The Diplomat Golf Club setting surrounded by a manicured golf course, tennis courts and full-service spa.
However, we've left our story and video up for reminiscing!

Playing Golf, Famous Beach 
…Where History Captures Your Soul
The Diplomat Golf Course
Hollywood, Florida

Story and photos by: Ed Stone 

Travelers to golf resorts are always interested in the architect and how the course is laid out. They also appreciate the background and history of the location. The Diplomat Golf Course in Hallandale, Florida is a must experience. 

Hallandale is considered part of the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area and is a favorite with locals and out-of-town visitors. Finding an upscale and well-manicured, Joe Lee redesigned golf course less than a mile from the famous beach featured in the movie, “Where the Boys Are,” is an absolute great discovery.  

The signature  hole #2, par 4 with its island green.
The Diplomat’s par 72 golf course plays to some 6,800 yards from the tips and features the #2, a par-4 island green as its signature hole.  Robert von Hagge designed the original course opening in 1957.  When the United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Industry purchased the current property in 1997, they hired Joe Lee to redesign the course and re-opened on March 15, 2000.  Only the current #10 hole, which was the original #1 hole, has any resemblance to the von Hagge layout.Recently, the entire development was purchased by Thayer Lodging Group and has plans to open the boutique hotel adjacent to the golf course in early December 2014.
To score well on the signature second hole, you must have a well placed drive just left of center and then a mid to short iron shot to the green.  The par-5, number 16 claims the #1 handicap hole demanding a great tee shot and a creative approach to the 550-yard layout.  Some 8 of the 18-holes have some water coming into play.  The first three holes play to the south of NE-9th Street, while holes 4 through 8 play to the north, thus causing players to be very cautious in crossing the busy street of Hollywood area.  Throughout the course, you’ll find banyan and royal palm trees along with stately magnolias and pin oaks.  There are four sets of tees with gently rolling Bermuda 419 fairways and undulating Tif Eagle greens. 
Stan Hughes
Tournament Coordinator
Deservingly, CondĂ© Nast has placed the Diplomat Golf & Tennis Club on their Traveler's list of the top 100 golf resorts worldwide.  The golf course has also earned accolades from Corporate & Travel Incentive Magazine's "2010 Greens of Distinction."

PGA professional, Sean Gradomski is director of golf and Stan Hughes is the tournament coordinator.  They are part of the highly recognized and renowned management team of Troon Golf®.   We found the Visage GPS game assistance was helpful in speeding up the pace of play.  Stan Hughes made us aware of the famous Golf Digest School on property offering private and small group lessons from beginners to experienced players. A shuttle is available every half hour to and from the accommodations on the beach and to the golf course, about a mile away.

Here’s a matrix of the course’s rating and slope from the four sets of tees:

Tees Course Rating Slope Yards
Blue 71.6 137 6,488
Gold 70.2 132 6,207
White 68.8 127 5,946
Red 70.1 123 5,127


Tennis Center offers 10 clay courts and stadium seating for 1,500.

There are 10 clay courts at the Diplomat Golf & Tennis Club located in the country club setting.  There’s one court with stadium seating for 1,500 while six of the courts are lighted for night play.  We were quite impressed with the full-service pro shop featuring the latest equipment and apparel, along with well-appointed locker rooms. 

The tennis shop attendant told us this facility was named one of Tennis Magazine’s "Top 50" resorts in the world and ranked 24 in the world by Tennis Resorts Online.


Tack Room Lounge is where the golfer or tennis player can relax before and after your game.

The Links Restaurant & Lounge is a casual dining experience with veranda seating overlooking the lush 18-hole golf course and soothing fountains.  Serving breakfast and lunch, Links is located at The Diplomat Golf & Tennis Club, only minutes away from the hotel.

Tack Room Lounge is where the golfer or tennis player can relax before and after your game to enjoy a glass or two of fine wine, creative cocktails and an intimate vibe to put you at ease. Open daily from 11:00 a.m. until the last golfer leaves. The tack room terrace overlooks the first and second holes of the golf course.

Groups and individuals flying into the area have convenient access with the Diplomat Golf Course being located some 10 miles from the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and 30 miles from the Miami International Airport.


Celebrities have always been seen enjoying the Diplomat in Hollywood, FL. Here Jackie Gleason and Bob Hope are seen with Mr. & Ms. Cohen.
(photo courtesy of The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa)

Many Florida resorts are steeped in history, but The Diplomat can compete with the best. Some of the stories told are sometime hilarious and some will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. “The Diplomat was glamorous in a gold-lame’, glass lobby fireplace sort of way,” remembers writer Ben Nelhart in a December 2002 article for Travel + Leisure. “A playground for rich Northerners down for the season in their fur coats and string bikinis. The facilities were glitzy in the manner of vacation spots you’d visit after a win on The Price Is Right. It was almost frantically festive.”

Take a look at the following timeline of events and you’ll understand what an interesting background this classy place has to offer.

Sam Friedland, founder of Food Fair supermarket chain, opens the 750-room Diplomat Hotel on South Ocean Drive

Lawrence Welk filmed his first TV show in Florida.
Saudi Arabian Sheik Mohammed Al-Fassi rented two floors at the Diplomat and was arrested after trying to skip out on a $1.4 million tab. He unsuccessfully sued the hotel for $1 trillion.

Sen. Robert Kennedy, his wife Ethel, and his mother Rose Kennedy attended the John F. Kennedy Memorial Ball.
Arthur Godfrey taped his popular CBS radio show from the Tack Room Lounge

Judy Garland played the hotel’s CafĂ© Crystal.

Sammy Davis, Jr. and Liza Minnelli did their first joint concert. A record 3,200 attended.

The hotel is closed for the winter season after a series of arson fires leads to losses of $30 million in business and $20 million in recent renovations.

The hotel reopens
Former President Ronald Reagan addresses the International Longshoremen’s Association at the Diplomat.
Bob Hope performs at the hotel’s 1984 New Year’s Eve Gala

Late 1980’s
Financial difficulties resulted in entire floors of guestrooms and suites being closed. The hotel almost runs out of operating capital and cannot pay close to 200 creditors.

Irving Cowan, son-in-law to Sam Friedland, gave up control of the hotel to a consortium of labor union pension funds, whose managers agree to bail out the hotel with a $44 million loan

June 1988
Harbaugh Hotels of Palm Springs, California, a management company hired by the lenders, began renovating the hotel

January 1990
Financial troubles persist forcing the hotel’s lenders to file a foreclosure suit only to later be dropped, creating the opportunity for new financing.

May 30, 1991
The hotel is sold to one of its lenders, the Union Labor Life Insurance Co. The hotel was then closed for renovation, but never reopened under this lender.

July 1997
The United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Industry of the US & Canada (UA) announced it had reached a tentative agreement to buy the hotel.

October 1997
The hotel is sold to the UA

December 1997
The Diplomat hires the Coral Gables-based architectural firm, Nichols Brosch Sandoval & Associates, to design a new 1,000-room hotel, convention center and retail complex

April 17, 1998
Five hundred pounds of dynamite are used to implode the historic hotel, marking the beginning of a new era for the Diplomat

March 15, 2000
The Country Club at The Diplomat opens to the public: Joe Lee-designed golf course, Pro Shops, Locker Rooms, 60-luxury guestrooms, 10-clay tennis courts, Grand Ballroom, The Royal Palm Room, The Links Grill and the Tack Room Lounge

September 2000
The Spa at The Diplomat opens to the public: 30,000-sq. ft. featuring 20-treatments rooms and complete fitness facility

August 2001
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. appointed management company for the renamed The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, along with The Diplomat Country Club & Spa – members of Starwood’s Luxury Collection

January 2002
Opening of the main beachfront 1,000-room hotel, adjacent 209,000-sq. ft. convention center and The Diplomat Landing, a connected retail center & marina.

August 2014
Thayer Lodging Group purchases the development