GREAT GOLFING IN MIAMI
Challenging Courses and Tropical Surroundings
By Arvin Steinberg
I recently took a tour of Miami’s finest courses, and this is what I discovered on my golfing holiday. Miami, FL offers some of the best and most challenging golf courses you could ask for. And that’s only part of the fun. Miami also has magnificent hotels that complement your golf getaway experience, and, of course, South Beach, with its fine restaurants and exciting nightlife.
I started my tour at Crandon Golf Course, a public course on picturesque Key Biscayne, which is rated by Golf Digest as “One of America’s top 75 upscale courses”. Playing Crandon Golf Course is like escaping from civilization, and it’s only ten minutes from downtown Miami. The first thing that impressed me was the beauty of the course. It’s surrounded by water, mangrove forests, and lush, tropical foliage. You also see lots of wildlife-- egrets, ibis, and colorful iguanas in their natural habitat.
Experiencing the natural splendor of the course is a real treat, but the course itself presents a true test of any golfer’s skill. It’s a challenge from the first hole, a dogleg par-5 that requires a drive over water and mangroves, through the 18th hole, another par-5 with Biscayne Bay on one side of the fairway and a saltwater lake on the other. I guarantee that your skill will be tested on the fourth hole -- at 638 yards, one of the longest par-5s in Florida -- or the seventh hole, touted as one of the greatest holes in golf, a par-4 that doglegs to the right over water.
Only five minutes from Crandon Golf Course is the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne oceanfront resort that opened in July 2001. It’s Miami’s only luxury resort built in the last three decades. In addition to the usual amenities expected at a Ritz-Carlton hotel, this hotel offers a 1,200-foot golden sand beach. There are also two ocean view pools including one with a waterfall and adjacent whirlpool, and a “tranquility pool”. Near the pools is an oceanfront “Ritz Kids” pavilion and pool for the youngsters. The hotel has a spacious fitness center with modern equipment and personal trainers, a 20,000 square-foot spa offering more than 60 treatments, and an 11-court Tennis Garden.
Another way to enjoy a wonderful golf getaway in Greater Miami, is to play the scenic Biltmore Golf Course, a public golf course, adjacent to the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, and, incidentally, one of former president Bill Clinton’s favorite golfing spots. An early morning round of play on this carefully manicured course with clustered shade and palm trees is a tranquil setting that would please the most discriminating golfer. This 18-hole championship golf course was designed by Donald Ross who is considered “golf’s all-time greatest golf architect”, according to Golf Digest magazine.
The Biltmore Hotel is South Florida’s only National Historic Landmark resort and its rich history dates back to the roaring Twenties. In its heyday, the Biltmore played host to royalty, from both Europe and Hollywood. The Biltmore’s swimming pool is considered the largest hotel pool in the Continental U.S. and it is one of the most beautiful in the world.
In keeping with traditional European grand hotels, Old World charm permeates throughout the property. The Biltmore also offers a spa and fitness center, and fine restaurants, including a newly opened upscale French restaurant.
Turnberry Isle Resort & Club situated within the lush surroundings of Aventura in North Miami, offers two championship golf courses. Both courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. are masterpieces. Both courses are exceptionally well-maintained, have firm green fairways, gracefully sculpted bunkers, and scenic tropical surroundings. The 18th hole on the South Course features Turnberry’s famous “Island Green”.
Turnberry’s two courses have won numerous awards, but I think one award really gives credit where credit is due. Golf Digest ranked Turnberry resort among the top ten golf courses in the country for outstanding service. I have personal experience that Turnberry offers outstanding service with a capital “S” from the minute you enter the pro-shop until you finish your round of golf.
In addition to the championship golf courses, Turnberry Isle Resort & Club is a stunning Mediterranean style hotel secluded on 300 tropical acres. Turnberry recently opened a 25,000 square foot state-of-the-art spa and fitness center. The spa’s three floors are connected by a grand spiral staircase. There are 26 treatment rooms and a 3,650 square foot fitness center.
Also, for fine dining, don’t miss the Veranda, the resort’s gourmet restaurant.
Don Shula’s Hotel and Golf Club in Miami Lakes, named for the legendary Miami Dolphins coach, offers a fantastic golf getaway.
Don Shula’s Golf Club features an 18-hole “split personality” championship course. The front nine holes resemble northern courses with long narrow tree-lined fairways. The back nine holes offer some great Florida attractions – plenty of water and marsh traps and dense foliage with tropical birds and other wildlife. The Golf Club also offers a lighted Par 3 18-hole Executive Course that is open nightly until 11 P.M. A driving range and practice area are also lighted and are open until 11 P.M.
Don Shula’s Hotel has a program based on Coach Shula’s philosophies of physical fitness and team building sports to help its guests stay healthy and fit. If exercising is in your plans, the hotel’s 44,000 square foot Athletic Club will accommodate your needs. Also, you won’t want to miss dinner at the original Shula’s Steakhouse. The 1972 Miami Dolphins landmark perfect season is the theme of the restaurant. A special feature is the 48-ounce Angus steak. If you can consume this enormous steak, you become a member of the 48-Ounce Club, which boasts having thousands of members. I tried, but I just couldn’t finish it. Maybe next time, but the night course was one of my memorable evenings spent in Miami.
If you aren’t exhausted after playing fabulous golf at the above courses, the world famous Doral Golf Resort & Spa and its 99 holes is in Miami to challenge your skills. There is the Blue Monster, home of the Doral-Ryder Open, the new Jerry Pate Silver Course, the Raymond Floyd Gold Course, the Red Course and The Great White.
The Doral is also a good place for families with many amenities including a zero entry pool, a plunge pool, a children’s pool and a super-splasher, 125-foot Blue Monster waterslide. There’s also Camp Doral where kids can enjoy all sorts of fun activities while you take off for the course. And there’s the spa for mom or the woman in your life.
If you like golf, there is no better place than Miami to enjoy some of the best golfing in the nation.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, 701 Brickell Avenue, Suite 2700, Miami, Florida 33131, Phone: (305) 539-3084; Fax: (305) 539-2911