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While tourism is a large economic driver of Southwest Florida, the region is also home to numerous retirement communities. Residents of this part of the state have some of the oldest residents by average age, anywhere in the country.
Retirees love Southwest Florida and for good reason. The subtropical climate and abundant activities make this a haven for retirees. And wherever retirees go, golf is sure to follow. Locals claim there are more golf courses per capita than anywhere in the world in Southwest Florida. That claim is difficult to verify, there are plenty of great places to play.
In the midst of this sits Fort Myers, one of the fastest growing cities in Florida. When it comes to golf, Fort Myers has plenty to offer. A common theme for courses here is spectacular views with occasional wildlife sightings.
Many of the courses are certified by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. This program recognizes that many golf courses can be a natural place for a wildlife sanctuary. Audubon figures that about 70 percent of golf courses are non-playable areas, providing a great place for wildlife to take advantage.
Many of the courses in the Fort Myers area are heavy on natural beauty. Here are some of the best places to play here.
Heron’s Glen Golf & Country Club
The golf course at Heron’s Glen is just one part of a large recreation district and community of 1,800 homes. The district has all the amenities you would expect for a retirement community, including a huge clubhouse with a ballroom and dance floor.
As for the golf course itself, Heron’s Glen plays to a wide range of yardages with six different tees. It can play anywhere from 4,225 to 6,468 yards. This 18-hole championship course was originally designed by Ron Garl in 1991 and redesigned by Gordon Lewis is 2006.
Heron’s Glen has a fantastic practice facility, as well, with a massive practice green and first-rate driving range.
Heron’s Glen is located in North Fort Myers. For our next choice, we head a bit further south.
Old Corkscrew Golf Club
The Old Corkscrew Golf Club is designed by the great Jack Nicklaus and provides a bit more of a challenge that Heron’s Glen. Coming in at 7,400 yards, Old Corkscrew offers up stunning scenery at every hole. Located a bit off the beaten path in Estero, Golf Magazine rated this as the No. 1 course in Southwest Florida.
Bring your “A” game as water comes in to play on almost every hole. The bunkers are deep and numerous. This is among the nicest courses in the entire state, much less the region.
Verandah Golf Club
A bit closer to town but still on the east side of Interstate 75, Verandah also takes advantage of the stunning vistas afforded off the coast. Verandah features two different 18-hole courses.
Whispering Oak is another Nicklaus design that uses the natural elements of the area to create a challenging and beautiful course.
Old Orange is a traditional course designed by Bob Cupp. It also will challenge you while offering up some beautiful views.
Verandah has a full-service pro shop, with a lounge and locker rooms. Two different putting greens and a driving range make up a nice practice facility.
Raptor Bay Golf Club
We move a bit closer to the Gulf of Mexico and to the southern end of Lee County for the next course, Raptor Bay. This course is comprised of two nine-hole courses. Those are named Osprey and Hawk for a good reason.
Raptor Bay is a great place to see wildlife, including birds of prey, including the bald eagle. If you hit a wayward shot, you might find yourself in unaltered natural habitat. That, combined with many water hazards, puts a premium on shot-making. Hit one too far off course and you may have difficulty finding your ball.
You will find plenty of native sand areas and palmetto trees, but no designed sand bunkers. This is a compelling and beautiful place to play golf.
Magnolia Landing Golf and Country Club
Another beauty in North Fort Myers, Magnolia Landing is open to the public. Like other courses in the area, Magnolia Landing takes advantage of the natural landscape. In this case, that means a course that winds its way through oak and pine forests.
It’s an 18-hole course with five sets of tees. Players of any ability are able to take advantage of that versatility in tees to enjoy a great round.
Be sure to visit the grill after the round. The meals here are said to be fantastic.
Shell Point Golf Club
Another Gordon Lewis design, Shell Point’s par 71 layout is open to the public. Like others on this list, Shell Point is an Audubon-certified course, with resplendent views of natural landscapes and the occasional wildlife sighting.
Shell Point is noted for its fast greens, although six different tee options make it playable for anyone.
Be aware that the front 9 is closed for renovation until Oct. 15, 2019.
There is more than just golf to enjoy at Shell Point. It features a full-service golf shop and locker rooms, along with a fitness center. The Seagrape Salon and Spa is a terrific way to relax and the Banyan Grille restaurant offers lunch and dinner.
Eastwood Golf Course
This city-owned public course is more accessible than some of the others on this list. If you are looking for a more low-key round, this could be the place.
That does not mean you cannot find a great round of golf here. Eastwood has an 18-hole layout with water features on 10 of the holes and 87 sand bunkers throughout the course.
The course opened in 1977 and has five sets of tees for any level of play. This is an affordable option that is nearer to the city center and the airport.
With so many courses to choose from, this list only scratches the surface of all the places to play golf in and around Fort Myers. No matter your handicap, you can easily find a course fit for you.
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