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|The Biltmore Golf Course, a Donald Ross gem that dates back to 1925, sits just over 4 miles from the Miami airport. (Vicky MacKay/TravelGolf)|
If you want to play a quick round before your flight back home, tee up prior to departure, or you just enjoy watching jets soar overhead, there are a wealth of golf opportunities near Florida's busiest airports.
Here's a great idea: Before or after you enter the world of long security lines, cramped seating and complimentary bags of peanuts, why not enjoy the fresh air and play a round at a golf course located just minutes from the runways?
The menu is enticing with golf courses designed by Greg Norman, Donald Ross, Raymond Floyd, Tom Fazio and other highly respected architects.
Located eight miles northwest of downtown Miami near the communities of Doral, Hialeah and Miami Springs, you'll typically find yourself at Miami International Airport if you're flying to the Caribbean or Latin America.
The two closest courses to MIA are Melreese Country Club (1 mile), which weaves through cypress wetland and around five lakes enhanced by elevation changes and nine waste bunkers, and Miami Springs Golf & Country Club (1.5 miles), a long-time local favorite known for its beautiful mature trees that line the fairways.
For Donald Ross design fans, the Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables (4.1 miles), a 1925 masterpiece that has been fully restored by architect Brian Silva, is a lush, well manicured rolling layout.
Situated five miles from MIA is Trump National Doral Resort Miami, where five golf courses are the draw. Beyond the famous Blue Monster Course, choices include the Great White Course designed by Greg Norman, the Gold Course, designed by Raymond Floyd, the Red Course, by Floyd, Norman and Jerry Pate, and the Jim McLean Signature, an innovative design by golf instructor McLean.
The gateway airport for those visiting Walt Disney World and other major attractions, Orlando International Airport is the 29th-busiest airport in the world.
Designed by Ron Garl and Howard Swan, Eagle Creek has high impact features such as massive waste bunkers and bulkheads framing water hazards and greens.
North Shore has two distinctive nines -- one that is open, links-style golf and another carved through a grove of huge, old oak trees.
Ventura is a short (5,659 yards from back tees) but challenging layout that encompasses pines, canals and natural wetlands.
For a resort golf experience, two high-profile possibilities are The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando, Grande Lakes (7.4 miles) -- home to a Greg Norman Signature design with wetlands, live oaks, cypress heads, contoured greens and generous landing areas -- and Shingle Creek Golf Club (7.7 miles), a Dave Harman design alongside historic Shingle Creek, which has fast, firm greens and five sets of tees.
Situated six miles west of downtown Tampa, you'll often find yourself at Tampa International Airport if you fly Southwest Airlines, which has more than 90 daily flights during peak season.
A fixture on the Tampa golf scene, Rocky Point Golf Course (1.3 miles) originally opened in 1911. Mature palm and tree growth, wildlife habitats and bird sanctuaries highlight the experience at Rocky Point.
If you're looking for an executive course, the Steve Smyers-designed Countryway Golf Club (5.6 miles) layout has seven par 4s and 11 par 3s with water coming into play on many of the holes.
A hub for Spirit Airlines, Fort Lauderdale International Airport is also served by Southwest, Delta and Continental Connection.
Located two miles from downtown Fort Lauderdale, FLIA is 3.5 miles from the Club at Emerald Hills, a Bruce Devlin/Robert von Hagge/Charles Ankrom course that opened in 1969. The rolling, parkland-style course has impressive green complexes and water in play on 12 holes.
Nearby, 3.8 miles from FLIA is Hollywood Beach Country Club and Golf Resort where you can play the par-70 course that Donald Ross designed in 1924. Affordably priced, the course has lush, mature trees, strategic bunkering and homes that are set back to avoid being intrusive in the golf experience.
If you're visiting the golf and beach rich area of Fort Myers and Naples, Southwest Florida International Airport is the area's largest and most convenient airport.
Only three miles from SWFIA, the Tom Fazio-designed Gateway Golf & Country Club is a tournament-tested course known for its exceptional putting surfaces.
Big hitters enjoy the Ted McAnlis-designed Westminster Golf Club (6. 5 miles), which has open landing areas for those who just love crushing driver off the tee.
July 2, 2013
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. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.
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