Sanford Design and Nicklaus Design collaborate for new Florida project

Sanford Design and Nicklaus Design collaborate for new Florida project
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Sanford Golf Design has been brought in to oversee the redesign of the golf course at Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club in Naples, Florida.

The firm will once again work with Nicklaus Design, having recently collaborated for the highly publicised new course at Ferry Point in the Bronx, New York.

Plans include stretching out what is currently a tight 18-hole course set over just 105 acres, and creating a playable and interesting layout of around 6,900 yards. Sanford will also introduce a new 300-yard practice range to complement the 18-hole course. 

Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club has been owned by the Watkins family for three generations.

“We’re very excited about the project, working with the Watkins family and again with Jack,” Sanford said. “The course will get a lot of exposure at this prestigious hotel. The Naples area has come so far in the last 20 years, and there is great demand for another premium resort/daily fee course. All the stars are aligned for this project to be a really good one.”

“This renovation will bring our golf course in line with the rest of our AAA Four Diamond resort and enhance the overall guest experience,” said Henry B. Watkins III. “The added bonus of Mr. Nicklaus collaborating on the redesign of the course on which he first broke 40 for nine holes is wonderful and further enriches the deep history of our property.”

As part of the plans, the driving range will be moved to a site within the course itself. Holes will be moved and reworked to accommodate it, and the current driving range will be converted into parking facilities.

Sanford and Nicklaus recently toured the course together to discuss plans and potential alterations.

“The green complexes are relatively small, and Jack wanted them partially open to running shots, so about 50 to 60 per cent of each green is open to allow the ground game,” Sanford said. “We are keeping it simple – not too much contour in the greens and nice, gentle pitches with bunkering that plays into the tee shot strategy. By relocating several lakes, a number of the greens will be lakeside. We have two double-green complexes, the second green and the eighth green share a complex, as does the third and 15th greens.”

The Naples Beach site runs from west to east, and Sanford said that the aim is to make a smooth transition from the beach to Everglades in terms of look and feel of the landscape. 

“Of the 100 acres of turf, we will take 30 to 35 acres out of irrigation, resulting in unirrigated natural areas,” he said. “We end up with 65 or 70 acres of irrigated turf, which will reduce the watering requirements. All of the infrastructure will be new, including the irrigation and storm water drainage systems.”

The project will cost around US$10 million, and is scheduled to get underway 11 April.