Golf in Naples on Florida's southwest coast is not just another recreation activity to enjoy once you've worked on a tan and splashed around in the Gulf of Mexico.
Golf is a way of life in Collier County, which is dotted with dozens of golf courses in a wide variety of settings at resorts and real estate developments. There are more than 70 courses in the county, but many of them are private.
You don't have to let all of the "private" designations scare you away, though, because tee times at some of Naples' best private courses are a realistic possibility.
In Naples, the hotel concierges at luxury hotels typically have great connections and can get you a tee time at a course you might deem unapproachable.
Here some great private courses with accessibility in the Naples area:
Naples Grande Golf Club
Hotel guests at the Naples Grande Beach Resort (formerly the Waldorf Astoria Naples) receive access to play Naples Grande Golf Club. This stunningly picturesque layout, designed by Rees Jones, winds around meandering natural waterways with fairways framed by pine hammocks, live oak and grand cypress trees. High-profile water features and impressive elevation changes combine for challenge and beauty.
Tiburon Golf Club
One of Naples' most noted private golf clubs is Tiburon Golf Club, which annually hosts the Franklin Templeton Shootout, a televised golf event hosted by Greg Norman. The Great White Shark designed all 36 holes at the complex, which is set directly behind The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. The easiest way for a nonmember to play Tiburon is as a guest at the resort. Tiburon's Black Course and Gold Course are unique because there's no conventional rough. Coquina shells, landscaped waste areas and stacked sod wall bunkers create the quintessential "target golf" experience.
The Rookery and Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club
Two of the Naples area's best private courses, The Rookery and Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club, are accessible to guests at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa. A scenic layout with carpet-like fairways, cypress wetland, pine and palm forests and lagoons, The Rookery, a Robert Cupp Jr. design, has 15 holes that incorporate water in some form. Hammock Bay has the feel of a nature preserve with lush native foliage and landscaping. Designed in a collaborative effort by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy, the course has generous landing areas on most holes and multiple tee placements, making it playable for all skill levels.
The Golf Lodge at The Quarry
If you're staying at one of higher-end hotels or resorts in Naples, check with the concierge for course availability at The Golf Lodge at The Quarry. Tee times for nonmembers are limited and your best chance to play is during the off-season in the summer or fall. This superbly designed and impeccably maintained Michael Hurdzan-Dana Fry design has spacious greens and wide fairways. Once a Champions Tour site (the 2010 and 2011 ACE Group Classic), the layout stretches to 7,316 yards from the back tees.
Old Corkscrew Golf Club
For Jack Nicklaus design fans, Old Corkscrew Golf Club is as good as it gets. Opened in 2007, the course is highly rated by numerous magazines and websites. It's not part of a real estate development, so it's a "pure golf" experience. Memberships in 2015 are $5,500 per year for individuals and $7,500 for families. A Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, Old Corkscrew is routed through an extraordinary site dominated by beautiful mature oaks, pine and cypress trees.
LaPlaya Golf Club
Don't let the short yardage (6,488 yards) fool you into thinking the LaPlaya Golf Club is a pushover. Opened in 2002 and designed by Robert Cupp Jr., this layout offers challenge with water features and sometimes narrow fairways spectacularly framed by native foliage. The course is available to guests at the La Playa Beach & Golf Resort.
TPC Treviso Bay
TPC Treviso Bay, an Arthur Hills and Hal Sutton design that opened in 2008, has a limited number of tee times for nonmembers. Part of the TPC Network of clubs, this course sits within the gated community of Treviso Bay. The superbly designed layout encourages players to identify the correct shot angles to score low. Maintained to exceptionally high standards, you can easily see why the course once hosted a Champions Tour event (2009 ACE Group Classic).