You are not going to believe the golfing in Southwest Florida. You could golf on a different course each week, every week of the year and never golf the same course twice. They are masterpieces of ingenuity and design. The developers have taken extra steps to preserve the naturalness of the area and present the “Old Florida”. This is the way it was when the explorers first stepped foot on its beautiful shores. Preserved for your enjoyment. The beauty is undeniable.
With courses designed by PGA legends like Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd and Greg Norman, this is world-class golf. These properties are so unique that they are part of the area Audubon Society and have won awards for their Nature Preserves.
Long before there were variable-faced-thickness titanium drivers, perimeter and gravity putters, and multi-layer minimized-spin balls, golf courses didn’t have to be long to be tough. A water hazard here, a bunker complex there, fast greens with lots of slope and cut-features like these were enough to intimidate the amateur and professional alike.
There are more than 100 golf courses from Naples to Bonita Springs. Bonita Springs has more than 35 courses alone. I have visited this area for almost two decades and there has been incredible growth and expansion.
Imagine playing some of the greatest fairways in North America. The fairways are as good as some greens up north. No kidding! You will golf among beautiful oak trees and palms, hibiscus and jasmine, the scenery is outstanding! Spanish moss adorns live oak trees and crape myrtle. The fairways are flanked with beautiful beds of azaleas, magnolia, gardenia and wild flowers. The bunkers are works of art and water hazards are some of the most pristine sites to behold; some have wooden bridges and beautiful pampas grass edging the sides. It could be Eden or your private oasis.
Even though some golf courses may seem expensive, the golf experience is worth it. The season of course will dictate your price. Saying that, there’s great value too! You can still golf for great prices in the high season, just be smart. Take the afternoon reduction and hit the 2 or 3 p.m. tee-time for about $35 including golf cart.
Wow, is it time for my tee-time yet? I’m getting the golf itch just thinking about it. Like anything else, you need to shop around. Here are some of my favorites:
The Vineyards Site of the Senior PGA Tour’s Intellinet Challenge for several years in the 1990s, the South Course at The Vineyards has challenged the best of ’em. The course record, 65, was established during one of those tour stops. But on other occasions, the cumulative winning score for all three days was just 8 or 9-under.
Why the big difference in scoring? In a word, wind. When the South Course opened in 1987, it was basically a treeless affair where the wind would whistle over the course and make club selection all-important. Since that time, many of the palm and oak trees that were planted have grown in and increased the course’s difficulty, but the wind is still very much a factor, as are the placement of these beautiful trees. At 7,200 yards, it looks like an island paradise.
Here are some of my other favorites that offer the novice and advanced player all the challenges and superb play conditions. Be sure to call in advance to schedule your tee time.
* Forest Glen Country Club (239-354-1898) Carved through natural woodlands, Forest Glen is not only acknowledged as one of the most demanding golf courses in Florida, but also one of its most beautiful. Five tee stations and large greens make it a fair test for all levels. Enjoy lunch or an elegant dinner in the magnificent clubhouse.
* Grandezza Golf Club (239-948-2900, Estero). Exhilarating is the word most often used to describe Grandezza Golf Club’s 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course. Five sets of tees, undulating greens, rolling fairways and significant elevation changes all combine to make this Darwin Sharp III design one of the most challenging in Florida.
* Majestic Golf Club (239-369-8216, Lehigh Acres). Majestic Golf Club prides itself on being one of the best golf values in southwest Florida. Their beautiful tree-lined fairways, excellent greens, numerous lakes and bunkers will challenge any golfer’s ability. Majestic Golf Club is a “must play” on your Florida golf schedule.
* Raptor Bay Golf Club (239-390-4610, Bonita Springs). Raymond Floyd put his formidable talents into creating this magnificent 27-hole layout located next to the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa. Designed to blend with the surrounding natural environment, Raptor Bay is the first resort course in the U.S. to receive Audubon International’s Gold Certification.
* Tiburon Golf Club (239-594-2040, Naples). Nestled in the lush southwest Florida countryside, Greg Norman designed Tiburon as a golf course unlike any other. This 36-hole championship course, carved out of 800 acres of native Florida woodlands, is among the region’s most sophisticated and alluring. Conquer Tiburon’s devilishly tricky coquina shell waste bunkers, no-rough fairways and stacked sod wall bunkers, if you dare. A member of the WCI Golf family. Absolutely incredible!
Golf Course communities in the Naples Florida area.