Friday, January 20, 2017

On Location: Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club

For the Guru, the appeal of this classic Naples, Florida resort starts with the easy accessibility of all its major amenities. You can almost reach out and touch the white sand beach and swimming pool from your room balcony and the golf course and spa are located just a few steps from the front door of the main resort building.

I've visited Naples Beach Hotel & Club several times through the years and on my most recent visit last week (January 13-15, 2017) I was blown away by the enhancements throughout the property, especially the golf course, which has undergone an amazing transformation thanks to the Nicklaus Design Company.


If you've played the golf course before, you'll barely recognize the new and decidedly improved version. The Nicklaus Design Company in collaboration with architect John Sanford didn't just renovate the course they essentially recreated it. Sanford's impressive portfolio includes Florida courses Hobe Sound Golf Club, Juliett Falls and Links at Madison.
Re-designed with reconfigured holes, the course has been modernized to stand up to today's equipment and technology. The new par-71 course has five tee settings on each hole playing from 4,800 yards to more than 6,900 yards. Enhancing the total experience is a new practice and teaching range and new golf carts with GPS tracking systems. The entire project cost $9 million and it was money well spent.

"I think those who have played The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club before are in for a pleasant surprise," says Jack Nicklaus. "I believe the golf course has been transformed into a fun, exciting and aesthetically pleasing layout..."
Nicklaus nailed it: I definitely found the course to be lots of fun with a variety of exciting holes and lots of eye candy with beautiful trees, lakes and wonderfully manicured green complexes. Nicklaus and Sanford worked overtime to make sure no two holes even look and play remotely alike.
The new GPS systems are top notch and extremely helpful in getting accurate yardages avoiding hazards, especially for first-time players to the resort. Just as important, they help speed up play.


Set on 125 acres along seven miles of stunning, white sandy beach, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, a AAA Four-Diamond resort, is comprised of six beachfront buildings and 319 guest rooms and suites.
The guest rooms and suites are appointed with high quality furnishings accented by cheery colors and earth tones that exude a sophisticated tropical feel. Chances are, though, you'll spend lots of time on your balcony or patio, which are superb places to enjoy a bottle of wine while you toast your inspiring surroundings.


--1,000 feet of easily accessible soft white-sand beach and gentle surf ideal for families

--Beachfront pool complex

--Top-notch spa and fitness center 

--Tennis center with six Har-Tru courts

--Retail shops

--Beach umbrella and other rentals

--Complimentary child activity program

--Multiple restaurants and lounges

--34,000 square feet of meeting space

--18-hole golf course
10 Little Things I Liked

1. The wonderful and accommodating Watkins Family. Three generations of the family have owned and operated the resort.

2. Spacious balconies that are ideal for sipping wine and watching amazing sunsets.

3. Convenient self-parking.

4. A great location just minutes from downtown Naples where there's lots of shopping and restaurant choices.

5. The beautiful swimming pool situated a few steps from the beach.

6. The phenomenal blackened grouper sandwich I had after playing golf.

7. The biking, jogging and walking path that conveniently runs in front of the resort.

8. Friendly and helpful golf pro George Willard.

9. The new 300-yard long driving range.

10. The magnificent Banyon trees that dot the golf course.


HB's on the Gulf-Offers fine indoor dining with spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico and sunsets as well as al fresco dining. Highlighting the menu is Garlic Shrimp, Pork Shank Bucatini, Stone Crabs and Scallops with Lobster Risotto.

Sunset Beach Bar & Grill-This aptly named restaurant, which sits a few steps from the beach, is arguably one of the best places in Florida to view a sunset. There's an open-air grill, big round group loungers, traditional chaise lounges and cocktail tables and chairs. On Wednesday thru Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. a solo guitarist performs. Menu highlights include Conch Fritters, Coconut Fried Shrimp and Blackened Grouper Sandwich.

Broadwell's-A restaurant at the Golf Club that serves a bountiful breakfast buffet as well as an a la carte menu with items like Ranchero Cubano, Eggs Benedict and Egg White Frittata.

--Awesome sunset watching every evening at the resort's Sunset Beach Bar & Grill or from your guest room balcony.

--Shopping at nearby fashionable, walkable downtown streets--5th Avenue South and 3rd Street South.

--Shopping at Venetian Village, Waterside Shops, Bayfront and Tin City, which are located within easy driving distance of the resort.

--Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, which is located a few blocks from the resort

--Tours of Corkscrew Swamp, The Botanical Gardens and Conservancy Nature Center.

--Deep sea fishing charters in the Gulf of Mexico.

--Shelling and eco tours

--Viewing a spectacular collection of race, classic and antique cars at Revs Institute of Automotive Research.


Located just a few blocks from downtown Naples at 851 Gulf Shore Boulevard North.


Click to or call 239-261-2222 or 800-237-7600 for reservations or general inquiries.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

10 Fearless Predictions for Golf in 2017

No, I didn't pick the Cubs to win the World Series. No, I didn't pick Clemson to beat Bama for the NCAA National Championship. And I certainly didn't pick Danny Willett to win the 2016 Masters...

I did pick the U.S.A. to win the 2016 Ryder Cup, so I guess I have some credibility, right? Don't answer that, please.

That said, here are some of The Guru's best predictions for 2017:

--The future is now. More golf courses will finally wake up and start pricing green fees by the hour or by the hole. Recently, the Lodge at Four Seasons in Lake Ozark, Missouri started pricing by the hour. They're hoping it will speed up play and allow golfers who only want to play a few holes to "pay for what they play". Hey Millennials, you asked for it, you got it.

--The U.S. dollar will stay strong and golf travel will surge this year. Biggest benefactors will be Ireland, Scotland, South Africa and New Zealand.

--The most exciting new courses debuting in 2017 will be Mike Keiser's Sand Valley in Wisconsin, Streamsong Black in Florida and Trinity Forest in Texas.

--Young studs Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas will make a huge impact on the PGA Tour in 2017.

--Green will be the popular color choice for golf apparel in 2017. Who says so? The Golf Travel Guru, that's who. No, not just me. Various golf clothing companies are pushing all shades of green this year from olive to fluorescent to Masters green.

--The U.S. Open will be a great one at Erin Hills Golf Club in Wisconsin. Set on rolling terrain formed by glaciers, the course designed by Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Ron Whitten, has dramatic ridges, contours and panoramas. Erin Hills is located 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee and 115 miles from Chicago.

--More people will experience golf outside traditional golf courses at venues like Topgolf, Flying Tee and driving ranges. Uh, let's not forget golf simulators, too.

--Major championship winners will be Rory McIlroy (Masters), Dustin Johnson (U.S. Open),  Sergio Garcia (British Open) Patrick Reed (PGA Championship

--Topgolf will continue to soar in popularity with those who love golf and cocktails and others who don't know a golf club from a tennis racquet. In fall 2017, Topgolf Orlando (Florida) will debut. Coming soon are Topgolf's in Miami Gardens, Florida, Nashville, Tennessee, El Paso and Fort Worth in Texas and Birmingham, Alabama.

--Tiger Woods will experience some minor back issues before he wins a minor tournament at the end of the year.