Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

70 THE B ILTMORE 1914, was of central importance here: throughout his incredibly busy period during the 1920s, up to the Wall Street Crash, Franks Harris built the majority of Colt’s courses (and lots for other architects too). Ross, too, pioneered the use of contractors in the US, though he never had so close a relationship with one firm of builders as Colt with Franks Harris. However, via his trusted associates JB McGovern and Walter Hatch, Ross was able, even at his busiest, to exert a reasonable degree of control over the teams that were building his courses, so he got the results he wanted. Ross came to the newly incorporated city of Coral Gables, Florida, in 1925. Coral Gables was one of the first planned communities in America, and at its heart was an enormous luxury hotel called the Biltmore, designed by the New York firm of Schultze and Weave, part of hotel magnate John McEntee Bowman’s expanding chain of the same name. For two years the tallest building in Florida, the hotel was a popular hangout of the great and good, but was requisitioned and served as a hospital during the Second World War, and was later used by the University of Miami and as a VA hospital until 1968 when the building was abandoned. The city of Coral Gables took ownership of the building in 1973, but it remained unoccupied until 1983 when the city started a full restoration; the hotel reopened in 1987. The hotel is a delight, with a feel very like a European grand hotel, and extremely unusual, in my experience, for America, where posh and old don’t often go together. Its hospitality is exemplified best by the frankly over- the-top Sunday brunch, where dozens of stations serve all manner of treats. Now, to the golf. Florida, as is well known, is mostly very flat, and that is certainly true of the Biltmore property. The only real feature – apart from a few grand old trees – is a waterway (a river) that passes through the site, and Ross’s genius is clear to see from the amount of value he gets from that watercourse, for example on the seventeenth hole, where the green is set right on the water’s edge. Unusually for a south Florida course, though I suppose less surprising given its vintage, there is no other water on the course. Had a Photo: The Biltmore Hotel Photo: The Biltmore Hotel Miami-Coral Gables