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NASCAR and golf vacations go hand-in-hand in Florida

William K. WolfrumBy William K. Wolfrum,
Doral Blue Monster
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Fans of golf and NASCAR have plenty to enjoy at Doral's Blue Monster. (Courtesy of Doral Resort & Spa)

For a while it seemed the biggest story when it came to NASCAR and golf was when top driver Jimmie Johnson decided it would be fun to ride on top of a golf cart during a charity golf tournament in Lecanto, Fla. Sadly, Johnson, who has proven an expert behind the wheel, showed himself to be rather clumsy on top of said cart, falling off and busting his wrist in an accident that likely hurt his pride much more than his body.

But one thing the incident showed was that NASCAR drivers love golf, especially in charity events, when drivers routinely emerge from their cars to tee off in numerous charity events. Quite often these events are in Florida, a state where golf and NASCAR often dominate the sports pages.

Take the Homestead-Miami Speedway Celebrity Golf Classic, for example. This event in November at Doral Golf Resort & Spa will see some of the biggest names in all of NASCAR come to take their hacks for a worthy cause. The 2007 version will include such hard-driving luminaries as Juan Pablo Montoya, Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace, as well as stars from other sports like Lawrence Taylor and Gary Carter.

The event is part of the festivities that will culminate with the Ford 400, which will decide the winner of the Nextel Chase for the Cup series. And while race fans will surely be delighted in cheering on their favorite drivers, they'll also be surrounded by great golf. In fact, with Florida being one of NASCAR's favorite stops, the great golf and racing action seem to combine all year long in the Sunshine State. Here's a look at the NASCAR races in Florida, and the golf courses that benefit from the thousands of fans that flock to the events.

Golf and NASCAR in Florida

Golf in Daytona Beach: One of the most interesting things about the NASCAR season is that it opens up with the most prominent race. Imagine if the first golf tournament of the year was the Masters? That's what drivers have to deal with right out of the gates in NASCAR, as the Daytona 500 kicks off their season. In 2007, Kevin Harvick took home the big prize, while racing fans got a double dose of Daytona Beach later in the year with the Pepsi 400, also held at the Daytona International Speedway.

Also home to the LPGA Tour, Dayton Beach has some stylish golf courses, including LPGA International, which features the Legends course and Champions course.

"Challenging. Greens were fast and consistent," wrote WorldGolf.com reader Eric Miller, a 14 handicap.

Other courses that Daytona Beach visitors and residents have to chose from include the Daytona Beach Golf and Country Club, Indigo Lakes Golf Club, and Halifax Plantation in Ormond Beach.

Golf in Miami: The Race for the Cup will be settled at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which puts golfers smack in the middle of Miami's great beaches, nightlife and spectacular golf. Ford Championship weekend will include a variety of activities, including the charity golf tournament, fishing competitions and much more.

For golfers, Miami is nearly synonymous with the Doral Golf Resort & Spa and the imposing Blue Monster course. But there's more to Doral than just the Monster.

"Aptly named for its eight formidable water hazards, the Blue Monster has gained so much notoriety over the years that it often overshadows the four other courses at Doral," wrote S. Adam Cardais at WorldGolf.com. "The Great White course, designed by Greg Norman, opened in 2000 and is often mentioned with the same breath as its big brother."

Doral also includes the Gold course, Red course and Jim McLean Signature course, helping to make it one of the most prestigious golf resorts in the nation.

Other runs that help Miami shine as a golf destination include Don Shula's Golf Club, Miami National Golf Club and Palmetto Golf Club.

Remember that Florida is not just a place for race fans to go golfing, but also a state where golfers can enjoy the races.

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Jim McLean Signature course at Doral - hole 1

William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.

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