It’s more than Golf; it’s a Destination.
By Jason Hendrix
Director of Communications for the Florida Sports Foundation
Whether on land or in the water, Florida’s 67 counties, 282 cities, 109 towns, and 19 villages offer a combination of sporting entertainment and natural charm that is unrivaled.
While Florida is loaded with spotlight-grabbing attractions like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Busch Gardens, shopping outlets aplenty, and beaches galore, Florida still remains the #1 destination for golf. With its more than 1,100 golf courses, the Sunshine State accounts for more than $16.5 billion in economic impact, 170,000 total jobs, and $764 million in revenue. Outside of the links and greens, there are countless forms of entertainment and activity that also add to the state’s shimmer, prowess, and luster.
Florida’s favorable climate supports year-round sporting activity making the Sunshine State the world’s sports Mecca. More than 8.5 million out-of-state visitors descend on Florida solely for recreational sports.
Did you know Florida features more than 1,000 miles of coastline and 12,000 miles of rivers, streams and canals and more than 8,000 lakes covering three million total acres, many of those spots brimming with fish? Thus, it is no surprise anglers of all ages spend almost a combined total of 60 million days fishing each year in the state and the sport is a booming $7.5 billion industry.
With its pre-eminent fishing scene, Florida’s waters also host multiple swimming, boating, snorkeling, and kayaking adventures throughout the Sunshine State. For a unique experience, paddlers can take part in self-guided or guided tours on its glowing waters of the Gulf of Mexico or smooth streams of Wakulla Springs.
Want to take in a round and also witness the world’s top rowers in action? There’s no better place than Nathan Benderson Park. Located in Sarasota, NBP is a unique 600-acre community park that is North America’s premier 2,000-meter sprint rowing course and Regatta Center. NBP is one of a handful of sites in the United States identified as having all of the natural attributes that make up a world class rowing and recreational facility.
Another striking territory for the Sunshine State is the 1,400-mile Florida Trail, which begins at Big Cypress National preserve in Southwest Florida and ends at Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island in Northwest Florida. As one of only 11 National Scenic Trails in the country, the trek is teeming with swamps, forests, springs and a host of wildlife.
Florida’s sports industry has grown to an estimated $57.4 billion per year industry, supporting more than 588,000 jobs for Floridians while attracting more than 16 million international and out-of-state visitors annually. Through more than 2,800 sporting activities across Florida, the Sunshine State attracts more than 5.3 million non-resident visitors annually, expending more than $3.3 billion.
Florida is home to 10 major professional sports franchises in 5 major sports leagues: Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Soccer and is home to NASCAR, the PGA Tour, the LPGA, and the PGA of America. The Sunshine State is home to 9 Professional Sports championships, including 3 Super Bowl titles, 3 NBA Finals Champions, 2 MLB championships, and 1 Stanley Cup Champion. The Sunshine State’s Professional Sports footprint has an impact of $5.3 billion and accounts for more than 50,000 jobs where more than $2.5 billion of this footprint is associated with the impacts of non-resident visitor expenditures. Of note, events such as Super Bowl LIV (Miami, 2020), Super Bowl LV (Tampa, 2021), 2021 NCAA Division I College Football Playoff Championship in Miami, and World Cup in 2026 are coming to the Sunshine State. Previously, Florida has hosted the MLB All-Star Game (Miami), NHL All-Star game (Tampa), the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four (Tampa), and NFL Pro Bowl as well. Have you bought your ticket yet?
With the winter chill in the northern states in full gear, the Sunshine State opens its doors to Major League Baseball’s Florida Grapefruit League Spring Training that lends an economic impact of $687.1 million. Florida is home to 15 of the 30 MLB club’s spring training programs. Each year, nearly 1.5 million fans attend the 200+ games in 13 communities through the state. Since 2000, a total of 29,651,981 have attended MLB Spring Training games in Florida. Just imagine playing 18 holes of golf in the morning, catching a nine-inning contest in the afternoon, and rounding out the evening with dinner and a drink at one of the many locally-owned restaurants. Name a better combination, we dare you.
From wild, natural beauty to exotic tropical paradise, there is nothing like golfing in Florida with 1,100 courses to discover. From friendly, wide fairways to professionally challenging tour courses, we invite you to explore them all. This is where winter never means a day away from the tee and the sun is always shining and served daily. We invite you to share in the history and wonder that makes Florida the world’s premiere golfing destination. Golf in Florida and experience its vast opportunities today!
For more information, visit playinflorida.com.