Best golf courses in Miami
Nightlife and beaches aren’t the sole attraction in Miami as the city and surrounding area proudly boasts a collection of incredible golf courses and resorts.
The sunshine state is known for its ideal environment and climate for golf, and the courses on offer in Miami further enhance its appeal. Below, we have hand-picked the nine best golf courses in Miami that we think are very worthy candidates to be part of your next golf vacation.
With over 50 years of PGA TOUR history, the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami Resort provides a wonderful test on one of the most acclaimed courses in the area. In 2013/14, course architect Gil Hanse successfully transformed the revered layout into a modern work of art; re-positioning bunkers, enlarging some greens and manoeuvring fairways closer to the multiple hazards.
It’s a tough test, and to post a good score you’ll need to stay out of the thick Bermuda rough, avoid the water and putt well on deceptively contoured greens! The round concludes with the infamous 473-yard, par-4 18th, which has been accredited as one of the ‘Top 100 Holes in the World’ by GOLF Magazine.
Originally known as Bayshore Golf Club when it opened in 1923, a $10 million investment nearly 80 years later and the reconstruction of the course by famous designer Arthur Hills led to the birth of Miami Beach Golf Club – a venue that quickly became one of the must-play courses in Miami.
Located in the southern half of Miami Beach, with Biscayne Bay to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the setting is certainly unique. With palm trees lining the fairways, many dog-leg par-4s and water hazards on 17 of the 18 holes, Miami Beach Golf Club presents a challenging yet enjoyable day on the course. The 17th is the signature hole, a 169-yard par-3 played across water to an island green – one to watch out for as you close out your round.
The International Links at Melreese underwent a $3.9 million renovation during 1996-97 and once completed, Tiger Woods made his first South Florida appearance, conducting an exhibition for 3,500 lucky bystanders.
The course was redesigned by Charles Manhannah and the architectural features included five new lakes, 97 bunkers, nine waste areas and strategically placed cypress wetlands. The rolling fairways not only produce an array of tricky lies, but they are integral to the expensive and impressive drainage system that allows golf to be played at Melreese Country Club all year round. The golf course, spanning across 135 acres, lies adjacent to the Miami International Airport and 6 miles from downtown Miami - making this venue ideal on arrival or departure days.
After obtaining possession of the land in 1929, the City of Miami Beach worked tirelessly to dredge and fill in the landscape to create the playing area that the golf course sits on today. The track was finally completed in 1941 but the impending war resulted in very limited play. Fast forward to 2008 and the City of Miami Beach spent over $9 million in renovation works, employing well-known course architect Arthur Hills for the redevelopment.
Normandy Shores is now part of Florida’s Historic Golf Trail and the course’s characteristics can be best summarised by fast, undulating greens and 18 holes of beauty. In summary Normandy Shores is a challenging design to enjoy on any Miami golf vacation.
While the Red Tiger at Trump National Doral may be overshadowed by its Blue Monster big brother, the thoughtful redesign by Gil Hanse in 2015 has bolstered its appeal. The renovation work saw an improvement on bunkering and introduced water hazards on none other than 14 holes!
At only 6,395 from the back tees, the Red Tiger is not a long course, however, the narrow fairways and small greens put a premium on accuracy and the undulating putting surfaces demand the golfer’s full attention. The signature hole is often considered the par-5, 5th. A sweeping dogleg cut around the lake with the approach shot played to an island green – a chance for birdie, but there is plenty of danger if you stray offline.
Miami Shores Country Club dates back to 1939, where early work took place to construct the layout. 130 acres of woodland was initially cleared to pave way for the golf course and it officially opened in the fall of the same year.
In 2011, the course underwent extensive renovation which included the popular decision to install Mini Verde Bermuda grass on the greens. Further improvements were made to tee boxes, fairway renovations, re-shaping of greens and the restoration of bunkers. The course measures 6,700 yards from the tips and this par-71 golf course is located only 15 minutes from Miami International Airport, Downtown Miami and Miami Beach. Host to many top-level events including the Florida State Open, Miami Shores Country Club offers a great day out on the course.
The Golden Palm at Trump National Doral pays homage to the predominant palm trees found throughout the golf course (and there are plenty of them to avoid!). Similarly to the Red Tiger and Blue Monster, Gil Hanse was tasked with the redevelopment of the Golden Palm and the final product mirrors closer to the Monster.
There’s a nice blend of wide, open fairways whilst others will require precise accuracy from the tee. The bunkers are of unique style; tightly cut with clean edges from the fairway and heavy rough around the back side of each one. The design and quirkiness of the course results in it being an absolute must-play and with a variety of tee boxes this championship layout can accommodate golfers of all abilities.
The Soffer Course is the premier layout of the two courses onsite at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa. Raymond Floyd is responsible for the redesign of the Soffer and since its creation, it has hosted several LPGA Tour and South Florida PGA events.
The true epitome of risk and reward, precision will reign over distance as you battle your way through this challenging layout. It is vital that you avoid the creeks that cross several fairways and pay close attention to the lagoons that wait patiently for any mis-hit shots. The greens have recently been upgraded to Tif Eagle grass providing excellent putting surfaces. Another great Miami golf course at a first-class resort.
The Miller Course might not have the sizzle that the Soffer boasts, but it does provide an enjoyable and slightly more relaxing round of golf. The true characteristics of the Miller are contoured fairways, doglegs, elevation shifts and well-positioned bunkers.
The layout is also brimming with wildlife, as the large ponds are full of ducks, swans, pink flamingos and the occasional alligator! It is shorter than its sibling and requires accuracy from the tee as the rolling fairways are framed by mature ficus, banyan and olive trees. Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., both courses at this JW Marriott Resort were reworked by Raymond Floyd and have since played host to several professional events.
Miami offers some of the best golfing conditions especially during the winter months and there is an array of quality courses, golf resorts and accommodations to enjoy. Away from the course there’s so much to experience; from the beaches to the shopping, great restaurants, bars and nightlife. In summary, a golf vacation in Miami is hard to beat.
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist, I advise clients on golf courses and accommodation options across the US, Mexico, and Caribbean