MIAMI BEACH GOLF CLUB *** 1/2
This course is remarkable not so much for its topography as its location: just five blocks from Collins Avenue, the epicenter of South Beach. And then there’s the backstory of Miami Beach Golf Club. Opened as Bayshore Golf Course in 1923, it served as an Army training ground during World War II and then was purchased by Miami in the late forties to foil out-of-town real estate speculators who wanted to build homes on the property. The city, which owns the land, eventually took what had become a barely playable muni and spent $10 million to revamp it in 2002 under the direction of Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest. They replaced the Bermuda grass with heat-tolerant seaside paspalum to yield greener fairways and fuller lies, and drained and reshaped a dozen ponds. The result is an artful, well-manicured course that packs plenty of punch. Pay particular attention on the par-three seventeenth, a 183-yarder that requires a carry over water and sand to a steeply sloping green.
2301 Alton Road, Miami Beach; 305-532-3350, miamibeachgolfclub.com. Yardage: 6,813. Par: 72. Slope: 131. Architect: Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest, 2002. Greens Fees: $120–$200.
BEST OF THE REST
Don Shula’s Golf Club (305-820-8106) is a pleasant resort course that enjoys almost a cult following, thanks in part to the coach’s original steakhouse in the adjoining hotel. With its gentle greens and manageable length, the Gold course at Doral (305-592-3000) serves as either an ideal warmup to the mighty Blue Monster or a much needed confidence-restorer afterward; the resort also boasts Greg Norman’s desert-style Great White, whose bite was recently softened by the Shark himself. Also worthy are the Country Club of Miami (305-829-4700), home to a pair of Robert Trent Jones Sr. eighteens, and the Diplomat Country Club & Spa (954-883-4444), which displays the touch of Florida design legend Joe Lee.
Where to Stay
The Biltmore This grande dame and National Historic Landmark has been a hub of South Florida social activity since it first welcomed sun-seeking guests in 1926. Nods to contemporary tastes include a fitness center and wellness spa, while the 23,000-square-foot pool, where Esther Williams and Johnny Weissmuller once cavorted, remains a favorite. So do its festive Sunday brunch and the Tuesday-night "Cigars Under the Stars."
1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables; 305-445-1926, biltmorehotel.com. Rooms: $319–$359. Suites: $389–$1,995.
Doral Golf Resort & Spa It’s no wonder PGA Tour pros look forward to this annual stop on the Florida swing. Just seven miles from Miami International Airport, Doral is the quintessential Florida golf resort: five courses and a Jim McLean school, a leading spa, on-site shopping and a camp for the kids. The resort, now operated by Marriott, began its ongoing $40 million renovation in 2004.
4400 N.W. 87th Avenue, Miami; 305-592-2000, doralresort.com. Rooms: $129–$219. Suites: $399–$489.
Ritz-Carlton, South Beach Opened on New Year’s Eve 2003, this oceanfront palace sits squarely in the art deco district and is itself a lavishly retrofitted iteration of an art moderne hotel designed by the architect Morris Lapidus in 1953. The new incarnation includes a 16,000-square-foot spa with a tanning butler and, by next fall, a restaurant to be run by Daniel Boulud.
One Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; 786-276-4000, ritzcarlton.com. Rooms: $239–$999. Suites: $400–$5,000.