(November 2009) When Jack Nicklaus and his design team put their hands on a project it usually turns out well. In the case of Old Corkscrew, words like tremendous, awe-inspiring, gorgeous and spectacular come to mind. The course, which opened for play in February of 2007, sits about eight miles east of I-75 on Old Corkscrew Rd; this club is something to behold. Although the clubhouse is not completed yet, the reason you are here is the golf and believe me, this course will not let you down.
Old Corkscrew is built to Audubon International standards. In addition to playing one of, if not the nicest course in Florida, you’re likely to see your fair share of wildlife including spoonbills, herons and egrets. They can usually be found searching for food in marshes that are typically surrounded by palmetto groves, cypress trees, and tall pines.
Old Corkscrew is a stand-alone course; by that I mean there is no real estate to spoil the experience. The course plays a little short of 7400 yards from the back tees with a course rating of 76.1 and a hefty slope of 142. Unless you’re some sort of golf pro or masochist, most golfers will probably want to play from the blues (6617/72.1/139) or the white tees (6262/70.5/129). No matter where you play from, this course is going to test your mettle. Water figures into most tee shots, coming into play on nearly every hole. You will also find many sculpted bunkers guarding the large fairway landing areas, as well as numerous greenside sand traps that add to the challenge of hitting the greens. In some cases you will be surprised to find a second water hazard lurking greenside.
Speaking of the greens, it would be impossible to write a review of Old Corkscrew without mentioning the greens. Many of these beauties are elevated – up to 10 and 20 feet – and feature more undulation than a roller coaster ride at Busch Gardens. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to play with someone who knows the course well. In order to score well on these greens, you have to hit your approach shot to certain spots or you could be putting for a while. Some of the pin placements can be treacherous, even borderline unfair. You will usually find bail-out areas around the greens however they are usually mowed as short as the fairway and can prove somewhat tricky..
Another amenity at Old Corkscrew is the GPS system on every golf cart. It is one of the most detailed systems available, delivering the most extensive tee to pin information, including yardage to other golf carts, water hazards, bunkers and pins. It even provides a flyby of every hole.
Old Corkscrew was able to lure one of Southwest Florida’s best known golf instructors into relocating his golf academy to their site. In January, 2008, Southwest Florida’s Golf Doctor, Mike Calbot, brought his International Golf Studio and TRIAD Golf Schools to Old Corkscrew. Mr. Calbot has more than 38 years of teaching experience and has been helping golfers in Southwest Florida since 1978.
Old Corkscrew is further set apart by its unconventional membership plan. Here, the membership plan recognizes the changing environment of golf clubs and puts control in the members’ hands. No long-term commitments, no dues, minimums or assessments, no protracted resignation policies. Just a convenient one, five or 10-year membership that provides playing privileges, discounts and all the rights of memberships without all the strings associated with traditional equity memberships. As a member you retain complete control of your personal golf budget and expenditures based on the number of rounds you play throughout the year.
As you would expect, Old Corkscrew features a beautiful practice facility, including a well groomed grass driving range, a large putting green, and a short game area with a sand bunker. You don’t need to be a member to enjoy the clubhouse amenities which include a pro shop stocked with the latest gear and logoed apparel, restrooms, and a snack bar with breakfast and lunch items available.
Tee Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7383 76.1 142
Blue 6617 72.1 139
White 6262 70.5 129
Gold 5061 69.7 123
Number 2: Par 3, 194 yards. This is the first of the par four holes that can make or break your round. Club selection is important here as is the wind direction and strength. Sand comes into play along the left side and short as well as long right. Depending on where the pin is located, putts can resemble the same route as your favorite roller coaster. Knowing where to place your tee shot on the green is critical to a good score on this hole. Take a par and run!
Number 3: Par 5, 532 yards. With a good drive, this hole is easily reachable in two. Long ball hitters will want to hit their tee shot over the large pine tree on the right and past the fairway bunker. The rest of us will be smart to place a tee shot just short of the fairway bunker, followed by lay-up just short of the hazard protecting the green for a short iron approach. Water protects the green on the left side and deep bunkers protect the right. The green is fairly large and slopes gently towards the water.
Number 9: Par 4, 373 yards. You can shorten this dogleg right by hitting your tee shot over the trees on the right. The farther up the right side of the fairway, the better. By avoiding the fairway bunker on the left you will give yourself the best chance for par or better. Be sure to choose the right club on your approach shot as water protects the right side of the green and deep bunkers await errant shots left.
Number 11: Par 5, 499 yards. A draw off the tee over the fairway bunkers on the right side of the fairway will set long ball hitters up with a good opportunity to get on in two. For us short knockers, playing up the right side of the fairway will take the water left out of play. A well struck layup shot will leave a relatively short chip shot to a large green that features a lot of undulation.
Number 12: Par 3, 166 yards. This fairly short par three offers its fair share of trouble. Most balls left of the green will roll down into the water. A deep pot bunker catches tee shots right of the green. Club selection is important here; the wrong club can easily lead to a big number.
Number 18: Par 4, 423 yards. What a great finishing hole! You will need both distance and accuracy off the tee as this is a tight and lengthy finishing hole. The approach shot is no picnic either. Water guards the left side of the green and a deep pot bunker awaits shots short and right. Par is a great way to finish up here.
Last Word: How can you improve upon perfection? The layout of the course, the way the greens, fairways, bunkers and waste areas are manicured is proof of the attention to detail that the maintenance crew pays to the course. I have played many courses around the US and abroad and this is one of the most beautiful courses I have had the opportunity to play. As far as the staff is concerned, you will be hard pressed to find a more congenial and knowledgeable group of people at any golf facility in the US. If you are in the Naples/Ft. Myers area, Old Corkscrew is a must play. Check that, Old Corkscrew is a great reason to go to the area. To schedule a round at Old Corkscrew, give them a call at 239-949-4700 or visit them online at www.OldCorkscrew.com. For membership information you can reach Don Edwards, Membership Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.