Wednesday, December 1, 2021

LPGA CME Group Tour Championship Showcases ‘Women Friendly’ Naples Golf

The LPGA season concludes this week at the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida. And what an incredible season it has been, by any measure. It could be argued that the LPGA’s star has never burned brighter, what with charismatic personalities like Jessica and Nelly Korda, Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson and Danielle Kang.

The same could be said for women’s golf, especially over the past two years. Women comprise more than a quarter of all golfers, and represent 40% of all new golfers, according to the National Golf Foundation. In 2020, an estimated 450,000 women (juniors and adults) took up the game. Many golf courses now have multiple sets of tees rated for women, and golf pro shops carry as many women’s apparel and equipment lines as men’s.

CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club (Getty Images)

Often referred to as the “Golf Capital of the World,” Naples and the surrounding Paradise Coast have been leaders in advancing the game for the ladies, and it shows throughout the region’s golf offerings and culture. Numerous public courses offer women’s golf leagues and instruction, and private courses host women’s golf social events, competitive tournaments and couples leagues.

Shining Example

Need a case in point? Look no further than around the corner from Tiburon Golf Club at the Club at Olde Cypress. Conveniently situated between the Gulf of Mexico’s sugar sand beaches and its main transportation artery, I-75, Olde Cypress is home to one of the region’s only P.B. Dye-designed golf courses. And on the course, on any given week during the high season, you’re likely to find one of the largest women’s golf groups in Southwest Florida.

The P.B. Dye-designed Course at Olde Cypress

A throng of 200 women golfers muster each week, some playing nine holes and others logging the full 18. Many female members (Olde Cypress is both private, and privately owned) participate for purely social reasons, while others are in it to win it. As they are prone to saying around Olde Cypress, golf stands for “GO Ladies and have Fun.” And to see the smiles and hear the laughs while they’re making their way around Dye’s eminently playable layout, they certainly are.

With a full slate of members, ownership at Olde Cypress understands just how important investing in its golf product is. The golf course recently reopened after a complete remastering of all turf on its tees, fairways and greens, as did its 34,000-square-foot clubhouse following several updates to its golf shop and its stunning second floor, which overlooks the 9th and 18th greens.

Women on Course at Olde Cypress

Other amenities at Olde Cypress include tennis and pickleball courts, a fitness center and pool and a 34,000-square-foot clubhouse featuring both casual and fine dining. The club is the centerpiece of a highly sought-after, 450-acre gated enclave with resale homes ranging from $550,000 to over $1 million. Airports, beaches, shopping and numerous marinas with Intracoastal and deep-sea access are just minutes away.

Stay-and-Play

When it comes to a couples or ladies golf getaway, it’s hard to top the La Playa Golf and Beach Resort, a boutique property situated right on the sugar sand beaches of the tranquil Gulf of Mexico. Guests have access to the La Playa Golf Club, home to a hidden gem of a Bob Cupp design that’s regionally revered for its conditioning and playability. The golf club is an easy 10-minute drive from the hotel, and its 10-minute tee time intervals ensure an enjoyable pace of place and plenty of spacing between groups. Cupp’s layout winds around 14 lakes and water features, but the well-placed forward tees take most of the water out of play on tee shots.

The La Playa Golf Club

Back at the beach, La Playa’s beautifully designed oceanfront hotel offers guests the ideal spot to rest and recharge for their next group of golf. For have-clubs-will-travel women, the lodging is every bit as important as the golf. And La Playa doesn’t disappoint with its newly renovated rooms and suites. Golf groups of any size can cap off the evening at Baleen, the resort’s award-winning restaurant just a few steps from the surf and sand of the Gulf.

BALEEN at La Playa Beach & Golf Resort

La Playa’s “Perfect Golf Escape” package offers guests one round with a cart and practice range balls as part of their stay at the resort. It’s the perfect stay-and-play for keeping your feet on the fairways and toes in the sand.

Getting There

There was a time when this far Southwestern corner of the Sunshine State was considered remote. And driving to the southernmost point of I-75 still a certain charm to it. But modern-day Naples and the Paradise Coast couldn’t be easier to reach. The region is served by the Southwest Florida International Airport in southern Lee County, offering direct flights from nearly 50 cities on 14 different airlines. The Naples Airport in the heart of Collier County is a premier, full-service FBO with U.S. Customs services. For golfers arriving by car, Naples is accessible via I-75 from points north and Florida’s east coast.

Shane Sharphttp://www.southbound4.com
Shane Sharp is a longtime golf writer based in Greenville, S.C. In addition to running his content marketing business, Southbound 4, he's a regular contributor to GOLF Magazine, Golf Inc., Club Management and other golf magazines and websites.

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