(September 2009) The Rookery at Marco is a golf course like no other; it is where golf meets nature. This is due to the vision of renowned golf course designer Robert J. Cupp, Jr. who, in 2002 took this original Joe Lee design and transformed it into a spectacular work of art.
The Rookery at Marco is a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, and heeds the preservation of the surrounding wildlife by providing areas where native birds can thrive. Rookery literally means bird sanctuary. Pristine fairways roll through palm and pine forests, lazy lagoons and shallow wetlands. The course is considered by Marriott Golf to be one of, if not the finest in their collection.
The Rookery at Marco plays 7,180 yards from the tips for a par of 72. The course rating is 75.1 and has a slope rating of 143. Five sets of tees, gaping fairways and large, receptive greens make this course a joy to play at any level; the maintenance crew keeps the course in immaculate condition. Water hazards are abundant and vast waste bunkers keep would-be shot makers honest. This course not only tests your mettle – it tests your mind!
Marco Island offers a grass driving range with plenty of targets and is complimentary with your paid greens fee. Right beside it sits a short game area replete with practice bunkers and areas for chipping and pitching. All carts include a ProLink GPS system which provides accurate yardages from tee to pin along with other useful information and services.
The Rookery’s recently renovated the clubhouse. This expansion has been recognized as one of the top clubhouse remodeling projects in the country, and was a finalist in Golf Inc.’s clubhouse renovations and remodeling awards in 2007. This renovation included a member-only restaurant and lounge, member’s locker rooms, private boardroom and much more.
Tired out from all that looking for balls in the water? The nearby Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa stretches out along three miles of pristine beach on the Gulf of Mexico, allowing golfers to unwind and enjoy a host of on-site resort activities and services. Caressed by tropical breezes it is simply paradise found.
Number 2: Par 4, 386 yards. This dogleg left, par 4 is a tough yet pretty hole. Off the tee, you will find water on the right side; the left side is lined with deep bunkers. The hole bends somewhat left inviting a tee shot played just to the right of the fairway bunkers. It is very possible to drive thru the fairway if you leave your tee shot out to the right. The green is fairly large and slopes left to right.
Number 7: Par 4, 411 yards. Plan on hitting your tee shot between the 150 yard marker and the collection of bunkers on the right; this will leave the optimum approach angle for this tough par four. Beware, there is only 50 yards or so of fairway past the 150 stake; anything left may run through. If you land short of this area, and you will be faced with an approach shot over water to a green fronted by a wood retaining wall – most likely into the wind.
Number 9: Par 5, 578 yards. This is a very challenging par five, especially when it’s windy. Do your best to hit the left side of the fairway off the tee; it is the safe place to be. The landing area on your layup shot offers more room than it appears from the fairway. A huge greenside bunker and more water protect the left side of the elevated green.
Number 11: Par 5, 594 yards. Eleven is a true 3-shot par five with the landing area situated just past the bunkers on the right yet short of the left fairway traps. Your layup shot should land short of the water hazard that crosses, about 100 yards from the green. This leaves a fairly short approach shot but be careful, anything over the green will find the slope that leads to a pond hidden from view.
Number 13: Par 4, 472 yards. This hole plays every bit of its 472 yards with a slight dogleg left. With water on the left, your tee shot is quite intimidating. It’s quite possible to drive through the fairway on the right, so your tee shot must be directed to the left center of the fairway. Most of us will still have a long way to the green, likely a three wood or long iron. There is a large waste bunker to the left on your approach shot. Par is a great score here!
Number 18: Par 4, 441 yards. Number 18 can make or break your round. It demands a long tee shot towards the lone bunker at the end of the fairway. Your approach shot is over water to a slightly elevated green. If you want to keep a good score intact, aim for the bailout area to the right and work for an up and down par – which is a great score on this challenging closing hole.
Last Word: All in all, the Rookery at Marco offers wide open fairways off the tees but requires demanding approach shots to the green if you want to post a low score. If you are adverse to water holes, this definitely is NOT the place for you; water comes into play on just about every hole.
In case your round wasn’t up to snuff, the Rookery at Marco is also home to the Faldo Golf Institute by Marriott, where golfers of all skill levels can enroll in instructional programs designed by six-time major champion Nick Faldo. Whether or not you are on top of your game, you cannot help but enjoy a round here.
The Rookery is situated just east of Marco Island and 15 minutes south of Naples. For more information, visit www.marriottgolf.com.