Review of Tiburon Golf Course – Naples, Florida
Tiburon Golf Course sits on 800 acres of Florida’s native topography which offers some stunning natural beauty with tall pines with draping Spanish moss, swaying palm trees, a variety of colorful native fauna, lakes and wetland. And Tiburon is home to two outstanding Greg Norman designed courses, 27,000-square foot Mediterranean-style clubhouse with three superior dining rooms, private member locker rooms and lounge areas and a fully-equipped golf shop as well as the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort which has a great stay and play package.
What an outstanding golf experience where you'll find beautiful well manicured and maintained landscaping, sparkling lakes, and an innovative and inspired course layout designed by the legendary Greg Norman. The Black and Gold courses feature unique stacked sod wall bunkers, pine cone and needle lined natural areas, plenty of tricky coquina shell waste bunkers, lots of water, and dense natural areas that will devour your golf ball and ruin your score. The absence of roughs, which are replaced by the coquina shell waste bunkers, and the meticulously maintained turf present you with a variety of challenging shots, especially around the greens. Tiburon is certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary by Audubon International which reflects Tiburon's strong commitment to enhancing and protecting the natural resources of the area's wildlife through education, research, and stewardships.
The Gold Course at Tiburon is the home of the Merrill Lynch Shootout which is still affectionately known as The Shark Shootout. The Gold Course is the longer of the two courses but is regarded as the easiest (a slope of 137 versus 147 for the Black Course) thanks to wider more forgiving fairways and more of a resort course look and feel – the Ritz-Carlton looms in the background on most holes. However, you'll still encounter water on every hole, plenty of strategically placed bunkers, some forced carries, dog legs, and the signature coquina shell waste bunkers. We hope to play this course on our next visit to Naples.
We really enjoyed the Black Course because it offers a little bit of everything that makes golf fun, frustrating, scenic, challenging, memorable, and expensive, for example:
- Fun – there are several holes that after I finally sank my putt I looked back and said "wow, that was a fun hole" – for example, #9 has a carry over the lake and waste bunker off the tee followed by a challenging second shot over a large and long waste bunker and a lake to the green
- Frustrating – when you're playing a great course like this it's hard to stay frustrated for long but those steep faced bunkers, water on every hole, and tight tree lined fairways got my blood pressure to rise a few times
- Scenic – the course is meticulously maintained and landscaped as it twists and turns though pines, palms, wetlands, and native landscaping and the lush green fairways and sparkling white sand bunkers are stunning – just riding the cart on wooden bridges that twist and turn over the wetlands is worth the price of admission
- Memorable – I won't forget some of the holes like #15 a 560 yard par 5 which requires a tee shot over a couple lakes to a fairway with two large bunkers on the left side, then shots past a long natural area to a green with a long sand bunker on the left, water on the right and back and I can't wait to get back and play them again
- Challenging – you might consider this a shot makers course that is demanding but fair, it puts a premium on accuracy (tree lined fairways, bunkers, water, small guarded greens, and more) over distance – #11 has a wide forgiving landing zone but requires you to carry a lake and tee to green waste area and creek on the right, miss a bunker and the forest on the left and then nail a shot over the waste area and lake to a green with water in front, and a huge bunker on the right
- Expensive – green fees are up there and when you consider I lost 6 new Bridgestones, a round of golf gets a tad pricey- the good news is I didn't break any of my clubs and did find several ProVs and Tiburon Logo balls that I might be able to sell to my relatives
The fairways on Tiburon Golf Club's Black Course range from very tight and tree lined to ample and let-er-rip but don't miss! When we played they were in near perfect condition and soft. They are relatively flat to gently rolling.
The greens seemed smaller than normal and were all shapes and sizes. Except for a couple greens which had some significant contour and ridges, most are relatively flat with gentle slope and subtle breaks. Unfortunately, they had suffered some stress and were not in the best of condition, which is not normal. They were a tad slow and bumpy but are slowly coming back to what we heard was excellent condition and fast at 11 to 12.
Norman seemed determined to bring a little of Australia’s style and charisma to south Florida and created open approaches to the greens that are designed to encourage the bump and run techniques so popular, not only in Down Under, but in Europe as well. Most of the greens are well guarded and typically there is trouble if you overshoot them.
The bunkers were in perfect condition, strategically placed in the fairways, or guarding the greens. The lips ranged from thin (I rolled out of a couple of them) to steep and nasty! The sand is soft and fluffy. The 19 coquina shell waste bunkers are everywhere and several run from tee to green! However, they are much too nicely maintained and landscaped to be called waste bunkers!
Bottom line – the Black Course at Tiburon is a fantastic layout that's scenic, fun, demanding, and memorable – a must play if you're in the area.
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Service is good, the clubhouse is spectacular, the GPS is excellent, the practice facilities are good - spend some time here before heading out or take a lesson at the Rick Smith Golf Academy.