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Florida’s oldest operating nine-hole municipal golf course, Granada Golf Course near downtown Coral Gables, Florida, is getting a new look. Signature Feature Construction of Jupiter, Florida is restoring the par 36, executive course originally designed by Donald Ross in 1923.

Owned and operated by the City of Coral Gables, the course features four sets of tees playing from 2,400 to 3,100 yards. The restoration is part of the City of Coral Gables’ Capital Improvement Program budget. The City Commission last year approved funding for the Granada Golf Course. 

The project is being led by Harry Bowers, principal of Signature Golf Design Services  (, the exclusive golf course design firm of World Golf Hall of Fame member Raymond Floyd. Bowers has worked on the designs of Old Palm in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Turnberry Isle Resort in Miami and the Palm Beach Par 3 in Palm Beach, Florida, which is recognized as one of the nation’s best par three courses.

“Granada is an iconic golf course that is at the center of an old historic community,’’ Bowers said. “When we are done, it will look like a new ‘old’ course; an enjoyable test of play for golfers of all ages and all abilities.’’

Bowers continued, “I’m really concerned that our public golf courses are becoming a thing of the past. I think we need to preserve these older golf courses, in order to save the game. Many of these iconic municipal courses are the only courses left that encourage kids and beginners to learn and play this great game.” 

A good example is the 18-hole Palm Beach Par 3, owned and operated by the Town of Palm Beach. In 2009, Signature Design renovated the par three course for less than $2 million. The facility went from an operating deficit to profitability in less than two years and is now considered one of the top municipal golf courses of any size in the state. The Granada GC project is budgeted for under $500,000.

“Public golf in the U.S. is suffering, overall golf participation is down and rounds are down for public play. Most municipal courses are in need of updating and better playing conditions,’’ Bowers said. “The funny thing is that most muni courses are set up to compete at a lower price point than privately owned daily fee courses. They are typically shorter in length, have less hazards, more economical to maintain, are friendlier to play, and are walkable, typically taking less time to play.’’

Bowers thinks that the U.S. Golf Association and other golf organizations have it wrong by showcasing U.S. Open courses such as Chambers Bay and Pinehurst No. 2. “What person in their right mind is going to look at Chambers Bay and want to take up the sport?’’ Bowers said. “In addition, the notion that 12-hole golf courses or larger cups is the answer to new golfers is misguided. If the USGA and others would get behind an effort to save the existing short courses that we have, the sport would flourish. Preserving golf courses that are shorter and more enjoyable to play is the key to getting more people to play. Municipal courses need to make a comeback.’’

The restoration at Granada Golf Course near downtown Coral Gables includes:

- New Laser Leveled Tees and New Grass (Celebration Bermuda)
- New Junior Tees for beginning golfers

- Re-Shaping of the bunkers; improving drainage and adding new bunker sand

- Restoring green contouring and adding new Tif-Eagle Bermuda grass

- Leveling fairways in landing areas and re-grassing with Celebration Bermuda

- Re-grassing green surrounds and approach areas with Celebration Bermuda

- Improving the golf courses overall landscaping

Granada GC currently is closed but is scheduled to re-open Oct. 15, just in time for the fall/winter golf season in South Florida. Just as important, the new look Granada GC will showcase the viability and accessibility of municipal golf and the fact that most muni golf course can be affordably renovated and operated. Currently the project is ahead of schedule. “It is amazing how much of a difference a restoration can make to the overall look and playability of an existing golf course; it has the feel of a brand new golf course” said Justin Carlton of Signature Feature Construction who is leading the construction efforts.