Golf & Sports

A tee time is open somewhere.

Florida owns a reputation for great golf, and we'd like to think we're part of the reason. Since Donald Ross, one of America's most famous architects created Fort Myers Country Club over 90 years ago, others have followed with names like Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio, Arthur Hills and Raymond Floyd. Not a bad foursome, by the way. Their work has won many accolades and gives us more golf holes per capita than just about anywhere, and therefore, more reasons to play.

Play Golf in Fort Myers Sanibel

"Drive along the Southwest Florida coast, where quality courses, top architects and great resorts reflect the area's passion for golf."

Golf Mecca
In Lee County, stunning new courses have combined with such venerable courses as Eastwood and Fort Myers country clubs to create one of the hottest golf Meccas in the country. At the center of new subdivisions sporting custom homes and nestled in the area's natural beauty sits the booming golf industry. According to the National Golf Foundation, the area ranks high nationally in the number of golf holes per capita.

From a player's standpoint, few places can match the plethora of choices and quality of layouts. In the past several years, Raptor Bay, Grandezza, Palmira, Crown Colony, Pelican Preserve and Miromar Lakes have all opened, and their courses already carry worthy reputations.

Golf Your Way Down the Coast
Turn off I-75 practically anywhere along The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, and a tee time can be reserved a mile in either direction. Just east of Exit 123 sits Grandezza. Its golf course's 151-slope rating is one of the highest (read: most difficult) in Florida. Located a few miles west is highly touted Raptor Bay, built next to the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, easily one of that hotel chain's most stylish properties. And a few minutes down the road, a four-story tower and fountain stand sentinel in front of Palmira, a 27-hole club.

"It's amazing down here – the competition is just incredible," said Brad Doren, the head professional at Palmira. "They build one course down here, and the next guy coming along tries to build one even better."

A History of Great Design
That standard was set high more than 90 years ago by Scotland-born Donald Ross, America's most famous architect. His layout at Fort Myers Country Club has received numerous accolades over the years and remains the cradle of golf for locals. Nearby Eastwood Golf Course was critically acclaimed almost from the day it opened in 1977.

Those pioneers launched a Lee County legacy that today includes designs by Arnold Palmer at Wildcat Run, Tom Fazio at Gateway Golf and Country Club, Arthur Hills at Miromar Lakes, Raymond Floyd at Raptor Bay and Ron Garl at Crown Colony.

Floyd, one of the most competitive players in PGA Tour history, created a unique and subtly dangerous test at Raptor Bay. It's a resort-friendly course with wide fairways that won't cost you a dozen lost golf balls. Raptor Bay's only true defenses are steep-sided, multitiered greens that force you to pay attention.
Jack Nicklaus continues his standard of excellence at Old Corkscrew Golf Club, the only course in the county to boat Nicklaus’ Signature design. Laid out to complement its environment, the par 72 boasts holes that put all levels of golfers on an even playing field.

Up-and-Coming Architects
Along with the surge in course construction has come a next generation of architects entrusted with preserving land while building stunning designs. Led by Darwin Sharp III at Grandezza and Gordon Lewis at Palmira, the new breed has responded to the call. Although water hazards tug at you on nearly every hole on Lewis’s Palmira, the game truly becomes demanding around the course’s undulating greens made of high-tech Tifeagle grass.

The style and panache of golfing Lee County comes together on the back nine at Grandezza. Darwin Sharp III reached deep into the bag of design techniques and wove a fascinating interplay of holes, particularly his mix of short and long par 4s.

Golf Vacations

"The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel offer year-round championship golf in a tropical paradise."

The area is known for its award-winning beaches, world famous shelling, spectacular sunsets and all the best that Mother Nature has to offer. The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel also provides a golf mecca known for its rich golf history, championship courses designed by legends and an endless selection of choices available year-round in this tropical paradise.

From golf resorts to public municipal courses to exclusive clubs that allow public play, area courses provide opportunities for golfers of all levels. Many have views of the Gulf of Mexico, have won awards for their commitment to the preservation of the environment and all have worked to protect the area’s wildlife.

According to the National Golf Foundation, the area has one of the top holes-per capita rankings, with an endless list of choices and quality layouts that make golf easily accessible to visitors.

In addition to resorts known for their championship courses, most accommodations in the area will recommend nearby courses for their guests. Visitors may also select from the extensive list of public courses.

The "new" Old Corkscrew Golf Club opens Jack Nicklaus Signature Course
The recently-opened Old Corkscrew Golf Club in Estero is the area’s only stand-alone Jack Nicklaus Signature Course. Open to the public, the course provides an outstanding golf experience that challenges players of all levels and is set in a natural environment. In addition to great golf, players enjoy an up close and personal encounter with the area’s unique landscape and wildlife.

Certified with the Audubon seal of approval, Old Corkscrew Golf Club’s location still reflects its original natural setting, complete with stands of cypress, magnificently tall pines, mature oaks and nesting colonies of wood storks, egrets and herons, just to name a few. Valuing wildlife and natural habitats as much as they value the game of golf, Old Corkscrew is committed to enhancing the environment. Audubon International is an environmental educational organization that focuses on sustainable development. Fewer than two percent of courses around the world have been named a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. For information and tee times, call 239-949-4700 or visit www.oldcorkscrew.com.

Local golf resorts

The Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, Bonita Springs
One of the area’s newest courses, Raptor Bay is the first resort course to receive the Audubon International Gold Certification. Designed by golf legend Raymond Floyd, the 18-hole course is designed in harmony with its lush, natural setting. The course is available to resort guests as well as to the public. For information, call 239-444-1234 or visit www.coconutpointhyatt.com.

South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island
The newly redesigned Captiva Island Golf Club at South Seas Island Resort is designed by Chip Powell and ranked one of the Top-Five Short Courses in the world by the Professional Golfers Association. The course recently completed $4 million in upgrades and offers guests nine holes with stunning views on the Gulf of Mexico. Course is open to resort guests. For information, call 239-472-5111 or visit www.southseas.com.

The Gasparilla Inn & Club
Located on Gasparilla Island in southwest Florida, the newly renovated Gasparilla Inn and Club at Boca Grande recently received the designation as a "Historic Hotel of America." Golfers set their own pace on this Pete Dye, 18-hole course that offers views of Charlotte Harbor from every hole. Course is open to resort guests. For information call 941-964-2201 or visit www.gasparillainn.com.

Additional courses open to the public

Alden Pines Country Club, Bokeelia
Gordon Lewis-designed course
239-283-2179

Fort Myers Beach Golf Club 
Only course on Fort Myers Beach
www.fmbgclub.com
239-283-2179

Beachview Golf Club, Sanibel Island
Member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program
www.beachviewgolfclub.com
239-472-2626

Bonita Fairways Country Club, Bonita Springs
New clubhouse
www.bonitafairways.com
239-947-9100

Bonita Springs Golf Club, Bonita Springs
Reopening in fall 2007 following renovation
www.bonitaspringsgolfclub.com
239-992-2800

Burnt Store Marina Golf Club, Punta Gorda
Championship layout
www.burntstoremarina.com
941-637-1577

Copperhead Golf Club, Lehigh Acres
Municipal course designed by Gordon Lewis
www.mycopperhead.com
239-369-8200

Coral Oaks Golf Course, Cape Coral
Named Best Course in Cape Coral by Fort Myers News-Press
www.coraloaks.com
239-573-3100

Country Creek Golf Course, Estero
239-947-3840

The Dunes Golf & Tennis, Sanibel Island
Abundance of wildlife
www.dunesgolfsanibel.com
239-472-2535

Eagle Ridge Golf & Tennis Club, Fort Myers
Championship layout
www.playeagleridge.com/
239-768-1888

Eastwood Golf Course, Fort Myers
Championship layout
www.CityFtmyers.com
239-275-4848

El Rio Golf Club, North Fort Myers
Walk or ride course
239-995-2204

Fort Myers Country Club, Fort Myers
Classic 1917 Donald Ross walking course enjoyed by Thomas Edison, Henry Ford
www.cityftmyers.com
239-936-3126

Herons Glen Gold & Country Club, North Fort Myers
Recognized by National Audubon Society
www.heronsglenrecdist.com
239-731-4520

Myerlee Country Club, Fort Myers
Walk or ride
www.myerleecc.com
239-481-1440

Riverbend Golf Course & River Club, North Fort Myers
239-543-2200

Sabal Springs Golf & Racquet Club, North Fort Myers
239-731-0101

San Carlos Golf, Fort Myers
239-267-3131

Stoneybrook Golf Club, Estero
Glistening lakes and preserves
www.stoneybrookgolffm.com
239-948-3933

Terraverde Country Club, Fort Myers
Challenging nine-hole course
239-433-7733

Sports in Fort Myers Sanibel

"Baseball, pro hockey and skating entertain southwest Florida visitors year-round"

Southwest Florida sports spectating is no longer limited to spring and summer amateur baseball. The Fort Myers/Sanibel area now touts two of the 18 major league teams in the Florida Grapefruit League and a Florida State League team. However, baseball isn’t the only hit in southwest Florida. Ice hockey has taken residents and vacationers by storm. In 1998, the Florida Everblades made their permanent home here, and won their first ECHL Eastern Conference Championship in 2004. The Florida Firecats arena football team soon followed, and won the AF2 Championship in 2004. And finally, professional basketball will once again call Germain Arena home, as the NBDL’s Florida Flame make their premiere in Fall 2004.

Baseball has a long and grand tradition in Lee County. The area’s first baseball team organized in1896, playing its first game on July 4 the following year. Since then, baseball has maintained a major presence in the community. In 1925, the Philadelphia Athletics became the first major league club to train in Fort Myers. The team was managed by Cornelius McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack, grandfather of Lee County’s former U.S. senator by the same name. The Athletics played for 12 years at Terry Park, named for Tootie McGregor Terry, who donated the land, then known as the Fort Myers Fairgrounds, in 1906. From 1939 to 1940, the Cleveland Indians made Fort Myers their spring training headquarters.
Fourteen years later, in 1955, the Pittsburgh Pirates arrived, welcomed by a renovated Terry Park stadium. The Kansas City Royals came in 1968 and stayed for 20 years. Each team went on to win the World Series!

The Lee County Sports Complex, anchored by the William H. Hammond Stadium in south Fort Myers, serves as spring training headquarters for the AL Central Division Champion Minnesota Twins, and summer home for the Fort Myers Miracle, the Class "A" team affiliated with the Twins. This state-of-the-art 7,500-seat stadium opened in 1991 and is named for William "Bill" Hammond, the assistant county administrator who spearheaded the project from inception.

Hammond Stadium is part of the 80-acre Lee County Sports Complex, which includes four regulation major league practice fields, two half-fields, four softball practice fields, 10 indoor batting cages (four in the main stadium) and 30 practice pitching areas with mounds. The stadium is handicapped accessible and located at 14100 Six Mile Cypress, south of Daniels Parkway, in Fort Myers, FL 33912. For information, call (239) 768-4210.

The Minnesota Twins are the fifth team in more than 65 years to train in Lee County. In 1988 Lee County began pursuing the team, which commenced their spring training here in 1991. It was the first time the entire Twins organization had operated from the same place. Immediately on the heels of this auspicious spring training, the Twins went on to become World Champions. Lee County recently inked a deal with the Twins that will keep them in Fort Myers for Spring Training through 2020. For information on the Twins, call (239) 768-4210.

The Class "A" Fort Myers Miracle became affiliated with the Minnesota Twins in 1993, following its first season in Southwest Florida. Actor Bill Murray and singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett, part owners of the Miracle Baseball club, have been seen incognito during the season. For information and tickets, call (239) 768-4210.

City of Palms Park, in downtown Fort Myers, is the spring training home of the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox. This 6,990-seat stadium, built in 1992, includes a stadium field, a practice field, five minor league fields, 12 indoor hitting tunnels, expansive clubhouses and dugouts as well as conditioning, hydrotherapy, training and locker rooms.

"The architectural style of City of Palms Park is reminiscent of traditional stadiums like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park," said Jim Humphrey, mayor of Fort Myers. "The stadium was designed with baseball fans in mind. It allows a closeness and an access to the players that only occurs at spring training camps."

In 1993, the Boston Red Sox left Winter Haven, Florida, and headed to Fort Myers to begin their spring training. The Red Sox and Lee County struck an agreement in 2004 to extend the club’s stay in Fort Myers through 2019. Upon winning the 2004 World Series, the Red Sox became the fifth Major League team to win the Series after training in Lee County.

With the City of Fort Myers known as the City of Palms, it’s fitting that swaying palm trees surround the stadium at 2201 Edison Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33905. For Red Sox information, call (239) 334-4700.

Recently, ice hockey has found a new market of excited fans in Lee County. In 1998, the ECHL’s Florida Everblades played their inaugural season in Germain Arena, a major presence on 30 acres in south Lee County just down the road from Florida Gulf Coast University. The Florida Everblades belong to the ECHL national hockey league and compete with 30 franchises from across the country. Since the team’s inception, fans have filled an average 90 percent of game seats. Games run October through April. Catch a game at 11000 Everblades Pkwy. in Estero, FL 33928. For a schedule of events call (239) 948-7825.

Also calling Germain Arena home are the Florida Firecats (AF2 arena football), winners of the 2004 AF2 Championship. Germain Arena also welcomes back professional basketball, as the NBA development league’s (NBDL) Florida Flame take the court in 2004. For more information on the Florida Firecats, call (239) 390-2287.

In addition to the main arena at Germain, the complex features two other NHL regulation-sized ice rinks, a year-round restaurant with 27 televisions, a lounge, a private club and luxury suites. Germain Arena’s recreational rinks provide children and adults practice time for ice hockey and figure skating as well as classes in both sports.

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is Florida’s 10th four-year university, and will be competing as a NCAA Division II member institution in Fall 2004. The athletic program at FGCU began in 2000 with men’s and women’s golf and tennis. In 2002, the men’s and women’s basketball programs, as well as softball, baseball, and men’s and women’s cross country made their debut. Home of the FGCU Eagles, Alico Arena is a 4,500 seat multi-purpose facility that can host sports such as basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, martial arts, and much more. Other sports facilities include baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, and soccer fields. FGCU’s newest facility is the Lee County Aquatics Center, the region’s only Olympic size pool.

Exploring The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel by RV

"Rent a motorhome and spend leisurely days with your family exploring the beaches, parks and attractions of the Fort Myers Sanibel area. "

"Just as many families have discovered the joys of vacationing in a condo, others have realized that renting a motorhome affords many of those same conveniences and adds mobility, serendipity and an element of adventure.


Motorhomes are an inexpensive way to explore the area, especially for families. You can cook all of your meals if you stock up at the grocery store in between visits to attractions, and a night in a campground won’t break the bank.


Imagine pulling into a campsite in a picturesque Florida park, hooking up electric and water, and you’ve arrived. There are no tents to set up and no air mattresses to inflate. You’re as close as you can get to the splendors of nature, but just inside the door are a kitchen, toilet, shower and comfortable beds.


The kids will find plenty of playmates to join in riding bikes and exploring the surrounding woods. Campfire and other nature programs bring camping neighbors together. There’s no need to dress for dinner – grill up steaks and hotdogs for dinner, and toast marshmallows to perfection for smores.


There’s also no need to pack and unpack as you wander from place to place. In the morning, just unplug and you’re off to a fun-filled attraction or the beach. The air-conditioned comfort comes in handy for a break from the afternoon sun or summer showers.


Exploring The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel by RV can mean spending one night with Gulf of Mexico waters lapping at your feet, another in the subtropical forests of Old Florida and yet another on the banks of the slow-moving Caloosahatchee River, where great fishing is right outside your bedroom door.

 

At Koreshan State Historic Site, which has a full-facility campground, set up camp not far from the Estero River, then rent canoes and take the kids fishing in the morning (after breakfast and a cup of hot coffee, of course).


Commercial RV parks like the Fort Myers Pine Island KOA often have more amenities, including swimming pools, tennis courts and shuttles to the beach and shopping. At the Red Coconut RV Resort, located right on the beach in Fort Myers Beach, swim or go sailing in your backyard (the Gulf of Mexico)."

Golf Best Bets

"Here you’ll find links layouts, competitive championship challenges and some of the state’s most popular municipal courses. "

The Fort Myers Sanibel area is located in the epicenter of Florida’s Golf Coast (bad pun 100 percent intended). Here are some of the best bets from tee to green.

Golf at its Most Natural

Raptor Bay Golf Club More than just another meticulously maintained WCI course, Raptor Bay in Bonita Springs is 6,702 yards of championship golf wrapped in a stunning wildlife setting. The 18 Raymond Floyd-designed holes (with 9 holes to be added in the future) weave their way through more than 200 acres of wetlands, native vegetation and natural ecosystems. Birdies may be hard to come by at this Audubon International Gold Signature Sanctuary-certified course, but bald eagles are a common sight.

Practice Made Perfect

Stoneybrook Golf Club through Paradise Golf Academy. Low student-to-teacher ratios are as important on the course as they are in a PhD program, and there’s no way to get your advanced golf degree faster than through a round at Stoneybrook Golf Club in Estero with an instructor from Paradise Golf Academy. One of the largest golf schools in Southwest Florida, Paradise Golf Academy emphasizes teaching techniques such as video swing analysis, and traditional playing lessons with PGA-certified instructors.

The Mike Calbot International Golf Studio & Triad Golf Schools. One of golf’s most sought-after pros, Mike Calbot provides detailed instruction for beginners as well as regular golfers. Take a full- or half-day workshop, or sign up for as many as five days of lessons. Ask him to show you a couple of trick shots, too – that and swings are his specialty.

Rise to the Challenger

Mirror Lakes Golf Club. There are no subtleties to deal with at the famed 11th hole. No nuances, no gimmicks, just 707 yards of raw distance. It’s the longest hole in South Florida – so long, in fact, it’s a par 6.  “The 707 Challenger,"" as it’s nicknamed, is the brawniest challenge of the budget-friendly 7,202-yard course. This is a wide-open layout, so let ‘er rip.

Seaside Slice

Captiva Course at South Seas Island Resort. The biggest hurdle to posting a low number is maintaining your concentration against such a stunning backdrop. Set along the sandy beaches of the northern tip of Captiva Island, these sporty nine holes stretch a friendly 1,394 yards with par of 27. Diminutive greens and steady ocean breezes offset the short length of this oceanfront links layout. Snagging a late-afternoon tee time provides a stunning Gulf sunset, so it matters less how well you play.

Water, Water Everywhere

The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club. The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club on Sanibel Island is less a golf course surrounded by water as it is water punctuated by a golf course. Redesigned by Mark McCumber in 1995, the course meanders its way across tufts of dry land surrounded by a sea of mangrove swamps and wildlife-filled lakes. The H20 comes into play on 18 (yes, all 18) holes, making a pre-round ball-buying spree a necessity for all but the straightest of ball strikers.

Driving for Dollars

Coral Oaks Golf Course. This city-owned gem has been a favorite for local and visiting golfers alike for over 20 years. While the Arthur Hills-designed layout may appeal to the wallet-conscious golfer, don’t let the bargain green fees ($30-$69 with cart) at this Cape Coral course fool you. With water coming into play on 12 holes and majestic oaks guarding nearly every fairway, a round at Coral Oaks is no walk in the park. The large Tifeagle greens can present a daunting challenge, so practice your putting a bit more than usual before the round.

A Course at Its Core

Old Corkscrew Golf Club. This standalone course isn’t part of a development – more like part of its environment. The winner of such prestigious awards as the Florida Golf Course of the Year in 2008, it’s the only course in Lee County to boast Jack Nicklaus’ Signature design. This par 72 course boasts holes that don’t show favoritism to any level of golfer."

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