Winter 2017 issue of Florida Golf Magazine features "The Florida Golf Architecture of Arthur Hills" Click here to read it.
Miami Beach Golf Club in Miami Beach, Florida
Written for Florida Golf Magazine's by Golf Course Architect, Arthur Hills
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Miami Beach Golf Club
2301 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL 33140
Miami Beach Golf Club - Architect: Arthur Hills
18 Holes, Par 72, Year Redesigned - 2003
Rating / Slope
74.2 / 138
72.0 / 134
69.4 / 126
65.6 / 114
75.2 / 141
70.7 / 124
Miami Beach Golf Club, by Arthur Hills, ASGCA
In 2002, the City of Miami Beach hired me and my golf architectural design firm, Arthur Hills / Steve Forrest and Associates, to lead a program for the comprehensive rejuvenation of the municipality’s legendary Bayshore Golf Course. Bayshore originally opened in 1923 as part of pioneering developer Carl Fisher's ambitious Alton Beach subdivision that was designed to lure wealthy winter residents from New York, Indianapolis and Detroit. Being only a few blocks from the beautiful and famous beach, Fisher’s development and the golf course were destined for success.
In its early years, the course enjoyed the prosperity of the Roaring 20’s, but then suffered through The Great Depression. During World War II, the U.S. Army rented the course for $1 a year as a training ground, and helmeted, rifle-toting soldiers ran through the course's palm trees amid the smoke from exploding grenades! Following its recovery after the war, the course provided city residents with a solid municipal track in a convenient location for years and years.
The Birth of a New Classic
Now that we have finished our work, the once tired and under-utilized “Bayshore Golf Course” has become the elegant and highly-regarded “Miami Beach Golf Club”. The result is a beautifully restored landmark that will be enjoyed by South Florida residents and visitors from around the world for years to come.
In keeping with the original design, the new course we built is very traditional and looks like it's been there a long time. It's an exciting course in a vibrant, star-studded, urban location.
The City of Miami Beach invested ten million dollars in the renovation effort which included building a tasteful and stylish Art Deco-themed clubhouse with a wonderful outdoor dining terrace.
On the golf course, eighteen new green complexes were built. The playability and strategy of each and every hole was improved through the addition of multiple tees and the placement of sand bunkers to relate to the modern game and its technological advances in balls and equipment.
Many of the lakes were reshaped and reconfigured, not only to improve the storm-water drainage, but also to add beauty and challenge, particularly on the finishing holes. A modern practice facility was also created. The landscape was further improved with the removal of many aggressive Australian Pines, a non-native tree species that can displace native beach plant communities that provide critical wildlife habitat for threatened and endangered plant and animal species.
An Environmental Win
Saving the rare urban green space from being developed was a win for both man and the environment. However, the environmental responsibility didn't stop there. We covered the entire golf course, including tees, fairways, greens, and rough with Paspalum—the so-called “grass of the future” at the time.
The advantages of Paspalum are significant. It doesn't turn brown in winter and can be irrigated with poor-quality brackish water that has a higher salt content. This is a big advantage in some locations, and especially near the ocean.
Paspalum provides a very good playing surface for fairways and greens. It is a grass type that can be used everywhere, thereby simplifying maintenance considerably. Healthy Paspalum requires reduced quantities of herbicides and other chemicals. That characteristic is good for the environment as well as the maintenance budget.
It has been rewarding to see what was once a forgotten gem in the historic community of Miami Beach, now become an outstanding recreational and environmental asset.
Signature Holes - 16, 17, 18
We took great care to preserve this spectacular natural oasis that provides a splendid escape from an otherwise highly-urban setting. Its fairways wind through carefully preserved mangroves, gumbo limbo trees, Jamaican dogwood, tropical palm and many other native species.
Measuring anywhere from 5,039 yards to 6,813 yards, this par-72 course is a good test of golf. There are many holes at Miami Beach Golf Club that are worthy of being called “signature” holes, but the three finishing holes are especially noteworthy.
347 yards, par four, 16th HoleThe 16th hole at Miami Beach Golf Club is a beautiful short par four. Playing at 347 yards from the back tees, it’s a classic risk / reward hole for long hitters.
The 16th hole is a beautiful and fun, short par four. The player can survey the options from the tee complex that overlooks one of the largest lakes on the property.
Playing at 347 yards from the back tees, it’s a classic risk / reward hole for big hitters. With a favorable wind, the longest hitters can carry the entire water hazard and reach the putting surface with one swing. The generous open approach to the green from that angle entices players to have a go at it. An eagle putt is the reward. Re-loading for one’s third shot is the risk!
For the shorter hitters, or perhaps the "smarter golfers", the proper play is to completely avoid the water to the right and position the tee shot between the two bunkers that guard the left hand side of the fairway.
A well-struck tee shot will leave a short, but somewhat scary approach over a gaping bunker that guards the entire left side of a shallow green that slopes significantly from back to front. A straight hitter doesn’t have to hit it long to birdie this short par four, but precision with the approach is definitely required!
183 yards, par three, 17 HoleThree is a great score on the 183-yard, par-three 17th hole at Miami Beach Golf Club in beautiful Miami Beach, Florida.
Considered a true signature hole by the members and the marketing department alike, the par-3 seventeenth is a stunning, highly-photogenic charmer at Miami Beach Golf Club.
It plays at 183 yards from the back tees, but has five teeing areas for maximum enjoyment in all kinds of conditions.
It requires a bold tee shot over water to an island-like, elevated green that is further protected by one large horseshoe-shaped bunker that wraps around the green. (Actually, the bunker serves to keep marginal shots dry!)
The two-tiered putting surface is deep and has a large ridge running through the middle of its two distinct plateaus. A par is a very good score on the beguiling 17th hole.
Thankfully, the 17th green itself is fairly large, but it can be tricky to hold with long iron or wood approach shots. The front half of the green is sloped back to front and the back half of the green is sloped left to right, making #17 a tough par three even from the forward tees.
430 yards, par four, 18th HoleHeading back into the clubhouse, the 430-yard, par-four 18th hole at Miami Beach Golf Club has an “Old Florida” look that serious Florida golfers love.
The final hole at Miami Beach Golf Club provides a classic, strategic finish as it works its way back to the inviting clubhouse terrace.
Rebuilt with traditional principles at the forefront, the hole has that “Old Florida” look and feel that is admired by many.
Framed by stately mature palms and flowering tropical varieties, the tee shot must successfully avoid a large fairway bunker on the left side of the landing area if the preferred angle of approach to the green is realized.
The safer alternative off the tee leaves a challenging second over a large bunker that successfully guards the right side of the putting surface.
This straightforward par four allows for smart, but aggressive play as players have one last opportunity to post a good number.
Miami Beach Golf ClubMiami Beach Golf Club sits quietly nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay, minutes from South Beach and scores of world class hotels and restaurants.
Open to the public, the “resort-like” course is a big hit with both local golfers and tourists. The course has also delighted Miami Beach hotel owners and business people who benefit from their connections with the cherished facility. We, too, were thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved with the revival of an important part of Miami Beach’s famed South Beach neighborhood. It was very exciting.
I’m very proud of the way Miami Beach Golf Club turned out. What was once a forgotten gem in the historic community of Miami Beach is now an elegant and highly-regarded golf experience that is enjoyed by visitors from all over the world! - Arthur Hills, 2017