The Marsh course, one of three at Bonita Bay West, is an interesting 18-hole regulation course that plays 6,636 yards from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course was designed by Arthur Hills and opened in 1985. The course rating is 72.4 with a slope rating of 140. Mike Weiler is the Director of Golf over all of Bonita Bay Club’s 5 courses. The greens and fairways are Bermuda grass and this layout offers 5 sets of tees for all different skill levels and abilities.
The Marsh weaves its way through wetland terrain with beautiful oaks and palmettos forming a backdrop for challenging golf. Natural wetlands and native vegetation provide both landscaping and water hazards.
You will encounter a number of longer-than-usual carries off the tee if you are playing the back tees, so choosing the right set of tees to play from can make the round more enjoyable.
Memorable Holes – Yardage is from the Blue Tees
Number 2: Par 4, 315 yards. Although it doesn’t show it on the scorecard, this is one of the more difficult holes on the Marsh course from the back tees. It’s a par 4, dogleg left with the green not being visible from the back set of tees. Furthermore, from the back tees, the player is faced with a carry in excess of 200 yards over a marshy area (hence the name I guess). Hit it real well off the tee, over the marsh and you may well find the bunkers. It takes two good shots to reach the green in regulation on this hole. Sand traps dot the right side of the fairway all the way up to and around the green once you make the dogleg.
Number 5: Par 5, 502 yards. This is the first of back to back par 5 holes. Long ball hitters may bring the marsh area off the tee on this long, narrow par 5. For most players, it only needs to be avoided – or crossed – on your layup shot which will require a fairway wood or hybrid to successfully cross the hazard. One loan fairway pot bunker short of the green on the left side claims its share of layup shots. Your approach shot is to a large flat green. Make sure your tee shot finds the short grass or par can become very difficult. Many people find that this hole plays harder than the number 1 handicapped sixth hole.
Number 8: Par 3, 155 yards. Something you don’t see often; back to back par 3s! From the blue tees, it seems like you are playing out of a chute up to the green; push or pull your tee shot and you may never see that ball again. The green is elevated and slopes dramatically from back to front. Consider playing your tee shot a little short and leaving an uphill putt.
Number 11: Par 5, 491 yards. A drive down the left side can go a long way in shortening this par 5 hole and be the difference in making the green in two. Anything left of the cart path spells disaster. Hit a poor tee shot and you will be forced to layup in front of the marsh area which lies about 80 yards short of the green. If you are approaching the green from the right side, you will have two large bunkers to carry to an elevated green that is fairly small. Par is definitely achievable on this hole.
Number 15: Par 4, 333 yards. Number 15 is a short par 4 that requires the player to avoid the water on the left side off the tee; which is hidden by the trees. A good played out to the right will leave an approach shot of slightly more than 100 yards. Hug the water on the left and you will have to deal with it on your approach. The green sits slightly above the fairway and is guarded on the right side by sand.
Number 16: Par 3, 161 yards. If the pin is in the back right, the tee shot becomes all carry. Anything short and you’ll likely never see that ball again. The green is wider than it is long with sand behind it. This is not the easiest par 3 on the course.
Number 18: Par 4, 418 yards. This is a nice par 4 finishing hole to finish off your round. Carry the water and avoid the fairway bunker on the left off the tee and you’re on your way to a good finish. Make sure to take enough club on your approach as there is a lot of sand short. Par is a great way to end your round on the Marsh Course
Last Word: Be sure to pick the right set of tees to play from if you want to enjoy your round. Although the back set of tees are slightly less than 6500 yards, the course slopes out at 140 and can be very unfriendly; especially if you have never played here before!
From the back tees, a couple of the starting holes have forced carries off the tee in excess of 200 yards. The second hole demands a well-placed tee shot or you stand a good chance of playing your third shot from the drop area which is about 240 yards from the green – and can’t even be seen from here!
The course itself is in immaculate condition, especially the greens. They were rolling at an 11 on the day we played. Although there is not a whole lot of undulation to them, you will find many hidden breaks; even on short ones.
Water sneaks into play on many holes; a lot of times you aren’t even aware that it’s there. I have read other reviews that say that this is not the best course Bonita Bay West has to offer. If that’s true, I can’t wait to play the other two! For more information, visit them online at www.bonitabayclub.net or give them a call at (239) 495-0200.