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Best private golf courses in the U.S.: Two Naples layouts are in select company

Mark H. Bickel, Naples Daily News

Good news for Southwest Florida golf fans.

Two golf courses in Naples are on Golfweek’s Best 2022 list of top private golf courses in the U.S.

Calusa Pines and Naples National.

Bad news for Southwest Florida golf fans. Private means private. In other words, all the courses on this annual list don’t accept daily-fee or resort play. You either have to be a paying member of these clubs or be connected to someone who is and can bring you in as a guest.

Not only did Calusa and Naples National make the list, but in the state-by-state rankings, both courses were among the Top-10 in the Sunshine State with Calusa coming in at No. 2 and Naples National at No. 7.

No. 1 overall in Florida is Seminole in Juno Beach, considered by many to be among the best golf courses in the world. For some more perspective, the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, which hosts The Masters every April, is on the list.

Last week Golfweek’s list of top public access golf courses was released and Hammock Bay, also in Naples, was on the list.

According to Golfweek, the courses that earn a place in the rankings are judged by our international panel of raters.

“The hundreds of members of that ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on 10 criteria on a points basis of 1 through 10. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings are averaged to produce these rankings.” the Golfweek story states.

Here’s a closer look at two Naples courses deemed worthy by Golfweek’s experts: 

Calusa Pines

Location: Naples

Address: 2000 Calusa Pines Drive

Holes: 18 (Par 72 | 7,215 yards)

Architect/Developer: Calusa’s developer, Gary Chensoff, a Chicago venture capitalist, survived a rare form of cancer despite long odds, and his recovery strongly influenced how Calusa Pines was designed and built. Opened for play in November of 2001.

Website: calusapinesgolfclub.com

What they are saying (from the website): “Calusa Pines features outstanding vistas generated by sweeping ridges that influences ten golf holes. The landforms are so soft, and flowing that they blend in well enough to appear natural and unique. Combined with extensive native plant vegetation it is difficult to imagine the golf course was built, instead of simply laid out on this superb piece of land. Calusa Pines was founded to provide an exceptional golf experience for its members in a relaxed atmosphere that promotes camaraderie among those who truly love the game. The club doesn’t release membership information, has no tee times, and features a strong caddie program as members and guests are encouraged to walk the course.”

Did you know: Phil Mickelson came to Naples and played Calusa Pines in 2019.

Golf great Phil Mickelson played Calusa Pines Golf Club in Naples on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 Courtesy Calusa Pines Golf Course

Naples National

Location: Naples

Address: 9325 Collier Blvd

Holes: 18 (Par 72 | 7,068 yards)

Architect/Developer: Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry. They have designed golf courses in several countries, many of which achieved top 100 status including Erin Hills (site of 2017 U.S. Open), Calusa Pines, Shelter Harbor and Devil’s Paintbrush.

Mykhalo Golod (UKR) hits an approach shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the Terra Cotta Invitational amateur golf tournament, Sunday, May 1, 2022, at Naples National Golf Club in Naples, Fla. Caleb Surratt (USA) won the event in consecutive years with a score of 14 under par. Landon Bost/Naples Daily News/USA TODAY Network-Florida

Website:Click here

Greg Hardwig:Thank you for almost 25 years covering golf with the Naples Daily News

What they are saying (from the website): “This splendid course, always kept in meticulous condition, has allowed us to compete and land other top quality projects whose developers might not have considered us before. But what really makes Naples National so special, are the members who appreciate attention to detail and the staff who strive to deliver it. Starting at the front gate there is an aura of friendly and shared passion for golf that envelopes the entire property and golf experience.”

Also:Terra Cotta Invitational amateur golf tournament at Naples National Golf Club in photos

Did you know: There are about 50 acres of turf on the entire course, with the rest being sand scrub, yet the golf course plays fast and about the only lost balls are ones that go in the water. This golf course conserves water, fertilizer, pesticides and fossil fuels while still delivering immaculate playing conditions.

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