An introduction to Naples

In southwest Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico and in Collier County, lies the city of Naples. Due to the number and quality of golf courses in Naples, some consider this the golf capital of the world.

This is a city incredibly popular for its vibrant dining scene with over 700 restaurants serving all kinds of regional influences.

Due to its location on the coast it has a tropical savanna climate with pleasant weather all year round, no wonder it is popular for golf. Aside from golf, there are gorgeous beaches and this is a hotspot for fishing and dolphin spotting.

See also: What are the best golf courses in Florida?

The best private golf courses in Naples Florida

Naples National Golf Club

Naples National Golf Club
Photo Credit Ryan Cashion

And so we kick off this list with arguably the best course in the area, the superb Naples National. Designed by the design duo of Michael Hardzan and Dana Fry, the brains behind the equally fantastic Calusa Pines we look at later, the course opened for play in 1992.

Located to the southeast of downtown Naples and a couple of minutes south of Alligator Alley, the National course literally borders the alligator habitat of the Everglades. So it goes without saying water is going to come into play.

And on several holes this is more than just part of the scenery with carries required from tee boxes and often needed to reach the putting surface.

Aside from water and wetlands, the course is surrounded by cypress and pine trees with immense sandy waste-areas a feature on most holes. There is quite a juxtaposition as the scrubby run-offs contrast the immaculately pristine playing surfaces.

 In fact, this is quite a prominent feature of Naples National that regardless of when you visit, expect the course to be in superb, unparalleled condition. Carpet-like fairways and tee-boxes, lightening fast greens, you name it.

Hole in the Wall Golf Club

Hole in the Wall Golf Club
Photo credit Ryan Cashion

This private member’s club just north of downtown Naples has been around since 1957 and over the years has had many a facelift.

The original course was designed by Dick Wilson but aspects of the course have been trifled with by many architects including the great Robert Trent Jones Sr. 

Elements of the club are quite unique and quirky. For example, there are no tee times, members walk up and tee off at any time they like. Likewise, the entrance to the clubhouse is literally through a ‘hole-in-the-wall’. 

As for the course itself, it largely runs through an enormous expanse of wetlands which has conservation at its heart. There is ample wildlife and indigenous vegetation. It is also quite unique in as much as there is no property surrounding the fairways, a curse of many courses in Florida.

At 6,600 yards, it is not a test of length but instead a pick and place where strategy and patience is rewarded.

Hideout Golf Club

Hideout Golf Club
Photo credit Willem Jaron Golf

A golf course which defied the trend of the time in not selling out to be surrounded by residential property, and what a great decision it was as this is now one of the few golf courses in the region where it is just golf and nature.

Hideout Golf Club opened for play at the turn of the century, in the year 2000. The architect chosen for the project was the unheralded but massively underrated Kelly Blake Moran.

Given a brief to design a golf course that was accommodating to all levels of golfers, but challenging enough for lower handicaps, his team did a sterling job.

They’ve designed a championship golf course which is an absolute ball to play. This includes amongst others, huge carries over water, of which there is lots, and stunning greens surrounded by immaculately designed and contoured bunkers.

At times there are tee boxes that literally sit surrounded on all sides by sand. Aesthetic and pleasing to the eye, it certainly is. 

The fairways are wide and not overly penal. It is in the approach shots where many a scorecard is hurt.

See also: What are the best public golf courses in Naples, Florida?

Calusa Pines Golf Club

Calusa Pines Golf Club, Naples, Florida
Photo credit Monica Anne Pedano

And so onto Calusa Pines, the highlight of the Naples golfing scene and a truly special course which opened quite recently in 2001.

This course is a bomb to play, and that opinion is clearly shared by many a golf writer and golf connoisseur as Calusa Pines is not only regarded as one of the best golf courses in Florida, but one of the best courses in the United States. 

This is a pretty impressive feat for a golf course which opened this side of the millennium. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry were the inspiration behind the layout here and as is true of many of their collaborations, the course here is epitomized by vast areas of sandy run-off with numerous pines interspersed throughout. 

Not only is this a special course, it is also a special site. When building the course tons upon tons of rock were blasted and shifted to create huge lakes and impressive elevation changes. So many courses in Florida are flat, and this design feature is a welcome change from the norm. 

The site is also defined by hundreds of oak trees, palms and pines with huge bunkers coming into play. Sadly for the average golf tourist, Calusa Pines is an extremely private club, so befriending a member is your only hope of getting on here.

Bay Colony Golf Club

Located in the Cocohatchee Strand Nature Preserve, two minutes drive from the coast, is the uber-exclusive member’s club of Bay Colony. This is a fantastic course hidden away from prying eyes. 

The course opened to play in 1990 and was the creation of the prolific Robert Von Hagge. Von Hagge has a huge reputation in both the States and Europe for his top-class golf courses, many of which have a reputation for being immensely challenging. 

Bay Colony doesn’t necessarily fall into the same camp. But this championship course has plenty to offer in exchange. There are wide expansive and rolling fairways rubbing shoulders with hundreds of palms and plenty of water. 

The greens are magnificent, as is much of the course to be fair. And keeping the site in immaculate condition, is a top priority of the management and Bay Colony is without doubt one of the best conditioned courses in Florida.

Talis Park Golf Club

Talis-Park-Golf-Club, Naples, Florida
Image courtesy of Talis Park copyright 2022

North of Naples right in the heart of the golf mecca, is Talis Park Golf Club. This superb course is designed by two of the modern game’s greatest architects, Greg Norman and Pete Dye. 

The duo have created a wonderful golf course. First up is its unique use of SeaDwarf Paspalum turf, ever present throughout the 133 acres.

From the back tees the course measures over 7,000 yards and hitting the fairway is essential. Water is present on 17 of the 18 holes. Even when you do hit the carpet-like fairways, they’re dotted with pure white-sand bunkers ready to engulf mis-hit drives.

Very much a tale of two halves, the front-nine has open rolling fairways with scattered trees. Whilst the back nine has by all accounts, been molded into the image of Tuscan farmland. One thing that can be said, is regardless of which hole you’re on, try to stay dry!

Bonita Bay (Bay Island)

Bonita Bay Golf Club, Naples, Florida

Bonita Bay club is a premier private golf and sports club which offers to its members an array of sports, leisure and social facilities.

The club is tucked up close to the coast at the epicenter of Naples and Fort Myers to the north. This is a sensational site.

There are an epic five courses onsite here served by two clubhouses. Two of these courses were designed by the legendary Tom Fazio and three by Arthur Hills.

Fazio really needs no introduction, with a reputation which is known worldwide. Whilst Hills is an architect who has his name against many Floridian courses, and has built up a fine reputation of his own. 

The Bay Island course was designed by Arthur Hills and was his last creation at Bonita Bay, opening for play in 1994. At over 7,000 yards from the back tees, this is also considered the most challenging. 

There are monster sand traps, thick strands of cypress and oak trees dotted in inconvenient places. And of course, water, water and lots of water.

The Old Collier Golf Club

The Old Collier Golf Club, Naples, Florida
Photo Credit Beth Reilly

On the Old Collier website, the first thing you read is ‘A Golf Club, Pure and Simple’. This is an ethos that permeates everything about this private member’s club.

There are just a couple of hundred members, with probably a waiting list just as long. With so few members it won’t be a surprise to hear there are no tee times.

The club is just up the road from the other exclusive member’s club of Bay Colony. The site is simply exceptional, located right next to the Cocohatchee River. Now an environmental sanctuary, the 267 acres of land are shared with numerous native species and wildlife. This includes ospreys, foxes, eagles as well as, yep you guessed it, gators.

Tom Fazio was employed to design the course and on the elevated park-like estate he did a sterling job. Surrounded by the native oaks, this perfectly proportioned golf course benefits from cooling breezes from the Gulf of Mexico. An impeccable golf club with a simple mantra, which it upholds valiantly.

What is the best private golf course in Naples Florida?

The best private golf course in Naples Florida, is Naples National Golf Club to the east of the city. The course was designed by Dana Fry and Michael Hurdzan and opened to its membership in 1992.

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