(May 2010) “The Fort” is set in a unique and warm setting in the heart of Fort Myers. The Fort Myers Country Club was designed by the great Donald Ross in 1916 and opened in 1917; it is one of the oldest facilities on Florida’s west coast of Florida. Rumor has it that Thomas Edison and Henry Ford loved to play this course back in “the day.” Both Edison and Ford made their winter homes within walking distance of the course. Walking is permitted every day of the year and any time of the day and rarely does a home come into play on the course. The “Fort” is truly a course of the ages.
Fort Myers Country Club is also known for an annual Pro-Am golf tournament; The Coors Open. The Coors Open began in 1963 and is the longest running golf event in Southwest Florida. The 48th edition Coors Open was held on March 13-14, 2010 and was won by Brennan Webb with a score of 69-66-135. The tournament has been referred to as the biggest little tournament in the United States and that is a pretty fair assessment. There is no charge for admission; no fee for parking and spectators can walk right next to the players! One thing though, you’re not likely to see Tiger or Phil out there.
Number 1: Par 4, 396 yards. The starting hole at Ft. Myers Country Club is a fairly long, slight dogleg left, par 4 with a wide open fairway that begs you to grip it and rip it. If a bad slice is part of your game, make sure to aim a little more to the left. Otherwise, you stand the chance of hitting it OB and on the road. Other than that, there is very little trouble on the opening hole.
Number 2: Par 4, 400 yards. Number 2 is a dogleg right. A good drive will leave about 125 yards to a wide open green. Like number one, this hole poses very little problem.
Number 3: Par 4, 372 yards. It’s time to meet the canal. Over the next 16 holes, this canal is going to test your mettle. It comes in play quite often and makes club selection critical. On number 3, you’ll need to chose a line off the tee that both allows you to carry the canal while at the same time leaves a manageable distance to the green. Once you clear the canal, it makes up the right side of the fairway. Push anything right and you can kiss your ball goodbye. Your approach shot is to a relatively small green with Rt. 41 directly behind it.
Number 4: Par 3, 175 yards. Straight, flat par 3 with little or no trouble, except for the greenside bunker on the right. You’re hitting to a large green with a false front
Number 8: Par 5, 523 yards. There’s that pesky canal again; this time it’s on the left off the tee. Unless you plan on going over the canal on your tee shot; you’ll probably want to leave your driver in the bag. Once you navigate the canal, you’ll be staring at a fairway bunker on the right side and trees on the left. Your approach shot is to a supersized green that is flanked by bunkers. This should be an easy par for the average
Number 10: Par 3, 202 yards. This is a fairly long, straight par 3 that plays slightly uphill. The large green is flanked in front on both sides by bunkers. The hole plays a little over 200 yards from the back tees and features a little creek that for most people, should not be tough to hit over. The green slopes gently from back to front.
Number 11: par 5, 517 yards. This slight dogleg left has fairway bunkers that should not come into play from the back tees. Your layup shot is wide open as is your approach shot to this slightly elevated, large green that features a little bit of undulation.
Number 15: Par 4, 336 yards. This short, slight dogleg right plays a mere 336 yards from the back tees. Be sure to avoid the trees on the right side of the fairway. A large deep bunker fronts the green and prevents any bump and run shots. This elevated two-tiered green slope dramatically on the left side; your ball easily roll off the green.
Number 17: par 4 427 yards. Number 17 is a slight dogleg left that requires a booming tee shot to get on in regulation. You’ll have to navigate the ever present canal on your approach shot.
Number 18: par 5, 510 yards. Again with the canal! This time the canal goes down the left side of the fairway, making you decide whether to try and go over the canal off the tee or keep the ball right and play the hole as a three shot hole.
Fort Myers Country Club is what it is – a municipal golf course. As with most Donald Ross courses, the layout is quite impressive; I am sure the architect had better things in mind when he built it. The “St. Augustine” rough is different; I suppose if you’re used to playing around in your backyard, you will do well. Another thing to consider is the clientele the facility attracts. Country clubbers stay home; you can plan on seeing tee shirts and jeans at every turn. The language can be entertaining too and forget about etiquette; many of the players you will encounter couldn’t even spell it, yet abide by it.
Like I said before, I like the layout. A canal comes into play on several holes; forcing layups or longer than usual carries. Mature trees make sure you pretty much follow the design of the course; try taking a shortcut and you will pay a steep price if unsuccessful. The greens are good; not too fast and not too slow; just right for the weekend hacker. If you approach this course with the right expectations, you won’t be disappointed. You can reach Ft. Myers Country Club at (239) 321-7487. You can also visit them on the web at www.cityftmyers.com/golf.