Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Verandah – There is More to Green than the Golf Courses

Whispering OakesIn April 2003, Verandah became Florida’s first community to be certified as a green land development, by the Florida Green Building Coalition. Other awards include:

  • Council for Sustainable Florida’s Best Practices Award for green building (2007)
  • Florida Urban Forestry Council’s Trees Award (2007)
  • Project EverGreen’s “Because Green Matters” Award (2007)
  • Florida Association of Realtors’ Environmental (ENVY) Award. (2006)
  • America’s 100 Best Master-Planned Communities” (Where to Retire Magazine 2007)
  • Lee Building Industry Association’s Community of the Year (2005)

Whispering Oakes1Each single-family model home in this 1456-acre community has been constructed to meet the Florida Green Building Coalition’s requirements for green home certification. Residents have the ability to choose construction and feature options that conserve natural resources, improve indoor air quality and reduce energy consumption. Structural wiring is built into each home to facilitate always-on, high-speed Internet access, as well as a wide range of options for home automation.

Nearly 70 percent of Verandah is open space, including lakes, wetlands, natural preserve areas, parks, and golf courses. Verandah has more than nine miles of walkways, paths and fitness trails. The community’s amenities are located in River Village. This is the community’s social hub with individual buildings nestled into an expansive oak hammock. Other amenities include;

  • The Golf House pro shop.
  • Oak Park which includes a community treehouse and playground for the kids.
  • the Boat House, home to Blossom’s Community Grill;
  • a canoe and kayak livery
  • multi-level decks overlooking the river
  • tennis and fitness center
  • The River House featuring the Jesse Fish lounge
  • Alligator Pear a 120-seat restaurant
  • River Terrace which overlooks the Orange River.

Whispering Oakes2Verandah offers villas and coach homes, estate, custom and traditional single-family homes, with home and homesite packages priced from the $200,000s to more than $1 million. For more information on home ownership in Verandah, visit them online at www.Verandah.com or call them at (866) 694-7198.

Whispering Oaks – A Nicklaus/Nicklaus II Collaboration

Whispering Oak was designed by Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II. The 18-hole, par 72 course, opened in January 2007, and was among the top five finalists for the 2007 Golf Inc. Development of the Year in the private course category.

The Nicklaus duo’s goal was to be sure that the second golf course at Verandah was designed in harmony with Bonita Bay Group’s commitment to environmental sustainability and green development at Verandah. They also wanted to create a course that would complement Bob Cupp’s Old Orange course, which offers a classic golf experience.

Whispering Oakes4Not being guys that would back down from a challenge, Jack and Jack II took on the challenge, putting together a course that meanders around existing nature preserves, and takes advantage of as much natural topography as possible, while providing yet another option in a community that already has so many activities to offer.

The Whispering Oak course has much smaller, more undulating greens than Old Orange. It’s best if you already know these greens, or play with someone who does; there are certain spots that you need to hit on the green to get the ball close to the pin. Throughout Whispering Oak, you are bound to see native oaks draped with Spanish moss, as well as a variety of Florida wildlife including heron, ibis and possibly an alligator.

Memorable Holes

Number 1: Par 5, 537 yards. This slight dogleg right is a long par 5. The water you see off the tee is about 270 out off the tee so long ball hitters beware. Sand traps on the left off tee can come into play if you hit a good drive as can the marshy stuff on the right. Your layup shot is pretty wide open; your approach shot is to a green complex that features bunkers on either side. The front is open for bump and run. Par is a good score on this opening hole.

Whispering Oakes3Number 3: Par 3, 238 yards. Number 3 is along par 3; 268 yards from the tips. Your tee shot is played over water to a large, three-tiered green with sand on either side. Number 3 is another hole where par is good.

Number 9: Par 5, 614 yards. Number nine is yet another long hole from the back tees. Woods on the right and sand left off the tee can easily come into play. There are a lot of waste bunkers as well as sand all the way up the right side. Your approach shot is to a small, well undulating green; that slopes left to right and has a pot bunker front left.

Number 13: Par 4, 444 yards. Number 13 is a long par 4 dogleg right with a waste bunker all the way down the right side. Forget about hitting it in the direction the tee markers point you; you’ll be farther away then you were on the tee. Choose the right side of the fairway to shorten this long par 4. A well placed tee shot will still leave a long approach shot over a large waste area.

Number 14: Par 3, 214 yards. Another long par 3 at 214 yards; water is in play all the way up the left side. You are playing to a fairly large green that slopes back to front. Par is good.

Number 16: Par 3, 131 yards. Compared to other par 3 holes on Whispering Oak, number 16 is short! This par 3 plays across water; anything short is wet. Make sure to carry the ball well onto the green as even tee shots that find the front of the green stand a good chance of back into the water. The green slopes back to front and is very wide and not real deep. There is also a sand trap in the front left of the putting surface.

Number 17: Par 4, 451 yards. This long dogleg left features fairway bunkers on the left side that are reachable from the tee as is the waste bunker on the right. Another waste bunker and a group of palm trees on the left come into play on your approach shot. The hole plays slightly uphill.

Number 18: Par 5, 584 yards. The finishing hole on the Whispering Oak course is a dogleg left par 5. Keep your tee shot left or risk being among the trees on the right side. Even though it’s 584 yards from the back tees; it is still reachable in 2 with a decent drive. The long, narrow green is slightly elevated and well undulating and is protected by bunkers front left and front right. Birdie is not out of the question on this long, finishing hole.

Last Word: Whispering Oak offers everything you expect from a Nicklaus-built course; well built, level tee boxes, a combination of generous fairways and narrow landing areas and small, undulating greens. You’ll also find crushed coquina shells in the waste bunkers; the signature of another well known player turned course designer. Whispering Oak is a links style course in that you don’t go back to the clubhouse after 9; something you don’t see very often for “revenue-generating” reasons.

There are only a couple of ways you can get on Verandah; play with a member or purchase a tee time via one of the online tee sheets. I’m willing to bet that this second option is not available November through April. Do whatever it takes to play this course or its sister course Old Orange, you won’t be sorry. The course is in pristine condition year round; the grounds crew is meticulous in its care for the course. A lot of natural elements were included in the design of Whispering Oak; it’s a course you will never tire of playing.

Old Orange Course: Golf and Nature Peacefully Co-Exist

Old Orange4The 18-hole Old Orange Course at Verandah in Fort Myers, Florida was designed by Bob Cupp, and opened in 2003.features. Old Orange plays 7,118 yards from the back tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 75.6 and it has a slope rating of 137 on Bermuda grass. 

The design incorporated into Old Orange harkens back to the early 1920’s, a time of prosperity in America. Back then, courses were designed in a way that complimented the landscape, using as much of the existing landscape as possible. Waterways went untouched and tree lines were preserved. Some of America’s most famous courses arose from this devotion to the natural surroundings: Pinehurst, Winged Foot and Oakmont to name a few.

Cupp’s goal with the Old Orange Course at Verandah was to return to the “Golden Era” of golf; create an 18-hole golf course that enhances the natural landscape. Remember Cupp’s goal as you take in views of the Orange River from the fairways or as you tee off amongst a strand of live oaks. The way the course meanders through new and old stands of oak trees is certain to be a memorable experience.

Memorable Holes

Number 3: Par 4, 450 yards. This is a tough hole and not just because of its length. Off the tee on this dogleg left, water comes into play on the left; three large bunkers flank the water’s edge. Keep drive to the right off the tee but not too far right as more trouble awaits. Your approach shot plays over a series of rolls in the fairway to a 9,600 square foot green with a bunker short and left along the edge of the lake.

Old Orange3Number 4: Par 4, 390 yards. Don’t be fooled into hitting anything but driver off tee, there is no trouble straight away. Very large mounds running down the right side of the fairway give way to a generous landing area. The fairway is divided in two; the right side gives a more direct approach to the green. With the green not being very large, accuracy is important on your approach shot and will dictate your ability to make birdie on this hole.

Number 5: Par 5, 565 yards. Number 5 is a tight driving hole with water all down the right side off tee and rough and marshlands on the left. nasty pot bunker behind green. The toughest part of this hole is the layup shot as the landing area looks narrow with water on the right and hazard on the left. A good layup will leave an approach shot of anywhere from 120 or so yards. To a relatively small green that slopes back to front. A lengthy drive can open the door for the long ball hitters to take a shot at the green in two. Be careful as the green extends out into the lake that guards the right side of the putting surface. Old Orange’s first par five requires power and accuracy to score well.

Number 12: Par 4, 380 yards. Number 12 is one of those holes that is best to play with someone that knows course. This tricky little par four turns sharply to the right. It’s not long a well placed drive will set up a good birdie opportunity. Your approach shot will be slightly downhill to a medium sized green that lies to the right of the lake. There are no bunkers guarding the green.

Number 14: Par 4, 440 yards. Number 14 is a dogleg right around a lake; the left side of the fairway is the safe play. A good drive will still leave an approach shot of around 160 yards. This 8,000 square foot green is wide and not real deep. It slopes left to right with a large bunker in front that could pose a big problem especially if you are in the left side of it.

Old Orange2Number 15: Par 5, 518 yards. By Verandah standards, this is a short par 5 that is reachable in two with a good drive. Long, accurate drives will be rewarded with a downhill bounce in the fairway funneling balls another 20 – 25 yards towards the hole. Fairway bunkers come into play off the tee. If you are forced to play a layup shot it will be to a very wide fairway. The bunker complex on the left side features 3 pot bunkers that are very penal in nature. There are no bunkers in front of the green and it’s not very elevated so a bump and run is possible. The green is actually an extension of the fairway and only subtle undulations in the putting surface make for a great opportunity to recover some strokes.

Number 17: Par 3, 122 yards. This is a real short par three. The tees are tucked between a stand of cypress trees and some very large mounding that isolates the tee box Two extraordinarily large bunkers in front of the green take away any possibility of bump and run; you must fly green.

Old Orange1Number 18: Par 4, 413 yards. Measuring 413 yards from the back tee, number 18 is a respectable length. The key to this hole is placement off the tee. It’s a dogleg left and, if you can hook it around the dogleg, you will be left with about 120 yards to a large elevated green that slopes back to front. Large mounded bunkers behind the green catch anything long and can leave some real awkward lies. The large green is receptive to a variety of approach shots; a bump and run shot will come into play for those who find themselves in the vicinity of a towering old oak. Number 18 at Old Orange provides a thrilling conclusion to a round of golf not soon forgotten.

Last Word: The key to an enjoyable round of golf on The Old Orange course is to choose the right set of tees from which to play. There are four sets of tees for men, playing from 5873 yards to 7055. You can play from as long as you want and when I say long, I mean long; there can be over 80 yards difference on a par 4. Par threes can be played as long as 250 yards or as short as 107 yards. Get the point? There is a lot of variety so enjoy yourself. You will find lots of mounding on the Old Orange Course, both in the fairways and in the adjacent rough. Mounding like this is very unique to Florida and can lead to the dreaded uneven lie.

David Theorethttp://www.thegolfinguy.com
David Theoret has been in the golf and golf travel industry for over 12 years, primarily selling online advertising. For the past seven years, he has also been a golf writer, reviewing golf courses, resorts, destinations, equipment, golf apparel, and training aids – the latter of which never seems to help. What started as a dream years ago, by God’s grace, became a reality in 2015 when The Golfin’ Guy editorial marketing company was founded. Working together with golf course designer Ron Garl; David’s articles and reviews have been posted on many golf travel, equipment, and apparel websites.

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