Old Corkscrew Golf Club in Estero matches nature and golf for one amazingly difficult round.
Miles from Palm Beach: 131
Boasting more golf holes per capita than anywhere in the Unites States, Naples and the Paradise Coast certainly has a claim at the self-professed title of “Golf Capital of the World.” For a true test of skill, try a round at Old Corkscrew Golf Club in nearby Estero. The Jack Nicklaus-designed course is a master’s course in merging natural terrain into the layout of a golf course, with wetlands, scrub trees, water, and waste bunkers all playing into the shot.
Set in 275 acres of wild Southwest Florida, Old Corkscrew Golf Club merges the natural terrain of the region into the course design.
The 275-acre course opened for play in 2007, making it one of the most unique courses on the Paradise Coast: unlike most Naples golf courses, there are no homes, resorts, or condos bordering these fairways. Construction is currently underway on The Cottages at Old Corkscrew, 25 four-suite cottages just west of the clubhouse. While within eyeshot of the greens on 11 and tees on 12, the design and layout of the units will maintain Nicklaus’s original design, one in which golf and nature goes hand-in-hand. Old Corkscrew is true Florida outback, so much so it has been designated a Certified Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary. But don’t let the serene setting fool you, this course is an absolute bear.
Old Corkscrew Golf Club’s Jack Nicklaus-designed course is one of the Southwest Florida’s most difficult courses, boasting a 153 slope rating from the championship tees.
Weighing in at 7,393 yards (from the championship tees), the Nicklaus-designed layout is a battle for the weekend warrior—bring an extra sleeve or two of balls. The slope from blue tees is a very impressive (if not impossible) 146, while playing from the greens—nearly 500 yards shorter—the slope rings in at 139. This is a difficult course; slope refers to the difficulty rating for a course based on scratch and bogey golfers, 113 is an average course, while 155, the maximum number, is very difficult. Old Corkscrew’s peak slope, 153 on the black, unabashedly scratches at that upper level.
A certified Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary, Old Corkscrew offers a glimpse of Florida’s outback while taking in a round—just don’t be surprised if alligators, osprey, or deer play through.
If you have a handle on your long game, this course will be kind; fairways and corridors are wide and long, allowing for open approaches. However, water plays a hand in this course, with fairways sloping toward the drink on no. 5 and 18, while approach shots on no. 3, 5, 9, and 11 have a pretty high risk-reward quotient—the greens are cradled by water, with bunkers marking the wings.
The greens are an amalgamation of tricky and unforgiving, not a great combo, and depending on the time of year, they can be lightning fast. Nicklaus spent his time sculpting these things, with hidden breaks and undulating backbones causing difficult reads. And many sit elevated, making it hard to land in the first place. If your putter is strong, watch your stroke on 14, the plateau green has developed a reputation for being a round buster—if you’re too strong, that ball will sail right off the back and find itself a good 20 or so feet below the pin in a collection area.
Why Go: This is one of the most enjoyable courses in Southwest Florida. The combination of the wild terrain and wilder layout paired with a short game degree of difficulty bordering on notorious makes this course a destination for golfers of all ability.
The clubhouse at Old Corkscrew gives golfers a chance to relax before and after a round. Hungry? Try the Clubhouse Cuban from Merlo’s Bar and Grill.