Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Eagle Lakes Golf Club in Naples - Played on April 19th 2015

The World Golf Amateur Golf Tour holds events on all kinds of golf courses around Florida. Last weekend I was scheduled to play on the Ft Myers / Naples tour yet again.

Eagle Lakes Golf Club was on the list. I have never heard of the golf course before, but the name sounded interesting since I figured they did not give the place this name without a reason.

I checked out the website before hand. Usually I check if they have a hold by hole description of the course. Just so I get an idea on how to play a course which I did not play before. The website offered all kinds of helpful information. Like a score card, green fees , membership info and some photos.

The hole by hole page however was still not ready at that point. Seemed like they  are still working on the website.

After a 2 1/2 hour travel we finally pulled into the community where Eagle Lakes Golf Club is located. As we pulled in we saw a driving range ( Aqua) on the right hand side. At that point we did not think that this range belonged to the golf course.

The club house is only about 1 mile from the entrance. Easy to find. A bag drop is available , but the parking lost is relatively small. So you can just park and carry the bag if you can.

We were greeted by a friendly gentleman who directed us to our cart. Cart was clean and seemed new. Also he told us where we can sign in and where the pro shop is located. That was a good start.

Went around the house and signed in for the tournament. Sign in table was on the front deck. Looked very nice. View on a lake and some homes. There we saw our first eagle. Very nice. When I saw the deck I right away was looking forward to a drink after the round.

Went inside and found a nice looking restaurant and bar area. All  seemed pretty new and I thought it was inviting. Because I wanted to get ready  to play I did not check the prices , menu or anything in there.

In the restaurant I also met the pro for the first time who helped me find the restrooms. Restrooms in the locker room were clean. Locker room was clean as well.

From there I moved on to the pro shop. They have some selection of product. Nothing special. Everything you need for a round you can get. Pro shop also was clean and organized. I bought some golf tees. Priced like on most golf courses.

Talked to the pro for a little about the course and how to play it. He told me that I should miss to the right when missing and that the greens are pretty flat. Further that I should play half the break I read and that there is water on all 18 holes. Good enough for me. Last I asked him where the range is.

To my surprise he told me that the range I saw at the entrance is the range where I could hit balls, but that it does not belong to the golf course. A separate entity. But I also was told that I can take my golf cart there.

So I went to get my cart and started my way to the range. I found that funny. I was told that I could not take the cart to my car, but I can drive the cart through the entire neighborhood on a regular street to a golf range which does not belong to the golf course.

Oh well. The ride gave me a better view of the community. Seemed like there is plenty of lots empty and the place is still in the growing phase. Made to the range after about 5 minutes. So it is not a very long ride. Just watch for the cars.

Went straight into the shop. Small golf shop with products of all kinds. The place is a golf school, owned by the course but operated by a third party. The person behind the counter was friendly and asked me what I needed. After seeing the pricing I opted for a 20 ball bucket for 5 $. I thought that I medium bucket for 10 $ was pretty hefty. The large bucket was 15 $ and not even close to being a large bucket. On top of it those balls were Aqua Range Balls.

They have grass tees which are in good shape and some targets. Worked out, but was not what you would expect from a golf club. Chipping area was ok. The green was nice and speedy and they had a bunker. I only spend 30 min there. Just did not feel right and the balls were ok , but Aqua Balls are simply not my favorite.

So I drove back to the club house and went on the putting green. Great putting green. Fast, in good shape and large. Many different breaks and you can also chip around the green. That was the better warm up.

The starter came and asked for my receipt. That was strange, because I was in the tournament and naturally the organizer paid. He did not seem to understand that at first. But left me alone. Next I know the same starter was calling for me. 10 min earlier than scheduled. Felt a little rushed at that moment. But not a big deal.

Off we went. I had never played the course and so I decided to follow the pros instructions. Played towards the right side of the fairways and tried to use the hole prints on the back of the card to make my way around.

Teen boxes through the course were ok. Maybe not in the best of shape, but green and I always found a level spot somewhere on that day. They have their boxes numbered 1 through 4 in Latin numbers. So what out what the number says. I almost made a couple mistakes. Colors are much easier to work with in regards to tee boxes.

The Fairways were in pretty good shape. Plenty of grass to play from and they groomed them well. You will get a lot of roll out of those fairways since they are pretty hard.

All greens were in great shape and were running at about 10.5 or so. So that was a nice speed and they were consistent through out the round. Which that is a bonus.  Green size is not huge I must say, but they are not difficult greens and relatively easy to reach.

The course layout is what makes it interesting. On every hole water comes into play. Some times on both sides. Some times in front and sides. Behind greens and along fairways. That makes every tee shot more interesting. Although the layout overall is not too challenging , the fact that the water comes into play, makes this course a tough little thing.

We had one long hitter in the group and he was in the water often. So if you are a long hitter. A 3 wood might be a good choice on many holes. To me this all did not present a problem. I am not a very long hitter and even though we played from the II tee box, plenty of the trouble I could have gotten in to was far away. I used my 3 wood a few times.

There was plenty of wind on that day, which made the long par 4s even longer. But if you follow the pros instructions ( miss to the right and play the middle of the green) nothing can happen. Only a few holes have OB and that is pretty far of the line which needs to be played.

Had a few bunker shots and I liked the traps. There was not too much sand and it was a white , shell sand. Easy to hit from. The club does not get stuck that easily.

We played a pretty fast round of golf. 3 1/2 hours. There were not many players out there. Considering that we are still in season I was surprised. However, it was a good thing for us. I was looking forward to have a beer and maybe a snack.

When we came back to the club house however, we found that the club house was closed. And I mean completely closed. No pro shop, no restaurant and not restrooms. Only person left was the friendly cart boy. He cleaned our clubs and helped unload the car.

I was pretty disappointed. After all it was only 5 30 pm. The good news was that there is a toilet on the green side of the cart building. So if you come into the same situation, there is a tip.

Overall I had fun to play the course. I liked that there was plenty of water to challenge us. The greens were in nice shape, rolled nicely and acted as the pro described. Also I was happy with the fairways. Compared to some places we play, they were very good.

Even if you are not excited about water holes you could play there easily. The water is there, but it is not too threatening. Nothing to be too afraid off.

You find the rates on the website but for those rates I probably would not play this course again. However, if there would be another event and I could manage to play, I would.

The staff I met was friendly, club house and grounds were clean. Range and restaurant situation was strange.

The one thing which is really nice are the eagles you can watch there. Large wonderful birds who gracefully fly over those many lakes which are the main feature of this golf course. Have you played there before? What was your impression?

Official website for Eagle Lakes Golf Club in Naples , Florida

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fort Myers Country Club - April 4th 2015

The WGAT ( World Golf Amateur Tour) USA held an event at Ft Myers Country Club and this time I was able to be there. Drove by this golf course dozens of timesc but never stopped to even look.
My tee time was 2 pm. I liked that. Usually with a late tee time you have time to warm up and check out the clubhouse and all other facilities.
I arrived there with plenty of time. Signed in and right there found out that there is no driving range to warm up. Not a good thing. With Country Club in your name one might expect at least a short range (after the round I then found out that there must be an area where you can hit shots up to 150 yards, but I never saw it ?)
I headed to the putting green. I was impressed by that. The green was of good size and offers a variety of breaks. That gave me some hope because I read that the course is a Donald Ross Design and I was expecting tough greens.
So I spent  time putting and chipping.trying to prepare as good as possible. The putting green was in very good shape and of good speed. There is plenty of great chip locations for you to play from.

Just before my tee off I checked out the restrooms which were well taken care off , always a positive sign. Last I checked out the pro shop. Well stocked and in good order. Staff was friendly and welcoming.
On first tee box I turned on my GPS watch and immediately noticed that the distance looked odd. It did not seem to match with the score card I had.  But I did not give it much further thought. Sometimes the GPS just does not work too well for different reasons, like we weather, storms beside others.
Finished the first hole with a good two putt and noticed that the greens were pretty fast ( similar to the putting ) and very hard. Not a surprise because I read that they got new greens last November and it takes 12 to 24 month to soften.
Right after the 2nd hole I turned off my watch . The GPS seemed to be confused and the distances I got from my watch just looked wrong and at times were wrong. If you have a pin seeker, use that one instead.
I expected a lot from this golf course,  but the truth is that it  was not very interesting at all.
The tee boxes were OK , fairways were not in good shape at all (hard as rock, little grass ). The rough was well grown and groomed on some holes and not to find on others.
Best part of the course by far were the greens. They were at times very large and offered many tough breaking putts. But most difficult probably was to keep the ball on the green. Because they are new and so hard balls run off easily.
Best you can do is bounce the ball on and make sure you are short rather than long. When I started playing more this old fashioned way, I had many more opportunities for birdies and did not have to play tough lies behind the green.
Another challenge I found was the fact that there was little signage to guide you towards the next hole, which got us lost once and confused a couple times.
After a tough round I was looking  forward to a cold beer in the clubhouse. The outside seating area looked very nice and they had a nice patio bar on the first floor. Very inviting.
I went up there and ordered a beer. The girl was OK friendly. The beer price was very friendly. Guess it was happy hour.
The view from the bar area is great. You over see the tough number 10, 18th green, putting green and first hole. Even from the lower seating area the view is nice. A little bit like in a southern country club. I enjoyed that and it made up for some minuses from the golf course.
My partner ordered some stuffed mushrooms and offered me to try one. Although not hungry I took the opportunity to test at least some of the food. The stuffed mushrooms were excellent. Crunchy with a nicely done filling of crab ( at least I think that is what it was) . Also I was able to try  some pizza and I was positively surprised. The Menu looked very exotic but very interesting and prices looked OK as well. Not sure if the Edison Restaurant is run by the golf course, but it seems like a good place to go eat and even if I am not planning to play the golf course any time soon, I would stop at the restaurant for a drink and some food. If I do that, I will add a comment.
Overall I say that the staff was friendly, the course was not great and the restaurant inviting and offered a good menu and nice seating outside.
I would not play the course again other than in a tournament. But I would stop there for a beer and a bite.
Anybody has been at the Edison Restaurant in Ft Myers or played the Ft Myers Country Club? Comments are welcome.