THE NAPLES BEACH HOTEL & GOLF CLUB:
Where Golf Is Fun & The Weather Is Beautiful

Story by: Mike May

The golf course at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club in Southwest Florida is not known as the ‘Course That Jack Built.’  But, instead, it could be called the ‘Course That Jack Re-Built.”  And, that person named Jack is none other than Jack Nicklaus. 

In 2016, Nicklaus was hired to redesign The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club’s championship golf course.  This was not your typical redesign assignment for the Golden Bear.  When Nicklaus stepped foot on this piece of property, this job assignment triggered a strong childhood memory. 

The overall golf experience at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is complemented by the presence of a 300-yard practice and teaching range.

Back in 1951, a young Jack Nicklaus played the course – then, just a nine-hole layout – with his father, Charlie, while they were on vacation from their home in Ohio.  Young Jack Nicklaus was only 11 years old at the time and he had been playing golf for roughly a year.  On that day in 1951, young Nicklaus broke 40 for the first time over nine holes as he recorded a 37.

Back in 2016, when Nicklaus began the $9 million re-design of the course, he still had vivid memories of that round of golf with his father, more than 60 years ago, at the time.

“Being back at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is like a walk down memory lane for me,” said Nicklaus.  “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.”

When all was said and done, Nicklaus was pleased with his team’s work on the course in Naples.

“I think those who have played The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club before are in for a pleasant surprise,” said Nicklaus. “I believe the golf course has been transformed into a fun, exciting, aesthetically pleasing layout, largely due to hard work of (golf course architect) 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.”

Golf course superintendent Holden Jones is committed to keeping this course fun and exciting to play every day of the year.

“The single biggest key to managing a course in the tropics is to pay attention to the forecast day in and day out,” said Jones.  “Mother Nature could be your worst enemy or your best friend. The key for me is prepare each day for the future, not just the following day. Being prepared and on a schedule keeps everything moving smoothly.  Surviving day by day in Naples without a plan will drive you up the wall trying to manage a course year round.”

It's worth noting that this original 18-hole golf course was opened for play in 1931.  When World War II rolled around in the early 1940s, it closed.  Then, in 1947, nine holes opened up for play and then all 18 holes were re-opened in 1953.

Because the roots of this course date back to the early 1930s, it's very appropriate that this golf course is now one of the 53 golf courses on the Florida Historic Golf Trail.

Today, The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is a par-71 layout, which features five tees ranging from 4,800 yards to more than 6,900 yards.  For most of the year, the course plays ‘firm and fast’ with gently contoured greens. ‘Fun’ and ‘beautiful’ are words used to describe this golf course which is open to the general public.

This course’s Signature Hole is the 16th hole, a par 3. The 16th green is a peninsula with water in front, on the right and behind the green. It’s not a long hole, but it requires accuracy with the tee shot.

An interesting aspect of The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is the presence of an orchid greenhouse that sits adjacent to the golf course maintenance shed.  According to head golf professional George Willard, orchids are grown inside the greenhouse by the maintenance staff.  Those orchids are then used to beautify and decorate the resort throughout the year.

Another interesting note to share is that the Everglades Superintendents Association conducts its annual golf outing at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club each May.  It attracts roughly 130 players to this event which is attended by the many superintendents and maintenance staff who keep golf courses in southwest Florida in tip-top shape throughout the year.

“Golfers of every skill-level absolutely love the new course, which is now in line with the rest of our AAA Four-Diamond resort,” said Willard. “The course challenges the best players, but also is truly enjoyable for all golfers.”

The overall golf experience at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is complemented by the presence of a 300-yard practice and teaching range.

To get a tee time on ‘The Course That Jack Re-Built,’ call the pro shop at 239-435-2475 or send an email to: golf@naplesbeachhotel.com.

For more information about The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, or to make a room reservation, visit NaplesBeachHotel.com or call (800) 237-7600 or (239) 261-2222.

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