YOUR GOLFING HOME…..
IT’S IN HOMESTEAD
Story by: Mike May
When most people think of Homestead, Florida, three things immediately spring to mind. Firstly, Homestead is the site of the Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the final race of the NASCAR season is held each November. Secondly, Homestead is the home of the Fruit and Spice Park, the only tropical botanical garden of its kind in the U.S., where, among other things, 75 varieties of bananas and 150 varieties of mango are on display. And, thirdly, Homestead is where the winds of Hurricane Andrew came rumbling through like a freight train in September of 1992, leaving behind a swath of destruction that left many people in Homestead homeless. The one place in the Homestead area that survived Andrew is the Redland Golf and Country Club. It remains the home for many south Florida golfers because of its person-to-person philosophy.
“We focus on customer service,” said John Stempien, Redland’s pro shop manager. “We meet and greet every golfer as soon as they arrive at the bag drop and the pro shop. We give five-star country club service to every golfer, whether they are a member or not.”
What’s different about the Redland Golf and Country Club is that its founder was neither a wealthy individual nor was he a golfer. His name was Joe L. Burton, who owned and operated a local department store. And, according to all sources, he had never touched or swung a golf club before in this life. But, he decided to do what many people thought was not possible, especially so close to the end of World War II – raise enough money to build a local golf course. What left many people scratching their head was his plan of attack – raise the money by selling memberships for $100 apiece. The goal was $40,000. Not only did Burton and his membership sales squad achieve their objective, but they did it quickly -- in less than four months.
The job of designing the course was assigned to golf course architect Red Lawrence. The job of removing trees and digging dirt was done by the A.W. Lindgren Land Clearing Company. The front nine today is known as the ‘Red Lawrence 9.’
This course’s historical roots are a big reason why the Redland Golf and Country Club is one of 54 golf courses that comprise the Florida Historic Golf Trail.
Construction on this 18-hole golf course started in 1947 and was built in two stages. The first nine was completed in the late 1940s. That’s today’s front nine. The other nine holes – today’s back nine – was built in the 1960s. Together, the 18 holes form a great par-72 golf course that has four sets of tees that measure 5,600 yards from the forward tees to 6,600 yards from the tips. This golf course is impacted by a steady breeze, many palm trees, pearly white sand traps, and a few lakes and ponds -- typical of a south Florida golf course. The course conditions remain in tip-top shape 12 months a year because of a talented superintendent – Samuel Martinez.
“Our superintendent is a wizard with the greens,” added Stempien. “He keeps our course in great shape throughout the year. Players appreciate it.”
This remains a membership-driven club, but it’s always open to the public. In fact, the club is open 364 days a year. It’s closed on Christmas Day. The members are busy throughout the year with the Men’s League on Mondays and Thursday mornings; the Fore the Ladies league is on Wednesdays from November to April; and the Dogfights are played Tuesdays and Fridays at noon. The number one tournament each year is the Homestead Amateur Golf Classic each November. The 2018 event marked the 41st edition of this annual 36-hole stroke-play competition. It honors the low gross and low net winners for both men and women.
After golf, visit the Sand Trap Restaurant where the meals are made from scratch and consistently draw rave reviews.
When you are ready to sample the Redland Golf and Country Club experience, put the club’s address (24451 SW 177th Avenue; Homestead, Florida) into your GPS and head for south Florida. To reserve a tee time, the pro shop (305-247-8503) is standing by to welcome you to your golfing home. It’s in Homestead.
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Mike May is a freelance golf writer based in Wellington, Florida. Mike, an avid golfer, is also a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He traces his roots as a golf writer to the 1983 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale -- which he attended for all four days -- and then voluntarily wrote his own account of that major championship event. In addition to being a golf writer, Mike coaches girls high school basketball, officiates high school soccer, and works with a cause (PHIT America) that is focused on bringing daily P.E. back to all U.S. schools. Mike is a 1985 graduate of the University of Florida where he earned a degree in broadcasting. Mike can be reached on email at: email@example.com