Tee off at one of two nine-hole golf courses maintained by the Miami-Dade County Park & Recreation Department. Whether chipping onto the green at Greynolds or dodging water hazards and hazardous water monsters at Briar Bay, golfers of all experience levels can play quick, challenging rounds. Briar Bay Golf Course sprawls in all directions across 30 acres of lush greenery polka-dotted with trees and bunkers. Each year, this par 31 executive golf course serves as home for more than 40,000 rounds of golf and several hundred nighttime games of bio-sonar badminton. Greynolds Park similarly tests golfers with a par 36 course that stretches 3,100 yards from the longest tees. After matches at Greynolds, players can retire to a spacious clubhouse to tabulate scores and settle any draws with a round of rock-paper-scissors.
After its cameo in the 1998 movie There's Something About Mary, The Aqua Golf Driving Range became famous, summoning visitors to hit golf balls into aqueous landing areas. Before the movie, however, the 20-acre lake turned state-of-the-art golf facility was a local legend for more than 50 years. Beginners can start down the road to becoming a master golfer under the expertise of onsite golf pros during lessons, which make an ideal gift. Under a long, doublewide canopy or in the sunshine, golfers can also hit golf balls onto floating greens or buoyant caddies. The range also has a pro shop and synthetic short-game center on dry land to practice chipping, putting, and taking off the golf-bag scuba tank needed for second shots at the range.
The 18 holes of the semi-private Bonaventure Country Club follow along the edge of the Everglades, a human challenge laid out in the middle of an untamed wonderland of mangroves, palms, and wildlife. Golfers traverse TifEagle Bermuda greens dotted with scenic challenges, including freshwater lakes and a par 3 hole situated next to an actual waterfall. On a given outing, they might run into director of golf and PGA-certified instructor Bob Mallek, who helps students improve their game through a combination of analysis and intuition. In addition to his duties at the course, Mallek is also active in the regional golf scene, serving as president of the southern chapter of the South Florida PGA.
In addition to a tranquil-yet-challenging course and expert instruction, Bonaventure Country Club also sports amenities for golfers and civilians alike. The club's recent renovations gave complete makeovers to the driving range and clubhouse, which frequently hosts events from weddings and quinceaneras to reunions to retreats. Visitors can also extend their stays at the adjacent Bonaventure Resort & Spa, which boasts 500 rooms and a four-diamond rating from AAA.
The founder of Start to Finish Golf, PGA-certified instructor Lucas Cohen, helps golfers improve their swings with a simple, effective teaching philosophy. Cohen’s Start to Finish Concept focuses on establishing the proper grip, posture, alignment, and ball position. The curriculum also stresses finishing the swing on balance and holding the postswing pose—back heel off the ground, club wrapped around the opposite shoulder, hips facing the target, and eyes toward the judges after sticking the landing—well after contact. Cohen and his team of instructors have honed their practice with more than 25 years experience and 30,000 lessons taught.
The Start to Finish concept’s underlying philosophy is that golfers who begin and end their swing with sound, consistent form are likely to excel when making contact with the ball in the middle of the swing. Cohen has proven that his methods work, as he has twice been published in PGA Magazine and boasts a record of success as a player, a coach, and a sand-wedge sorcerer.
AllGolf Center provides large practice facilities where you can hone both your long and short game, rain or shine. Sharpen your drive on a two-tiered driving range with targets and landing areas, or focus on putting in the 36-hole mini-golf courses and practice-putting areas. Each AllGolf Center even has onsite 18-hole golf courses littered with hazards, where players can test their new techniques and audition new caddies. If you need a break, you can check out new clubs at the fully stocked pro shop or take horizontal swings in the onsite batting cages.
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.