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AVENTURA, Fla. – Given a blank canvas and a redesign budget, world-renowned golfer and South Florida resident Raymond Floyd transformed Turnberry Isle’s two 18-hole golf courses into challenging yet artful masterpieces, creating an experience unrivalled by most and renewing the resort’s prominence within the golf community.
“I believe in building golf courses that are aesthetically pleasing, conform perfectly with the goals of ownership and provide a fair and challenging test to golfers of all skills and handicaps,” said Floyd. “My standard for a truly great course is to ask myself whether it can stand the test of time. I’m convinced that these two courses will be enjoyed for many years to come.”
With the Miller and Soffer courses, Floyd and his design team managed to achieve the nearly impossible by literally changing the landscape of South Florida golf. Gone are the flat, wide-open fairways and giant greens built 40 years ago by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The two courses feature lush tropical landscaping, coquina shell waste areas and other aesthetic flourishes. Contoured fairways, clever doglegs, undulating greens, sculpted bunkers and strategically-placed water features make both courses more challenging but also a pleasure for players at all ability levels.
As part of the redesign, Turnberry Isle’s lakes were enlarged and trimmed with wooden bulkheads. Because dirt could not be excavated due to the site’s high water table, nearly 700,000 cubic meters of subsoil was brought in to create more pronounced elevations than are commonly seen in South Florida. The resort’s practice facility was also expanded and improved.
Don Soffer, the visionary developer who conceived Turnberry Isle in the late 1960’s and later reacquired the property in 2005, took an active role in the redesign of the two courses with Floyd, his longtime friend. “We had to find a way to defend against the assault on par,” Soffer stated. “You can’t just stand up on the tee and blast away.” He added that a sure putting touch on the undulating greens is required to score.
Although similar in appearance, each course has its own distinctive character, providing golfers who play each venue with an entirely different experience. The Soffer Course, designed to championship standards, stretches to 7,047 yards (par 71) with a 74.9/149 course and slope rating, one of the highest in the region. Floyd noted that while landing areas for tee shots are generous, there is a demand for accuracy on approach shots to the greens.
“With the length low-handicappers can achieve with today’s equipment, correct positioning of the tee shot is important coming into certain pin locations,” Floyd explained. “What I learned over the years playing in the Masters at Augusta National is never to tee off without checking the placement of the pin. If the flag was cut to the right, I knew I had to play my tee shot to the left side of the fairway, and vice-versa. I’ve incorporated that strategic approach into my design philosophy at Turnberry Isle. A golfer needs sound tactics in order to score on the Soffer Course.”
To achieve a “tropical Augusta” look, Floyd and his team created rolling berms planted with colorful indigenous shrubs to frame each hole, forming a natural privacy barrier so that every foursome feels like they’re the only players on the course. Further enhancing the experience, a spectacular 64-foot waterfall—the largest in the state—provides an unforgettable finish on the Soffer Course’s island-style 18th green.
Equally as beautiful, the resort-friendly Miller Course is a par-70 layout measuring 6,417 yards.
Several holes on the back nine encircle Lake Julius, the largest and deepest body of water at the resort. The lake is named for Hall of Famer and former golf director Julius Boros. A separate “Flamingo Island” built in the center of Lake Julius enables resident pink flamingos to nest and nurture their young in a protected environment. While the Soffer Course is staked out by tall, swaying palms, the Miller Course is marked by specimen tropical trees, including ficus, banyan and black olive.
Floyd noted that when the resort’s two courses were built in 1970, “Runoff water drained to the lakes, the lowest point on site. There was nothing in place to leach the chemicals. Today we are using more environmentally-friendly chemicals, and all runoff water is filtered and diverted,” enhancing the tropical habitats on both courses.
Proper drainage was one of the team’s first priorities. Many of the lakes at the facility are connected to the Intracoastal Waterway and rise and fall with the tides. Due to the brackish water in the lakes, a new salt-tolerant grass varietal, paspalum, was chosen to surface both courses. Pasplaum, which provides a firm, fast playing surface from tee to green, requires fewer pesticides and fertilizers than normal grasses, making it an eco-friendly choice.
From the vibrant, emerald-green hue of the paspalum grass, which stays bright green year-round, to the knowledgeable forecaddies and incomparable amenities at the resort, Turnberry Isle Miami has quickly evolved into one of the country’s premier golf destinations.
About Turnberry Isle Miami
A 300-acre tropical oasis situated in the beautiful City of Aventura in North Miami, Turnberry Isle Miami is a Mediterranean-style retreat with a culture of authenticity, spirited service and enriching experiences. The property is favored by travelers throughout the world and features two championship golf courses redesigned by Raymond Floyd, Celebrity Chef Michael Mina’s award-winning Bourbon Steak restaurant, a three-story Spa & Fitness Center, the elite Cañas Tennis, three relaxing pools, 40,000 square feet of meetings facilities, a beach club on the Atlantic and engaging kids camps all within reach of Turnberry Isle Miami’s 408 spacious guest rooms and suites. An Autograph Collection property, Turnberry Isle Miami is among a portfolio of world-class, independent boutique and luxury hotels. This Forbes Four Star resort has a reputation for excellence and is consistently recognized as among the world’s finest properties, having been named a silver medal winner by GOLF Magazine and receiving Golfweek’s Best Courses You can Play ranking. For more information or for reservations, please call 1-855-201-8027 or visit www.turnberryislemiami.com. To receive regular updates and news, follow @TIsleMiami on Twitter and “Like” the Facebook page.
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