Couples golf grows in the Naples area of southwest Florida

By Travel ArticlesApril 17, 2012, 4:00 am

NAPLES, Fla. -- There are many good reasons why couples golf is growing in Naples, where the area has morphed from a sleepy warm-weather getaway to a glamorous, high-end winter retreat.

Here you'll find a good number of affluent couples who love golf and have time to play, so it makes perfect sense to come to a place where they can enjoy their favorite sport together.

The real estate developers get it. Drive along major highways and you will pass a parade of gated golf communities hunkered beneath tall hedges and walls like Mediterra, Tiburon, Twin Eagles and the Lely Golf Resort.

'We've had a fantastic selling year,' says Carol Wood of John R. Wood Realty. 'Many are couples coming from the Midwest and Canada looking for golf communities.'

With good reason.

The Naples/Bonita Springs/Marco Island area has arguably one of the best mixes of golf courses in the Southeast with close to 100 courses, many the centerpiece of a residential development.

Katie and Jim Duffy from Auburn, N.Y., were attracted to Naples by the sense of community they found at Foxfire Golf & Country Club, a bundled community with golf membership included in the purchase price of a home near downtown Naples.

'Not only do we love the course (an Arthur Hills design), we find the other facilities like the clubhouse restaurant, pool and health club create a quick fix to meeting new people,' Katie said. 'We didn't know anyone when we moved in, but the pro was great at setting up games with other couples. There are also couples events throughout the year. We also like the beach, concerts, art exhibits, shopping and restaurants as well as biking -- bike trails are very easy to access.'

Ebba and Jeff Lavaty of Westport, Conn., have been renting a vacation home in southwest Florida for several years and try to find a place where the golf membership and the use of the social facilities are included in the rental.

'It's an easy way to get on a course and meet fellow golfers,' said Ebba.

'If you rent a place without a golf membership, you should find an area where there are several public courses nearby. When we rented in Bonita Springs, we loved playing courses like Old Corkscrew, Raptor Bay and Bonita Bay East but it does take more work to set up the tee times and you don't get to know your golfing neighbors so easily.'

Golf events for couples

With so many couples playing the game, it's no surprise savvy clubs are aggressively promoting couples events. At the Westminster Golf Club, a gated golf community on the eastern edge of Fort Myers, a 'Nine and Dine' couples event is held each Tuesday open to members and the public.

'This has been tremendous for us,' says Tim Perkins, the head professional at Westminster. 'Each week we get 144 players with 10 to 20 couples on the waiting list.'

Charging $21 for golf, cart and a drink, Perkins said he uses a scramble format.

'This way no one is intimidated and everyone has fun,' he said.

Apparently it works. The next day many couples return to play more golf.

Also targeting couples, Arrowhead Golf Club runs a Thursday evening golf social league for men and women geared to new golfers and priced at just $15, while the Lely Golf Resort with two fine courses, Mustang and Flamingo, attracts couples with accommodations in Green Links Golf Villas, where golf is typically part of the deal.

Understanding the importance of couples golf, Nick Stokke, the head golf professional at the Valencia Golf and Country Club, has launched a couples' league.

'Even before they get out on the course, they can work on their game on our practice facility, one of the best in southwest Florida with 30 grass, driving stations along with putting and chipping areas,' Stokke said.

Those on a golf vacation find Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa a good choice. In addition to playing privileges at the Rookery Golf Course, recently redesigned by Robert Cupp Jr., the 727-room Balinese-style resort comes with all decadent pleasures like a three-and-a-half-mile-long powdery sand beach, ocean view balconies, tennis, spa and several restaurants.

Or try the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, where you can play the highly rated Greg Norman-designed courses at the Tiburon Golf Club: Gold, venue for the Shark Shootout, and Black, a tad tighter with more roll-up greens. Back at the Ritz indulge in a couples massage in the spas.

With the ocean just across the road, the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is the oldest track around, punctuated by sprawling banyan trees, bamboo, flowering oleanders and hibiscus -- even a pair of colorful Muskovie ducks that hang out at the ponds. Here you can golf then top off your round watching the sun set over the Atlantic from the patio at HBs on the Gulf at the Naples Beach Hotel across the street. It's the only beachfront restaurant in the city. Romantic? You bet.

Someone said, 'Couples who play together stay together.' Wise man (or woman).

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)