Great South Florida Golfing

Challenging Courses and Tropical Surroundings

The Blue pool area overlooking the Blue Monster Golf Course
The Blue pool area overlooking the Blue
Monster Golf Course
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South Florida offers some of the best and most challenging golf courses you could ask for. And that's only part of the fun. The area also has magnificent hotels that complement your golf getaway experience, and, of course, South Beach, with its fine restaurants and exciting nightlife.

When you mention great golfing in South Florida, you have to take into account the city of Doral just minutes from the Miami Airport. Host of the PGA Tour event for the past four decades, the city of Doral boasts eight courses of championship golf including the famed Blue Monster.

I enjoyed my stay in Doral at The Blue. The resort overlooks the Blue Monster Golf Course in Doral. Built in 2008, The Blue is an all-suite property, located on 15-acres near the Doral Resort and Country Club and is surrounded by palm-speckled greens, oaks and lakes. The resort is approximately 15 minutes from Miami International Airport. It is the newest property to be built in the Doral area in many years. The resort has a lavish swimming pool with fountains overlooking the Blue Monster with comfy chaise lounges, some with sheltered area protecting guests from the sun.

The resort's 240 suites include one-bedroom golf view suites, one-bedroom/two-bathroom deluxe golf view suites and three-bedroom golf view villas, each with abundant space and all of the comforts of home, but in a refined resort setting. Each of the suites offer spectacular views of stunning fairways and are tastefully furnished with custom created pieces from Italy.

The wood varieties used throughout the interiors are dark oak veneer with accents in zebrawood. The color palette of the accommodations includes warm tones of taupe, cappuccino and hues of blue. Custom made carpeting, European flooring, Italian kitchens and built in closets complete the interior amenities of each suite. The veranda furniture is made from teak and stainless steel.

Resort suites range in size from 705 to 2,000 square-feet. Each boast fully-equipped kitchens, oversized private verandas and marble-tiled five-fixture bathrooms with rain shower and stand-alone Jacuzzi bathtub accompanied with a flat screen television. The room amenities include plush terry robes, flat panel high-definition LCD televisions, in-room coffee/tea makers, wireless internet access, sound systems with DVD players and iPOD docking stations.

The Jim McLean Golf School presents guests of The Blue with preferred packages and rates of professional golf instruction.

Chef Timothy Hughes at 5300 Chop House
Chef Timothy Hughes at 5300
Chop House
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The marble lobby at The Blue has a reception area for guest check in and a staff person to handle bags and escort guests in a golf cart to the units which are located in two and three story adjacent buildings to the check in area. The property is also being sold as a condo-hotel with owners allowing the units to be rented when they are not in residence.

5300 Chop House is The Blue's on-site restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Farmed fresh meats and organically grown produce are specialties of the house. Timothy Hughes, executive chef at 5300 Chop House serves up fabulous steaks and seafood.

Enjoying dinner at 5300 Chop House
Enjoying dinner at 5300 Chop House

The cuisine is top notch and so is the presentation and service. Hughes formerly was a chef in South Beach and his signature dishes of Braised Short Ribs with a Pineapple Mint Salsa with Marinated Onions were devoured with pleasure by my son, Scott, along with sides of sautéed Broccoli with garlic and crushed red pepper and herb-butter mushrooms in truffle oil.

Other outstanding menu items we enjoyed were the Grilled Atlantic Salmon and the tender NY Strip steak off the chopping block. Try the molten Lava Cake or the Flan de Queso with strawberries for dessert.

After a spa treatment
After a spa treatment

The Spa Azul at The Blue is not to be missed. The spa is inspired by a multicultural and innovative blending of American, European and Latin cultures. My wife enjoyed the Chrono-Reverser Collagen facial, an anti-aging treatment provided to the skin through an active treatment that uses a combination of alpha-hydroxy acid, vitamin C and pure collagen. Her skin positively glowed when she walked out of the spa.

The big attraction in the area is golf on the Doral's Blue Monster Course, but eight courses of championship golf are also nearby. The Blue's front desk clerk helps to arrange tee times for golf. Golf courses located in the city of Doral are: The Gold Course, Greg Norman's Great White, The Red Course, The Silver Course and Costa Greens Golf Club.

Crandon Golf Course
Crandon Golf Course | Larger

I also enjoyed a day of golf at nearby 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.

Pool area at Ritz Key-Biscayne
Pool area at Ritz Key-Biscayne | Larger

Only five minutes from Crandon Golf Course is the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne oceanfront resort. 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 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.

Biltmore Hotel Golf Course
Biltmore Hotel Golf Course | Larger

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 Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort and 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.

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.

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 At Shula's Golf Club was one of my memorable evenings spent in Miami.

Additional Information

Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
701 Brickell Avenue, Suite 2700
Miami, Florida 33131
305-539-3084; Fax: 305-539-2911

  • The Blue, 5300 SW 87th Avenue, Miami, 305-597-8600