About a year ago, I wrote a rather uncharitable review of this facility and the golfing experience that it provided. Since that time, some interesting developments have occurred that promise to restore this sleeping beauty to its once-lofty position among south Florida courses. With the retirement of two well-intentioned but poorly equipped Dade County officials, Robert Montesino has taken the reins for all county public-access courses and has launched a major initiative to elevate its centerpiece---Crandon Park Golf Course--- to the level of a truly destination golfing experience. Once host to one of the major tournaments on the PGA Seniors Tour, this Devlin-VonHagge jewel had fallen on hard times and was plagued by haphazard maintenance, overcrowding and undermarshalling with the result that rounds were taking 51/2 to 6 hours on a course that had fallen into severe disrepair. Montesino has enlisted the on-site assistance of course greens superintendant Brian Field, whom he recruited from Fisher Island, and over the past two months the course has started to assume some of its former polish. It is my understanding that architects are also planning a new short game practice area which will complement the existing range and chip/putt practice facilities.
The course itself is as much golf as you want, I don't care what level of skill you posess. Nearly 7400 yards from the tips, the course also has four other tee positions allowing you to bite off smaller challenges, which will likely be all you can chew anyway. The very first hole, a double dogleg over water with a narrow, heavily protected green, gives you a glimpse of what you are in for, and it is quickly followed up by the third: a beautiful middle distance par three; the fourth: a monster, 600 yard par five (from the tips); the seventh: a dogleg par four with a long approach to the green over water (my vote for the most challenging hole on the course); and the eighth: a short par three obeisance to Donald Ross with an elevated turtleback green that punishes severely any lapse in either distance or direction. The back nine is equally beautiful and equally challenging, with eleven (a long par four to a redan green), twelve (a long par three over water), seventeen (a 200-plus yard par three from blue or black tees) and eighteen (think of hitting your drive down a shotgun barrel; and don't miss the most spectacular view of downtown Miami on your right as you make your second shot). All told, this is as challenging and rewarding a course as you can find in South Florida without paying a six-figure membership fee. A recent deal with Caddy Master Enterprises to provide professional grade forecaddies (included in green fee, but tip of $20/bag is appropriate and well worth the money) has lowered median playing times to about 41/2 hours, which is a HUGE improvement. If the efforts to bring this baby up to its former standard continue, Mr. Trump will have his hands full trying to make the Blue course at Doral a comparable golfing experience.