• Craig Merlin

Golfing Around South Florida

As a PGA golf professional, real estate investor, and avid golf lover, I thoroughly enjoy everything that goes into a golf round. From arriving to the course, to interacting with the staff, every time a golf course can have an impact on me, I take notice. I felt a strong desire to take what I know about the ins and outs of golf and real estate and share that with you.

Throughout this blog, I will analyze golf courses around South Florida, but also the world and give my opinions about their value to the standard golfer, the conditions of the course, the interactions with the staff, and the quality of their merchandise mix.

Being that I played golf at a high level for years and played some of the best courses in the world, have played more than 200 different golf courses in at least 10 different countries, I have a great basis to compare what I experience with what the top tour professionals play. Although the standard municipal golf course may not be St. Andrews, it still can provide top notch service, excellent experiences, and hopefully quality golfing conditions for the buck.

I will analyze 6 aspects to compare courses including arrival and parking, staff, merchandise, cost per round, average course condition, and practice facilities. I will rate each aspect out of 5 with the best being 5 and the worst being 1 except for cost per round which will scale $ for low cost to $$$$$ for high cost.

I am here to help guide you to get the maximum value out of your golfing experiences. I hope you enjoy and can find some value in what is provided in this blog. I appreciate you taking this journey with me.

Before I get into specific courses, I want to mention how many ways you can maximize value out of each golf round. By just exerting a minimal amount of effort, in around 15 minutes or less you can find ways to find great deals on quality golf courses no matter where you are. GolfNow, Players Passes, State golf memberships and more provide excellent places to start your search for your next golf round. Don’t just play the same golf course every week. Try to experience the great values that come with each round.

From the beautiful scenery, to amazing nature, golf course architecture, and course condition are just some of the reasons why you need to be changing up where you play. Plus, it forces the standard player to hit different shots that they may not be used to hitting. For example, driving the ball over a lake or alongside an ocean front cliff. Hitting in between towering pine barriered fairways, playing rolling links style courses. The change in course scenery gives you an added intrinsic value when playing golf. It is not just about hitting the ball, its truly about enjoying 2-4 hours with people you may or may not know. So look into finding ways to maximize value by searching for discounted tee times at great courses. This will make your golfing career far more enjoyable and provide experiences you never thought you may have.

Golf Course Review #1

Miami International Links (Melreese Country Club)

When arriving to this course, it is always a mystery how busy it will be. I have found it is either slammed with people or completely empty but there is a ton of parking, so you always get a spot. Let me preface this post with me stating that this is one of my favorite courses I have ever played. It is challenging, usually in pretty good condition, priced (most of the time), and oh yea, did I mention it is challenging? The 20+ mile per hour winds that consistently grace this golf course always throws a wrench in your best laid plans. Somehow in a middle to western part of Miami, it seems to get more consistent wind than the bay and ocean front courses.

Maybe it is the airport that is near it that churns up the gusts. It is something I look forward to. But, let us get back to the arrival to the course. Once you park, you can get serviced by staff that have been at the course for more than a decade. I grew up going to this course and have had some great experiences with the professionals, starters, and bag attendants. Seeing the same faces who get to know you is a definite positive.

Although tee times usually run 5-10 minutes late due to a lack of marshalling, it is not bad enough to throw in the towel and quit. The value is excellent when it comes to price per round during the spring-fall months. During the winter though the prices get significantly higher. They provide different rates depending on where you are from (Miami-Dade resident, out of state, hotel guest, etc.). Merchandise mix is decent but somewhat centered around novice golfers (which is understandable because most golfers are not very good). They have a medium sized golf shop with a decent variety. One great aspect of the course is the big driving range and practice facilities. I do wish they had a chipping are a for the standard golfer though. There is one in the back for private golf lessons and clinics.

One thing this course lacks is scenery although you may see some turtles and an occasional alligator. Drink cart attendants are usually around, but sometimes they get “Lost”, but you can call into the grill which serves great food and pick it up at the turn without having to go out of the way. The course is the closest thing to a PGA Tour course in South Florida other than Trump Doral. You may even run into PGA Tour players like Erik Compton or Jose Maria Olazabal. I highly recommend this course which is why I began my blog with it.

Value system:

Cost Per Round: $$$

Arrival and Parking: 4 out of 5

Staff: 4 out of 5

Merchandise: 2 out of 5

Average Course Condition: 4 out of 5

Practice Facilities: 3 out of 5

Overall Grade: 4 out of 5 (you're getting pretty good value out of this round)

Here's the Golf Course map:


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