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TravelGolf.com On Campus: In Miami, 'wide right' is ancient history - except on the golf course

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Each week this season, TravelGolf.com is highlighting a key college football matchup and looking at the golf around the home team's campus. This Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes host the Florida State Seminoles. Here's a look at the golf courses in the Miami area, including Doral's Blue Monster, the Biltmore and Crandon Park.

Miami Hurricanes - Football
Miami vs. Florida State is always a rough and tumble affair, though not always with national title implications.
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Miami Hurricanes - FootballNikki Beach Club - MiamiThe Biltmore Hotel Golf Course - Hole 13The Blue Monster at Doral Golf Resort & Spa
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MIAMI - Anybody here remember "wide right"?

Raise your hand, if your arthritis allows, Old Timer.

There was a time, kids, when "wide right" was the phrase, both sarcastic and celebratory, that chronicled Florida State's blown field goal attempts in futile efforts to beat Miami in rowdy college football games that always seemed to have national championships teetering in that space between the goal posts.

The Seminoles blew field goals in 1991, '92 and 2000 in late-game, losing efforts against the Hurricanes. The 'Noles threw in a "wide left" in 2002 and - finally, at long last - there was the "Miami Muff" when the 'Canes lost to FSU on a blown field goal attempt in 2005.

It's a more democratic system nowadays as FSU (3-1) and Miami (2-2) have allowed other teams to play for national titles. Both teams now struggle to finish high in the ACC.

And so Florida State's foray into Miami this week may have some of those hardcore football fans thinking about area golf courses as much as the game itself. Here are some excellent Miami golf options ...

Golf courses around Miami

Doral Golf Resort & Spa is the south Florida golf resort, a world-class resort and spa with five golf courses in all.

It has a classic Miami look, with palm trees swaying from the ocean breezes under blue, cloudless skies. It seems to take up the entire town of Doral, spread out over 650 acres.

First, of course, is the Blue Monster. The Blue Monster at Doral is a tough golf course in and of itself, but maybe the toughest thing about it is the fact that so many try to play it like the PGA Tour pros. You may want to think about a fairway wood off the tee.

The Blue Monster gets most of the play on the resort's five courses because of its obvious prestige. If you want to walk in off the street and play it, it will cost you anywhere from $210 to $295 depending on the season.

Crandon Park Golf Course is a municipal layout on the distinctly non-muni island of Key Biscayne, a few minutes from downtown Miami but a world apart.

During the high season, it's $75 for Florida residents.

Crandon Park is one of the best municipal golf courses in Florida, maybe in the country, with an upscale clubhouse and a great design by Robert Von Hagge and Bruce Devlin.

• The Biltmore Hotel is one of the Miami area's most luxurious, historic and prestigious hotels, even though you'll never see the girls frolicking in bikinis on south Florida's famous beaches.

For golfers - no big deal.

"We don't have the ocean here, which is okay," said Jason Epstein, former head golf professional at The Biltmore, the resort's course. "The ocean is over-rated. We've got a Donald Ross golf course."

They recently completed a $1.5 million renovation, including replacing unsightly St. Augustine grass in the rough with Bermuda. They also filled many of the more than 200 bunkers - 200! - because, after all, this is a resort course and pace of play is always important.

• To go to Miami for golf and not visit Shula's Hotel and Golf Club is sacrilege.

Shula's, of course, is named after the famous Miami Dolphins football coach, the one who led the 'Fins to the perfect season, the only in NFL history.

This is just one part of the coach's complex. There is Shula's Hotel and Golf Club just down the street. There is Shula's Steak 2 inside the hotel, a more informal eatery, as well as Shula's Athletic Club.

The Senator course at Shula's Golf Club also completed a $2 million renovation, done mainly because of the effects of Hurricane Wilma. Course officials say the layout is better than the pre-storm track.

Miami restaurants and bars

The town of Doral itself is pretty dull, so there's no sense in leaving the resort for eats, aside from game day, if you're not interested in the Miami nightlife. The resort has five restaurants, the best of which is Windows on the Green, which has panoramic views of the Blue Monster and a big lunch buffet.

It serves seafood with South Florida and Caribbean accents, and, for picky eaters, calories, carbs and fat content are listed on the menu items.

Le Croisic (180 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne; tel. 305-361-5888) is a French restaurant and by far the best on Key Biscayne, despite the fact it's located in a strip mall. Expect to pay around $30-$40 per person.

We don't want to overwhelm your palate with French food, but the Palme d'Or at the Biltmore (tel. 305-913-3201) is one of the best restaurants in south Florida and well worth it.

As for nightlife, you know you want to party at South Beach - especially if you've been stuck in Tallahassee for the better part of a year.

Go to Nikki Beach Club (www.nikkibeach.com/miami) if you drive a Ferrari and eat sushi or, at least, to see the ultimate in Miami cool.

Automatic Slim's (www.automatic-slims.com) has a stripper pole and audacious female bartenders who will occasionally pour you a free shot from between their cleavage. It's sort of anti-South Beach, with a décor straight out of a trailer park.

If you like your entertainment straight rock and roll, you want the ROK Bar (www.rokbarmiami.com), and if you're looking for an Irish pub, try the Playwright Irish Pub (www.playwrightirishpub.com) - just be aware they've caught a great deal of flack for having the temerity not to serve Guinness.

Wet Willie's (www.wetwillies.com, 760 Ocean Dr.; tel. 305-532-5650) in Miami Beach is a margarita hotspot with a reputation for relentless revelry.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
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