Naples, Fla. – The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club here in Southwest Florida has a new golf course to show off after a recently finished redesign by John Sanford, ASGCA, of Sanford Golf Design, in collaboration with Jack Nicklaus.
The redesign represents a total reinvention of the golf experience at The Naples Hotel & Golf Club, bringing it in line with the rest of the AAA Four-Diamond resort and enhancing the overall guest and group experience.
The new par-71 golf course now takes advantage of its sandy soil to play fast and firm. These conditions will encourage greater shot-making, allowing running shots into new, gently-contoured greens with room for multiple hole locations.
Five sets of tees see the course range from 4,800 yards to over 6,900 yards. The layout has been totally redesigned to improve playability for golfers of all levels and to emphasize the beachfront character of the resort. Water comes into play on numerous occasions, from the opening tee shot to the final approach to the 18th green. There are ten lakes on the course, forming hazards on all but four of the course’s holes.
The new design also sees the introduction of two ‘double greens,’ one of which is shared by the exciting drivable par-four second hole and the par-three eighth hole, and the second shared by the par-five third hole and the par-four 15th.
The project reopened a month ahead of schedule.
Sanford, who is also currently serving as the vice president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, said: “The course has been redesigned to challenge the best players but to also be enjoyable for all golfers. 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. Each tee shot presents a risk/reward opportunity to play safe or take on a hazard for better position.”
Another highlight of the new course includes the ‘signature’ 16th hole, a par-three that plays to a ‘Redan’ style green.
“The green is a peninsula with water in front, on the right and behind,” Sanford pointed out. “It’s not long but will require accuracy to hit it.”
The original course at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club opened in the late 1920s, with James Muirden, a golf course superintendent originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, credited with drawing up the original design.
Jack Nicklaus and Sanford have collaborated on numerous projects, including Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx, New York. The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club project holds particularly fond memories for Nicklaus, as the original course is the location where, in 1951, he first broke 40 shots for nine holes, as an 11-year-old playing alongside his father during a family vacation.
“I think those who have played The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club before are in for a pleasant surprise,” Nicklaus said. “I believe the golf course has been transformed into a fun, exciting, aesthetically-pleasing layout, largely due to the hard work of John Sanford and our own David Savic. I think the end product is something people will enjoy and have fun with in the Naples area for many years to come.”
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.
“We are very proud and excited about the completion of the dramatic renovation and redesign of our 18-hole championship golf course,” said Naples Beach Hotel general manager Jason Parsons. “The redesign is a unique collaboration between the greatest player of all time, Jack Nicklaus, who also is one of the world’s most celebrated golf course designers, and the very talented John Sanford. It truly has been a pleasure to see them collaborate on this totally new course. Our guests, groups, and golfers of every skill level will absolutely love the truly beautiful new course.”