The best of south Florida: My top 10 golf courses you can play

Up Next

Autoplay is paused

Round Trip Feature: Miami

There are lots of great golf venues in south Florida along the I-95 corridor, and many of them, of course, are highly exclusive and private. But south Florida has its share of public golf, too, although some of that comes at pricey resorts.

A couple of those resorts host PGA Tour events, and while neither the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral or the Champion Course at PGA National are bargains, they still lead my list of the best courses you can play in south Florida. Of course, there is some affordable golf in south Florida, and those courses can be found on the list, too. Here, then, is a list of my favorites:

1. Trump National Doral's Blue Monster, Miami

There are five golf courses at this mega resort, purchased by Donald Trump in 2012, but the Blue Monster, home of the WGC-Cadillac Championship and subsequently renovated by Gil Hanse, is the one you're going to want to target. Not everyone likes the changes to the course, which now has eight lakes and more than a hundred bunkers, but it still retains one of the toughest and recognizable finishing holes in golf, the 467-yard, par-4 18th. Plus, it must be great; The Donald said it will someday host a U.S. Open.

2. PGA National's Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens

Originally designed by Tom Fazio and tweaked over the years by Jack Nicklaus, this course doesn't always get its due. Home of the famed Bear Trap -- two difficult par 3s around an equally watery par 4 -- the Champion Course has played host to many important events, including the Ryder Cup, Senior PGA Championship, PGA Championship and now the PGA Tour's Honda Classic.

3. Turnberry Isle's Soffer Course, Aventura

You have to stay at the resort and it's expensive, but the golf is stellar. There are 36 holes, the Soffer Course and Miller Course, all redone by Raymond Floyd. The Soffer is the more difficult of the two and better championship test.

4. PGA Golf Club's Wanamaker Course, Port St. Lucie

At the northern reaches of our south Florida region, PGA Golf Club, run by the PGA of America, is also one of the better bargains in the area (especially if you're a PGA member). All three layouts at PGA Golf Club are terrific, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the Wanamaker Course, one of two Fazio designs and a true Florida classic layout. Of course, I could also put PGA Golf Club's Dye Course in there, but for now, let's just make these two 4A and 4B.

5. North Palm Beach Country Club, North Palm Beach

Renovated by Jack Nicklaus in 2006, this links-style course is one of only two Nicklaus signature municipal courses in the United States. North Palm Beach Country Club is a difficult test from 7,000 yards, but there are five sets of tees for everyone to enjoy. The design incorporates elevation changes, rolling fairways and undulated, well bunkered greens.

6. The Breakers Ocean Course, Palm Beach

The setting alone puts the golf at The Breakers on the list. The historic resort has Florida's first 18-hole course, the Breakers Ocean Course, redesigned to restore its vintage feel. At just 6,167 yards, it's a shot-maker's course with a glimpse of the Atlantic. Resort guests can also play the newer course, The Breakers Rees Jones Course, a terrific layout in its own right and certainly a more championship test, albeit 10 miles west of the famous hotel.

7. Biltmore Golf Course, Coral Gables

It's not often you get a chance to play a public-access, Donald Ross-designed course, and the Biltmore Golf Course next to the historic Biltmore Hotel is a great opportunity. Built in 1925 and restored by Brian Silva to perfection, this 6,800-yard golf course in Coral Gables just outside of Miami is a joy to play. It can be a little pricey (rack rate is around $200 for visitors from outside the Miami area), but check the Internet for deals.

8. Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne, Key Biscayne

The best muni in Miami, and one of the better munis in the country, Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne should be on your list. With an upscale clubhouse and a really good design by Robert Von Hagge and Bruce Devlin, Crandon was built on a pristine island environment, with seven saltwater lakes and views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline. The golf course was also the host of a Champions Tour event for 17 years.

9. Palm Beach Par 3, Palm Beach

Yes, there's a par 3 on this list and for good reason; it's spectacular. Originally designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee and renovated by Ray Floyd, this all-paspalum 18-hole course features nine holes pretty much on the Atlantic and nine on the Intracoastal. Palm Beach Par 3 is also in terrific shape, and there's a new beautiful clubhouse with great views of the Atlantic and the terrific Italian al Fresco Restaurant inside.

10. Osprey Point Golf Course, Boca Raton

Opened in 2011, this 27-hole Roy Case design was more than 10 years in the making as local officials figured out how to appease environmental concerns while building a golf course that appeals to both locals and visitors alike. Osprey Point's Falcon, Raven and Hawk nines are so popular that tee times usually sell out several days in advance of each day, and for good reason. At less than $60 in season and less than half of that in the summer, this well conditioned and beautiful course is one of the best deals in south Florida.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

Related Links

Palm Beach County, Florida is among the wealthiest areas in the U.S. But you don't have to be a one-percenter to take a golf vacation in the Palm Beaches or play golf here.
6 Min Read
The Wanamaker Course, named after the man whose name graces the PGA Championship trophy, is the star attraction of the 54-hole PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
1 Min Read
More from the author
6 Min Read
May 28, 2019
PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Golf is being redefined at Palmilla Beach Resort and Golf Community on the Texas coast.
9 Min Read
May 24, 2019
University programs, both large and small, continue to invest in their golf facilities
5 Min Read
May 21, 2019
New owner Escalante Golf has made considerable investment since 2017.
8 Min Read
May 20, 2019
Not all Texas country clubs have had the steadfast history of Fort Worth's Colonial. But while some of these sites have been lost, others are now public and affordable.
5 Min Read
May 3, 2019
Debate rages on whether a golf course property be based on current or highest use
7 Min Read
April 25, 2019
How four facilities got their stride back, and what struggling courses can learn from it
6 Min Read
September 6, 2022
Portmarnock Hotel, Galgorm Castle, Rosapenna and Slieve Russell pair well with spellbinding links like The Island and St. Patrick's Links.
5 Min Read
September 12, 2022
Silverado is primed to host the 2022 Fortinet Championship this week.
5 Min Read
September 25, 2022
The USGA knocked it out of the park with a new event, unique championship venues in 2022.
9 Min Read
September 18, 2022
The PGA Tour stalwart and 2017 PGA Championship venue gets its first taste of international match-play intrigue.
Load More
Now Reading
The best of south Florida: My top 10 golf courses you can play