Forest Hills Golf Club

Forest Hills Golf Club

Forest Hills Golf ClubIt’s getting to be that time of year again, the time of year when all eyes in the golfing world stare directly at Augusta, GA and the PGA Tour’s first major of the season.

Augusta, GA is certainly a well-known golf destination. Outside of that course that very few will ever have the privilege of playing, there are a number of great local tracks that the public does have access to. One of these courses is Forest Hills Golf Course, an 18-hole Donald Ross masterpiece that has been repeatedly named “Best Public Course” by Augusta Magazine.

Ross designed Forest Hills in 1926, and then in 1984, the Arnold Palmer Company redesigned several holes to accommodate construction of the Augusta University Athletic Complex. In 2004, the course was restored to its original design and has remained that way ever since.

Forest Hills Golf ClubThere’s a lot of history behind Forest Hills; it’s where Bobby Jones started his Grand Slam of Golf in 1930. It’s also home to the 2010 NCAA Division I National Champions Augusta University Men’s and Women’s Jaguar Golf Teams, a feat which the Men’s Team repeated again in 2011. Several PGA Tour Professionals also played here during their college careers including Phil Michelson and Davis Love III.

Men can choose to play from 5 different sets of tees ranging from 7,140 yards (course rating 74.3 and a slope of 137) to 5,098 (65.3/115). Most guys will find that the White Tees (6,183/70.1/126) will provide them with enough of a challenge that they can still leave with a little dignity. Most women here play from the Silver Tees (5,098/69.9/121). No matter your skill level, just choose the tees that are right for your game and you’ll have a great time.

Forest Hills Golf ClubThe golf course at Forest Hills features a variety of holes, some straight, some turn to the right and others dogleg to the left. Water only comes into play on the two par 3 holes on the back, other than that, there’s no wet stuff to worry about. The greens are not too fast and roll true.

Memorable Holes (All Yardage from the White Tees)

Number 1: Par 4, 383 yards. This gently winding dogleg right that plays downhill and features a variety of trees on the right side including dogwoods, magnolias and pines and a sparse pine forest on the left. The green is fronted by a single bunker that guards the front right side of the green and slopes gently from back to front with a lot of undulation. A middle pin position can lead to low scores so be sure to check the pin sheet.

Number 5: Par 4, 351 yards. From the White Tees, a good drive down the right side will easily clear the fairway bunker and can lead to a low score. Others can choose to play out to the right and short of the fairway bunker on the right and then hit a layup shot over it and short of the deep bunker that guards the right side of the green. This is a pretty golf hole.

Number 6: Par 5, 487 yards. This is perhaps the most scenic hole on the golf course. It starts off with a blind tee shot, slightly uphill. Trees line each side of the fairway, creating a narrow passage way and a lone fairway bunker guards the right side off the tee. I’m sure it sees its fair share of balls. Your second shot plays downhill and is also blind and leaves an approach shot to a smaller two-tiered green. There’s not a lot of trouble on this hole, just hit three solid shots to get there and it’s easy!

Number 11: Par 5, 535 yards. This monster par 5 plays straight downhill, with fairway bunker left and trees to the right off the tee. Number 11 also features some unique grass mounding in the middle and right side of the fairway that needs to be avoided on your layup shot. Two fairway bunkers sit about 40 yards short of the green, awaiting any short approach shots. The green is oddly shaped and has a lot of undulation in it. Par is good.

Number 16: Par 3, 159 yards. For a hole that’s pretty straight forward, this one can give you fits. Number 16 plays over water and slightly uphill, perhaps a half to one club longer than normal. Short is better than long as there is plenty of room in front of the green, which is flanked by bunkers on both sides. Anything over the green makes for a tough up and down.

Number 18: Par 4, 286 yards. It’s not often that a golf course ends with the easiest hole on the course but that is exactly what Forest Hills does. Your toughest chore on this hole is to keep your tee shot in the fairway as it can get very narrow in the landing area. A good tee shot will leave a short pitch to a large green with bunkers front, left and right and trees long.

Forest Hills Golf ClubLast Word: Forest Hills offers a good time for golfers of all ages and abilities with wide open fairways, magnificent trees and putting greens that roll fair and true. From the back tees, Forest Hills will challenge even the best of players and the five sets of tees make it playable for any level of golfer. With all of the pine trees, rolling terrain and not much water, Forest Hills has a Carolina Sandhills feel to it.

Before your round, be sure to visit the driving range, where you can hit every club in the bag prior to your round. There’s also a bar and grill to celebrate in after your round as well as banquet facilities.

Forest Hills Golf ClubIf you live in the Augusta area or plan on spending a good deal of time there, Forest Hills offers eight different membership plans, so there is something to suite everyone. All memberships include green fees, complimentary usage of the driving range and a two-week advance booking on tee times. They also receive a 15% discount on merchandise other than golf clubs, golf balls, and Augusta University Jaguars gear.

If you plan on being in the area that magical Master weekend in April, be sure to book your round early at Forest Hills. They are running some great Masters Week Packages which include greens fees, cart, range balls and a boxed lunch, all for one low price. You’ll also see some great specials on pro shop merchandise. For more information or to book your next round, visit them online at www.theforesthillsgolfcourse.com or give them a call at (706) 733-0001.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

The Conservatory at Hammock Beach

The Conservatory at Hammock Beach

The Conservatory at Hammock Beach – Watson’s Best and One of Florida’s Finest Golf Courses

Most golfers are familiar with Tom Watson the PGA Tour golfer, winner of eight major championships, including five British Opens and out-dueling Jack Nicklaus on several occasions. He certainly was fun to watch.

Not as many people are familiar with Tom Watson the golf course architect. As a golfer, Tom Watson was praised for his passionate play, attention to detail and outstanding course strategy. His company, Tom Watson Design, employs the same integrity, dedication and focus to each of their designs. The company only builds one or two courses each year using a few fundamental requirements: beauty, variety and challenge. Each course design will challenge a golfer’s mental and physical skills and at the same time provide a memorable golf experience. This is especially evident at the Watson-designed Conservatory Course; part of the Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida.

In their January 2008 issue, Golf Digest ranked The Conservatory third on its elite list of America’s Best New Public Courses. And with good reason. As you meander through the course, you will encounter some breathtaking sights: waterfalls, babbling brooks and veneered field stone work.

Not finding a suitable set of tees to play from is not possible; there are seven of them ranging in distance from 7,740 yards to 5,168 yards. From the back tees, The Conservatory is the longest course in Florida. Move up to the fourth (White) set of tees, and you’ll have a manageable distance of 6,281 yards. Ladies typically play from the Red Tees (5,225 yards).

There is a lot of mounding and undulation at the Conservatory, not only on the greens but all down the fairways and roughs. Conservatory is anything but your typical Florida course and for this reason some players may find it too much. If that’s the case, my suggestion is to relax, take a deep breath and look around you. Looking back on the previous hole provides every bit as much of an inspiring view as what lays before you!

For me, what sets this course apart from any other I have played around the world is the bunkering; there’s sand everywhere. And it comes in all shapes and forms: there are your typical greenside bunkers and coquina-shelled waste bunkers which are fairly easy to navigate. But then there are a number of pot bunkers – some visible off the tee, some not – that can wreak havoc with your score not to mention your mind. Some of these are sod-walled, which adds a true Scottish feel. Most are penal in nature; one in particular on the first hole is in play off the tee if you hit it right. The face of this bunker has to be 5 feet high and about 140 yards out. Find this bunker and you can say goodbye to par – or even bogey – on this hole! Not a great way to start.

The Conservatory at Hammock BeachMost Memorable Hole: Number 15, Par 4, 377 yards (White Tees). With a Tom Watson course, what you see isn’t always what you get; many shots appear more difficult than they actually are. Case in point is the 15th hole, a par 4, dogleg right. The waste bunker that runs up the right side of the fairway blends in with the bunkers on the far side of the fairway, creating the illusion that the landing area is miniscule. Trust me, it’s not; there’s plenty of room out there. The large multi-tiered green is also surrounded by sand, so it will take an accurate approach shot to get it close.

The Conservatory at Hammock BeachFavorite Par 3: Number 8, 134 yards. The shortest hole at The Conservatory is also the signature hole. At only 134 yards from the White Tees, the island green looks inviting. If your nerves are already shattered, there’s plenty of room to bail out to the right. The green is wider than it is deep and has plenty of undulation. Don’t get too greedy with a left pin placement.

The Conservatory at Hammock BeachFavorite Par 4: Number 14, 431 yards. Regardless of the tees you decide to play, this is the longest par four on the golf course and offers a great risk/reward opportunity. Longball hitters can cut off a significant amount of yardage off the tee by playing to the right of the fairway bunkers. Water guards the entire right side of this behemoth hole. For us mere mortals, it’s either a long iron or fairway wood into the green. For many, your best shot at par is to get on the green in three and one-putt.

The Conservatory at Hammock BeachFavorite Par 5: Actually, there are two of them. Number 4 plays 497 yards and is fairly straight away. From the back tees, number 4 stretches out to 621 yards; it’s sheer length makes it a formidable opponent. From the White Tees, it’s a manageable par 5. Off the tee, water is in play on both sides. The layup is the toughest shot on the hole and requires both accuracy and distance control. The water creeps in very close on the right while strategically placed pot bunkers on the left side and middle of the fairway make you choose to either layup short or go over them. An approach shot from the left side opens up the green. A good wedge player can score well on this hole.

The Conservatory at Hammock BeachNumber 18 is a dogleg left that plays 592 yards from the Back Tees; 502 from a humane distance (White Tees). Pot bunkers and Florida wetlands dot the landscape up the right side, while water guards the left. Watson has provided a generous landing area at the bend in the dogleg, which will require a mid-length iron into a long and narrow green guarded tightly on the left with water and on the right with sand. Find the fairway off the tee and you’re well on your way to a good score.

Last Word: For my money, this course rates as one of the top tracks in Florida; far and away Tom Watson’s best work in the state. His use of bunkering is unrivaled on any course I’ve played; they are plentiful and penal. Avoid them if you want to score well.

Although this course can play very long for the men, ladies enjoy many benefits. From the Red Tees, the majority of hazards faced by the guys off the tee are taken out of play. All they will need to deal with are the rolling fairways and undulating greens. In building The Conservatory, Watson’s two major goals were to create course that was both beautiful and playable. He has succeeded on both fronts.

These are just a few of the memories I have of the Conservatory Course at Hammock Beach. The best way to experience this course is to book at vacation at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, FL. When doing so, be sure to package it together with a round on the newly renovated Ocean Course. Combined, these two courses offer the best one-two punch of any two courses in the state. For more information, visit their website at hammockbeach.com.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Hidden Hills Golf Club

Hidden Hills Golf Club

Hidden Hills Golf ClubHidden Hills Golf Club in Jacksonville, FL is not exactly what you would expect, after all, this part of the state is pretty flat. Yet hidden from the surrounding area are the ups and downs you will encounter on the course and not only on your scorecard.

Hidden Hills Golf Club has been a fixture of the East Arlington area near Jacksonville since 1966. In 1986, Arnold Palmer and his design group did a total makeover of the course, creating the challenging layout you find today.

In its heyday, Hidden Hills had over 700 members and played host to the Greater Jacksonville Open, a tournament that has morphed into the Players Championship, now played annually on the Stadium Course at Sawgrass. Winners of this prestigious golf tournament included Gary Player, Tony Jacklin and Don January.

Hidden Hills Golf ClubWith the downturn in the economy that occurred in 2007 – 2008, membership dropped to about 400, not enough to keep a club of this caliber up to par so to speak. A little over a year ago, Hidden Hills relinquished its “private club” status and became a daily fee facility. Memberships are no longer available, however long-term player passes can be purchased through the pro shop or online.

Hidden Hills offers all the practice facilities you need to get you golf skills honed to maximum efficiency. There’s a full length driving range where you can hit every club in your bag. There’s a separate chipping area where you can work on your short game and a massive well undulated putting green where you can practice many of the breaks you are about to encounter. Whether you’re looking to work on your game for an extended period of time or just knock out a quick bucket before your match, there’s plenty of room for everyone. In the event your game’s not where you want it to be, the PGA professionals at Hidden Hills are ready to help you get your groove back.

Hidden Hills Golf ClubIf you’re an “A” player, looking for a challenge, play Hidden Hills from the Gold Tees. At 6,892 yards with a course rating of 73.7 and a slope of 138, the course is every bit a tournament-caliber course as you will find and brings many of the water and sand hazards into play. If you’re new to the game and are just looking to get some exercise and have a good time, play it forward. From the Red Tees, Hidden Hills plays 5,016 yards with a rating of 70.0 and a slope of 120. Something for everyone!

This Arnold Palmer signature design is resplendent with rolling hills and fairways; enough elevation changes to boast one of the highest elevations in the Jacksonville area on the green at the par 3, 5th hole. On some holes, the mounding on either side will funnel the ball back into the fairway; on others, missing the fairway can result in an ugly lie or a lost ball. I was thankful to play the course with someone who was very knowledgeable about it. Many holes are tree lined with stately ancient oaks and majestic pines.

Looking down the fairway of the 1st hole from the elevated tee box, you get the idea you are in for a treat. Trees line both sides of this 365-yard par 4 and anything long and left off the tee could very well find the water. A good tee shot will leave a mid-iron into a green guarded on the left side by water and a small trap on the right. A great starting hole!

Hidden Hills Golf ClubHidden Hills offers the advanced golfer several risk/reward opportunities. Such is the case at the par 5, 471-yard, 6th hole. Players that can carry the trees at the dogleg and the pond, will have around 200 yards into a green fronted by a lake and protected by sand front left. If long off the tee doesn’t describe you, take the more conventional route: play to get close in three and one-putt!

Hidden Hills Golf ClubNumber 6 is followed by another trying hole. The par 3, 7th plays 141 yards to a small, narrow green with a nasty little pot bunker that catches many short shots and a long, narrow bunker on the left that leaves a nerve-rattling chip shot to a small green with water on the other side.

Number 8 also fits the mold of challenging holes. It plays 318-yards from the White tees and requires an accurate long iron or hybrid off the tee, short of the pond that guards the front of the green. Success off the tee will leave a short pitch shot over water into a green which slopes back to front. Try and leave your approach shot below the hole for a good chance at birdie.

The back nine is home to Hidden Hills’ signature hole: the par 5, 11th. From the Gold Tees, this hole plays 612 yards, from the Whites, a mere 550. From the back tees, you’re looking at a tee shot that needs to carry the water 210-yards; 230 if the wind is in your face. The fairway is the widest on the golf course, so bombs away off the tee. Playing your layup down the right side will leave the easiest approach into the green and take the greenside bunker out of play. Your approach shot is to a slightly elevated island green that is pretty flat. Par is a good score here; however lower numbers are possible.

After your round, stop by the Hills Grill. This casual bar serves up your favorite beverages from 11 am to 7 pm. Lunch is available from 11 am to 3 pm and features some truly remarkable menu items. The buffalo chicken wings are more of a meal than an appetizer and the pressed Cuban sandwich featured pork that was freshly grilled and absolutely delicious. Hills Grill is the place to be on Friday nights when the kitchen whips up some tantalizing dinner specials from 6-9 pm.

Hidden Hills Golf ClubHidden Hills is one of those courses that you will have to play several times in order to get the hang of it. Water comes into play on 12 holes; 8 of 9 on the front and none after the 13th hole. The front nine plays 4 to 5 shots harder than the back nine and the emphasis is on brains rather than brawn. You’ll need to hit the ball a specific distance or to a specific spot to simplify an approach shot into the green. Many greens are elevated, thus eliminating the senior-favorite bump and run!

Hidden Hills has been around a long time and you don’t survive that long in the golf industry without offering a superior product. This course has everything imaginable to challenge a scratch golfer yet remain playable for a high handicapper. For more information or to book your next tee time, visit the Hidden Hills website at www.hiddenhillsgc.com.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Black Bear Golf Club

Black Bear Golf Club

Black Bear Golf ClubIf you’re looking for some of the best golf between Ocala and Daytona, there is no better choice than Black Bear in Eustis. Black Bear is a P.B. Dye design and from the looks of it, his father would be proud. What it lacks in Pete Dye trademark railroad tie bunkers and risk reward carry-the-water holes, it makes up for in fairway bunkers and difficult greenside bunkers many of them nestled into the surrounding mounds. In all, there are over 120 bunkers throughout the layout.

Over the years, Black Bear has served as a qualifier for the Florida USGA Publinks Championship, as well as the Hooters and Canadian tours and the Florida PGA. Black Bear was chosen not only for the great course but also for the practice facilities; they are some of the best in the entire Orlando area. In addition to a double-ended driving range, there’s a 40,000 square-foot short game area complete with sand traps and a large putting green. One of the things you’ll want to be sure and practice on the range is your lob shot; it will come in handy on those holes where your approach shots miss the green.

Black Bear Golf ClubOn several holes, finding the fairway off the tee can be easier than at most courses; the mounding and dunes on the peripheries tend to funnel the ball back into the middle. Approaching the green from the short grass is a definite benefit as you’ll need all the help you can get to hit some of the smallest greens in the area. It’s not uncommon to find a green that’s over 150 feet long but only 35 feet wide. Or vice versa. The dunes also serve to isolate each hole, giving you the feeling that your group is the only one on the course. Although this Bermuda rough may not look difficult in its brown, dormant state, it’s cut short and still provides the same challenge.

Black Bear Golf ClubThe greens at Black Bear are a story all to themselves. Collectively, they are probably the smallest greens I have played in Florida. That said, there are a couple that are about 150 feet long, but only 35 feet wide or deep! Like the rest of the course, there’s a lot of undulation in the greens, and they are typically quick.

The par 4, 6th hole is a slight dogleg left that plays 351 yards from the Black Tees. Be sure to avoid the waste bunker on the left that sits well below the fairway, it makes getting on in regulation very difficult. A good drive will leave a short to mid iron approach shot to a well-elevated green and may require an extra club. The green presents a difficult bump and run opportunity; in addition to being elevated, it’s fronted by deep bunkers on either side as well as two in back.

Number 9 has the Dye name written all over it as evidenced by the pot bunker that sits in the middle of the fairway. From the Black Tees, the hole plays 391 yards, so for most golfers the bunker is not in play off the tee, but rest assured, it’s there. Your approach shot needs to carry the green as another massive bunker with a huge lip sits directly in front. Par is a good score here.

The 388 -yard Par 4, Number 10 is another hole that doglegs slightly to the left, daring you to try and cut the corner, however with out of bounds looming down the entire left side of the tee, the risk outweighs the reward. Playing down the right side may add a little length to the hole, but it also provides an easier approach as it takes much of the sand and water on the left side out of play.

At only 107 yards from the Black Tees, number 15 may seem like a pushover but the bunkers and green suggest otherwise. This short hole has no less than 9 bunkers around the green awaiting errant tee shots and the green is over 50 yards long and only 15 yards wide. The undulation in the green also makes for some interesting putts.

The two finishing holes at Black Bear Golf Club not only define the course, they are two of the three hardest holes on the course. Number 17 plays 413 yards from the Black Tees. Hitting a good drive often catches the downslope in the middle of the fairway and leaves a manageable shot into a green that sits about 30 feet above the fairway. Anything left and short is likely to find one of the 4 sand traps that adorn the area.

Water comes into play on Number 18 and dominates the hole. From the Black Tees, anything hit longer than 265 yards is likely wet. The hole is 386 yards long with a bunker in the landing area on the right side. A good drive down the middle will still leave about 140 yards over water into an elevated, long, narrow green with a bunker back right. End your round with two pars or better and there’s a good chance you’re in the money!

Black Bear Golf ClubLast Word: If your golf course has the name “Dye” associated with it, odds are you’re going to garner some special attention, and rightfully so. P.B. Dye has done an excellent job with Black Bear, taking full advantage of the sandy, rolling terrain. The elevation changes are significant for this part of the state and the elevated greens have you constantly thinking about club selection. There’s plenty of room off the tee which is good, because Black Bear is all about your approach shot. You’re often playing uphill and into odd-shaped greens, many of which are very long yet extremely narrow. There’s also a lot of undulation in them. If you’re going to post a low score at Black Bear, you’ll need to have one of your best days of chipping, pitching and putting.

In the event your highly competitive golf match is tied at the end of 18 holes, Black Bear offers a way to break the tie: The 19th Hole, a short shot over the water to settle the score once and for all.

The course allows golfers of all abilities to have some fun and enjoy the challenge of playing a wide open but challenging tournament standard undulating links style layout.

Black Bear Golf ClubBlack Bear’s clubhouse features a pro shop with all of the necessary golf accessories as well as men’s and women’s “Dare the Bear” logoed golf apparel. The restaurant/lounge serves breakfast and lunch as well as all of your favorite libations. They have all of the traditional clubhouse food as well as some not so common items such as Bavarian pretzels with white cheese sauce and gyros.

For what you get, the greens fees are more than reasonable. In season rates are ridiculously low and off season or “shoulder” rates often include something “extra” such as a hat, polo or lunch. Rounds to Black Bear can also be purchased on many of the major online tee sheets. To learn more about this special Central Florida golf course, give them a call at (352) 357-4732 or visit their website at www.blackbeargolfclub.com.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Olde Hickory Golf & Country Club Review

Olde Hickory Golf & Country Club Review

Olde Hickory Golf & Country ClubThe Southwest Florida area – specifically Ft. Myers to Naples – is chock full of great golf courses. Many of them are open to the public – some only by means of a “stay and play” package, others you simply pat a daily fee. But the best conditioned courses seem to be the ones that are often behind privacy fences and security gates.

I’m talking about “bundled” communities, the type of community where belonging to the club – or at least purchasing a membership – is required by all homeowners. Naples is rife with them; they seem to make up the majority of courses in the area. I’ve had the opportunity to visit play and write about several of the courses and believe me, they are by far the best maintained courses in the area. In this economy, it seems that the only golf facilities that are truly flourishing are those at bundled communities.

Olde Hickory in Ft. Myers is one of those; in fact, it may well be the best bundled community in Southwest Florida. And that’s saying a lot with Fiddlesticks next door and The Legends across the street. There are 561 homes at Olde Hickory Golf and Country Club, all proud members of this private, exclusive bundled community. That’ s a low number considering most of their competitors have about 800 homes per 18 holes of golf.

The community is conveniently located just minutes from Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), Interstate 75, Florida’s Gulf beaches, hospitals and medical clinics. Ft Myers residents enjoy world class shopping, dining, entertainment and everything else the Southwest Florida lifestyle has to offer.

Olde Hickory Golf & Country ClubThe centerpiece of this masterful bundled community is the 18-hole championship golf course designed by the legendary Ron Garl.  At only 6,601 yards from the back tees, it’s not going to overpower anyone, however from the back tees, it will challenge even the best of players. The course opened for play in 1992 and has Bermuda grass greens and fairways. The fairways are well-groomed and the greens roll fast and true. Five sets of tees give golfers of all abilities a chance to enjoy the golf course. Residents can enjoy the convenience of playing a round of golf on their schedule and at their own pace.

At only 281 yards, the par 4, 10th hole is the epitome of target golf. Play your tee shot is to a landing area that’s not a whole lot bigger than the green. There’s water on the left and woods on the right, so keeping the ball in play off the tee is key. Succeed in this task and all that’s left is a short pitch shot slightly uphill to a triangular shaped green guarded on the left with water and rocks. It may be a short hole, but all pars (or better) are well earned. If you struggle, the friendly PGA Professional staff can offer lessons to help you shave strokes off your game. There’s also a full-service pro shop, driving range, and carefully designed chipping and putting greens making this a golf lover’s paradise.

Olde Hickory Golf & Country ClubOlde Hickory Golf and Country Club is not without its share of amenities and it all starts in the clubhouse. This newly renovated, 22,000 square foot facility includes a new 2,600 square foot fitness center with state-of-the-art fitness equipment. As a member, you’ll enjoy the magnificent view overlooking the driving range and 18th green, while using state-of-the-art cardio and strengthening machines to increase your fitness. If a group is more your thing, Olde Hickory offers several fitness classes provided by Fit Forever, the premier Sports Club Management and Corporate Wellness Company in Southwest Florida. The company has a unique approach to fitness and lifestyle management with classes designed to help older adults maintain their cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility. Whether you’re a workout warrior or just looking to add some activity to your daily routine, the staff at the fitness center can help you enjoy the benefits of working out in a group setting.  If class times don’t fit your schedule, members are still able to bring in workout videos and use the aerobics room.

Olde Hickory Golf & Country ClubTo many members, a country club is only as good as its dining room and Olde Hickory doesn’t disappoint and it’s always a memorable experience. Executive Chef Werner Dietrich and his culinary team take pride in creating delectable dishes for members and their guests to enjoy. Whether it’s a casual lunch in the Grille Room or a multi-course wine and dine meal in the Dining Room, the food and service are always impeccable. Members also enjoy the club’s themed dinner nights as well as orchestrated dinner and entertainment nights.

Step outside the clubhouse and you’ll find two Har-Tru tennis courts. These two surfaces have been completely renovated and are lighted for night play. The club offers women’s, men’s and mixed doubles tennis programs for members. You’ll also find 4 lighted pickleball courts. If you’re not familiar with the game, pickleball is a low impact, low stress game played with a perforated, whiffle-like ball and wooden or graphite paddles. The game is easy to learn and can develop into a quick, fast-paced competitive game for all players.

Adjacent to the courts is the heated pool and spa. All residents have access to the master pool and spa, in addition to their “community” pool. The master pool is heated during the winter for maximum use and is the perfect place to spend time with friends or guests, especially since food and beverage is available pool side.

Olde Hickory Golf & Country ClubOlde Hickory Golf and Country Club offers single family homes – many of which overlook the golf course. Choose from one and two story single family homes and attached and detached villas, all with amenities far beyond what you would expect in a bundled community. The guard gate is manned 24/7/365, providing added security and convenience. At Olde Hickory you will find a friendly, small town atmosphere in an attractive natural setting where exceptional service and professionalism are the rule, not the exception and excellence in golf and country club living finds a home.

For many current residents, Olde Hickory’s vacation program was the first step towards home ownership. Potential home buyers can experience firsthand all that Olde Hickory has to offer. For more information or to set up a visit to the community, give them a call at 239-768-2400 or visit the Olde Hickory website at oldehickory.cc. Olde Hickory is located at 14670 Olde Hickory Boulevard, Fort Myers, Florida.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Pelican’s Nest Golf Club

Pelican’s Nest Golf Club

Pelican’s Nest Golf ClubOver the past two years, one thing has been constant at Pelican’s Nest Golf Club: change. During that time, both The Gator Course and The Hurricane Course, have been completely renovated, from tee to green. The results will amaze you.

Back in 1995, world-renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio was asked to design an 18-hole golf course inside the gates of the Pelican Landing community. The primary goal at the time was to provide guests of two local resorts, The Registry and the Ritz Carlton, a place to play golf during the busy winter season. The course was an immediate hit and was ranked as the country’s “#3 Best Public Golf Course” by Golf Digest, giving Fazio his first appearance on the publication’s prestigious lists. Pelican’s Nest has also been recognized by Audubon International as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” every year since 2001, a crowning achievement for both the club and its members.

During the next 10 years, Fazio was called on to build a second course. Eighteen holes were added in phases, and, with each new phase there was some rerouting involved. Several years later, after several holes were taken from the original design and many new ones were added, Pelican’s Nest or, “The Nest,” as it is affectionately referred to, is the 36-hole facility that it is today. Rest assured, both courses are always in pristine condition.

One of the biggest concerns during the renovation projects of the last two years, was how to best use reclaimed water and become more environmentally friendly. Golf course architect Jan Bel Jan, who was involved in the original construction of the Hurricane Course, and installed over 1.25 miles of HDPE pipe that takes the reclaimed water to an irrigation pump station where well water is blended with reclaimed water in an effort to manage salts in real time and reduce water use, improving water and power efficiency.

From the back tees, the par-72 Hurricane Course plays 6,808 yards, with a course rating of 73.6 and a slope of 139. Most golfers will find that Tee IV at 6,075 yards will give them all the golf they can handle and still leave with a little dignity intact.  There are 7 sets of tees available for men, women and juniors. The bottom line is that whether you’re a seasoned golf professional or are just picking up a club for the very first time, there’s a set of tees that will help you enjoy your round. As your game improves, you can take on more of the course.

In renovating The Nest Bel Jan created a “course within a course.” These “scoring tees” eliminate a lot of the fairway hazards and make each course a lot easier to manage and navigate your way around. While the championship tees are identified with Roman numerals, the scoring tees are identified with an “S” and have their own scorecard. Many members use them on a regular basis and comment on “how much more fun the game has become” since they started incorporating them into their weekly rounds. After all, lower scores mean happy members!

Although the slope rating doesn’t reflect it, most members consider The Hurricane Course the more difficult of the two. Hurricane winds its way around Spring Creek and the boundaries on the back nine are dictated by brackish marshes and natural thickets of mangroves along the Gulf estuary. You’ll also encounter groves of native Florida oaks and pine trees as you make your way around the layout.

Memorable Holes:

The Hurricane Course features several memorable holes, but nothing more memorable than the last two holes on each side. Number 8 (Temptation) is a par 5 that plays 488 yards from Tee III and offers two ways to play the hole. Option A is the riskier of the two and requires a tee shot down the right side of the fairway, bringing the water into play if you push your shot too far right. A good drive down the right side will give you an opportunity to get home in two. The bunker that used to come into play on the right side and run about 200 yards up to the green has been replaced by three smaller bunkers, which makes the hole less difficult. Playing down the left side makes this a three-shot hole for most players and takes a lot of the hazard out of play. Regardless of the direction you choose, you’ll need an accurate approach to the green if you want to score well.

Pelican’s Nest Golf ClubNumber 9 (Moonscape) is a lengthy par 4 (408 yards from Tee III) around a lake. The third bunker on the left side of the fairway is a good aiming point off the tee; if you can fade it, even better. Most players will be faced with a long iron or hybrid into the elevated green that is protected on the left by a large trap and on the right by the lake. This hole was given its name by Gary Player, who said the humps and hollows of the hole reminded him of the surface of the moon.

The first of two challenging finishing holes, Number 17 (Spring Creek) is a short Par 4. At a mere 332 yards, the trick here is to keep your tee shot in play. The fairway is guarded by hazards on either side.  Consider leaving the driver in the bag, and hit something that will find the fairway. This will leave a short chip shot into an open green protected by a lone bunker on the right. A great opportunity to make birdie!

Number 18 (Teaser) is a par 5 that plays 498 yards (Tee III) and is one of the best finishing holes of golf in southwest Florida; in fact, it’s rather scenic standing on the tee.  It’s one of those holes that yields as many birdies and eagles as it does the dreaded “others,” and presents yet another risk/reward opportunity at The Nest. The hole is a dogleg right around a lake with a narrow landing area.  The water on the right can come into play for longer hitters. A good drive down the right side will present a good opportunity to go for the green in two. It’s about a 220 yard carry over water to a relatively flat green. If you play it as a three-shot hole, be sure to avoid the sand that protects the green on either side. This hole provides a fitting end to a great round of golf.

Also of note is the first hole; after all, how many times do you start your round out with a par 3?

The Nest also boasts some pretty impressive practice facilities including a full length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag; trust me, you’ll need them all. There’s a short game area complete with practice bunker in a separate area near the 18th green as well as a good size practice putting green. The driving range is conveniently located a short walk from the clubhouse.

After your round, be sure to visit the Thirsty Pelican Lounge & Grill Room or have a drink on the veranda, which offers an expansive view of Spring Creek and the finishing hole on the Gator Course. Either venue will provide a great opportunity to unwind after a round or to visit with friends over cocktails and dinner. The view at sunset is breathtaking.

Tradition Golf ClubIf you’re one of the many prospective club members that judges a country club by its dining facilities and menu, then look no further than The Nest. Whether you’re looking for a quiet dinner with friends or dancing the night away at one of the club’s themed event nights, the newly redecorated Main Dining Room is a perfect venue. In fact, The Nest boasts two private dining rooms and can accommodate events large or small; it’s perfect for corporate events, weddings and private wine dinners. Chef Cameron Hord and the culinary staff at The Nest offer a wide variety of culinary delicacies featuring signature seafood dishes and other delights.

The daily menu features many entrees you don’t often see, such as Wonton Pork Belly Tacos, Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola Salad and Blackened Grouper Tacos, served with a mango salsa and chipotle aioli. They are simply delicious. Dinner features dishes such as a Duck and Bacon Wonton appetizer, Crazy Shrimp and Magnificent Meatballs. There are also themed nights during the week such as Pasta Night on Wednesday, Seafood Buffet Night every Friday and Prime Rib Night, every second Thursday.

Although The Nest features 36 holes of spectacular golf, members need more than just a great golf course. The Nest delivers by putting together a very active social calendar for their members full of programs and the events that are unrivaled by any other country club in the area. Each event has a well thought out theme; many are centered around special days such as Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day.

Pelican’s Nest Golf ClubOne program that has become very popular among the membership is “Tuesday Talks,” a series of presentations designed to capture, engage, educate and entertain.  Upcoming topics include media matters, Southwest Florida’s natural environment and how to build and sustain a great baseball club, presented by a representative from the Boston Red Sox.

The Tea Time Book Club is also very popular at The Nest and already has a full schedule of events set up through the middle of next year. New members who are avid readers will want to check this out.

These are just a few of the ongoing happenings at The Nest Golf Club. For more information or to inquire about becoming a member, contact A. J. Szymanski – Director of Membership Sales at (239) 992-7782.  You can also visit them online at www.nestgolf.com.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Pin It on Pinterest