Tag Archives: golf vacations

Golf Marco Island

Moderate year round temperatures make Marco Island a fantastic golf destination. Located off the coast of Southwest Florida in the Gulf of Mexico, Marco Island is about 40 minutes south of Naples by car. Most people arrive by car as rail service to Marco Island was abandoned in 1944 and the nearest major airport is in Fort Myers.

Spanish explorers, who sailed to Florida in the mid 1500s, named the island La Isla de San Marco. Prior to the Spanish, the Calusa Indian tribe inhabited most of southwest Florida. Both the Calusa and the Spanish are long gone but their influence still remains in the many Indian and Spanish place names on the Island. 

Guests staying at Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort have two great courses at their fingertips,  Hammock Bay and The Rookery, both no more than 20 minutes away.

Don’t bother looking for that lost ball!

The Hammock Bay golf course is a beautiful track with lots of natural vegetation, birds and wildlife – you may even encounter a sleepy alligator on your round. The entire development is one of only nine worldwide to earn a Sustainable Development Certified Gold ranking from Audubon International. 

Hammock Bay features 18 distinct holes designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy. It’s a par 72 championship golf course designed with the approach shot in mind as evidenced by the positioning and contouring of the greens. Hammock Bay was one of the first golf courses to use paspalum, a salt-tolerant turfgrass.

The rolling terrain of the fairways lined with live oak distinguishes the course, while the breezes off the Gulf of Mexico conspire to make Hammock Bay a challenge that keeps players coming back for more.

Hole 16 at The Rookery

Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy were also brought in to update The Rookery, a course originally authored by Joe Lee and Robert Cupp. The grass at the Rookery was also replaced with paspalum and all bunkers were enhanced to improve playability. Nestled in shallow wetlands that attract many species of birds, including bald eagles and blue herons, The Rookery has also been designated as a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary program.

Every golf course has a unique character, due in large part to the collection of bunkers, said Peter Jacobsen.

Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort

Tee times for both courses are available for Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort’s guests and guests playing either course can conveniently charge golf incidentals to their room. Check their website for specials on golf packages.

If you enjoy seafood, check out the popular Snook Inn on Marco Island, a casual waterfront restaurant with a funky fish camp vibe.

Golfing Florida’s Palm Coast

Just one of three Tom Watson signature golf courses in Florida (the others are in Port St Lucie and Reunion Resort in Orlando)  the 7776 yard Conservatory course on The Palm Coast was completed in 2006 and held its first PGA Tour event in 2008.

 No Florida course is complete without an island green and Tom Watson’s 200-yard 8th hole at The Conservatory is more forgiving than most. If the ball misses the green, it will find the rough or bunkers, not the water. Looking to the green from the 18th tee box, all the golfer can see is a minefield of strategically placed bunkers. Only looking back from the green does the player notice the wide generous fairways and the most sensible approach to navigating the hole.

The Conservatory Course Hole 18

Describing his approach to golf course architecture, Tom Watson says:

I want my golf course designs to challenge the limits of the golfer’s mental, as well as physical skills. I do this by incorporating the illusion that a particular shot is more difficult or easier than it actually is.

The Conservatory clubhouse is a 44,000 square foot one-of-a-kind, featuring a glass-domed atrium which evokes a turn-of-the-century British palace in the Bahamas.  Though just a short distance away from The Hammock Beach Resort as the crow flies, The Conservatory Course is tricky to find in a car without GPS.

The Ocean Course

Opened for play in 2000, the Jack Nicklaus designed Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort consistently ranks as one of Florida’s top golf courses.

Incorporating both wetlands and The Atlantic Ocean into his design, The Ocean Course features one of Nicklaus’s signature techniques– a dogleg with water on the shorter side. Resist the temptation to cut the corner and golfers will find generous landing areas and a chance at par.

The Ocean Course doesn’t have the penal PGA tour stopping six-inch rough found at another Golden Bear design, The Champion Course at PGA National.  But it does have “The Bear Claw,” a collection of four holes along the Atlantic Ocean. If it’s breezy, wind can make this course “a real bear” and a challenge to pull the correct club.

The Ocean Course

For approach shots that miss the turtleback greens, the fringe around the greens has been mowed down, making putting a safe option. Accurate GPS carts and friendly staff, from the pro shop to the cart return, all make for a great round of golf. Guests staying at the Hammock Beach Resort can walk to the first tee from their room.

Hammock Beach Resort

Located halfway between St Augustine and Daytona Beach on Florida’s Palm Coast, The Hammock Beach Resort offers special golf packages for both tracks. All condos and villas have balconies with great views of the Atlantic Ocean and come fully equipped. Non-golfing family members will find plenty of activities here. The resort’s huge waterpark comes complete with a lazy river. Other amenities include: a full-service spa, a marina, tennis courts, and 9 holes of Miniature golf with real grass. Beach combing, surfing lessons, biking on nature trails and kayaking are all fun options.

The Putting Green