Review of Naples Grande Golf Club
Wow, Naples Grande Golf Club is as much about the meticulously manicured fairways, variety of wildlife, the first class service, the stunning landscaping, and the contrast of colors between the white sand bunkers, lush greens, and colorful landscaping as it is about the outstanding layout that is a real pleasure to play but requires some strategy and finesse if you want to score well. At times you fell like you're playing through a nature preserve or a botanical garden which includes a meandering cascading stream, lakes, and fairways lined by Florida pine hammocks, live oak, palms, and grand cypress trees and a wide variety of landscaping. No homes – it's just you and lots of birds, squirrels, and other wildlife. And there are some fantastic holes that are demanding, unique, and very memorable.
From the tee box, some of the holes look straightforward and easy, but in several cases what you see is not what you'll find, which might include hidden bunkers or water, raised fairways, or swales waiting to surprise you. And just as you think you can predict what you'll get Reese changes it up on you – from flat gently sloping greens you suddenly encounter a tiered green with a spine or after playing several flat fairways on a few holes the next hole might be a roller coaster heavily contoured fairway causing uneven lies.
It's not surprising that Naples Grande Golf Club is consistently rated as one of the best courses in Naples and Florida and that is has won a number of awards and accolades, some of which include:
- One of "North America's Top 100 Resort Courses," as rated by Golfweek Magazine
- Rated one of the "Top 50 Courses in Florida" by Golf Magazine
- Voted one of the "10 Best New Golf Courses in Florida" by Travel & Leisure
- Top 100 Courses in Pace of Play (Golf Digest & Fodor's Places to Play)
- Rated 4.5 Stars by Golf Magazine
The front nine will throw a little bit of everything at you that makes golf both fun and frustrating. You'll have to keep the ball on some tight fairways, some of which are elevated with a steep drop off; avoid water on 8 holes; watch out for some hidden bunkers lurking along the fairways and guarding the greens; stay away from some of the treacherous and huge bunkers; try some bold risk reward shots to shorten the hole; and be accurate on your approach shot to the greens. The front nine is home to several memorable holes, but our favorite was the stunning #9, a 507 yard par 5 that dog legs right around a lake that runs tee to green and requires a carry over the lake off the tee (an excellent risk reward shot to make the hole a little shorter) and a precise second shot to position you to avoid the tree blocking most of the approach to the green and carry the cascading brook that crossed the fairway in front of a green with a bunker on the left, water on the right, and significant mounding around the rest of the green. Wow, that's a fun hole you'll want to play again.
The back nine has a very different look and feel compared to the front and it's home to some stunning holes, water on five holes, one of the largest white sand bunkers I've experienced as well as a 295 yard long snake shaped bunker, and some raised greens that are well guarded. The last four holes are a blast and include:
- a sharp dog leg right around that huge 3 lane treacherous bunker that you'll be tempted to try and fly off the tee box
- another risk reward shot on 16 (a 534 yard par 5) to try and fly the lake and that snake bunker (the big monster bunker is on the right side of the fairway) and land on a narrow fairway leading to a green with a steep drop off to the lake on the left and back and a big bunker on the right
- a par three that demands a precise shot to avoid the huge bunker on right of an elevated green
- a good finishing hole with an uphill blind shot then a downhill approach to a green with the lake on the left and back
Everything from tee to green is meticulously maintained and landscaped – even the pine needles and pine cones seem to be in place! The fairways were in near perfect condition and ranged from tight to ample to let-er-rip. The rough is ample and well maintained and playable – in fact, in most cases the ball tends to sit up on it making for a very playable shot. Miss the rough and most likely your lost in the dense shrubs and natural areas.
The greens were in very good condition but had been recently sanded and it was hard to judge what they would normally be like – we were told that they are normally fast 10 to 11 and in perfect condition. Most are relatively flat to gently sloping – but as soon as you start to expect that a green with a spine and tier will bite you. All the greens are raised and most are well guarded. They are all shapes and sizes, run smooth, and a little firm.
The bunkers were in perfect condition with soft, thick, and fluffy sand – I know, I found what seemed like most of them. The bunkers range from small to some huge and long monsters. The faces of the bunkers are manageable.
Naples Grande Golf Club is a private course (which is partially the reason for the excellent pace of play and near perfect conditions) but is available for play if you are a guest at the Waldorf Astoria who has a great stay and play package. Read our review of the Waldorf Astoria to find out what we thought the Waldorf Astoria.
Bottom line – a beautiful, fun, and demanding course that you need to play if you're in the area.
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Service is top notch, the pro shop is well stocked, the GPS is excellent, and the practice facilities are great. The clubhouse has a grill but we didn't get to try the food.