Once the host of the PGA Tour's Miami Open, Miami Springs Golf and Country Club's 6,785 yards of well-groomed, tree-lined terrain once cradled the spiked footsteps of golf greats such as Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. Begin a day of visceral divot-tearing and surreptitious lie-improvement with a stint at the grass-tee-box driving range, where 70 driving-range balls willingly explode off club faces and land with ballistic grace on targets positioned at varying distances. Mature trees loiter throughout the course, halting wayward drives and placing a high premium on fairway placement, which becomes even more critical on the back nine, where the flowing streams of a canal claim ill-guided orbs and provide aquatic passage for golf carts hoping to abscond to Cuba. The course reaches its climactic crescendo on the par-4 17th—the hardest-rated hole from all three tees—where woodlands claim any misses to the left and some players will have to abandon drivers to stay short of the intervening stream, leaving them with a lengthy second shot to a large and well-fortified green. The course layout offers a thorough outline of each hole, including advice on how to approach each shot and placate territorial flagsticks.
Shula’s Athletic Club—named for Don Shula, the NFL Hall of Famer who coached the Miami Dolphins to a Super Bowl trophy in 1972—doesn’t find it hard to fill its sprawling 40,000 square feet of space. A cardio room with more than 50 pieces of equipment, a spinning center, weight rooms, fitness-class studios, and basketball courts spread through the facility, luring athletes for independent workouts and personal-training sessions. Dozens of weekly fitness classes range from calorie-burning Zumba workouts and Vinyasa-yoga sessions to spin classes that help students practice for the day they have pedal-powered cars.
The athletic club also accommodates older exercisers with aquatic aerobics and seated Silver Sneakers workouts, and it keeps kids busy with confidence-building youth sports programs. Young legs run over a new 60-yard athletic field or nine lighted tennis courts where kids whack tennis balls and low-flying hot-air balloons with rackets.
• For $70, you get a one-hour private lesson from one of the academy's certified instructors at Doral Golf Resort (a $140 value). • For $75, you get a one-hour computer-assisted clubfitting session at Doral Golf Resort (a $150 value). • For $150, you get a one-week junior golf clinic for kids ages 7–13 at the Miami Beach Golf Club (a $300 value).
The Miami area’s vibrant confluence of cultures and languages—as well as its uninhibited consumerism—serve as a captivating mixture from the moment travelers arrive. The atmosphere in Miami Lakes is somewhat subdued, with a small Main Street district and a coterie of local restaurants such as laid-back Cuban café Casavana. In nearby South Beach’s Art Deco District, architecture appears in Technicolor straight out of the 1930s. It’s the American version of the tropics—a clean, breezy haven with street-side cafes, where people-watching is de rigueur and the beaches are thronged with beautiful people. Just north, the lively Oceanside resort area of Sunny Isles Beach harbors even more picturesque public beaches. Boats docked on the Intracoastal Waterway at Haulover Beach Park beckon ocean exploration through deep-sea fishing charters and watersport rentals. After weaving past an eclectic crowd of paddleboarders, stereo-toting locals, and sun-tanning tourists, vacationers can head across the street to Epicure, a full-service gourmet market and café that peddles supplies for picnic lunches and offers all-day beach parking for $5.Just west of Miami Lakes, the Everglades’ Gator Park offers narrated airboat tours that start slow, plodding through 8–12-inch depths, before revving their Cadillac engines into full throttle in search of alligators, American crocodiles, exotic birds, and sitcom stars jumping sharks. The squawk of exotic parrots permeates the private sanctuary, as snakes slither up handler's backs and guests feel the small scaly skin of tiny alligators—a sensory escape from the concrete jungle of Miami. Although Don Shula's Hotel & Golf Club sometimes offers discounted pricing online, this Groupon is still the best deal available.
Executive Links’ golfing reps play along with golfers in order to help them to perfect their game in real time. Under instructors' tutelage, golfletes will shear strokes from their averages on their choice of local course, as opposed to a driving range. Pros go beyond just perfecting swings and focus on the mental aspects of golfing, proffering advice on course-management tips, such as when to go for the green, when to lay up, and how to motivate lackadaisical ball washers. They mold lessons around pupils' styles and goals, ensuring athletes master new techniques without completely altering their personal styles. The teachers often give corporations a leg up on competitors by escorting prospective clients around the links and doling out instruction, employing the same degree of courtesy as Romeo would have required to meet Juliet’s parents.
Costa Greens Golf Club regales sphere slingers with 6,300 yards of grassy terrain that winds through natural vistas speckled with palm trees, sand traps, and picturesque waterways. Cull your clubs and take off in a new E-Z-Go golf cart down the narrow fairways of the 72-par course, which incorporates water hazards into 11 of its 18 holes with scenic ponds and herculean slip 'n' slides. After traversing the green, stop into Costa Greens' pro shop to peruse their cache of essential golfing tools. Although not included with this Groupon, patrons can quell post-putt tummy rumbles with Peruvian and Nicaraguan fare found within Karnitas Grill, the on-site nosh-haven.
Miami Golf pairs a technologically refined training center and a vast selection of golf gear to help golfers hone their game year-round. Rather than attempting to craft their own wedges by taping doorstops to the end of fishing poles, golfers can visit the retail section, which sells clubs, clothing, and equipment from top brands such as Adidas, Ben Hogan, Momentus Golf, and TaylorMade. Miami Golf's practice studio offers game-grooming lessons and services that enlist swing-tracking technology, video swing analysis, and launch monitors, which use Doppler technology to record variables such as spin, ball speed, and the likelihood of indoor thunderstorms. Students can further enhance their swings with custom club-fitting services, which measure swing profile and body dimensions to pair players with their optimal set of clubs. Club technicians also provide repairs and adjustments for broken shafts or players who need an experimental grip to start putting with their feet.