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|In south Florida, golfers can enjoy race tracks and slot machines after golf at Calder. (Courtesy of Calder Casino)|
If you like to wager on and off the golf course, you're in luck in Florida, which is brimming with opportunities.
The gaming menu in the Sunshine State encompasses Indian casinos, horse and dog tracks, cruise ships and jai alai.
Most of the gaming possibilities are located in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, which have extensive inventories of golf courses with a wide variety of designs and greens fee prices.
Here are places where you can find luck on and off the course:
Hialeah Park, a legendary horse racing track that opened in 1925 and is known for its landscaped gardens and famous flamingo, is a great place to wager and immerse in the casual, hip south Florida lifestyle.
Nearby courses include Doral Golf Resort & Spa, a Donald Trump-owned resort with five championship, open-to-the-public courses (TPC Blue Monster, Great White, Gold, Red and Jim McLean Signature Course) and the Miami Springs Golf & Country Club, a classically designed, economically priced layout that once hosted legends like Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen.
For those who like to play poker, watch Thoroughbred horse racing and take a spin on more than 1,200 slot machines, the Calder Casino & Race Course, located on the Miami-Dade/Broward County Line 11 miles north of Hialeah, has been a must stop for visitors since opening in 1971.
Located about a five-minute drive away is Don Shula's Hotel & Golf Club in Miami Lakes, home to the Senator Course, a lush course peppered with towering palm trees, Gumbo Limbo trees and tropical foliage.
If you want to play roulette, baccarat and craps, head to Magic City Casino, a Las Vegas-style facility near the Miami International Airport with easy access to the Doral courses.
The Miccosukee Resort & Gaming complex at 500 S.W. 177th Ave. offers 24-hour gaming, including a 32-table poker room and access to 27 holes of golf at the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club highlighted by three distinct nines -- the Marlin, Dolphin and Barracuda Courses.
One of Florida's top golf resorts, The Diplomat Resort & Spa, which is accessible to the public, is conveniently located a few minutes from the Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale. A favorite since 1939, Gulfstream Park is home to Thoroughbred racing, a casino and Simulcast Center with 60 flat-screen plasma TVs.
For Donald Ross design fans, tee up at the nearby Hollywood Beach Golf & Country Club.
Hollywood is home to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, where a massive 140,000-square-foot casino has nearly 100 tables for blackjack, baccarat and poker and 2,500 slots.
Some superb nearby golf options are the 36-hole Orangebrook Golf & Country Club complex, with the East and West Courses designed by A.J. Ewing that opened in 1936, and The Club at Emerald Hills, a 1969 design by Bruce Devlin and Robert von Hagge with rolling terrain, undulating greens and in-your-face water holes.
North of Fort Lauderdale in Pompano Beach, the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park has live harness racing, six restaurants, live entertainment and a casino with 1,500 slots and 38 poker tables.
Among the places to hit the fairways in Pompano Beach are the Palm-Aire Country Club, which has five championship golf courses open to the public, the Pompano Beach Golf Course, home to 36 holes of well maintained golf owned by the city, and The Carolina Club, a high-end, daily-fee course designed by Devlin, von Hagge and Carl Litton.
The expansive Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa, with its 3,200 slot machines, 104 table games and 50 poker tables, is a great place for music-loving gamers.
When it's time to take a break from the casino action, nearby courses include The Claw at USF, a well manicured layout with long, tight fairways framed by moss draped oaks, cypress and pine, and Rogers Park Golf Course, which is surrounded on three sides by the Hillsborough River and has been a mainstay on the Tampa golf scene since 1952.
For dog racing enthusiasts, the Tampa Greyhound Track, which opened in 1933 and is one of the oldest Greyhound tracks in the nation, also features live simulcast of Thoroughbred and harness racing and jai alai year-round.
Nearby is the Babe Zaharias Golf Course, a historic course once managed by Zaharias that skirts through the tree-laden residential neighborhood of Forest Hills. The Claw at USF and Rogers Park are also easily accessible.
Bring your clubs to Tampa Bay Downs, where you'll find an on-site, fully lighted, 22-acre practice facility with 45 grass hitting stations as well as live Thoroughbred racing, simulcast racing and a poker room with Texas Hold 'em, No-Limit Hold 'em, Omaha and Stud Games.
Hit the fairways at the Rocky Point Golf Course, a venerable layout with mature trees, wildlife habitats and bird sanctuaries.
November 29, 2012
Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world.
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