Interested in taking a getaway? Consider heading to the AAA Four-Diamond The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club in Southwest Florida. Set on 125 lush acres with seven miles of pristine white sandy beach, the 319-room resort is Southwest Florida’s only resort directly on the beach with an on-site championship golf course, a world-class spa, and an award-winning tennis center. Want more reason to visit? This month the resort completes a dramatic renovation – almost reinvention – of its championship golf course with input from golf icon and acclaimed course designer Jack Nicklaus, who has a historical tie to the resort.
The Jack Nicklaus redesign is in collaboration with noted course architect John Sanford of Sanford Golf Design. This major $9 million project follows $50 million in impressive renovations and enhancements at the resort over the last few years. The total redesign of the resort’s course began in April, and the entire project will be complete this November, with the course fully operational and reopening on November 17, 2016, according to the beachfront resort’s General Manager Jason Parsons. According to Parsons, this is almost a month ahead of schedule.
Jack Nicklaus helps celebrate his past and that of The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club by reshaping the future of this iconic golf course. It was in 1951, on a family vacation to Naples, Florida, and a friendly round of golf alongside his father, that the Ohio native accomplished the very impressive feat of first breaking 40 over nine holes on the resort’s course, shooting a 37. At just 11 years old, he came within a shot of shooting par, and just one year after he picked up golf clubs for the first time. This round, in particular, is what drew Nicklaus to the project – the scorecard is even archived in the Jack Nicklaus Museum, the 24,000-square-foot facility on the campus of The Ohio State University.
“Being back at The Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club is like a walk down memory lane for me,” Nicklaus said. “Returning to the same course where I broke 40, with my father by my side, brings back a lot of very special and very fond memories. At the same time, I enjoy the opportunity to work with John (Sanford) on this rebirth, if you will, of a wonderful layout. I think we have some great ideas and people will be excited about the end product.”
The resort’s golf course brings together two of the world’s finest designers, who celebrated the grand opening of their collaboration on Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx, New York, in 2015. Sanford served as project manager for the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, and among the many honors bestowed on the design, it was named to Golf Digest’s Best New Courses 2015 and recognized by Golf Magazine as the Best New Course You Can Play. It was also a top-three global selection by Golf Inc. as Development of the Year.
Golf Course Architect John Sanford said, “The course will challenge the best players but also be enjoyable for all golfers. The redesign takes advantage of the sandy soils so the course will play ‘firm and fast.’ The ball will roll out so tee shots will be longer and approaches are open to accept running shots to the greens. The greens are gently contoured to allow for multiple hole locations but have continuous movement that will challenge all skill levels. Many of the large trees were cleared to ‘open up’ the course and various types of palm trees have been planted to extend the beachfront character of the resort. We are very excited about the reopening of the course in November.”
Sanford added, “We have a number of great new holes at the resort course, which includes the ‘signature hole’ No. 16. It is a medium length ‘Redan’ par 3. The green is a peninsula with water in front, on the right and behind the green. It’s not long but will require accuracy to hit the green.”
In addition to the new course, the resort has added a 300-yard practice and teaching range, and will have new golf carts with GPS tracking systems to aid golfers with yardages on each hole, thus helping pace of play.
Rich in hospitality and tradition, The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club has been part of the Naples community since 1946. Owned and operated by the Watkins family for three generations, the resort also features: 1,000 feet of soft white-sand beach; the world-class spa; a fitness center; the Mary C. Watkins Tennis Center with six Har-Tru courts; Beach Kids Club, a complimentary daily recreational program for children ages 5 to 12; retail shops; beach rentals; 34,000 square feet of meeting space; and a variety of picturesque outdoor venues for receptions and events.
Guest rooms and suites feature cool tropical-colored linens, fabrics and carpeting; flat-panel televisions; patios or balconies (with a view of the Gulf, the golf course or the lush resort interior); coffee makers; and refrigerators.
Among the recent enhancements was the November 2015 replacement of the brick balconies in the main Tower Building with beautiful glass balconies to showcase the gorgeous Gulf views.