Where to Golf in Miami

Duffers play Key Biscayne's Crandon Golf Course, arguably one of the prettiest public courses in the nation. Photo: Raul Ribiera.

From the zero-handicapper to the casual duffer, Miami’s wide array of golf courses offer something for every taste and skill level. Want to challenge yourself or friends to beat par on a PGA course? Or maybe play a round through 18 holes of the prettiest scenery you’ve ever seen? When your inner Tiger is calling, South Florida’s golf courses have the answer. And, best of all, the weather is always right to hit the links. We’ve found the area’s top courses – and some of the most fun, too.

Where the pros play, high rollers vacation and greens fees are never an issue.

Doral Golf Resort and Spa
Home of the CA/World Golf Championships, Doral features four courses designed to challenge and amaze. The crown jewel is the par-72 Blue Monster where the pros themselves struggle to break par, while the Great White course, designed by golf legend Greg Norman is a crowd favorite. But don’t forget the Red and Gold courses with perfectly-manicured fairways and speedy greens designed to make you work for par.
Who’s there: Movers and shakers from all over the world who make a trip to Doral the centerpiece of fantasy golf weekends.
Prices: Blue Course: summer $390, winter $450 (plus fees for mandatory caddy); White Course: summer $160, winter $250; Red Course: summer $135, winter $190 (opens August 2014); Gold Course: summer $160, winter $190 (opens December 2014); Silver Course: summer $160, winter $190 (off-site, shuttle available).
400 NW 87th Ave., Doral; 305-592-2000/800-713-6725

The Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club
Turnberry just updated its two courses as part of $100 million in resort upgrades. PGA legend and World Golf Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd headed the design for both the North and South courses, and he spared no expense – Turnberry reportedly shelled out more than $100,000 per hole. The expensive fun starts at the first tee of the South Course, where guests gape at a waterfall – one of a handful that dot the course. You have to be a resort guest or a member to play, but with all the new upgrades, it’s well worth it to wangle an invitation.
Who’s there: Big money and big business. The Turnberry is not cheap but the resort invests the money into the amenities. Floyd also makes rare visits to play his masterpieces.
Prices: June-September $100, twilight (after 4 p.m.) $50; October $200 for 18 holes, twilight $100; November-December $280, twilight $140; January-April $295, twilight $150; May $200, twilight $100. Prices are the same for both courses. Must be a guest at hotel or a member to play. 
19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura; 305-932-6200

Don Shula’s Hotel and Golf Club
It may be named for a football coach, but make no mistake: this is serious golf. With tree-lined fairways and clear streams and lakes as water hazards, this jewel of a course belies its location right off the traffic nightmare that is the Palmetto Expressway. Just exit the freeway in Miami Lakes for a journey to golf nirvana. And don’t forget your Dolphins hat.
Who’s there: A number of local pro athletes call Shula’s home, not just for the good golf but for the steaks found at Shula’s namesake restaurant, also on the premises.
Prices: Weekdays from 7-11 a.m. $100, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $80, twilight (after 2 p.m.) $45; Weekends and holidays 7-11 a.m. $140, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $80, twilight (after 3 p.m.) $45.
7601 Miami Lakes Drive, Miami Lakes; 305-820-8106

The Diplomat
Located just outside of Miami-Dade County in Hallandale Beach, The Diplomat is worth a special trip. The Joe Lee design features rolling hills and 50-year-old foliage that predates the course itself. With the natural beauty and the steady winds breezing in from the nearby Intracoastal Waterway, the golfing is difficult but well worth the lost balls. Like any true golf course destination, the Diplomat has an island green, located on its signature second hole.
Who’s there: The legend of the Diplomat swings wide, drawing CEOs and bigwigs from both Broward and Dade.
Prices: Prices vary day to day. Starting price at about $85 in the morning, after 2:30 p.m. $50, after 4:30 p.m. $41. Public welcome.
501 Diplomat Parkway, Hollywood; 954-602-6000

Proving that ‘public’ doesn’t equal ‘awful’, these courses cater to every level and any wallet.

Crandon Golf Course
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque public course anywhere in the country. Located on the water on Key Biscayne, Crandon – former home of an LPGA tour event – features lush tropical surroundings and plenty of water. A number of holes are also framed by the bay. Beautiful scenery aside, the course has real bite – the bay swallows up plenty of wayward balls.
Who’s there: A wide range of skill levels and ages populate the course throughout the year ranging from ritzy Key residents to regular old folks who just wanna play a round.
Prices: Monday-Friday $80; Weekends and holidays $90; Miami-Dade County residents $60 and nonresidents $70. Twilight golf after 3 p.m. $40, and after 4:30 p.m. $30. South Florida residents special from 1-3 p.m. $60.
6700 Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne; 305-361-9129

Palmetto Golf Course
Serving Miami’s golf community for close to 50 years, Palmetto is the quintessential public course with reasonable prices and a challenging 18 holes. The fairways are dotted with the course’s namesake palmetto trees and water comes into play on 11 of the 18 holes. Slicers beware: the 310-yard, par-4 fourth features a lake hugging the outside edge of the entire fairway.
Who’s there: Average duffers who want to get away from it all – for just a few hours, anyway.
Prices: Weekends $41 with caddy, $18 walking; weekdays $35 with caddy, $18 walking; twilight golf $20 after 3 p.m.; $12 for children.
9300 SW 152nd St, Miami; 305-238-2922

Miami Beach Golf Club
After 79 years, the Alton Road landmark received a $10 million face-lift in 2002. Nearly every blade of grass was replaced, every lake was drained and a new clubhouse was built – with extraordinary results. Greens that were once flat now have curves while fairways have been narrowed and bunkers added to give the course a more demanding feel. The city of Miami Beach oversaw the renewal and has turned a faded old course into a jewel on the Beach.
Who’s there: Out-of-towners who want to incorporate golf into their beach trip as well as Miami business folks, who have turned the course into a favorite for company outings.
Prices: Range from $95 for visitors and $45 for Miami Beach residents. One bucket of large range balls $12, small $8.
2301 Alton Road, Miami Beach; 305-532-3350

Killian Greens
It’s been more than a decade since Killian Greens updated its course, but the South Dade favorite has maintained a loyal following, even with more than 40 bunkers. If you’re planning to get a tan, the sand is great. If you’re playing golf, it keeps things, well, interesting. You can also get that added bit of exercise by walking the course, as long as it’s not too crowded.
Who’s there: Average joes and janes playing after work or warming up for the weekend.
Prices: Weekdays $30, $24 after 3 p.m.; Weekends and holidays $40 until 11 a.m.; $30 until 3 p.m.; $24 after 3 p.m.; $20 walking rate for 18 holes and $13 for 9 holes.
9980 SW 104 th St., Miami; 305-271-0917

South Florida has consistently drawn some of the top names in design with each course a testament to its creator.

The Biltmore
Originally conceived in 1925 by legendary course designer Donald Ross, The Biltmore’s 18-hole, par-72 course has been renovated in high style that brings the greens up-to-date without marring Ross’ original vision. With new, softer fairways and deeper bunkers, this beautiful course is not only refreshed, but more challenging, too.
Who’s there: A crowd of loyal duffers from Coral Gables as well as visitors to the historic – some say haunted – hotel.
Prices: Coral Gables residents: weekdays $56.96, weekends $67.66. Miami-Dade residents: weekdays $78.36, weekends $89.06. Non-residents: weekdays $99.76, weekends $115.81. Prices include golf carts. (Winter rates vary)
1210 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; 305-460-5364

Miami Shores Country Club

Built in 1939 as one of designer Red Laurence’s first Florida courses, Miami Shores retains the classic golf-course feel with long fairways, raised greens and shallow bunkers. The course is a study in contrasts: the interior holes are quiet and peaceful, while exterior holes rumble with the hustle and bustle of city streets and the occasional freight train. Noise aside, it’s still worth the trip up Biscayne. Because it’s tucked away in the Shores, the crowd is light, giving golfers plenty of time to enjoy that par or birdie.
Who’s there: Locals from the Village of Miami Shores, the place that refuses to act like a big-city suburb. It’s semi-private so visitors can play without a member.
Prices: $99 from December-April, $60-75 the rest of the year. Twilight rates after 3 p.m. are $35 for South Florida residents and $49 for non-residents. 
10000 Biscayne Blvd., Miami Shores; 305-795-2366

The Country Club of Miami
The East and West courses here were designed by the legend of golf course planning, Robert Trent Jones Sr. Both courses opened in 1960, has its share of history: Arnold Palmer was once the head pro, and Jackie Gleason was a course regular. The East course is a good bit shorter than the West, but – thanks to Jones’ penchant for varied slopes and turning fairways – just as challenging. The grass has recently been re-sodded, adding years to the life of this classic course.
Who’s there: A favorite of judges, politicos and staff as the course is operated by Miami-Dade County.
Prices: East Course on weekends: $50 from 7 a.m.-noon, $35 from noon-3 p.m. and $25 after 3 p.m.; West Course on weekends: $45 from 7 a.m.-noon, $35 from noon-3 p.m. and $25 after 3 p.m. Weekdays: $40 for East Course and $37 for West Course from 7 a.m.-3 p.m.; both courses $25 after 3 p.m.
6801 NW 186 St., Miami; 305-829-8456

They may not make the cover of glossy golf magazines, but these area favorites are unique and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Aqua Golf
Forget the fact that you’re hitting golf balls over a lake and onto floating greens; this place is famous for another reason. Cameron Diaz hit golf balls here in the movie “There’s Something About Mary” and, with one stroke, the place went from gimmicky driving range to a piece of Hollywood lore. Aqua has 30 covered stalls facing a 25-acre lake and provides clubs. It’s the one place where ‘water’ and ‘hazard’ don’t go together.
Who’s there: Cameron Diaz, if you’re lucky. It’s mainly locals from South Florida who knew all about the place before Hollywood came calling. Of course, true fans of “Mary” make cameos as well.
Prices: $7 for bucket of 50-55 balls. $8 for bucket of 55-60 balls. $10 for bucket of 80-85 balls.
2250 S. Park Road, Pembroke Park; 954-966-4914

International Links

Designed by Dick Wilson, the course formerly known as Melreese features tree-lined fairways more reminiscent of Carolina than South Florida. There are also a ton of bunkers and water hazards, but nothing compares to the air hazard better known as Miami International Airport, located just across the street. Loud, low-flying planes are common occurrences, so anyone with nerves of steel will do well here. The 14th hole is one of the area’s toughest holes and has even earned its own nickname: Heartbreak Ridge. The 450-yard hole has an island green with steep slopes. Sticking the approach shot is crucial.
Who’s there: Miamians with impaired hearing, people with long layovers at MIA (so the pros tell us, anyway).
Prices: Weekdays: public $130, twilight (after 1 p.m.) $64. Weekends and holidays: public $130, twilight (after 2 p.m.) $64. Discounts for Miami Beach and South Florida residents.
1802 NW 37th Ave., Miami; 305-633-4583

Keys Gate Golf and Country Club
Located between Miami and the Florida Keys, Keys Gate is close enough to be convenient, and far enough to feel like a getaway from the city. Taking advantage of its lush natural greenery, the Keys Gate course has 18 holes of narrow fairways and sloping greens. The course is challenging enough for a low handicapper, but tough for the average duffer. Still, this is the Keys, and relaxation is the name of the game, no matter what the score – no need to start heaving clubs into the lake.
Who’s there: It’s a private course with a public feel as the membership ranges from young adults to seniors of all levels.
Prices: $25 all day on weekdays; $30 until 1 p.m. and $25 after 1 p.m. on weekends; $22 for nine holes on weekdays; $22 for nine holes until 1 p.m. on weekends and $20 after 1 p.m.
2300 Palm Dr., Homestead; 305-230-0362