Designed by Donald Ross in 1925 the former municipal course in Coral Gables fell into disrepair late in the 20th century but was saved by the famous Biltmore Hotel and restored by Brian Silva in 2007.
Peter nominated The Biltmore as a gem in November 2015. Peter’s comments follow:
“The Biltmore in Coral Gables, FL was designed by Donald Ross in 1925 and plays to a par 71 and is 6,742 yards in length. When I was young the once prestigious and imposing hotel it was built to complement had been repurposed as a Veterans Administration hospital and I would be a bit unnerved by the patients who often sat stone-faced beside the 12th tee as I hit off. The course was restored in 2007 by Brian Silva and now has a different routing from what I played years ago but all the same holes remain. There is water to avoid and doglegs to challenge and Biltmore is certainly worth a visit.”
In July 2018 the Biltmore’s course closed for another
Brian Silva renovation project which is expected to complete in December 2018
and will largely consist of Bermuda re-grassing and bunker additions.
The course sits on a flat piece of land, which is cut in half by a Canal. The Giralda of the Biltmore hotel can be seen from far away.
Like all Florida golf courses, the Biltmore has to deal with a large amount of rain from May until October. Unfortunately the course does not drain well. Punches and bump and run chips are immediately stopped in the soggy grass. Reducing a Donald Ross course to the air game is not ideal. The green complexes are rather generous but not as undulated as the ones at Sara Bay Country Club for example (another Florida Donald Ross course).
Many holes are forgettable but there are some very good strategic holes. The 5th hole is a sharp dogleg to the right with a deep green-side bunker on the right. The 7th hole features risk-reward characteristics due to the canal. The tee shot on the 10th hole has to be hooked around the trees. The 17th hole is the highlight of the course. On this long par 4, the tee shot (usually into the prevailing wind) has to be placed between the trees and the canal. The creek must be carried on the second shot to a green that slopes steeply from back to front.
The Biltmore golf course is pleasant and playable. However, it does not have a "wow" factor. The Donald Ross characteristics are not as pronounced as on other courses. Not enough emphasis is put on the ground game. The golfer will leave perfectly relaxed but not stunned. He will have forgotten half the holes soon after.