Golf icon Jack Nicklaus has returned to the AAA Four-Diamond resort to help redesign the same course on which he first broke 40 at age 11; the Jack Nicklaus redesign is in collaboration with noted architect John Sanford; renovation began in April and will be completed this November
The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club in Southwest Florida is nearing completion of the dramatic renovation–almost reinvention–of its championship golf course. The course at the AAA Four-Diamond resort is being redesigned with input from golf icon and acclaimed course designer Jack Nicklaus, who has a historical tie to the resort.
The Jack Nicklaus redesign is being done in collaboration with noted course architect John Sanford. This major $9 million project follows $50 million in impressive renovations and enhancements at the resort over the last few years. The total redesign of the 125-acre resort’s course began in April, and the entire project will be complete this November, with the course fully operational and reopening on November 17, 2016, according to the beachfront resort’s General Manager Jason Parsons. According to Parsons, this is almost a month ahead of schedule.
Jack Nicklaus is helping to celebrate his past and that of The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club by reshaping the future of this iconic golf course. It was in 1951, on a family vacation to Naples, Fla., and a friendly round of golf alongside his father, that the Ohio native accomplished the very impressive feat of first breaking 40 over nine holes on the resort’s course, shooting a 37. At just 11 years old, he came within a shot of shooting par, and just one year after he picked up golf clubs for the first time. This round in particular is what drew Nicklaus to the project–the scorecard is even archived in the Jack Nicklaus Museum, the 24,000-square-foot facility on the campus of The Ohio State University.
“Being back at The Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club is like a walk down memory lane for me,” Nicklaus said. “Returning to the same course where I broke 40, with my father by my side, brings back a lot of very special and very fond memories. At the same time, I am enjoying the opportunity to work with John [Sanford] on this rebirth, if you will, of a wonderful layout. I think we have some great ideas and people will be excited about the end product.”
The resort’s golf course brings together two of the world’s finest designers, who celebrated the grand opening of their collaboration on Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx, New York, in 2015. Sanford served as project manager for the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, and among the many honors bestowed on the design, it was named to Golf Digest’s Best New Courses 2015 and recognized by Golf Magazine as the Best New Course You Can Play. It was also a top-three global selection by Golf Inc. as Development of the Year.
“We are very proud and excited about the completion of the dramatic renovation and redesign of our 18-hole championship golf course,” Parsons said. “The redesign is a unique collaboration between the greatest player of all time, Jack Nicklaus, who also is one of the world’s most celebrated golf course designers, and the very talented John Sanford. It truly has been a pleasure to see them collaborate on this totally new, par-71 course, which features five tees, ranging from 4,800 yards to over 6,900 yards. Our guests, groups, and golfers of every skill level will absolutely love the truly beautiful new course.”
Golf Course Architect John Sanford said, “The course has been redesigned to challenge the best players but also be enjoyable for all golfers. The course will play ‘firm and fast’ and will drain well, so the ball will roll, adding distance to drives and allowing golfers to play running shots into the greens. The greens are open in front for this purpose, and they have gentle contours to allow for multiple hole locations while challenging each player. The golf course is also more open now, with palm trees added to extend the beachfront feeling of the resort. We are very excited about the reopening of the course in November.”
In addition to the new course, the resort has added a 300-yard practice and teaching range, and will have new golf carts with GPS tracking systems to aid golfers with yardages on each hole, thus helping pace of play.
“The completion of this renovation will bring our golf course in line with the rest of our AAA Four-Diamond resort and enhance the overall guest and group experience,” said Henry B. Watkins, co-owner of the resort. “The added bonus of having Mr. Nicklaus collaborate on the redesign of the course where he first broke 40 for nine holes is wonderful, and further enriches the deep history of our property.”
A consistent recipient of many of the meeting industry’s top honors, The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is Southwest Florida’s only beachfront resort with an on-site championship golf course, a world-class spa, and an award-winning tennis center. The 319-room resort also features 34,000 square feet of meeting space and a variety of picturesque outdoor venues for receptions and events. Venue options include the 6,283-square-foot River of Grass Ballroom; the Gulf-view The Everglades Room ballroom; the 2,457-square-foot Mangrove Ballroom; and such scenic outdoor venues as the Watkins Lawn.
Among the recent enhancements was the November 2015 replacement of the brick balconies in the main Tower Building with beautiful glass balconies to showcase the gorgeous Gulf views.
Rich in hospitality and tradition, The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club has been part of the Naples community since 1946. Owned and operated by the Watkins family for three generations, the resort also features 1,000 feet of soft white-sand beach; a world-class spa; a fitness center; the Mary C. Watkins Tennis Center with six Har-Tru courts; Beach Kids Club, a complimentary daily recreational program for children ages 5 to 12; retail shops; and beach rentals.
In addition, the resort features multiple restaurants and lounges. The selection includes the signature beachfront restaurant HB’s on the Gulf; Broadwell’s, serving breakfast daily and providing panoramic views of the golf course; and the Seminole Store, which serves deli sandwiches, ice cream, gourmet coffees and a variety of freshly baked pizza, pastries and desserts in a café atmosphere. The Sunset Beach Bar & Grill has been recognized as the “Best Place To View A Southwest Florida Sunset,” and was named “Naples’ Best Beach Bar” by Travel Channel.
Guest rooms and suites feature cool tropical-colored linens, fabrics and carpeting; flat-panel televisions; patios or balconies (with a view of the Gulf, the golf course or the lush resort interior); coffee makers; and refrigerators.
Situated just blocks from Naples’ renowned shopping districts of fashionable 5th Avenue South and historic 3rd Street South, the resort is also within minutes of shopping at Venetian Village, Waterside Shops, Bayfront, and Tin City.
Guests and groups can further experience the area by taking tours of the Everglades, Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, Corkscrew Swamp, The Botanical Gardens, or the Conservancy Nature Center. Boat and fishing trips can also be arranged at the hotel. Other leisure-time activities can include Naples’ outstanding museums, theatres, and art galleries.
Providing a comfortable and friendly atmosphere, the resort is an exceptional tropical getaway. Guests and groups always benefit from no resort fees, complimentary self-parking and valet parking, and complimentary access to the resort’s fitness center. The resort is located at 851 Gulf Shore Blvd. North in Naples, Florida. For more information, contact the resort’s group sales department at (800) 866-1946 or (239) 261-2222, and visit NaplesBeachHotel.com.