What are the best golf courses in the Tampa-Sarasota area? Just ask golfers themselves

PARKER, CO. – MAY 29: Jay Don Blake tees off the eighth hole during the third round of the Senior PGA Championship at the Colorado Golf Club on May 29, 2010 in Parker, Colorado. (Photo by Marc Feldman/Getty Images) –

The golf scene from Tampa-St. Petersburg area to Sarasota is a coveted — and crowded one. Area residents and seasonal visitors have their pick of the litter around this part of the Florida coast. Among Top 100-rated and PGA Tour host courses like World Woods and the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, a wealth of lesser-known public and semi-private clubs also warrant plenty of attention.

We've scanned the player ratings of the 90-plus area public golf courses on GolfNow.com. to uncover which stand out above the rest between Brooksville and Sarasota.

The GolfNow Leaderboard: Top 10 golf courses in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota

1. Rolling Oaks at World Woods (4.68/5.0): It's not surprising that World Woods tops the list in Tampa-area panels, but the fact it's Rolling Oaks and not Pine Barrens is the shocker. Rolling Oaks delivers a more traditional, lowcountry-type layout with mossy oaks and rolling land that's supremely pleasant. 

2. Kingsway Country Club (4.67/5.0) – Golfers praise this semi-private facility as one of the best layouts for the money around Sarasota. A classic layout from the 1970s, course architect Ron Garl rebuilt the course after Hurricane Charley in 2004. 

3. Club Renaissance (4.63/5.0) – Just south of downtown Tampa, this is the top-rated course around Tampa and best of the courses located at Sun City Center. A private club that offers some limited public play, it can be played for less than $60 in the morning.

4. Pine Barrens at World Woods (4.63/5): A perennial Top 100-ranked course, there's nothing quite like the sandy, dramatic setting at Pine Barrens anywhere else in Florida. It's also one of the most accessible and affordable courses in the Top 100. View photos of Pine Barrens.

5. River Strand Golf and Country Club (4.45/5.0): Golfers call conditions absolutely pristine on this 27-hole Arthur Hills layout in Bradenton. View photos of River Strand.

7. Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club (4.42/5.0): One of the area's more reputable semi-private clubs, there are over 1,000 acres at the disposal of this gated community with 36 holes of golf.

8. Heron Creek Golf & Country Club (4.36/5.0): South of Sarasota, Heron Creek features 27 well-conditioned holes of Arthur Hills-designed golf, plus private club-worthy amenities.

9. IMG Academy Golf Club (4.32/5.0): More than just aspiring junior players have taken to IMG Academy, thanks to stellar conditions and a challenging course layout. View photos of IMG Academy. 

10. St. Petersburg Country Club (4.32/5). This classic area country club recently began allowing public play for $69 in the morning, and area golfers appear to appreciate this institution opening its gates.

Ratings based of GolfNow.com golfer reviews of Tampa and Sarasota-area golf courses between 9/20/12 and 3/5/12. Minimum 25 reviews needed to qualify.