Old Corkscrew Golf Club is the latest Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course to spring from the grounds of southwest Florida. This championship layout is perhaps the finest public course in the area if you are looking to challenge every aspect of your game.
Old Corkscrew is located inland from the resorts and beaches of nearby Naples, Fort Myers and Bonita Springs. It is just a half hour drive from the Fort Myers international airport but feels as if you have entered a world unseen by most southwest Florida golfers (or anyone for that matter). The drive in to Old Corkscrew takes you deep into the forests and uninhabited interior wilderness and far away from the hustle, bustle and developments known to most area visitors. There are no homes on the course and the feel here is more like that of being in the middle of the Everglades.
What You Will Find
This Audobon International certified property winds through an amazing array of waterways, cypress, pine and oak trees and abuts a seemingly endless expanse of citrus groves. The Audobon designation is meant to “assist golf courses and golf course developments in providing wildlife habitat, protecting water quality, and improving overall environmental performance” and it does this in spades. Don’t be surprised to see egrets and herons fishing while being watched by alligators (or were they crocodiles) sunning themselves on the banks of the course’s waters. Talk about a hazard!
I got to play my round with former NHL goalie Don Edwards who now serves as Old Corkscrew’s Director of Sales and Marketing. Don is an exceptional player and the perfect guide as we navigated the ever changing array of holes. The course has a few open holes like those at nearby Tiburon and Raptor Bay but the majority wind themselves through a wooded wonderland of white sand bunkers, doglegs of every direction and an outstanding collection of par 3’s. The variety of hole designs is this course's strength and is also what differentiates it from the typical Florida golf course.
Awards and Recognition
Opened in 2007, Old Corkscrew has already garnered many coveted awards and recognitions including:
- Best Course That You Can Play That You Have Never Heard Of - Golf Magazine, 2011
- One of America’s Best New Courses in 2007 - Golf Digest
- Southwest Florida’s # 1 Best Course You Can Play - Golf Magazine 2010
- 2008 Florida Golf Course of the Year - National Golf Course Owners Association of America
It is also has been the host site for:
- 2011 (and 2012) Qualifying Site - ACE Group Championship – PGA Champions Tour
- USGA – 2010 Sectional Amateur Qualifier
- USGA – 2009 Sectional Open Qualifier
- FSGA – 2008 Florida State Amateur Championship
- FSGA – 2007 Florida State Senior Open
I highly urge you to take the time to visit and play Old Corkscrew. The course conditions are amazing, the practice facilities excellent and the greens are as challenging as any I have played. If you are lucky enough to reside in the area, Old Corkscrew also offers an array of membership and loyalty programs for individuals and corporations. This is a top notch and challenging venue and a welcome escape from the typical area golf courses, gated communities and resorts.
For a game that’s been around lo these many centuries, golf continues to evolve at a remarkable pace.
Some changes fall under the everything-old-is-new-again category. (Persimmon woods will soon make a comeback – trust us!) Other times golf adopts ideas from the world at large (see golf shoes, below). And some innovations are simply golf-driven attempts to roust the game from its own inertia. (Anyone “Tee It Forward” this summer?)
Change is good – sometimes. Here are a few examples of golf trends we like.
Brown Is Beautiful
Brown is the new green. Golf goes brown.
Write your own catchphrase, but the fact is a number of factors – economic, environmental and artistic – are pushing American courses to reduce treatment on their fairways and greens. The result is a firmer, faster playing surface reminiscent of the British Isles.
Long enthralled with the Augusta National “green is good” aesthetic, U.S. courses pursued the lushest possible conditions. That meant watering, watering everywhere and applying massive doses of fertilizer. But facing shrinking revenues and stricter regulations, many courses have altered maintenance practices to cut costs, water consumption and pollution.
At the same time, a new breed of old-school architects -- like Tom Doak and the team of Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw – have brought the artistry of the ground game to these shores. Most notably, to the Oregon coast and its incomparable Bandon Dunes Resort.
So brush up your bump-and-run, 21st-century golfers. You’re gonna need it.
Shorter, Faster, Easier
Golf courses continue to get longer in an effort to combat the prodigious distance gains made in recent years. Problem is, the average golfer can’t hit it much farther than he did 10 years ago – yet many insist on playing from tees their skill sets can’t manage.
All that does is make the game less enjoyable and more time-consuming than it should be. This summer, the USGA and PGA of America teamed up to introduce the Tee It Forward campaign, encouraging golfers to play one tee box up from where they’d normally hit.
Depending on whom you ask, the initiative has been a roaring success or just another fizzling attempt to make golf faster and more fun. The Weekend Golf Warrior blog weighed in with some interesting thoughts.
There have been other, similar efforts undertaken recently, including Jack “Cayman Ball” Nicklaus’ 12-hole tourneys with 8-inch cups, and the big PowerPlay Golf rollout.
Here’s hoping something sticks.
Taking It to the Street
Ever wish you could skip the shoe change and head to the first tee in what you’re wearing, but didn’t like the idea of sporting sneakers on the course?
TRUE Linkswear Golf Shoes
Your time has come.
Kick-started by Fred Couple’s 2010 Masters run in Ecco’s uber-casual Street Premiere models, golf shoemakers have gotten hip to the notion of non-formal footwear. Adidas recently hopped on board while new companies including Kikkor and TRUE Linkswear have sprung up to claim a corner of this niche.
The latter has made the biggest strides, thanks to PGA Tour fashion maven Ryan Moore and reams of positive reviews. Like this one from the GolfBlogger.
We haven’t gotten a pair yet ourselves, but we plan to be kickin’ it new school very soon.
Bill Haas has been pegged for golf greatness since he was a teenager. He may finally have reached star status with Sunday’s victory at the Tour Championship.
Bill Haas (r) and Tim Finchem
What no one could have predicted, at least a week ago, was that Haas would emerge as the 2011 FedEx Cup winner, too. Thanks to the playoff series’ baffling points formula – and the leaders’ last-tourney stumbles – Haas’ lone victory of the year earned him the title and $10 million check.
That Haas, 29, came out ahead of Webb Simpson and Luke Donald highlights the conundrum faced by the PGA Tour in awarding points. Looking to create maximum drama at the Tour Championship, the Tour weighs the finale’s results more heavily than the other three FedEx events. That makes it more likely that Tour Championship contenders are also vying for the Cup’s riches, but increases the odds that a player without great credentials – a la Haas – will take the whole enchilada.
Our math skills aren’t up to the task of devising an alternative, so we’ll get to the business of this week’s highs and lows.
Bill Haas: Though he nearly gave it all away with bogeys on two of his final four holes in regulation, Haas was gritty in his playoff with Hunter Mahan. Haas hammered home a 10-foot par putt to stay alive on the first extra hole, then played one of the year’s most memorable shots on the second.
His ball lying on the edge of a water hazard, Haas splashed out a delicate explosion shot that settled with 3 feet of the cup. After matching Mahan’s par there, Haas drained a 6-footer on the third playoff hole to claim his signature victory. So far.
The belly putter: Those murmurs you hear are actually grumbles, and they’re coming from golf traditionalists decrying yet another Tour win for a non-conventional putter. Haas, who anchors a mid-length wand to his belly, joined Simpson, PGA champion Keegan Bradley and WGC-Bridgestone winner Adam Scott among late-season victors using extra-long flat sticks.
FedEx Cup contenders: Of the top five in the points standings heading into the Tour Championship, only Luke Donald contended on Sunday. His third-place finish was easily the best of the group as Justin Rose (T20), Matt Kuchar (T20), Simpson (22) and Dustin Johnson (T23) barely caused a ripple.
If not for Haas’ heroics, this could have been one dud of a climax.
Phil Mickelson you’re not. Maybe Paula Creamer. You’re no Dustin Johnson but perhaps closer to Ai Miyazato. If you, like me, are the average, to slightly above, male weekend warrior golfer then I highly suggest that the best role models for us are the women pros.
Do you realize the top five men in driving distance all AVERGAE well over 300 yards? Were you aware that their swing speeds more closely resemble that of a Lamborghini than the family sedan you are driving? And talk about physique, did you happen to pay attention to Tiger Woods in his prime? He looked far more like your average NFL linebacker than any golfer past or present. I fear the day of the smaller Corey Pavin, Gary Player, Mike Weir body types is coming to a screaming halt.
The Facts Jack
What I am trying to stress here is that your game better resembles that of the average LPGA woman than it ever will even the lowest ranked of the PGA men. Our swings speeds are more similar, driving distances more comparable, and for sure our general physical stats are even more closely related to the women than the modern male golfer.
If you ever get the chance, go watch the lady pros in action. Their game is more control than brute power. Their forte is placement not sheer bombardment. And theirs is more of a thinking game than one of brawn and machismo. All traits that will enhance your enjoyment when playing casual rounds with your buddies while improving your scoring.
When was the last time you hit a 5 iron 220 yards like Mickelson did in the 2011 PGA Championship? Are you a buff 6’-3” and 220 pounds of sinew like the PGA players of today? Do you play courses that average more than 7400 yards with ratings and slopes so high you can’t even do the math? I thought not!
Then I suggest you get a grip on golf reality and carefully mimic what you see the women of the LPGA doing. You have a great opportunity right now as the best women players from the USA and Europe are battling it out in the Solheim Cup at Kileen Castle in Ireland. Check it out and pay close attention. Role models like Morgan Pressel, Christie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen and Annika Sorenstam are not just for the lady golfers among us. They are for the men as well.
Southwest Florida is one of the country’s premier golf and resort destinations and Tiburon is one of the finest in the area.
Tiburon is a WCI Community development that features a Ritz Carlton Resort as well as luxurious family homes on some of the finest manicured grounds you will ever see. While the 295 room Ritz and the phenomenal 27,000 square foot Mediterranean inspired clubhouse are impressive to say the least, the anchor here is the two championship Norman golf courses.
Tiburon is home to the annual Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout. Every December an elite group of only 24 PGA Tour players compete for over $2 million in prize money. Both the Gold and Black courses are challenging to say the least. The tournament hosting Gold Course measures over 7,200 yards with a rating and slope of 74.7 and 137. The Black course is certainly no slouch and just over 7,000 yards and with a 74.2 rating and a mind blowing slope of 147.
Both courses are somewhat typical of golf in southern Florida. Elevation changes are at a bare minimum while water, sand and waste areas are ever present hazards. The geography is similar to many of its neighboring layouts like Jack Nicklaus’ new championship layout at Old Corkscrew or the Raptor Bay Golf Club located at the Hyatt Coconut Point resort. What is not similar is the incredible beauty of the community. From the flower lined lanes, soaring palms and all the way to the impressive circular drive at the clubhouse you know no expense has been spared. I felt like a visiting pro being led to an amazing sanctuary of golf and relaxation.
What Norman brought to Tiburon’s courses was a natural routing through and around an assortment of marshes, forestd, lakes and an ever changing assortment of wildlife. Other unique features are to be found throughout the 36 hole layout. Bunkers may have sod walls and waste areas are made from crushed coquina shells. The rough is generally not very rough as it has been replaced greenside with tightly mown areas like we see at Augusta National. This makes for very tricky short game play with plenty of options for running the ball on the ground if needed.
Ritz Carlton Resort guests have the use of the nearby Ritz Naples beach property as well. For those who have never been to the Naples area, it has some of the nicest sand beaches, best restaurants and enough outdoor activities to satisfy everyone. Golfers and non-golfers alike have endless choices for fun. From fishing, snorkeling and paddling the ocean to spa days, beach running and shell hunting; this area is an outdoor enthusiast’s mecca.
From Sanibel and Fort Myers to the north to nearby Bonita Springs and then Marco Island to the south, the Naples area of southwest Florida will keep you coming back not only for Tiburon’s golf but for the areas amazing array of vacation possibilities. It truly is a place worth visiting.
Jack says Tiger can still do it. Johnny doesn’t think it will happen. The Shark is certain it won’t.
We say it doesn’t matter what any of them say.
The “it” in question, of course, is the breaking of Nicklaus’ record for professional major victories, 18. As the golf world knows, Woods is stuck on 14, his last coming in the 2008 U.S. Open. As the entire world knows, Tiger hasn’t been the same since a 2009 fender-bender with a fire hydrant extinguished his invincibility.
Nicklaus, who must get the Tiger question on an hourly basis, remains diplomatic. Even at age 35, Woods still stands a great chance to win 19-plus majors “if he gets the five inches between his ears squared out.”
(That grinding sound you hear? That’s us resisting the urge to go juvenile on Jack’s “five inches” setup.)
Johnny Miller made a much more specific, if baffling, prediction. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win three, four more majors,” Miller said. “I don’t see him winning a fifth one, the big one.”
We’ll go out on a limb and pronounce that if Tiger gets to 18 majors, 19 will be a formality.
As for Greg Norman, he says Tiger is toast. Woods’ legendary focus is lost, Norman notes, and “the more he shuts people off, the worse it gets.”
The truly noteworthy part of Norman’s chat with GOLF Magazine, though, regarded Woods’ personal missteps. Apparently, Norman once counseled Bill Clinton himself on matters of the, um, heart.
“When he came to my house, (Clinton) wanted to talk to me guy to guy,” Norman said. “We all put our underpants on the same way, one leg at a time.”
Yeah, but some of us take them off a little faster.
Sorry, that one we couldn’t resist.
Our takes on other hot golf topics:
- Tour signs new television deal, touts parity: Tiger, schmiger. With no dominant player, golf’s more interesting, like the NFL or NBA. At least, that’s how The GolfBlogger sees it.
- Lexi Thompson headed for LPGA: The 16-year-old tour winner will soon be welcomed to the Show, full-time. Kids these days...
- 54-year-old wins U.S. Mid-Am: Proving that it’s not just a game for youngsters, Randal Lewis, 54, became the oldest winner of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. Then he went home and yelled at Lexi Thompson to get off his lawn.
Justin Rose was the ultimate driving machine in winning the BMW Championship. Well, at least for one round.
The Englishman hauled off the hardware on the strength of a first-round 63 in which he hit every fairway while averaging 304 yards per poke. Rose’s driving stats slipped, but his willpower never wavered; he won by two with a gutsy Sunday finish.
Rose and 29 of his PGA Tour brethren now pack their bags for Atlanta and the Tour Championship, where the 2011 FedEx Cup will be decided. Those in position to cash the $10 million winner’s check include Rose, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar.
On with this week’s cheers and jeers…
Justin Rose: Ah, the sweet smell of success. It has come all too infrequently for Rose, a wondrous talent who won for just the third time in his Tour career with a 13-under total at Chicago’s Cog Hill Golf Club. Clearly the class of a 70-man field, Rose stumbled down the stretch before a chip-in birdie on the 71st hole provided a two-shot cushion.
Rose’s rock-solid par on the tough 18th may be a sign of newfound toughness. For now, the finish puts to rest doubts about Rose’s ability to close out a big tourney.
The Aussies: John Senden and Geoff Ogilvy needed stellar performances just to make the Tour Championship. The Australian pair delivered, placing second and third, respectively, to punch their tickets to Hot-lanta.
Good on ya, mates.
Lexi Thompson: We’d be remiss without a detour to the women’s side, where a girl made history over the weekend. Lexi Thompson, age 16, didn’t just win the Navistar LPGA Classic. She shredded the field by five shots, showing monster talent and a killer instinct that marks her as the golfer Michelle was supposed to be by now.
Of course, Thompson has to become a full-fledged LPGA Tour member before she can set about dominating the game. Golf blogger Stephanie Wei has the details.
Dustin Johnson: The defending BMW champ was riding high entering this year’s event, but went off track in a T65 performance. Still Johnson maintained his second-place standing in the FedEx Cup race and stands a good chance of winning it all – provided he can turn things around in a hurry after leading the BMW field in bogeys (23).
Rees Jones: Phil Mickelson’s not the only one who wants to sue the “Open Doctor” for malpractice. Jones’ remodeling of Cog Hill’s revered No. 4 course was panned by the mild-mannered likes of Steve Stricker, who said the owners “need to get their money back” from the veteran architect.
While fans often dismiss players’ course criticisms as mere whining, that’s not the case here. Mickelson, Stricker and others routinely deride Jones’ work for its one-dimensionality, saying his style – marked by over-abundant bunkering and multi-fingered greens -- sucks all strategy from the game.
The operative word being “sucks.”
There is no other sport I can think of that has such a dreaded, misunderstood and little followed set of moral and technical codes as does golf.
Admit it, many of you are avid golfers yet during a round something happens, as it relates to the rules, and you all stare at each other in an embarrassed state of Rule Ignorance. Don’t feel bad. Hell, the pros have to have a rules guru walking with their group or readily available on the golf course. These conduits to the past interpret the Royal and Ancient dialect known as The Rules of Golf.
I have searched the governing documents high and low for the rule that certainly must spell out the “Right to advance the ball by foot while no one is looking” process so prevalent nowadays. I have been equally stymied locating the precise bylaw governing the ever popular “Let me see if this ball nestled down in 5” inches of fescue is mine and while I’m at it I might as well give it a fluffy lie” procedure?
And remember, you can ground your club in one of Jack Nicklaus’ famous desert washes (that to any common observer look like sand traps) but you can’t do that anywhere in the sand dune “traps” of Whistling Straits (that to any sane observer are clearly not traps) or it may cost you a major tour victory ala Dustin Johnson at the 2010 PGA Championship.
If you are color blind then you have a whole other set of issues to confront. Red borders, yellow borders and white stakes, sometimes on the same whole, designate different penalties and remedies depending on the day of the week and the sex of your first born. You don’t have a first born? Hmmmm? I need to look it up.
Started with a Titleist but finished with a Nike? Violation. Too many clubs in your bag? Big no no. Can’t add your score correctly? Eviction. Touched your ball on the fringe? I can’t even imagine the penalty. And, I still don’t know if it’s worse to have hit it in the Pacific bordering the 18th at Pebble Beach or bouncing one in the pond fronting the green at my local muni. I think it’s the same but let me get back to you.
What if the Broadmoor bear that inhabits the Mountain Course claims my ball? Is that stroke and distance? A lost ball? Perhaps I play a provisional? And what of the Cabo San Lucas golf course iguanas who think your ball is their egg? Play it where it lies? And is that two club lengths when I drop apply to a plugged lie in a sand trap or is that when it’s embedded in the shore of the creek or on someone’s deck? Yea, better get back to you on those.
To top it all off, our rules differ from the pros. We get our butts saved by so called “Local Rules”. These rules allow us amateurs to cheat (and keep up the pace). Can’t hit the island green at the TPC Sawgrass? No problem just go drop on the other side and add a stroke. No need to channel Kevin Costner in Tin Cup and hit your last two sleeves of PRO V1’s into the gator infested moat.
I suggest on course advisors with every green fee, rules advice through the carts GPS or at least “an APP for that” as everyone is on their phone anyway. By the way…is there a rule against cell phone annoyance? I’ll have to get back to you.
Located on 250 prime acres at the base of Camelback Mountain is a desert oasis known as The Phoenician. This is one of Phoenix and Scottsdale’s original grand resorts. And by grand I mean soaring public spaces both inside and out with incredible fountains, flowers and landscaping throughout the entire property. The Phoenician is now home to 27 holes of golf, a tennis center, spa and a seemingly endless array of pools, dining options and activities.
The golf course has its own clubhouse and it is just a short walk from the main lobby. This large and beautiful building houses a well stocked pro shop, the golf locker rooms and the Relish Burger Bistro (on the second floor with commanding views of the course).
The Phoenician offers three separate nines each with a slightly different personality. The Desert nine is known for its elevation changes and the great views that it offers. The Par 3’s here are fun if you consider dramatic drop offs from tee to green entertaining. The Oasis nine is a more traditional tree lined layout. It has a more refined look than the rugged Desert nine and less terrain change. The Canyon nine is almost a mix of the two other nines. It rolls through the hills at the base of Camelback Mountain and is beautifully landscaped as well.
Everything here is grand. A long curved drive brings you past fountains, flowers, the golf course and portions of the resort before it ends at the circular entryway. Everything here is ornate from the waterfalls, to the enormous glass enclosed lobby and on to the multi-tiered array of pools, cabanas and utter relaxation.
Maybe afternoon formal tea time is your style? They have it here. Perhaps a rubdown at the spa? Done! Hiking? Cactus Garden? Boutique shops? Yes, yes and absolutely. And this is just a hint of all the activities in and around the resort.
Other than golf, my favorite things to do were:
- relax by one of the many pools and whirlpools late in the afternoon when the crowds were gone
- walk the paths around the beautiful grounds in the cool morning air with a fresh cup of coffee
- enjoy fireside drinks, coffee and dessert under starry skies from the upper terrace right before bedtime
While The Phoenician is not a mega-resort in the mold of the newer JW Marriot Desert Ridge or Westin Kierland it is a sophisticated and elegant resort in the tradition of the Arizona Biltmore and Hyatt Gainey Ranch. For the discriminating traveler or those wanting a once in a lifetime escape, The Phoenician is an excellent choice. It’s location just blocks from the heart of Scottsdale and its great on-site amenities makes this a must stop oasis in the desert.
In all honesty, football has captured a sizeable chunk of our meager attention span. We’re still focused intently on golf, though, as the PGA Tour season slips away faster than Tiger Woods’ world ranking points.
A few topics we’ve been pondering of late:
- Will the FedEx Cup deliver a worthy champion?
- What’s the best golf city in America?
- Which college golf courses pass Golfweek’s ratings test?
Luckily, we’ve already got the answers. Read on to find out for yourself:
Two down, two to go: Who’s the FedEx favorite? Is it current points leader Webb “Don’t Call Me Homer” Simpson? Uber-bomber Dustin Johnson? Steady-as-she-goes Luke Donald or Matt Kuchar?
They’re all in the mix, along with Brandt Snedeker, Jason Day, Nick Watney, even Phil Mickelson and his belly putter. While Tiger Woods is sorely missed, his absence has created quite a scrum for the title. And say this for the much-maligned Cup: It’s brought the cream to the top.
The race to the finish starts Thursday at Cog Hill GC outside Chicago, where 70 players will compete to advance to the final 30 and the Tour Championship. Based on the list of contenders, the Cup should indeed produce a champ to be proud of.
Dallas-Ft. Worth tops Golf Digest rankings: Great, just what DFW needed – another reason to puff out its chest.
Golf Digest recently surveyed America’s metro areas and determined that Dallas-Ft. Worth beats all comers for outstanding public golf. Criteria included climate as well as the cost and quality of public golf, and while DFW didn’t rank higher than seventh in any category, it scored well in all of them.
More surprising were some of the cities ranked right behind the Big D. For example, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati held down spot Nos. 2 and 3, and Tampa (T4 with Los Angeles) bested golf hotbed Orlando, which tied with Seattle – yes, Seattle -- for No. 6.
Having lived in Seattle pre-Chambers Bay, we can vouch for its public-golf bona fides. What we can’t understand, though, is the Emerald City’s ranking of No. 6 for climate. Was the survey conducted by rain frogs?
These college courses have class: While we’re on the subject of course rankings, Golfweek just published its list of the country’s top 30 college tracks. And the winner is… the Course at Yale, designed by the iconic pair of Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor.
The rundown features a nice blend of old and new. Behind Yale (circa 1926) comes Taconic GC in Williamstown, Mass., a 1927 gem that serves as the home course of Williams College. A pair of underclassmen follow: The Rawls Course at Texas Tech (2003) and Palouse Ridge GC (2008), headquarters for the Washington State golf teams.
Like any reputable course ranking, Golfweek’s is a who’s-who of architects. Alister MacKenzie, Donald Ross, William S. Flynn, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Pete Dye, Tom Fazio Tom Doak and Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw are among the honorees.
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