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|The Blue Monster golf course just reopened after a four month renovation that saw the greens re-grassed to make them faster (Courtesy Doral Resort & Spa)|
One of the great things about golf in Miami is, well, Miami.
Greater Miami is home to one of the world's most vibrant stretches of seashore, South Beach, an endless array of great shopping, world-class restaurants, and trendy bars and clubs. Miami also has a rich golf history, with several golf courses dating to the Roaring '20s.
The pinnacle of Miami golf is undoubtedly the Doral Golf Resort & Spa, the golfers' playground that boasts the Blue Monster among its five courses. This fabled layout has been hosting PGA Tour events since before bell bottoms went into (and out of) style, and it's now back in business after closing briefly for a summer renovation.
The Blue Monster looms large over the Miami scene, but there's more to golf here than Doral's most wanted. Here's a closer look at big Blue and some of the area's other top tracks:
Doral Golf Resort & Spa: When you talk Miami golf, Doral remains Topic A. And when you talk Doral, you're usually talking the Blue Monster, reopened Sept. 25 after a four-month project to prepare it for next year's WGC-CA Championship.
Designed by Dick Wilson and restored by Raymond Floyd, the Blue Monster has been hosting Tour events for 40 years. The 7,125-yard golf course has many strategic bunkers, long fairways, undulating greens and some thick rough. GOLF Magazine has ranked its No. 18 one of the Top 100 Holes in the World.
The Blue Monster "is one of the true dynamic golf gems in the country," Jason Scott wrote in a GolfFlorida.com review.
The Blue Monster may get most of the attention at Doral, but there are four other courses there: Gold, Red, Silver and Great White. This rainbow of tracks share one common trait: water, water everywhere. The drink is a factor on most of these 72 holes.
The other similarity is distraction. Planes buzz overhead on their way to the Miami International Airport, and the Silver, Gold and Red courses snake through potentially noisy neighborhoods.
"If your idea of golf is a serene walk through the woods, Doral isn't the place for you," Scott wrote in another review. "There's little piece and quiet on the courses."
The Great White, so named for designer Greg Norman, is more on a par with its blue brother, though the 7,000-plus-yard track is so difficult people either love it or hate it. The others are definitely a notch below, but still offer fine golf.
Miami Beach Golf Club: Opened in 1923 as the Bayshore Golf Course, this historic track underwent a $10 million renovation in 2002. The city of Miami Beach hired Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates to give the course a complete overhaul, even constructing a new clubhouse from scratch.
The results were striking. Today the course is a delight to play, with its lush green fairways and stunning water features.
La Gorce Country Club: Named after sportsman John Oliver La Gorce, this course was completed in 1927. Over the years it has played host to a range of celebrities, from boxer Jack Dempsey to Patty Berg.
In 1945 La Gorce was slated to be chopped up for a subdivision, but the citizens of Miami shelled out a million bucks to save it, some donating royal palms and other trees to fill barren spots in the track. Today, the course measures 6,802 yards from the championship tees and 6,458 from the tournaments.
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