Miami Rings in With Affordable Golf

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

Where is the cheapest golf in Florida? The answer, if predicated on the last winter season may come as a bit of a shock to anyone who has spent anytime teeing it up in the Sunshine State - Miami. That's right, the same city that gave birth to swank white suites, chic art deco cafes, and of course the ultra cool cop image of "Miami Vice" also happened to provide golfers with better rates, on average, than the golf Mecca's of Orlando and Naples.

In mid-February, a number of Miami area courses reported greens fees of between $25 and $30, and that was including cart. Miami Springs Country Club, one of the City's better public courses, offered a $19.95 early morning rate back in January, and topped out at $48 on the weekends. Sure, its not Doral, but for quality golf under 70 degree skies, you'd have a hard time finding anything better.

Sure, Miami's high-end courses such as Doral, Turnberry, Don Shula's Miami Lakes, and Fisher Island still charge rates comparable to upscale Orlando courses, but on average, public access/municipal golf is some of the cheapest in the state.

Exactly why this hotbed of cultural activity has become a bastion of affordable golf has many people guessing - many people except golf course operators. According to a number of industry professionals, Miami has had a difficult time solidifying its reputation as a golf destination.

"Visitors who come for a more random vacation aren't sure what they will find," said one course manager. "We are affected somewhat by being the end of the line. From other Florida cities, you can travel in several directions. From Miami, you can only turn around and go back. "We just have to work harder to re-sell what we have."

For years, the Miami golf tourism industry has been built on golfers who were seeking out specific destinations within the city, rather than coming to Miami to play a slew of courses, or to use Miami as a jumping off point for other golfing adventures.

"I guess Miami doesn't really come to mind as a golf destination," says Justin Sanders, an Atlanta resident who strikes out on at least five Florida golf vacations annually. "I think people perceive it (Miami) as being to crowed and congested. Golfers want simplicity and access, and I don't know if Miami has that to offer."

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.


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