By Ryan Asselta
The crack of the bat, the pop of the mitt—ah, the sweet sounds of Spring Training.
Major League Baseball teams take to the warm oases of the Sunshine State and the Grand Canyon State each spring in preparation for the upcoming season, giving fans the perfect opportunity to see the multiple teams in action every day and grab an autograph from their favorite players.
For golfers, the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are also surrounded by a plethora of magnificent courses. Here’s a look at the best accessible clubs close by.
East Coast of Florida
Teams: New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins, Washington Nationals
Abacoa Golf Club—Jupiter, Fla.
Located in the heart of Jupiter, Abacoa is considered one of the top public-access golf courses in all of South Florida. The course was the last designed by well-respected architect Joe Lee, who among others, designed Cog Hill and Callaway Gardens and had a hand in Bay Hill and La Costa.
Abacoa’s location is ideal for mixing golf and spring training baseball. The course is just a half mile from Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, home of the Cardinals and Marlins, 12 miles to the site of both the Astros and the World Series Champion Washington Nationals, and less than an hour from the Mets in Port St. Lucie.
Better to bring extra golf balls—14 of Abacoa’s 18 holes are surrounded by water.
Southwest Coast of Florida
Teams: Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Tampa Rays
Tiburon Golf Club—Naples, Fla.
After making your way from Florida’s east coast across Alligator Alley, a stop at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples is a must. The Greg Norman-designed 27-hole layout is well worth the splurge and is a unique golf experience. Similar to the Australian courses he grew up playing, the Shark laid out Tiburon with zero rough and fairways lined by waste areas.
The club also offers golfers a chance to play where the pros play as the course is home of the PGA Tour’s QBE Shootout and the LPGA Tour’s CME Group Tour Championship.
With the Red Sox and Twins only 25 miles north in Fort Myers and both the Rays and Braves around one hour away in the same direction, Tiburon is the perfect spot to tee it up before heading up I-75.
Teams: New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves
TPC Tampa Bay—Lutz, Fla.
An oldie but a goodie, TPC Tampa Bay makes for an ideal round in the morning before the afternoon ballgames in the Central Florida region. Just north of Tampa, the golf course is less than an hour’s drive from the Yankees, Phillies, Tigers, Blue Jays, and Pirates complexes.
The 1991 Bobby Weed layout hosted the PGA Tour Champions for 21 consecutive years and will play host to the final stage of the 2021 PGA Tour Champions qualifying tournament in November.
East of Phoenix
Teams: Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies
We Ko Pa Golf Club—Fort McDowell, Ariz.
Situated on Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation land, We Ko Pa is a 36-hole gem in the Sonoran Desert. The Cholla and Saguaro courses offer golfers a unique, natural, and uninterrupted experience, with no real estate distracting from the pure Arizona environment. It’s common to see roadrunners, coyotes, and snakes roaming the fairways here.
The club is roughly 25 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and less than a 30-minute drive from the spring training homes of six major league teams.
Troon North Golf Club—Scottsdale, Ariz.
This 36-hole daily fee golf club in Scottsdale ranks first on my personal list of favorite Arizona golf courses. A self-described “pure desert classic,” Troon North’s Pinnacle and Monument courses offer golfers desert views for miles. The cactus-lined fairways provide plenty of room to bomb it off the tee, assuming you can steer clear of the giant boulder resting in the middle of the 3rd fairway of the Monument course. Troon North is conveniently located within 35 minutes of the heart of Scottsdale proper.
West of Phoenix
Teams: Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers
Quintero Golf Course—Peoria, Ariz.
Widely regarded as one of the top public golf courses in Arizona, Quintero offers the pristine playing conditions often expected at the area’s top private layouts. Designed by Rees Jones, Quintero is the best golf option in a section west of the capital loaded with spring training baseball.
The widely popular Dodgers and White Sox are among nine major league teams less than 50 minutes from Quintero. Go watch your team workout in the morning and hit the links in the afternoon, wrapping up the day with a refreshment at the 19th hole voted Best of the Valley in 2019.