• Craig Merlin

Golfing at the famous Biltmore

Set in the heart of Coral Gables, this golf course is one of the oldest in South Florida. Originally built as a 36-hole golf course, this Donald Ross design course got a facelift a couple years ago. Most municipal golf courses are not as nice as this one is. Although it is no Pebble Beach, it has its excellent scenery and character.

Arriving to the course is as easy as it gets. Whether you valet at the hotel, or park on your own, there is never shortage of parking, although you may need to walk across the parking lot. Bag attendants/valet usually drive around the parking lot to see if you need help getting to the golf shop/practice range. This service is not something you usually find at your daily muni course. Some staff members have been at the course for more than 3 decades and creates an atmosphere of family and fun. Having a head professional who has been at the course for more than 10 years is also one of consistency and continuity. Helping to actualize on a vision of a better golf course for the city of Miami and Coral Gables residences.

The golf shop is quite small but packed with top notch merchandise. Great selection from soft goods to clubs, balls, and souvenirs. Prices are a bit high, but if you need something while you're already there, its convenient enough without gouging.

The cost per round depends on where you are from. The Biltmore does offer a membership which basically covers your greens fees for the year, but you would still need to cover your cart fees every round. There are then 4 other categories of prices available for the public: Hotel guest, Visitor, South Florida residence, Coral Gables residence. Prices fluctuate throughout the year, but they are usually on the higher end. It may be prudent to scope out the “Hot deals” on online tee time sites like GolfNow. Finding a bargain is tough due to how few tee times are released to sites like these.

The course conditions are usually decent. Right now, it is absolutely pristine. But depending on the time of year it historically fluctuates a bit. With the help of the new superintendent, hopefully they get it more consistent. Greens are usually flawless. Rough is penalizing, tee boxes are usually decent, it all comes down to the fairways. If those are in good shape, it is very hard to find a better course to play in South Florida. As a public municipal course, having the standard golfer take care of the course to keep it in good shape is a tough go, but through education and the help of staff, hopefully everyone pitches in to fix divots and ball marks and leaves the course in better condition than when they found it.

Potentially the best practice facility in South Florida, The Biltmore hosts a very large practice putting green, three short game greens with three practice bunkers, a decent sized practice range, and a lesson tee in the back of the range. My only complaint is that I would love for grass tees to be used on the range instead of the worn-out mats. The price per bucket of balls is quite high, but that doesn’t stop people from constantly being at the driving range. It is always busy on the practice facilities.

Value system:

Cost Per Round: $$$$

Arrival and Parking: 4 out of 5

Staff: 4 out of 5

Merchandise: 4 out of 5

Average Course Condition: 3 out of 5

Practice Facilities: 4 out of 5

Overall Grade: 4.5 out of 5 (you are getting excellent value out of this round although price is high)

Overall, this is a fantastic course. Price per round is quite high, but the scenery including the historic hotel, birds, and water-life make it a must play in the South Florida area. As a weekly course, this may be a bit too pricy to play too often, unless you are a Gables resident or member, but if you have never played it, it is well worth the money.


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