Hole 3 at Crandon Park golf, Key Biscayne

    Hole 3 at Crandon Park golf, Key Biscayne

    - Crandon Park

    Crandon Golf, Among Nation’s Best Municipal Courses

    By John Schwarb

    What do you think of when you hear the term “muni course”? Perhaps the local course you played as a kid, carrying your bag for just for a few bucks while trying to figure out this silly game.

    Maybe you think of your favorite muni's charming quirkiness, from staffers who have been there seemingly since the gutta-percha ball to that funky par-5 with a blind tee shot, a road on the right and a ski-slope green.

    Not all municipals are created equal, of course, though by definition they are all locally owned and operated. A few are big-time golf destination tracks, like Golfweek’s recently named top 50 best municipal courses. Check out the list and you’ll see courses that have hosted U.S. Opens and Presidents Cups.

    Florida has two representatives on the list, a pair of must-plays in South Florida.

    Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne is an almost impossibly serene course just 10 minutes from the bustle of downtown Miami. At every turn there’s water, mangroves and tropical foliage, and the course boasts that it’s the only one with a subtropical lagoon in North America. Crandon was originally designed by Bruce Devlin and Robert von Hagge in 1972, and hosted the Senior PGA Tour (now Champions Tour) for 18 years.

    Rates vary depending on season, with South Florida residents getting a discount and Miami-Dade residents getting an even bigger discount. Outsiders pay full freight, but it’s well worth the trip.

    The same can be said for North Palm Beach Country Club, originally built in the late 1920s by acclaimed architect Seth Raynor and renovated by Jack Nicklaus in 2006. Nicklaus, who made the area his home decades ago, took a design fee of one dollar for the work.

    The course is just off U.S. Highway 1 with fabulous views of the Lake Worth lagoon (across the lagoon is Jack Nicklaus Drive). It’s no pushover “muni”, with back tees stretching to nearly 7,100 yards. Rates vary depending on season and residents get a discount, but visitors from outside the area can play it for under $100 in peak season.

    Two municipal courses to plan a vacation around? You bet. Though you may not think of munis the same way again.

    If you go

    Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne
    6700 Crandon Boulevard

    North Palm Beach Country Club
    951 U.S. Highway 1