Old Corkscrew Golf Club, Estero, Florida
One of Jack Nicklaus' Best!
Story and Photos by: Ed Stone
Old Corkscrew Golf Club in Estero, Florida is one course where you must show up with your “A-game.” Don’t expect to find any short and easy holes on this one. Like most Jack Nicklaus Signature courses, Old Corkscrew Golf Course puts a premium on length and accuracy. Wait until you reach the greens, here you will find more challenging undulations than you can imagine. Truly an experience for the seasoned golfer…and, if you are not seasoned, you will quickly become such.
Ariel view of Old Corkscrew golf course in Estero, Florida
Old Corkscrew opened in early 2007 and was then recognized with a Florida course-of-the-year award, named to a prestigious golf magazine best-of list and earned its Audubon certification. "It's been a great year for Old Corkscrew, that's for sure," said Mark Iwinski, manager of golf operations. "We are gratified by the recognition and awards we've received, but more important is the satisfaction we get in providing to our members and guests the best golf experiences in Southwest Florida."
In October of 2007, the club received its first major award from the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) naming Old Corkscrew its 2008 Florida Course of the Year. The award is presented annually to a NGCOA member facility that is setting new standards in golf course design and club management by demonstrating exceptional quality, excellence of ownership and management, outstanding contributions to the community and significant contribution to the game.
Old Corkscrew Golf Course garnered a prestigious position when making the list of America's Best New Courses from Golf Digest magazine in December 2007. The coveted award came from a panel of more than 800 golfers who rate their golf experience after playing the course.
Mike Calbot is one of the well known “Golf Doctors” in Southwest Florida. He has brought his International Golf Studio and TRIAD Golf Schools to the club. With nearly 45 years of teaching experience and being in the area since 1978, he is highly respected and sought after for honing one’s game. He has somewhat of a celebrity status having appeared on local television for some 25-plus years offering golf tips and hints to locals and seasonal residents alike.
In October of 2007, the course received yet another impressive award from Audubon International…the Silver Signature Sanctuary designation. This is impressive for golf courses appealing to the upscale golfer. From the initial stages of design and construction, there were environmental experts with Audubon International who partnered with Old Corkscrew Golf Club to develop a Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) serving as a construction and operations manual for the property. The Audubon International certification program works with landowners and developers to create golf courses that are planned, constructed, and managed with a major focus on environmental quality and sustainability.
It’s a win-win. Tucked into a clearing amid 275 wooded acres, just 25 charming and beautifully appointed cottages will soon stand, offering individual owners all the benefits of a second home … without the hassles. For corporate owners the Cottages provide a premier golf destination with luxurious accommodations for meetings or entertainment.
Recently, Old Corkscrew began offering for the conerseur of golf 25 beautifully designed and decorated cottages. Owners will enjoy the convenience of a private retreat as well as many of the privileges of Golf Club membership. The owners will be able to hone their skills at Old Corkscrew’s Leadbetter Golf Academy. There's also use of the state-of-the-art practice range that replicates short and long game scenarios found on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Design championship course
With six lakes scattered around the 275-acre layout, there’s no wonder you encounter and see such colorful wading birds such as herons, egrets, wood storks, roseate spoonbills and other water foul. Sprinkle the beautiful palmettos, cabbage palms and cypress as part of the backdrop to an outstanding layout; you have a rather unusual golfing experience for this part of Southwest Florida.
A first for each of us was a swinging hammock located at the first and tenth tee box areas. Our only conclusion is to give awaiting golfers a place to relax and loosen up before the next round. No different from most courses, the rewards will come with the amount of risks you are willing to take, be it flying a sand bunker or biting off as much water as you feel you can carry with your tee shot. Thirteen holes on the course have water come into play. There are over 100 sand traps and waste bunkers to slow you down when your ball goes astray. Overall, there is plenty of space for landing your tee shot but the hazards are plentiful. As intended for most courses, the hazards are placed for penalizing those who are willing to take a risk.
Franz Rosinus came to America back in the early 1990’s from Germany. He settled in Southwest Florida and enjoyed playing some of the more upscale courses. However, as Rosinus comments, “It seemed that in a few short years they were all rowed with homes and condos which significantly diminished my experience and enjoyment of playing them.” For sure, he and Nicklaus have created a unique course that will challenge all level of golfers. The tips will play to nearly 7,400 yards while the blues will stretch to 6600-plus and the white tees are 6,262. The forward tees will play to 5,061 yards. Whatever set of tees you select, just be prepared to have a testing of your game. And by the way, your putting must be at its best…even a three-putt on some will be acceptable.
As golfing great and course designer Jack Nicklaus stated about this project, “Old Corkscrew is going to be a very good golf course and a very strong golf course.” That is the truth!