Four Polk Courses on Florida Historic Golf Trail

Four golf courses in Polk County are among 50 public-access courses across the state named to the newly created Florida Historic Golf Trail.

Bartow Golf Course, Cleveland Heights Golf Course, Wedgewood Golf Club and Lekarica Hills Golf Course are part of the Trail, which consists of public courses that can be played today.

The Florida Department of State created the Trail to celebrate Florida's heritage in golf from 1897 through 1949.

The Department of State said many courses were built by noted course architects as resort-style hotels that followed the path of the state's railroad system.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced the launch of the Trail Sept. 16 at Winter Park Country Club, which first opened in 1914.

Mission Inn Resort at Howey-in-the-Hills, which first opened in 1917, is one of the most well-known courses.

Bartow Golf Course, designed by Donald Ross, opened in 1926. It is Bartow's municipal course. Charles Howe was the first club professional. He later became the pro at Wedgewood.

Cleveland Heights opened in 1925 and was taken over by the city of Lakeland in the late 1930s. The municipal course was designed by William Flynn, with the clubhouse first located at the Lakeland Yacht Club site on Lake Hollingsworth. Two holes were built on the north side of Edgewood Drive where Veterans Park is today. It expanded to 27 holes in the early 1980s.

Wedgewood opened in 1931 and was originally called Carpenter's Home Golf Course as part of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America facility for 400 retired carpenters. It was later known as William L. Hutcheson Golf Course and Lake Gibson Golf & Country Estates. Lakeland course architect Ron Garl renovated the par-70 course in 1983.

Lekarica Hills was originally the Highland Park Club in the early 1920s. It was only 12 holes until the 1990s, according to the Division of Historical Resources in the Department of State. The new name is thought to be derived from three children of a past owner — Lesley, Kara and Eric.

Ross designed several of the courses on the Trail, including Bobby Jones Golf Club in Sarasota (1927) and Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables (1926).

Pinecrest Golf Club in Avon Park and Sebring Golf Club are also included on the Trail.

A TV commercial for the Trail featuring Arnold Palmer is airing on NBC Sports and Golf Channel.

For a list and description of all of the courses,