This page continues our synopsis of the Naples Daily News (NDN) Dream 18 Series of Golf Holes. The newspaper put together a 12-person panel of local pros, amateurs, instructors and architects to select SW Florida's best 18 golf holes. Visit the NDN website for the complete story.
The Second 9 of SW Florida's Best 18 Golf Holes
Ranked No. 10, The Old Collier Golf Club, Hole No. 18
Tom Fazio designed The Old Collier course. No. 18 is a Par 4 and is known as a strong driving hole. "It looks more forgiving from the tee, but that placement of the drive is the difference between having a decent shot at the green and a much more difficult one," said Champions Tour player and Bonita Springs resident Bobby Clampett. "That bunker down the right side kind of lures you into an - Ah, I can fly that," Clampett said. "But that's not the play. You'd rather be in that left bunker than the right bunker any day." The problem is that there is trouble all around the green, including a hazard short and right. A tee shot in the wrong place just brings more of that into play. And, Fazio throws in a bit of deception, too, with a left bunker that appears to be in front of the green. It is, but 50 yards away from it. The green also slopes to the left, making accuracy on the approach shot even more important. "When the pin’s in the back on 18, that's one of my favorite second shots in all of golf," Clampett said. "It's just a cool, cool shot." www.theoldcolliergc.com
Ranked No. 11, Wildcat Run Golf & Country Club, Hole No. 18
Wildcat Run was Arnold's Palmers first foray into design in SW Florida. He joined with Ed Seay to create this challenging course. No 18 "is a beautiful golf hole, one of finest Par 5's we've ever designed," said Palmer. "It's a slight dogleg to the right over water." Flexible with several tees. You can take a shot at it in two or you can lay it up and play it as a true Par 5. "I have always considered it a fun golf hole, a great hole to end a round of golf." The options include where the pin is, because that will affect the golfer’s decision as well, even to where they lay up. Lay up to the left, and that opens up the green a little more. But if the pin is on the left, coming in from the right may be better - but more dangerous because of the water hazard guarding the green. www.wildcatruncc.com
Ranked No. 12, Quail West Golf & Country Club, Hole No. 2 - The Preserve Course
Originally designed by Arthur Hills, the course was reconstructed several ago. The Par 3 is considered by many to be tough but fair. The hole was part of the course used for the Champions Tour's ACE Group Classic when it was played the club in 2007 and 2008. "It's a showcase hole...it's just a gorgeous, gorgeous little hole," said former tour player and Golf Channel analyst Mark Lye, who lived at Quail West for five years. It plays just 102 to 157 yards, depending on the tee, but the green is well-guarded, basically being carved out of a cypress tree forest. Missing the green makes getting up and down very difficult. "It’s fairly simple," Quail West pro Scott Smith said. “Aiming for the center of the green is always the good play." www.quailwest.com
Ranked No. 13, Calusa Pines Golf Club, Hole No. 3
Calusa Pines Golf Club has been ranked as one of the top golf courses in the United States for some time now. Dana Fry and Dr. Michael Hurdzan designed the award-winning layout. No. 3 is the shortest hole of the Dream 18. What it doesn't have in length, it makes up for in difficulty. "I like to call this hole the shortest Par 5 in North America," said Champions Tour Rookie of the Year Rocco Mediate, a member at the club. “I either make a 2 or 5 here." It all comes down to the tee shot. Miss the green left barely, and it rolls into a collection area. Miss the green right barely, and it rolls into a collection area. Or a bunker. Yes, there are a couple of those, too, including a big one on the left. Oh, and the wind "always" seems to be coming across, Mediate said. "The green is actually quite fair, it's what's around the green that is actually quite brutal." www.calusapinesgolfclub.com
Ranked No. 14, The Hideout Golf Club, Hole No. 11
Hideout Golf Club was established in 2000. It was designed by renowned architect Kelly Blake Moran and was built with the purpose of providing a course that was challenging to a scratch golfer, yet enjoyable and playable for the high-handicapper. The Par 4, 11 hole plays long at 455 yards. "If I can write down a 6 on the scorecard and just walk away, I’m happy," said John Kruk, former Major League Baseball player and current ESPN baseball analyst, whose also been a member of the club for 3 years. "No. 11 is really kind of a prelude to what you're going to encounter on the remaining back nine holes," he said. "It's obviously tight, with trees on both sides. The fairway narrows down in the area of the long hitter. It's a little more wide open for the average player." www.hideoutgolfclub.com
Ranked No. 15, The Old Collier Golf Club, Hole No. 2
Following up to the 18th hole ranked at number 10 in the Dream 18, Olde Collier's strong Par 4, No. 2 hole plays from left to right around a large pond down the length of most of the hole. "It's one of the best driving holes anywhere, especially with a right to left wind, which is the predominant wind direction there," said Bobby Clampett, a Bonita Springs resident, former Champions Tour Pro and Old Collier member. "It challenges you because you don't want to be in that left rough. The angle is better from the right. It's such a great driving hole because of that, the way the angle is." And, that makes it important to put the approach shot in the right place without having to face something more difficult. www.theoldcolliergc.com
Ranked No. 16, Naples National Golf Club, 14th Hole
Designed by Fry and Hurdzan, Naples National is a combination of simplicity and difficulty. No 14 is no exception to that concept. "On paper, it doesn’t look very difficult," said Champions Tour player and former Masters and U.S. Open champion Fuzzy Zoeller, a Naples National member. "In our eyes, members here at the National, it is the hardest Par 5 in golf - even though it is only a Par 4. There are more 5's and 6's made on this little hole than you can imagine." At its longest, the straightaway hole measures just 295 yards. But with trees down the left side, bunkers to the right in front of the green, and the green itself sitting on a peninsula, there's plenty to look out for - not just at. www.nngc.net
Ranked No. 17, Bear's Paw County Club, Hole No. 9
Bear's Paw Country Club is home of Florida's first Jack Nicklaus designed Signature golf course. The No. 9 hole may be in the middle of a golfer's round, but it can send them to the back nine needing to make up ground. It may not appear that way though from the tee. “It's very visually attractive from both the tee and then in the fairway," said Bruce Rotte, a 10-time club champ at Bear's Paw. "If you hit a decent tee shot. it's very, very attractive with the water, and the way the bunkering is in the front left of the green, and then there's the bunkers back behind and to the right. They somewhat frame the hole. They just add to the visual appearance." "It’s a very difficult and demanding hole," Rotte said."You have to hit a high quality approach shot to get a shot at a birdie." The green is somewhat narrow. It's one of those typical Nicklaus design features. He uses a lot of angles. www.bearspawcc.org
Ranked No. 18, Imperial Country Club, Hole No. 18 - The East Course
Imperial's East is a 40 year old Arthur Hills designed golf course. The East Course hosted the U.S. Women’s Open local qualifiers from 2004-08, and those golfers finished their rounds on a challenging Par 5, 18th hole. It measures 595 yards from the back tees, and doglegs to the right, with water all down the left-hand side, and trees on the right. The fairway narrows as the hole continues. The green, which the water hazard goes just up to the left front of, has two tiers. Imperial pro John Lee said "the South Florida PGA wanted to hold its Section Championship - its top tournament for club professionals at Imperial in the mid-1990s, but they passed it up because they felt making the pros use the back tee on No. 18 made the hole too difficult." They did return in 2003, and did not use the back tee. www.imperialgolfclub.org
OK, that's the second best 9 golf holes in our area according to the Naples Daily News selection committee of experts. You can read about the best 9 golf holes at SW Florida's Best 18 Golf Holes. For more information about SW Florida golf courses visit our SW Florida Golf Guide. For an explanation of the various golf club membership options available for joining a golf club, visit our Florida Golf Club Information page.
Excerpts and Photos Courtesy of NDN and the Selected Golf Clubs.
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Page Authored by Benjamin Dona of Gulf Coast Associates, Realtors