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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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.