Turnberry Isle: Miami spice!

Luxury golf near Miami Beach - playground of the rich and famous.

Charles Briscoe-Knight
Thu, 23 Feb 2006

Turnberry South’s 18th and 15th holes

In the 12 years since I was last in the vibrant and colourful city of Miami, America’s Latino capital has exploded with buildings and infrastructure.

The boom in hotel, condominium and resort creations – alongside more restaurants and nightclubs - is expanding at a rate faster than London’s own Thames-side redevelopment.

But while the seasonal ‘snowbirds’ still head south from the arctic temperatures of Canada and the northern states of the US during the winter months, there’s now a younger feel to this bustling Florida city where the pace of life has racked up a few notches in the last decade.

And rock solid in the centre of this golf-mad community is the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort, 20 minutes north of Miami airport. Developed in the early 1970s as a 300- acre playground of the rich and famous, it was rejuvenated in 1989 with an $80 million facelift and now provides a Mediterranean-style, 400-room luxury complex.

Daunting 15th green

Two golf courses surround the resort. And despite photographs plastering the walls of Hollywood legends Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, not to mention golf heroes Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer (all of whom have played here) – they are somewhat uninspiringly known as The North and The South course.

Among the modern day stars who stay here is Sir Paul McCartney. Indeed it was here that his mother’s ring was unceremoniously hurled from a balcony window during his turbulent engagement to Heather Mills.

However, a staff security guard found it days later and was flown by Sir Paul, to the UK to deliver it in person!

But enough of this celebrity trivia! What about the golf?

The South Course is considered by the locals as equal in quality and status to Doral’s famous Blue Monster some 10 miles away. And certainly I would concur – at least with some holes – and especially the 18th, where actor Matt Damon (here we go again!) made a sequence of the movie "Stuck on You" with Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik co-opted for cameo roles.

Multi tees for all abilities

It runs parallel to the equally daunting 15th and as a 545-yard par-5, demands a lay-up to leave a 40-yard pitch to a bunker protected green over water (I’d love to see the pros hit this green in two shots!)

Emulating Kevin Costner in ‘Tin Cup’ (please excuse one more film reference) my experience felt like a scene from a horror movie as I dunked three successive attempts into the lake.

As for the par-70 North course, it too is dominated by water – on 12 holes – including a large expanse to carry from the first tee’s several options!

Though no alligators have been spotted in the vicinity, it abounds with wildlife including flamingo, Turkey vulture and ‘laughing gulls’ which will swoop in to nick your food if you don’t watch out.

Early morning exercise on Miami Beach

They’ll even pinch your balls (excuse the expression) as I discovered early in my round and had to seek advice on the Rules of Golf to discover what to do next.

As a resort, Turnberry Isle has everything a golfer and his or her companions could possibly need for a luxurious self-contained stay. It’s closer to Fort Lauderdale than Miami Beach but fun and shopping is only minutes away at the Adventura Mall, Bal Harbour or Las Olas Boulevard.

Alternatively visit the Beach Club and Marina, play tennis on courts previously occupied by Jimmy Connors or sooth yourself at the Willow Spa.

My favourite haunt was the Veranda Bar by the pool with a cool "Mai Tai" cocktail and dreams of eventually mastering that final hole. Maybe next time.

Fact file
Accommodation: Starts at (£ 196), per room, per night, room only. For further information call 020 7025 1625 or visit www.fairmont.com.

Golf fees and packages: Unlimited daily play from £52- £72 per person depending on season. Buggies for hire about £21 per round, Callaway clubs for hire (£44). All packages are minimum two-night stays except holiday packages that are date specific. Prices do not include 13% tax.



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