Miami Beach Golf History
Carl Fisher, who made his fortune in 1909 after he sold his Prest-O-Lite automobile headlamp business to Union Carbide went ahead with plans to build the Dixie Highway from Montauk, Long Island to the Alton Beach area of Miami Beach.This strip of sand and palm trees now, of course, is priceless, and Fisher is lauded as Florida visionary alongside the likes of Henry Flagler and Addison Mizner. Part of Fisher's original vision was golf. In 1923, Fisher and his partners built three golf courses to help attract visitors to Miami Beach. One of those — Bayshore Golf Course — is now Miami Beach Golf Club. Bayshore went through many incarnations the past 80 years, but other than being used as a U.S. Amy training depot in World War II, it's always been a landmark golf course on this city's south side.
Various management companies, including the City of Miami Beach, operated Bayshore as it went through stages of repair and disrepair, much to the chagrin of the city's famed beach hotels that were losing business to Miami's full-service golf resorts to the west. Some of those hotels urged the city to upgrade Bayshore in order to attract individual and corporate golf clients. The city passed a bond issue to pay for the work, and in late 2001 hired Hills, best known for his designs of several courses across Alligator Alley in the Naples area of Southwest Florida, to completely renovate the 128-acre property.
Hills kept Bayshore's original routing but redesigned all 18 holes, many with his signature large bunkers, a host of collection areas and undulating greens. Hills expanded the lakes on the 16th and 17th holes and used the dirt to build up the mounding around the course, giving the holes a more secluded feel — well, as secluded as one can feel in one of the world’s great playgrounds. Golf during the day and South Beach at night makes for a combination that’s hard to beat. Carl Fisher would be proud.
Note: Steve Pike is a contributing editor for The Golf Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.