Golf Trip Dispatch: Modern gems and a venerable classic in southwest Florida's Lee County

By Brandon TuckerJanuary 17, 2013, 7:16 pm

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. – With a championship tee slope/rating of 77.6/153, Jack Nicklaus-designed Old Corkscrew Golf Club may be the toughest course I've played in Florida. 

But after navigating 36 holes here on a sunny, balmy day in early January, all I could think about was that Old Corkscrew may be the quietest play I've ever experienced in the Sunshine State. 

Located in Lee County between Naples and Fort Myers, Old Corkscrew highlights a part of the state with bountiful, natural appeal. Stay south of the county's largest cities, Cape Coral and Fort Myers, and development is vastly reduced, while nature preserves and green corridors, not to mention a wealth of golf courses, abound. 

Old Corkscrew is set beside a 16,000-acre nature preserve, void of any surrounding residential or commercial buildings. No matter what set of tees you play, you'll be taking on a sophisticated set of Nicklaus-designed greens that yield plenty of tough pin positions that dangle over water hazards and deep bunkers. It's so quiet out here, the splunk of a wet golf ball seems to echo throughout the entire 275-acre property.

Closer toward the gulf coast, the top public-access rival in the neighborhood is in Bonita Springs at Raptor Bay Golf Club. Within a whiff of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve and steps from the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort, gulf breezes and birdlife soar overhead. Opened in 2001 and designed by Ray Floyd, most greens are raised and multi-tiered - and fast. But most unique element to the design is there are zero traditional bunkers, only larger, waste areas that swarm green surrounds. 

Fort Myers Country Club

Across the street from Raptor Bay is The Colony Country Club, which offers a more traditional Florida-style design but with wall-to-wall paspalum turf that's a joy to hit off. But as swanky as the new clubs in southwest Florida are, a taste of the old school can be found in the heart of Fort Myers at Fort Myers Country Club. Minutes from the historic Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Estates, this Donald Ross-designed classic was a haven for the elite in its heyday. Today, it's a city-operated course that attracts 200-plus golfers daily.

Despite the fact there are countless championship-caliber clubs in the immediate vicinity, it's still home to one of the area's more prestigious events, the Coors Light Open, which will host the 51st staging this spring. Featuring a field of top area amateurs and pros, the near-100 year old course still shows its teeth, thanks largely to small, crowned greens. Such winners of this city institution include Dana Quigley and Lee Janzen. 


View tee times around Fort Myers and Naples


After golf sporting events: Boston Red Sox spring training and the Florida Everblades

JetBlue Park

Southwest Florida's peak golf season coincides with baseball spring training. In Fort Myers, the Boston Red Sox have a brand new home, JetBlue Park at Fenway South. It's one of the MLB's largest spring ballparks, seating up to 11,000 fans and even has its own 'Green Monster' in left field.

If you're not in town during spring training but still want live sports, Ft. Myers added a new ECHL hockey team, the Florida Everblades, that has a strong local following. Or, for gambling, you can head to the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Racing and Poker in Bonita Springs.

Stay and play in Bonita Springs: Hyatt Regency Coconut Point

Hyatt Coconut Point

Golf is so close to the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point you can see it from your guest room, not to mention gorgeous views of Estero Bay beyond the fairways. Guests at the 451-room resort receive preferred rates at Raptor Bay, as well as limited access to private Colony Golf & Country Club. Among resort grounds are a large pool, multiple restaurants, spa and 24-hour fitness center. Guests can also take out complimentary bicycles and kayaks or even boat rentals for exploration. 

For something more affordable and closer to the airport, the Holiday Inn Express is a relatively new property with spacious guest rooms full of modern furnishings, plus a bar with daily happy hour. It's also across the street from the Gulf Coast Town Center, which has a collection of restaurants and bars. 

Good eats

In an area where most clubs and resorts are on the fancier side, a real good dive restaurant can be found at the Fish House, which has both indoor and outdoor seating beside a canal, plus a market open during the day if you want to cook your own. The menu has such staples as Lobster tacos or oysters and grouper prepared in a variety of ways. Or, the Fish House will also cook the fish you catch out on the waters should you have a good haul.

For a more elaborate, multi-course meal, make a night out of a dinner at Angelina's Ristorante. The floor-to-ceiling wine tower dominates the center of the restaurant, which warns diners they may need a few minutes to select the perfect bottle or two for the table.

Getting to Lee County

Lee County and Bonita Springs is serviced by Southwest Florida International Airport in Ft. Myers, a large domestic airport that serves most east coast and midwestern domestic hubs as well as Toronto on WestJet.

More travel information to Fort Myers and Sanibel Island can be found at FortMyers-Sanibel.com.

Getty Images

Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.



Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath. 

Getty Images

Woods would 'love' to see Tour allow shorts

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:59 pm

Players on the European Tour are allowed to wear shorts during practices and pro-ams.

The PGA of America permitted players to show some leg while prepping for last year’s PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods would like to see the PGA Tour follow suit.

"I would love it," he said Thursday in a Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf. "We play in some of the hottest climates on the planet. We usually travel with the sun, and a lot of our events are played in the summer, and then on top of that when we have the winter months here a lot of the guys go down to South Africa and Australia where it's summer down there.

"It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

Caddies are currently allowed to wear shorts on Tour, during events.

Getty Images

Feasting again: McIlroy shoots 65 to lead BMW PGA

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:04 pm

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Rory McIlroy made seven birdies and no bogeys on Friday for a 7-under 65 and the second-round lead at the BMW PGA Championship.

After opening in 67, McIlroy was among the early groups out on Day 2 at Wentworth Club. He made three birdies and no bogeys on the par-35 front nine on Friday, and then went on a run after the turn.

McIlroy made four consecutive birdies, beginning at the par-5 12th. That got him to 12 under, overall, and gave him a clear advantage over the field. With two closing par-5s, a very low number was in sight. But, as he did on Day 1, McIlroy finished par-par.

"I've made four pars there [on 17 and 18] when I really should be making at least two birdies, but I played the other par-5s well," McIlroy said. "It all balances itself out."


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


McIlroy has made 14 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds. At 12 under, he has a three-stroke lead over Sam Horsfield.

"The work has paid off, to some degree," McIlroy said of his practice with swing coach Michael Bannon. "I still feel like I'm hitting some loose shots out there. But, for the most part, it's been really good. If I can keep these swing thoughts and keep going in the right direction, hopefully this is the type of golf I'll be able to produce."

This event has been feast or famine for McIlroy. He won here in 2014, but has three missed cuts in his other three starts. This week, however, he’ll be around for the weekend and is in position for his first European Tour victory since the 2016 Irish Open and his second worldwide victory of the year (Arnold Palmer Invitational).

"I have the confidence that I'm playing well and I can go out and try to just replicate what I did the day before," McIlroy said about his weekend approach with the lead. "On the first tee box tomorrow I'll be thinking about what I did today. Trying to just keep the same thoughts, make the same swings. I went a couple better today than I did yesterday. I'm not sure I'll keep that progression going but something similiar tomorrow would be nice."

Getty Images

Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."