Courtesy of Joe Bargmann
Continental Airlines Magazine
Golf writing is riddled with cliches and pet phrases , as anyone who’s ever played a “hidden gem” that’s a “true test of golf” knows. So it came as no surprise when Mark Iwinski, director of golf at Old Corkscrew, in Estero, Fla., about 20 miles south from Fort Myers , told me one writer had described the course design as “Jack Nicklaus on steroids.”
At least two things about that description are wrong. First, Jack Nicklaus doesn’t need performance-enhancing drugs — he’s the greatest golfer of all time. Second, there’s nothing pumped-up about Old Corkscrew. It’s simply a difficult, dramatic golf course, which is what you get when you turn Jack Nicklaus loose on 275 acres worthy of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.
A true test of golf? This is more like Survivor: Gabon. And Old Corkscrew is no hidden gem. It sits right there in front of you, in all its brawny glory. The tee shot landing areas are generous, though on many holes — notably the par-4 fourth — Nicklaus tempts players to risk hitting dangerously close to water hazards or gnarly waste areas, with the promise of shorter, easier approaches. Take the bait and you may risk an encounter with an alligator or a panther. On the huge greens, including one that’s 44 yards deep, the fun really begins, as putts race down steep slopes and curl sharply on severe contours.
On the 18th hole, a monstrous, 462-yard par-4, I plunked my approach shot into the water along the left side of the fairway and green — and I smiled. Normally, I’d be angry. But Old Corkscrew is pure fun to play.