Best Golf Courses In Naples
Smart snowbirds put southwest Florida on their migration path every winter to play the best golf courses in Naples. It is one of America’s most sought-after golf destinations when the cold takes hold up north and the snow begins to fall. Naples has all the fine dining, boutique shopping, glamorous resorts, sandy beaches and golf courses you can handle. Warm air from the Gulf of Mexico maintains a heavenly forecast that averages in the high 70s from December through February. More than 90 courses, many of them private in gated communities from Lely to Valencia, can keep golfers swinging from Thanksgiving until Easter.
Visitors are so spoiled for choice that they have to make tough decisions like which Ritz-Carlton hotel to stay at: The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, located right on the beach, or The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, which is several miles inland and adjacent to the 36-hole Tiburon Golf Club. Tiburon is Spanish for shark, a nod to Greg Norman, the designer of the club’s two courses. Tiburon has become the go-to tournament course in town, hosting The Shark Shootout (now called the QBE Shootout), an off-season two-man team event for PGA Tour pros held at Tiburon since 2001 and overall since 1989, and the CME Group Tour Championship, the season-ending event on the LPGA Tour since 2014. The lack of rough is the defining characteristic of Tiburon’s Gold and Black courses. Balls that stray offline can end up in all sorts of troublesome places, from bunkers to water.
Naples Golf Resorts
Other great golf resorts still deliver every amenity a memorable golf vacation requires. The Naples Grande Beach Resort provides access to the Naples Grande Golf Club, a private Rees Jones course. Further south, the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort opens up access to several semiprivate courses, The Rookery Golf Club by the late Bob Cupp and the Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club by Peter Jacobsen. Naples’ history as a golf destination can be traced back to the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, home to the region’s first golf course built in the 1920s. The hotel, situated in the heart of Naples along the main road through downtown, and course, where a young Jack Nicklaus first broke par, have both undergone significant upgrades in the past five years. The Lely Resort Golf & Country Club in south Naples features the Flamingo course by Robert Trent Jones and the Mustang course by Lee Trevino, plus plenty of vacation homes to rent.
Of the dozens of stand-alone courses, it is the TPC Treviso Bay (image featured above) by Arthur Hills and Hal Sutton, and the Old Corkscrew Golf Club by Nicklaus that stand out above the crowd as some of the best golf courses in Naples. Treviso Bay offers little public play during high season, so good luck getting on the 7,367-yard course bordering the 110,000-acre Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve. It hosted the 2009 ACE Group Classic, the only public-accessible course to host Naples’ annual PGA Tour Champions event. The tournament, now called the Chubbs Classic, has been held near Naples every February since 1988.
Bonita Springs is another hotbed of top golf facilities. Raptor Bay Golf Club features a design by PGA Tour player Ray Floyd with huge waste bunkers and wide fairways. Tom Fazio designed both courses at Bonita Bay East.
If you have country club connections, that opens up a whole new world of options to enjoy. Or, if you’re hoping to taste the good life at a private golf course, you can wait until the summertime when some private clubs open up tee times to outside access. You’ll grow old before you run out of golf in the best golf courses in Naples.