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The Venetian Golf and River Club: Tee 'em high and let 'em fly in Venice, Florida

Tim McDonaldBy Tim McDonald,
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The Venetian Golf and River Club
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The Venetian in southwest Florida boasts wide fairways and challenging greens. (Tim McDonald/GolfPublisher.com)

The Venetian Golf and River Club in Venice, Florida, is a private golf course designed by Chip Powell. It has some of the widest, most forgiving fairways in Florida golf, but its tough greens will demand the best in your short game.

VENICE, Fla. - Those beloved golf architects who like to draw up wide, inviting fairways like to say they're giving us "strategic options." Wide fairways give you "multiple routes to the green."

The different routes to the green give the hole variety; you can play the same hole differently each time.

That's all true. But, to the average golfer, or even the low-handicapper who might be having trouble with his driver, it just means you can lock and load and let her fly.

Architect Chip Powell drew up wide fairways and generous landing areas at the Venetian Golf and River Club, here in Southwest Florida.

Add to that the fact this is a big, sprawling course on a huge piece of property, and the fact it's a fairly open course with only a smattering of palms and pines, and you have a ready-made prescription for bombing it. You can be as bold as love here off the tee.

No matter where your drive ends up, practically, you'll have one of those multiple routes to the green, even if you didn't plan it that way and even if you're still 250 yards from the green. The excellent conditioning ensures that you will almost always have a good lie.

The course is 6,931 yards from the back tees with a benign slope rating of 127, but that's a little misleading.

Have your fun when you're off the tee, but settle down and fly right when you enter the scoring zone. This is where your scorecard will be decided.

"The game begins here at the greens," assistant pro Ray Hafner said. "It doesn't matter how far you hit the ball. If you have a great short game, this is a great course to play."

Some of the green complexes at the Venetian are interesting, to say the least.

Powell said he had one or another of his favorites architects in mind for each hole. He was probably thinking of Donald Ross and Pete Dye on many of the green complexes.

The No. 9 green, for example, has the front half sloping aggressively back to the fairway; with the pin in front, your golf ball will make a return trip if you're not exceedingly accurate.

Or No. 11, which has a concave green dropping off to nothingness in the middle. Many of the other greens fall off in different directions. Short game, indeed.

Also, with the openness of the course and the breezy Gulf of Mexico nearby, wind can be a dominating player.

The Venetian Golf and River Club: The Verdict

The Venetian is a private club that opened in 2003 and green fees are in the $90 range, including cart. That seems to be a tad high, but this is an excellent golf course and one I highly recommend.

It's located on the Myakka River and 663 acres of the 1,000 acres at the club are devoted to the golf course, wetlands, lakes, and a 70-acre nature park.

It also has a lake for a driving range.

The Venetian isn't just a golf club. The River Club has tennis, fitness training, swimming and dining. The spa has an aerobics studio and massage treatment rooms, where you can get a classic Swedish massage, deep tissue, tension trimmer and a hot stone massage, as well as facial treatments and "micro-current facial sculpting."

The River Club restaurant has excellent views of the nature preserve. They also have a dance floor for you dancing golfers.

The area is rich in wildlife. In fact, Venetian was involved in a recent Audubon International bird watching event and won the top award for the southern region by identifying over 60 bird species in a 24-hour period. That's a mess of birds.

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

 
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