Stretching from Palm Beach in the north to Dade County in the south Fort Lauderdale has 23 miles of coastline and 300 miles of navigable waterways, lending it the nickname Venice of America.
Although not as historical as the famous Italian city it’s easy to hop on a water taxi. Naturally the locals are crazy about boating and fishing. Port Everglades is the busiest cruise port in the world serving more five star cruise ships than any other port in the world. If you’re planning on visiting this neck of the everglades incorporate a mini-cruise to the Bahamas, 55 miles off the coast, and play the stunning Lucayan course and check into the Butch Harmon golf school.
However, if you prefer to keep your legs on land there are 65 courses to play but you won’t be able to get far from water. Most of the courses have been built from reclaimed swamp land, meaning that water hazards are a typical Floridian features. One of the best courses is TPC Heron Bay which has hosted the Honda Classic and was named as one of the top 10 public courses by Golf Digest. Whipped by trade winds you’ll have to summon the very best to keep out of the sand which on some holes is more prevalent than grass.
Just down the road lies sister TPC course Eagle Trace which plays like a British parkland course with undulating fairways and the odd bit of water.
If you’re searching for a typical Floridian island green then the 18th at Hillcrest will fit the bill. With lots of water and fairways that are asking for a long tee shot this is a great course.
The Grand Palms offers three loops of nine lined with hundreds of its namesake palm trees and of course plenty of water. There’s also a hotel on site which offers value golf breaks.
If neighbouring Palm Beach is the upmarket destination then Fort Lauderdale is the budget end of the scale. There are few places left where you play a TPC course for £25. There were some big plans for this stretch of coast. The ever ambitious Donald Trump was planning a hotel reminiscent of a 1920’s cruise liner but the credit crunch hit and the project reached a standstill in 2010. The upmarket St.Regis Bal Harbour resort is scheduled to open next March and offers sea views plus a gourmet restaurant. It is striking distance of Miami.
The climate is tropical with heavy downpours in August and September, though it’s still possible to play golf. If you get caught out do as the locals do dive beneath the nearest tree and wait for the storm to pass, or spend a day at Sawgrass Mills, the world’s largest discount and entertainment mall.
Morning tee times are the most popular and because of this many golf clubs offer discounted rates to play in the afternoon. Twilight golf fees also offer good value.
Visit the official Fort Lauderdale website sunny.org