(September, 2010) In 1967 the Greater Naples Golf Association (GNGA) put together a plan to build a public golf course in Collier County. The project was funded by contributions from each GNGA member and a loan from the Small Business Administration. The course is known today as the Hibiscus Golf Course.
In 1972, Dutchman Cornelius VanderLely purchased over 25,000 acres of land in Southeast Collier County. He formed Lely Estates Inc, and began to develop a second golf course named Lely Royal Palm Country Club; it was later renamed Royal Palm Country Club of Naples, Inc.
The golf course at Royal Palm Country Club was designed by David Wallace and Gordon Lewis. The 18-hole championship course plays 6,717 yards from the back tees with a course rating of 72.8 and a slope of 133.The championship 18-hole golf course officially opened on December 31, 1975.
Royal Palm is wide open for the most part and features 6 sets of tees, making it enjoyable for golfers of all levels and abilities. Palm trees line many fairways and water comes into play on at least thirteen holes. You will find the greens large and inviting and well receptive to approach shots. They are medium to fast in speed and roll very true.
Royal Palm Country Club is a private club; although membership is global. Members hail from all over the United States as well as England, Germany, Canada and Ireland. New members are warmly welcomed and will immediately feel a sense of belonging.
Royal Palm Country Club of Naples offers a complete practice facility including a full length driving range with four target greens. Right beside the driving range is a large practice green where you can warm up your putter and get a feel for the greens. Royal Palm also features a one-acre short game practice facility which is located near the 18th hole. Here you will find three pins strategically located on an undulating green where members can practice an endless variety of short game shots ranging up to 80 yards in length. A large greenside bunker allows practicing both long and short bunker shots. A highlight to the short game practice facility is a water hazard next to the green creating a true feel for serious short game practice. Be sure to use the course’s range balls!
Number 1: Par 5, 505 yards. The starting hole offers an excellent opportunity for long ball hitters to get their round off to a great start – eagle is a definite possibility. It’s a slight double dogleg, meaning you can grip it and rip it off the tee; just be aware of the water on the left side. For those of us that have to layup, it’s fairly wide open and shouldn’t prove to be much of a problem however if you have a tendency to slice or hook the ball, the canals that line the fairway from about 200 yards in can come into play. Your approach shot will be to a large, elevated green surrounded by sand.
Number 3: Par 4, 420 yards. Fairway bunkers on the right side can come into play on this slight dogleg left par 4. The fairway slopes right to left, something to keep in mind off the tee. You’ll need to carry some water that comes out about half way across the fairway; it’s hard to see if you don’t know it’s there. This is a pretty golf hole and is considered one of the best par 4 holes in Collier County by many golfers.
Number 4: Par 3, 213 yards. This long par 3 can prove to be quite a test. The hole plays slightly uphill to a green that slopes back to front. The hole is more open that it appears off the tee once you get up to the green; it’s a pretty golf hole. Just think “middle of the green” off the tee.
Number 6: Par 4, 345 yards. Although this short par 4 has water that crosses the fairway about 30 yards from the green, most players will still be able to hit driver off the tee. A good drive will leave around 100 yards into an undulating green that is protected on both sides by sand.
Number 7: Par 3, 213 yards. There are two bodies of water to clear off the tee on this long, uphill par 3. Trees and water find anything that misses short and right. Two pot bunkers short of the green and two more left guard the fairly large green. Par is a great score here.
Number 10:Par 4, 415 yards. This dogleg left par 4 is a good start to the back nine. The hole plays pretty much uphill the entire way. Houses and out of bounds make up the right side of the fairway and a small canal that runs the entire length of the left side can come into play should you hook it off the tee. Large, mature trees come into play on number 10 as well. The large green is flanked by large bunkers on either side. Par is a good start to a back nine that will prove more difficult as the day goes on.
Number 12: Par 4, 433 yards. Another long hole that plays 433 yards from the back tee; this hole is long and straight. It’s a narrow driving hole with water and out of bounds to the right and more water to the left. The emphasis on number 12 is to hit the ball straight.
Number 13: Par 5, 587 yards. Odds are you don’t have to worry about getting on in two on this long dogleg left that plays 572 yards. Play the ball up the right side of the fairway off the tee and you’ll leave yourself a fairly easy layup shot; unless you pull it left. Play your approach shot to an elevated green with bunkers on either side. If you’re playing your approach shot from the left side to a left pin placement, you can easily be blocked out by trees. The green slopes back to front.
Number 14: Par 3, 130 yards. The first par 3 on the back side plays less than 150 yards from the back tees. There is water between the tee and the green which is surrounded by five bunkers including a couple of nasty little pot bunkers. There is also a large, deep bunker right in front of the green which eliminates playing a bump and run. Take your par and run.
Number 18: Par 4, 334 yards. Fairway bunkers can easily come into play on this dogleg right, medium length finishing hole. Florida “rough” comes into play if you push it too far right off the tee. The fairway bunker on the right side is about 225 yards out if you want to try and hit over it; I wouldn’t advise it as you are bringing the water into play.
Last Word: Although it’s not the longest course you will ever play at a little over 6,700 yards, Royal Palm Country Club is fair and friendly. The par 3 holes are very challenging; a couple of them playing long and slightly uphill with a good mixture of sand and water coming into play. There is a couple of long par 4s that will test your length and accuracy off the tee on a number of holes; if you don’t have control of your driver, you can get in trouble quickly. The par 5 holes are quite challenging; only the first hole is reachable in two.
The best part of Royal Palm Country Club is the greens. They not only roll true, they hold their line well and putt fast. Although there does not appear to be a whole lot of undulation on them, you will find that there are a lot of hidden breaks; there aren’t a lot of easy putts on these greens.
Royal Palm Country Club is a private club; most of the members are seniors, around 70 years old or so. Should you have the opportunity to play the course, don’t let this be a deterrent; play moves right along. For more information on joining, you can visit them online at www.royalpalmcc.com or give them a call in Naples, FL at (239) 775-1315.