Raptor Bay Golf Club near Naples: Enjoy nature while taking on devilish greens

By Travel ArticlesFebruary 11, 2013, 5:00 am

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. -- As you play Raptor Bay Golf Club, take time to soak up the melodies of bird calls, the waving grasses and the rippling waters of this Audubon International Gold Certified Sanctuary course.

It's a beauty.

Designed by Raymond Floyd, there are two nines, Hawk and Osprey with a third nine, Eagle, to be added later.

Developed by WCI Communities and Hyatt Hotels, Raptor Bay is set within Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa's 500 acre-site overlooking the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve. In building the golf course, 25 acres of wetlands were restored and valuable wildlife habitats were preserved.

Driving clackety clack over a wood plank bridge with wetlands, tall grasses, palmettos and scraggly oaks on either side, you arrive at the first tee where a white heron is perched at water's edge. Clumps of yellow daisy-like flowers grow out of carpets of pine needles all the way around, and you're sure to see a cormorant spreading its wings to dry. You might even spot a bald eagle.

Raptor Bay may play but 6,400 to 4,564 yards with wide landing areas, few carries and no bunkers, but don't let that fool you. Difficulty lies in the green complexes featuring very tricky, fast and roly-poly putting surfaces. Many have false fronts and slope off the back or sides, so even if you nail your approach shot, hold your breath: There's no guarantee you'll stick. Still, there are several bailout areas around the greens.

The tall towers of the Hyatt peek through trees on many holes or loom straight ahead, as on hole no. 8, but there are no neighborhoods to distract. Everywhere you look, there is water, although it doesn't seem to come into play much except from the back tees such as on Hawk no. 8 and Osprey no. 3.

And on Osprey no. 5, a par 4, you'll need to carry a pond to reach the green on your second shot. Jim Birrell, vacationing from Minnesota, announced, 'This is the gator hole.' Perhaps, but this time the gator was MIA ... or scooping up two errant balls that failed to reach safety.

To score well, you'll need to putt well, stay on course, deftly execute your approach shots and stay out of Raptor's long, sweeping, sandy waste areas. Sure you can ground your club in them, drive in them and chip out of them, but you can get into trouble in them as well and beware: The ground tends to be hard, the sand grainy and sprinkled with a confetti of shells.

The par 3s are pretty and well designed but not overly long. The longest (Osprey no. 4) plays at 184 yards, while none from the forward tees are more than 108 yards. Only Osprey no. 4 asks you to carry over water from all tees.

'Women enjoy Raptor a lot,' said Ed Weber, director of golf and general manager. 'There aren't a lot of forced carries from the forward tees but for those who want more of a challenge, they can move back to the orange or golds.'

Ernest Hemingway would be right at home cozying up to the bar in Braxton's Grill in the old Florida-style clubhouse, while today's guests will appreciate the first-rate locker rooms and pubic areas furnished with West Indies-inspired, wood-carved furniture and art work such as elephants and palms.

Guests staying at the 454-room Hyatt receive preferred green fee rates and ask about the Let's Play 9 golf option for reduced fees and late afternoon play.

Raptor Bay Golf Club: The verdict

This immaculately maintained golf course is a joy to play and one you will want to come back to more than once, and with seven sets of tees, Raptor is playable for all levels.

'I've played it several times,' said Doug Pinckney, a four-handicapper from Skaneateles, N.Y. 'It's one of my favorite courses, always in great shape and with plenty of fun in store, especially from the blacks.'

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Nelson win moves Wise to 12th in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 7:12 pm

Aaron Wise received plenty of perks with his title Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but the victory also brought with it a healthy bump in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings.

The 21-year-old notched his maiden win at Trinity Forest in impressive fashion, holding off Marc Leishman in near-darkness. After starting the week at No. 46 in the points race for Paris, Wise is now all the way up to 12th with the top eight players after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically for the team.

Jimmy Walker moved from 18th to 15th with a top-10 finish in Dallas, while an idle Tiger Woods dropped one position to No. 32.

Here's a look at the updated standings, as the top 11 names remained in order this week:

1. Patrick Reed

2. Justin Thomas

3. Dustin Johnson

4. Jordan Spieth

5. Bubba Watson

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Brooks Koepka

8. Phil Mickelson


9. Webb Simpson

10. Matt Kuchar

11. Brian Harman

12. Aaron Wise

It was also a quiet week on the European side of the race, where the top four from both the European Points and World Points list in August will join a roster rounded out by four selections from captain Thomas Bjorn.

Here's a look at the latest European standings:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Jon Rahm

4. Ross Fisher


5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Rory McIlroy

2. Tommy Fleetwood

3. Sergio Garcia

4. Alex Noren


5. Ian Poulter

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PGA Tour 'career mode' to be featured in video game

By Nick MentaMay 21, 2018, 6:02 pm

The PGA Tour announced on Monday a licensing agreement with developer HB Studios that will see Tour branding featured in HB's upcoming "The Golf Club 2019" video game.

Per a release, the game's career mode takes players “on an authentic journey through Q-School, the Web.com Tour and a 32-tournament PGA Tour season, including the FedExCup Playoffs, to become the FedExCup champion."

The initial launch will also feature "six precise replicas" of TPC courses played each year on Tour: TPC Summerlin (home of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ The Players Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic and future home of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

“We are so excited for the launch of 'The Golf Club 2019' featuring the PGA Tour that highlights some of our best tournaments,” said Len Brown, PGA Tour chief legal officer and executive vice president of licensing. “This will allow our fans to take the same path to the PGA Tour by earning their card through the Web.com Tour. Additionally, this will give gamers the opportunity to play under the same tournament conditions that our players face week in and week out. We are thrilled with this partnership.”

The agreement is a large step forward for a franchise which has been focused on virtual architecture, allowing users to design, play and share courses with other members of the TGC community. To date, users have designed more than 170,000 layouts. 

“We are absolutely ecstatic and proud to be an official licensee of the PGA Tour, one of the most prestigious sports organizations in the world,” said Alan Bunker, CEO of HB Studios. “This further validates that HB Studios has the No. 1 golf video game on console and PC platforms. With the inclusion of PGA Tour content and the support of this fantastic organization, it will elevate our game even higher and provide our users with an even more authentic video game golfing experience.”

The 2019 edition is the third installment in “The Golf Club” franchise following "The Golf Club" in 2014 and "The Golf Club 2" in 2017. The game is set for an August release on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

The PGA Tour previously licensed its branding and TPC courses to well-known developer Electronic Arts, as far back as 1990. The EA game enjoyed its greatest popularity from 1999-2013 under the name "Tiger Woods PGA Tour". Following the 2013 edition, EA's partnership with Woods and a licensing agreement with Augusta National Golf Club reached an end.

The studio developed one edition of the game for current-generation consoles in 2015 under the name "Rory McIlroy PGA Tour". The title received poor initial reviews when it launched with limited content and far fewer features than previous incarnations of the game, although EA continued to add content for up to a year.

A request for comment from EA has not yet been returned.

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Mann, LPGA HOFer, former tour president, dies at 77

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 4:46 pm

Carol Mann, an LPGA Hall of Famer, made a lasting impact on the women’s game beyond her 38 LPGA titles. She was a former tour president in the 1970s who helped develop the LPGA’s corporate structure.

Mann, 77, died in her home in Woodlands, Texas, on Monday.

She leaves a legacy as a player, teacher, TV broadcaster, writer and businesswoman.

“Carol was a significant player in the growth of the LPGA,” LPGA Hall of Famer Judy Rankin said. “She was involved when some big changes came to the tour. She was a talented woman beyond her golf.”

Mann, who towered over the game as a physical presence at 6 feet 3 inches tall, was dominant in her prime. She won 10 LPGA titles in 1968 and claimed the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. She won eight titles in ’69. Her first LPGA title was a major championship, the 1964 Women’s Western Open. She also won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1965.

As the LPGA’s president from 1973 to ’76, Mann oversaw the hiring of the tour’s first commissioner, Ray Volpe, a former NFL marketing executive. Mann and Volpe helped take the tour from a struggling business venture at the time to a more profitable one.

“It is always difficult to lose a member of your family,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “Carol Mann was a tremendous competitor, but an even  more amazing person.  She was special in every way, and she certainly left the game and the LPGA better than she found it. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

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Sponsored: Callaway's 'Insta Tips'

By Grill Room TeamMay 21, 2018, 4:35 pm

Want to improve your game? Want a quick lesson? And by quick, we mean, 5-10 seconds quick.

Joe Compitello, the director of instruction at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J., teamed up with Callaway to provide a series of Insta Tips. These quick and easy lessons will help your game, from tee to green, and keep your attention.

Click here for the full series of videos and check out a few clips below: