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Naples offers Florida golf with respect for tradition

By S. Adam Cardais,
Tiburon Golf Club
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Play where the pros play - the Greg Norman designed Tiburon Golf Club. (Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton)

Miami may have the Blue Monster at Doral, but in the south Florida golf hierarchy, Naples can stake a strong claim to supremacy.

Leading the world in courses per capita, this Gulf Coast town is one of U.S. golf's top year-round destinations. And this isn't Myrtle Beach, where quantity sometimes trumps quality.

Naples has one of Florida's oldest courses in the Naples Beach Golf Club as well as newer designs like the two Greg Norman tracks at Tiburon Golf Club. Here's a closer look at some of the best the city has to offer.

Naples Grande Golf Club

The 7,078-plus-yard, Rees Jones-designed Naples Grande Golf Club lives up to its name: It is indeed grand, with small greens and well-conditioned fairways lined with palm trees rather than condos. Naples Grande was awarded four and a half stars by Golf Digest and made Golf Magazine's roster of the top 50 golf courses in Florida.

The awards "are well-earned," golf writer Tim McDonald wrote in a review of Naples Grande Golf Club posted at FloridaGolf.com. "A number of holes stay with you long after you've walked off the 18th."

Tiburon Golf Club

Tiburon Golf Club's two Norman layouts - the Black course and the Gold course - arguably offer the best in Naples golf. They feature stacked sod-wall bunkers and no roughs, making them accessible to players at all skill levels.

The club is home to the Rick Smith Golf Academy, so you can get your game tuned up by one of the country's best-known instructors.

Naples Beach Golf Club

The oldest course in the region and one of the most senior in the state, Naples Beach Golf Club is steeped in both history and mystery. The golf course opened in the 1920s, but exactly when is not known, nor is the identity of the designer.

The 6,488-yard, par-72 course is a traditional layout, free of modern gimmicks and course-design tricks (despite a handful of renovations over its 80-odd years) and known for its rich, diverse flora, from eucalyptus trees to mature oaks.

The Mustang course at Lely Resort

Considered the better of Lely Resort's two courses, the Mustang course was designed by Lee Trevino. With its 141 slope rating, the Mustang is challenging, but forgiving - Trevino provides large driving areas and greens so golfers can recover from a bad shot.

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Naples Grande Golf Club
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • courses per capita

    stephen wrote on: Jun 1, 2008

    I was under the impression that New Zealand had the mosts golf courses per capita. please correct me.


      • RE: courses per capita

        wsj wrote on: Aug 22, 2011

        New Zealand is an entire country. The greater Naples area is actually a small city surrounded by unincorporated areas (Collier County) that stretch up to the border with Bonita Springs.
        "According to the National Golf Foundation, Naples typically ranks either first or second in its national Golf Holes Per Capita surveys. With close to 90 courses in Collier County..."