In this post we’re going to jump into the best public golf courses in Miami.
This epic city on Florida’s east coast is a renowned holiday destination. And if you are traveling to the city, you’ll be pleased to know there are some top class publicly accessible golf facilities.
In fact, there are far more public golf courses around Miami, than there are private member-only golf courses. So in a way you’re spoilt for choice albeit for some of the better courses you’ll need to stay at the hotel onsite to play.
For this list, I’ve really only looked at golf courses within a half hour’s drive. So I’ve excluded some fine public golf courses such as Jacaranda Golf Club and The Club at Emerald Hills, which are both up past Hollywood towards Fort Lauderdale.
The best public golf courses in Miami
|1||Blue Monster Golf Course (Trump National Doral)|
|3||Soffer Course (JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa)|
|4||Golden Palm Golf Course (Trump National Doral)|
|5||Miami Beach Golf Club|
|6||Biltmore Golf Course|
|7||Red Tiger Golf Course (Trump National Doral)|
|8||Normandy Shores Golf Club|
|9||Miami Shores Golf Club|
|10||Miami Springs Golf & Country Club|
|Value for money||Normandy Shores Golf Club|
|Groups||Miami Springs Golf & Country Club|
|Clubhouse||Blue Monster Golf Course (Doral Golf Resort)|
1. Trump National Doral (Blue Monster, Golden Palm & Red Tiger)
We kick off our Miami public golf courses deep-dive, with the iconic Trump National Doral. This luxury world-class golf resort is one of the finest places to stay in Miami. Villa-style accommodations, a sensational spa, top-class dining facilities, you name it.
From a golf stand-point, there are four championship courses. The Red Tiger, The Golden Palm, The Silver Fox and the superb Blue Monster. This is a golfing haven.
Clearly the course which receives most acclaim is the Blue Monster. For over half a century it has consistently been on the PGA Tour rota. All of the finest pros have graced the fairways here.
More recently in 2014, the course underwent an exhaustive restoration led by the highly regarded Gil Hanse. Every hole was assiduously redesigned to reclaim much of the past-grandeur.
Do be warned though, the Blue Monster is also incredibly tough. From the back tees it measures nearly 7,600 yards. Add to that length deep Bermuda rough, vast bunkers and plenty of water, choose your tee carefully.
The Golden Palm is the other course to highlight and makes our list. Like all the courses at Doral, it received Gil Hanse’s fine attention-to-detail in one of the first renovations following Trump’s purchase of the resort.
The course was initially designed by Robert Von Hagge, opening in the late 60s. Although following various renovations over the years, little resembles this early design.
The routing offers a nice variety of holes. On occasion there are wide open fairways quickly followed by narrow tree-lined holes. But one consistent feature is water and lots of it. In fact water is literally in play on all 18-holes!
And if you think you’ve had enough water by the time you get to the eighteenth, just you wait. Following a narrow tee shot, you’ll have to approach a true island green only accessible via a narrow bridge. Understandably this is the Golden Palm’s signature hole.
2. Crandon Golf
Over on the barrier island of Key of Biscayne is the wonderful Crandon Golf. Accessible by driving across the scenic Rickenbacker Causeway, the site offers some magnificent views back across to Miami.
Not only does the site offer majestic views, it is also bursting with nature and wildlife. Set around a subtropical lagoon, there are mangrove swamps and salt-water lakes aplenty. Add to this a wide range of wildlife, with gators, iguanas and all types of birds.
As for the layout, it is a Robert Von Hagge and Bruce Devlin design, which opened in 1972. And it is a highly rated layout which ever since opening, has regularly hosted top events. The Senior PGA Tour has called Crandon home for many years.
There are some great holes here with even from the off the challenge slapping you in the face. A dogleg par-5 where you need to drive over water to access a tight green complex. Throughout you’ll find the fairways offer generous landing areas. It is in approaching the greens when things get a bit more challenging.
A great course with even better value-for-money.
3. JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa (Soffer Course)
Another golf course set within a luxury golf resort, is the Soffer Course at the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort.
The resort is a good half hour’s drive north of downtown Miami in Aventura, close to North Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach. Like Trump National Doral, the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort is superb. Without doubt it is one of ‘the’ places to stay when visiting Miami.
The Soffer Course is one of two onsite, with the other being the Miller Course. It was named after the businessman who funded the resort build Donald Soffer and designed by the great Robert Trent Jones Snr. Like the Miller Course, which was also designed by Trent Jones, it opened for play in 1971.
Yet the Soffer Course is without doubt the apex offering. Measuring some 600 yards longer than the Miller, it has been chosen to host a number of high-profile tournaments. These include various LPGA and PGA events.
In 2006, both layouts were completely renovated by Raymond Floyd. This project fundamentally changed, and improved, the character of the course with many sizable changes.
These drastic measures were necessary to plug the dwindling membership and reestablish both layouts as some of Miami’s best public golf courses.
4. Miami Beach Golf Club
Over towards Miami Beach, in one of the most popular parts of the city, is Miami Beach Golf Club. This is a club which has been in situ for over a century, having originally opened in 1923, under the name of Bayshore Golf Club.
1923 was a booming period of development in Miami and Bayshore Golf Club was part of a much larger development plan. The pioneering development plan was to lure wealthy Americans down to southern Florida during the winter months.
Fast forward to the early twenty-first century, 2002 to be precise, the course benefitted from a major renovation. It was also at this point the name changed to Miami Beach Golf Club.
The City of Miami Beach, the owners of the time, hired Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest to completely modernize and transform this tired relic into the club it is today. Some $10 million later, the job was completed.
As to be expected on a barrier island, there is ample water in play. Tee shots over water, fairways surrounded by water, approach shots over water, you get the idea. Hills and Forrest also introduced some vast white sand bunkers with very few holes immune.
From the back tees, the routing is just short of 6,900 yards. And with a number of doglegs in play, this is clearly a layout which rewards consistent and accurate play.
Miami Beach Golf Club is now without doubt one of the finest public golf courses in Miami, with a location to die for.
5. Biltmore Golf Course
Yet another fine golf course set within the grounds of a fine golf resort. This time it is the superb Biltmore, or for its longer name, the Miami Coral Gables Luxury Hotel.
The resort occupies a prime location within Miami, just fifteen minutes from downtown. It has been here since 1926, set within a tropical landscape of over 150 acres.It also holds the prestige of being a National Historic Landmark on Miami’s cityscape.
As for the golf course, this is a Donald Ross design, which opened in 1925. Yet it wasn’t always the elegant course we can play today.
Sadly, towards the turn of the century, the course had become so dilapidated, it was sorely in need of an overhauling restoration. Fortunately that restoration came in 2007 led by the reputable Brian Silva.
Yet only a decade or so later, Silva was once again at the property heading up yet another revamp. This time though, the course closed for a year with arguably an even greater overhaul.
One of the key priorities of the project was to bring back many of the original Ross design features. Inspired by Ross’ original plans, a number of bunkers were reintroduced, the course was lengthened and it was re-grassed in Bermuda grass.
Today, the Biltmore golf course deserves its position in the best public golf courses in Miami list. Silva has done a fantastic job putting the course back on the map. Granted it is not one of Donald Ross’ most iconic designs, but it is great fun nonetheless.
6. Normandy Shores Golf Club
Located on a man-made island north of Miami Beach, Normandy Shores Golf Club is another popular option in the city.
The club occupies land which was donated to the city of Miami Beach in the late 1920s. Some years later, in 1936, Normandy Shores Golf Club opened for play. This was only two years after the land had been dredged.
The architects responsible for the course layout were Howard Toomey and William S. Flynn. Together, Toomey & Flynn as they were known, created a number of fine golf courses. These include the likes of Huntingdon, Lancaster Country Club, Merion and the great Shinnecock Hills.
Normandy Shores may not quite reach the heights as some of the aforementioned, but it is a fine course nonetheless.
Wide inviting fairways encourage you to pick out the big dog. Whilst raised greens and plenty of water keep things interesting.
In 2008 Arthur Hills was commissioned by the city of Miami Beach to oversee a complete course renovation. This was no small project, coming in to the tune of some $9 million. This is a top class public facility.
7. Miami Shores Golf Club
Next up is the popular pay-and-play public facility of Miami Shores Golf Club.
The club is located twenty minutes drive north of downtown into Biscayne Park. Just off Biscayne Boulevard, this is a really convenient location and easy to get to.
The course opened in 1939 and was designed by two former associates of the design firm Toomey & Flynn. These were Robert Lawrence and Louis Wilson.
As well as being the host venue for the Florida State Open for many years, Miami Shores has seen its fair share of celebrity golfers gracing the fairways. These include the likes of Arnold Palmer, Bob Hope, Sam Snead and many more.
However, it’s fair to say in the early part of the twentieth century, the course was in dire need of some work and attention. Fortunately, this came in 2011 with a major renovation where very little was left untouched. This is paying dividends today.
From the back tees, the course measures 6,700 yards. And with four sets of tees, anyone can play here. What is unusual though is the Florida East Coast Railroad runs straight through the site. Any stray shots this way are considered out-of-bounds.
As does the Biscayne Canal Number C-8 which bisects the northeastern section of the site.
This is no small canal and creates added drama and challenge when playing a handful of holes. Particularly the second hole, a par-3 straight over the canal. As well as the seventh hole which has the canal cutting straight through the fairway. Don’t get too aggressive on your drive!
8. Miami Springs Golf & Country Club
Last on the list of Miami public golf courses is the Miami Springs Golf & Country Club. In the Miami Springs neighborhood, this couldn’t be a better location for people flying in or out of the city. It is right next to the Miami International Airport on the north side, so it is ideal to play.
The golf course opened in 1923 and was designed by a member of the founding committee, Tub Palmer.
The routing is split in half by the Curtis Parkway, with the front nine on the south side of the property, and the back nine to the northwest.
Cutting through the back nine, is the South Side Canal, which has existed for much longer than the course. The canal comes into play on four of the holes, where a carry is required on each.
The 13th hole, a 526 yard par-5 is particularly tricky. A well positioned drive is required, avoiding housing on the left and the trees on the right. Don’t hit it too long or you’ll find the canal. But hit it too short and you won’t give yourself the right angle to approach the green.
In its early years, the course was highly reputable. For thirty years it held the Miami Open, albeit the tournament was only officially sanctioned as a PGA event in 1945.
What is the best public golf course in Miami?
The best golf course in Miami is the Blue Monster Course at the superb Trump National Doral Golf Resort. It was originally designed by Dick Wilson, opening in 1962. But more recently, it was radically renovated by the celebrated Gil Hanse. It is consistently a host venue on the PGA Tour.