Golf capital of the world? Naples, Florida is rich with courses

By Travel ArticlesJune 19, 2012, 10:30 pm

NAPLES, Fla. -- Any place that proclaims itself the 'Golf Capital of the World' will have some backing up to do.

From mid-January to early April, golfers won't find too many places on the continent with a better combination of sun and sand (bunker and beach) than Naples. During high season, tees sheets can be packed until mid-afternoon, traffic up and down Tamiami Drive (U.S. 41) thickens and many restaurants require reservations. It certainly lives up to its nickname during that time of year.

Naples, a city of roughly 22,000 people, has the second-most golf holes per capita than any other community in the country. Dozens upon dozens of golf courses stack up from one gated community to another, stretching from Estero and Bonita Springs into Naples. Collier County, where Naples resides, offers more than 70 golf courses alone. The recession hit the region particularly hard, but the local golf scene seems to be on a slight upswing.

The poster child for the comeback has to be the rebirth of TwinEagles. The 36-hole club shuttered for a period in 2010, but new owners, the Ronto Group, are working to revive the place. They hired architect Steve Smyers to transform the former Aerie Course into the new Eagle Course, which will host the CME Group Titleholders, the season finale of the LPGA Tour, in November. In February, the club's Talon Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son, Jack II, hosted the 2012 ACE Group Classic, a Champions Tour event held there previously from 2002-06.

Where to play golf in Naples

The Gold Course at the 36-hole Tiburon Golf Club hosts the Franklin Templeton Shootout (aka the Shark Shootout), a silly season event for PGA Tour pros every December. Naples Grande Golf Club is a Rees Jones design affiliated with the Waldorf Astoria Naples. The layout climaxes with several holes along a 30-acre lake on the back nine.

Architect Gordon Lewis remains a household name in southwest Florida. He designed the Spanish Wells Golf and Country Club, a private club in Bonita Springs; the 7,314-yard Stoneybrook Golf Course in Estero (with Jed Azinger) and Panther Run Golf Club in Ave Maria, a playable Troon Golf-managed course with great greens 30 minutes inland from Naples.

Old Corkscrew Golf Club in Estero and the TPC Treviso Bay in Naples play as the region's toughest bullies. They're both on gorgeous natural sites without houses to interrupt the view. They're ball-gobbling beasts that are still a treat to play. Treviso Bay, which hosted the 2009 ACE Group Classic before financial troubles hit, was designed by Hal Sutton and Arthur Hills, who earned the nickname 'the Mayor of Naples' for all his work in the area.

Bonita Bay East showcases 36 holes of Tom Fazio golf with the Sabal Course and Cypress Course. Valencia Golf & Country Club boasts a nice reputation, too.

Where to stay in Naples

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, the only beachfront hotel with a golf course on site in Naples, has undergone roughly $55 million worth of renovations since 2000. The renovation of all 317 guest rooms and suites and the addition of a new pool complex have created more comforts for guests.

Naples is the only golf destination with two Ritz-Carlton properties: The 295-room, Mediterranean-themed Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples next to Tiburon and the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, a high-rise with 450 rooms three miles away. The beachfront property boasts a much larger pool scene and three miles of beach on the Gulf of Mexico.

The Waldorf Astoria Naples and the Edgewater Beach Hotel have undergone extensive transformations in recent years. The Waldorf, formerly known as The Registry Resort & Club from 1986-2006 and the Naples Grande Beach Resort for several more years, received a multimillion-dollar renovation during rebranding. New are the modern lobby, Strip House steakhouse, Golden Door Spa, 474 retooled guest rooms and 50 refurbished Bungalow suites.

The LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples and the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs offer golf packages as well. The Lely Resort Golf & Country Club boasts two courses and on-site vacation homes and condos.

Naples dining

If golf is the No. 1 sport in Naples, then dining out is a close second. Restaurants and bars line U.S. 41. Comparing the best restaurants is like comparing the best golf courses: Everybody has a different opinion.

You might be pointed toward Bonefish Grill or Pincher's Crab Shack for seafood. Chops City Grille and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse compete for top steakhouse honors at Coconut Point in Estero (Chops has another location in downtown Naples, as does Bonefish).

Seasons 52 in North Naples serves wonderfully fresh healthy meals, bookended by treats: flatbread pizzas as appetizers and mini-deserts in large shot glasses after the main course. A handful of independent establishments have banded together to form Naples Originals, a marketing alliance filled with great places throughout the area.

Naples off course

There's a whole new game in town, just north of Estero. Featuring a replica of the famous Green Monster, the JetBlue Park at Fenway in Fort Myers began hosting the Boston Red Sox for spring training this season.

The waters of the Gulf of Mexico that lap the sandy shores along Naples are perfect for swimming, fishing and boating. Naples is less than two hours from the heart of the Everglades National Park, where swamp boat rides and alligator tours rule.

Families can try the Naples Zoo, a community staple since 1919, or a round of miniature golf. Professional spenders gravitate to shopping districts like Fifth Avenue and the Gallery Row in downtown Naples, nearby Tin City or Coconut Point, a massive outdoor center in Estero.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.