“Don’t play games that you don’t understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them. ”
The Golf Club at Fiddler’s Creek
This highly rated course on Florida’s Gulf Coast takes players on a colorful journey.
There aren’t many small towns that exude the culture and elegance of an urbane city. Perhaps that’s why people flock to downtown Naples, on the Gulf Coast of southwest Florida. Fifth Avenue there is rightly famous for its bistros, high-end clothing and jewelry shops and casually upscale lifestyle. Yet the area’s appeal is also because of what lies immediately beyond and around it: a golf-rich region, with low-lying courses set against a backdrop of untouched native habitats and wetland preserves.
Chief among these courses, just 12 miles southeast of central Naples, is the one at the six-square-mile Fiddler’s Creek golf community. The community occupies low-lying estuarine ground between Collier-Seminole State Park and McIlvane Bay, right where the mainland gives way to Marco Island. Sparsely developed by plan, the parcel offers a pool, a luxurious spa and opportunities for tennis, hiking, horseback riding and fishing in addition to an elegant, link-style continuous loop routing by Arthur Hills.
The par-72 layout—stretchable to 7,157 yards and offering plenty of shot-making fun from more forward tees up to 5,185 yards—takes golfers on a lovely journey that starts and ends at the Mediterranean clubhouse and sports core buildings.
The highlight of the course comes at holes nine through 12, along pristine marsh hammocks. Along the way, golfers are treated to a colorful display of indigenous flowering plants, mainly ruella and plumbago. When the wind comes up, as it often does, the result is a refreshing tapestry of moving textures.
The club, perennially ranked by Golfweek among the top 100 golf communities in the U.S., is run as a private membership facility. However, it maintains a close affiliation with the Marco Beach Ocean Resort and is accessible to the resort’s guests.
Course: The Golf Club at Fiddler's Creek, Naples, Florida. For information, call (239) 732-3030 or visit fiddlerscreek.com
Airports: Marco Island Executive Airport (MKY) is four miles southeast of the course and has a 5,000-foot runway. Naples Municipal Airport (APF) is 11 miles northwest and has a 5,800-foot runway.
Brad Klein is the architecture editor of Golfweek. His latest book is Wide Open Fairways.