant drive to find a little scenery and some darn good golf holes.
There are countless reasons to visit Florida’s Capital City and the golf here should be near the top of the list. From the Forgotten Coast to the Red Hills and beyond, a dose of North Florida golf will make any trip to Tallahassee more memorable. Some folks call this place paradise, and if you ask the golfers, they’ll tell you it’s because the rounds are just as affordable as they are enjoyable.
Jay Revell is a golf writer based in Tallahassee, Florida. He is the author of The Nine Virtues of Golf: Essays, Musings, and Other Contemplations on the Game. His stories, essays, travelogues and histories have been featured in a wide variety of popular publications including The Golfer’s Journal, McKellar Magazine, Golf.com, and Golf Advisor. Jay has also worked to tell golf stories for brands such as MacKenzie Golf Bags and Visit Florida. He publishes regular musings on the game via his personal website JayRevell.com.