(September 2010) Vanderbilt Country Club features an 18-hole golf course that plays 6,735 from the back tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 73 and it has a slope rating of 140 on Bermuda grass. Vanderbilt was designed by Gordon G. Lewis, and the course opened in 1999. Five sets of tees make Vanderbilt enjoyable for golfers of all abilities.
Vanderbilt is a “bundled community” meaning your country club membership is rolled into the price of the property; there are no initiation fees. All members are owners and all owners are members. The club sits on Vanderbilt Beach Road and Collier Boulevard; just minutes from the best of everything Naples has to offer. The golf course was designed to preserve the native pines and palmettos, and believe me, there are a lot of pine trees out there. Over 320 acres of well groomed fairways, sparkling lakes, and nature preserves make up Vanderbilt Country Club. Within this gated community you will find a variety of golf and lake view condominiums, unique villas, one and two car garage carriage homes and luxurious single-family homes.
I found the driving range different; it’s a combination aqua/land range in that you hit from grass tees over water to island greens of varying length. It’s a unique concept using both land and water; one that I had never seen before.
The clubhouse at Vanderbilt Country Club is over 34,000 square feet and offers a golf and tennis pro shop, meeting and banquet facilities, an activity center, fitness center, computer lab, a full-service bar, and both casual and fine dining rooms.
Tee Yardage Rating Slope
Gold 6735 73.0 140
Blue 6373 70.5 136
White 5946 69.8 134
Gold 5332 68.7 128
Red 4728 67.2 120
Memorable Holes (All yardages are from the blue tees)
Number 1: Par 5, 576 yards. The starting hole at Vanderbilt Country Club Is also the longest hole on the course; might as well get it out of the way quick! It’s a long dogleg left par 5. Go ahead and hit it as far as you can off the tee; the dogleg doesn’t come into play for the majority of players until the second shot. A draw is the preferred shot for your layup; a well placed shot will leave a little more than 100 yards, slightly uphill to a large, two tiered green that is guarded in front by bunkers on either side. Par is a good score on this starting hole.
Number 2: Par 3, 178 yards. Number 2 is a pretty hole; it’s a par 3 over water with a stone seawall in front of the green. Don’t hit it into the rocks; there’s no telling where it will land! Be aware of where the pin is; it could be a two club difference between a front or back pin placement.
Number 5: Par 4, 318 yards. Although number 5 is far from being the longest par 4 on the course, it probably ranks as the most scenic. It’s a real short dogleg left; hit a three wood or hybrid down the right side of the fairway off the tee and you’ll leave yourself less than 100 yards. The water on the left and the sand trap on the right side of the fairway can easily come into play off the tee. The water on the left goes all the way to the green and guards the left side of this small green that slopes left to right. This hole offers a great opportunity for birdie if you are able to control your chip to the green.
Number 6: Par 5, 471 yards. This is a birdie hole for sure. A good drive will leave a second shot of less than 225 yards to the green. Favor the right side of the fairway to take the water out of play. A large sand trap behind the green is likely to catch anything long.
Number 9: Par 4, 334 yards. This short dogleg right features water down the left side as well as on the right should you try and cut the dogleg and hit it too far right. Your best play is to hit a three-wood or hybrid down the left side of the fairway and leave a short pitch into a long, narrow green well protected by bunkers with a waste bunker long of the green.
Number 11: Par 5, 540 yards. This dogleg right, par 5 is the perfect hole for a fade off the tee. It’s a definite risk/reward hole; just make sure you get it past the tree line on the right side or you’ll find yourself in jail. Odds are that you won’t get on the green in two as the fairway keeps turning to the right. Play your layup shot out to the left so that you take the trees out of play. Bunkers guard the left side of the fairway and surround the green.
Number 12: Par 4, 369 yards. The tee shot on number 12 can be somewhat intimidating with all the water on the left, although the bunkers on either side of the fairway stand a better chance of catching your tee shot. Your approach shot is slightly uphill to a VERY wide, two-tiered green that is probably the largest green in the course.
Number 14: Par 4, 346 yards. Fairway bunkers on either side come into play from just about any set of tees if you miss the fairway. Should you successfully find the fairway off the tee, you’ll have a fairly level approach shot to a two-tiered green that slopes back to front and is a lot longer than it is wide.
Last Word: Vanderbilt Country Club is the equivalent of playing two distinctively different nine-hole courses. Other than the par 5 starting hole, the front nine is short. The longest par 4 plays only 367 yards from the blue tees. The others are a three wood off the tee and a sand wedge to the green. The back nine plays longer at 3217 (the scorecard has it wrong) with several challenging holes. The three finishing holes (Number 16: Par 4, 412 yards; Number 17: Par 4, 409 yards; Number 18: Par 5, 508 yards) are memorable in their own right. The par 4 holes are the longest on the course and require both control and distance off the tee. From there, you’re left with long approach shots on both holes. Then you finish with a long, straight par 5 with a lot of sand. Maybe it’s the length of these holes that sets them apart from the rest of the course but they definitely provide a test.
The course is in fantastic shape; the greens are meticulously maintained and roll fast and very true. You are bound to see the grounds crew hard at work during your visit; the grounds are in as good a condition as the course. The staff is friendly and very accommodating. I recommend Vanderbilt Country Club to anyone that has the opportunity to play it; although Vanderbilt bills itself as a “bundled community” it is open to the public. For more information on memberships or to book a tee time you can give them a call at (239) 304-0032 or visit them online at www.vanderbiltcountryclub.com.