From Doral to PGA National, the top 5 golf resorts on Florida's Gold Coast

The real estate in south Florida between Palm Beach and Miami is called the "Gold Coast." Of course, it could also be called the "Golf Coast" for all the superlative courses that it harbors.

Five stay-and-play resort venues in particular shine on this coast all year around:

Trump National Doral Miami

No real estate mogul trumps The Donald when it comes to world-class golf, and his June 2012 purchase of the iconic 800-acre Doral Golf Resort has added another five-star facility to his international Trump Hotel Collection.

With his deep pockets springing for $250 million in renovations, Trump is returning Doral to its former grandeur. Working with famed architect Gil Hanse, Trump has enhanced and redesigned the TPC Blue Monster for the March 2014 World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. The Jim McLean Golf School, superior practice facilities and four other championship courses -- including Greg Norman's Great White Course and the Jim McLean Signature Course -- complete this golf mecca.

The transformation of the self-named Trump National Doral Miami will boast completely remodeled guest rooms, main building, lobby, fitness center, ballrooms, pools and spa, restaurants and bars, and retail shops.

Shula's Hotel & Golf Club

North of Doral in Miami Lakes lies the legacy of one of the NFL's most successful coaches and one of the area's best layouts at Shula's Hotel & Golf Club. Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins lived on the property during his coaching years, and guests experience a piece of NFL history along with a modern facility.

The classic Senator Course at Shula's has re-opened after an all-inclusive renovation of Champion Bermuda greens, Celebration Bermuda tees, and bunkers and wide-ranging landscaping. The hotel, too, has recently undergone a widespread overhaul, and the result is upscale Florida contemporary.

The Original Shula's Steak House is in the clubhouse, celebrating his 1972 undefeated season with unique Dolphin memorabilia and unforgettable Angus beef.

Turnberry Isle

Near Shula's in the exclusive enclave of Aventura is Turnberry Isle. Honored as one of the "World's Best Resorts" by Travel+Leisure, the resort, which is just off the Atlantic, offers two championship courses by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the Miller Course and the Soffer Course.

Recently updated by Raymond Floyd, the layouts have hosted PGA and LPGA events and have been rated four and a half stars by Golf Digest and named one of the "Best Courses to Play" by Golfweek. The immaculately conditioned courses feature unusual elevation changes, multiple water hazards, a number of doglegs, imposing sand traps, and rolling, true greens.

The attractive Mediterranean-style resort has benefited greatly from the recent $150 million makeover and sports world-class amenities too numerous to mention here.

The Breakers Palm Beach

The Breakers Palm Beach, located on 140 acres of oceanfront property, is one of the country's finest luxury hotels and beachfront resorts. Founded in 1896 by tycoon Henry Flagler, the storied history and classic ambiance of the resort has been upgraded into the 21st century with contemporary accommodations and amenities complementing the Italian-Renaissance structure.

The Breakers' Ocean Course, also built in 1896, is the oldest 18-hole track in Florida. Thoroughly restored in 2000, this par 70 demands accurate drives for its narrow fairways and accurate irons for its elevated greens. The Breakers Rees Jones Course, 10 miles away from the main campus, was totally redesigned and lengthened by Jones in 2004 and earned Golfweek's "America's Best Courses You Can Play" in 2010.

Video: Matt Ginella visits the Breakers and Palm Beach County

PGA National Resort and Spa

PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens has been the host of the Honda Classic since 2007 and has sponsored numerous PGA events on its Champion Course since 1982.

The Champion was laid out in 1981 by Tom and George Fazio and redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 2002. Nicklaus made holes 15-16-17 famous as the Bear Trap, where, he said, "It should be won or lost here."

PGA National also has four other championship courses: The Palmer, The Squire, The Fazio and The Estates. All have new turf, rebuilt bunkers and tees, and expanded green complexes. The David Leadbetter Golf Academy and the Dave Pelz Scoring Game School complete the resort's repertoire. Accommodation options include Florida luxury suites, golf resort villas and guest rooms. The first-class service, fine dining and outstanding amenities are not optional but come standard throughout the vacation.

For those golfers searching for a 24-karat, stay-and-play golf resort, Florida's Gold Coast can certainly provide that mettle.

Leigh MacKay is a freelance golf writer who specializes in features and travel reviews. A member of Golf Writers Association of America, Golf Travel Writers, and International Network of Golf, he writes a monthly column, "Celebrity Golfer," for New England Golf Monthly and splits his time between Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Plymouth, Mass.
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From Doral to PGA National, the top 5 golf resorts on Florida's Gold Coast