Follow Champions Tour to Naples Fla for good winter golf


While the PGA Tour is spending a few weeks on the West Coast, the next stop for the Champions Tour is in Naples, Fla., for the Ace Group Classic, Feb. 12-14.

The tournament is held at the private Golf Lodge at the Quarry, in an area that is probably underrated as a golf destination. For starters, southwest Florida is as tropical as Miami, which means it makes for a great winter getaway. But it's not nearly as crowded.  

Secondly, with more than a 100 golf courses in the area, the Naples-Marco Island area is second only to Myrtle Beach, S.C. in terms of total number of golf holes per capita. However, the majority of golf courses are private. In fact, the Naples area leads the nation in private clubs per capita. Still, there are a number of great public and semiprivate options for visitors.  

One example is the Lely Golf Resort, which has two outstanding public golf courses. The Flamingo course at Lely is a dynamite Robert Trent Jones Sr. design with plenty of water, bunkers and ever-present wind. The Mustang course at Lely  is also a nice test, but perhaps a little more playable.  

The La Playa Beach & Golf Resort is also a good choice with its Bob Putt-designed par-72 links style gem. Or you can check out Arrowhead Golf Course, a Gordon G. Lewis design that's been a local favorite since it opened in 1998.

You could also check out the Greg Norman's Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton. It's a target-style 27-hole layout with coquina sand in bunkers, stacked-sod wall bunkers, plenty of wetlands and no rough. Impeccable conditions, great weather - what more could you want?