The 18-hole, Tom Fazio masterpiece at the Gateway Golf & Country Club facility in Fort Myers, Florida plays 7,047 yards from the longest tees with a par of 72. The course rating is 74.4 and carries a slope rating of 137. The golf course opened for play in 1989 and was immediately added to Golf Digest’s list of Top 100 Courses.
The recognition Gateway garnered from Golf Digest’s Top 100 list earned the course the privilege of hosting the 1990 and ‘91 Ben Hogan Tour’s Gateway Open. The club has also hosted numerous USGA qualifiers and PGA chapter and section events, including the 2008 Callaway Golf State Pro-Assistant event, which was previously hosted by the well-known TPC at Sawgrass.
Gateway Country Club features six sets of tees, including men’s and women’s senior tees. You will also find generous fairways, dramatic stands of native cypress trees, cape cod-style bunkering, and putting surfaces that are often described as some of the finest Bermuda grass greens in the state. This all adds up to a well-rounded combination of playability and aesthetic appeal. Did I mention how fast the greens are?
The practice facility is one of the best in the Ft. Myers area. It boasts a double-sided range, a short-game area, a par 3 and par 4 practice hole. Members say that if you can tame the two practice holes, there’s a good chance you will score well on the course. The practice putting green is large and always in pristine condition. Unlike some area courses, the speed and condition on the practice green, mirrors the greens you will find on the course. Beware, these greens can run as fast as those on the pro tour.
Member Events & Reciprocals
There is always something happening at Gateway Country Club for the members. In-season golf games include daily group games for both men and women. Gateway is also home to a tremendous Couples’ Sunday Golf program, five major tournaments, eleven casual tournaments, as well as instructional programs for both beginners and advanced golfers. And, like most private clubs, a staff of PGA Professionals is always on call for anything you might need. Of course you can always make your own foursome and enjoy golf your way.
Year round golfing members enjoy a comprehensive reciprocal program during the summer, giving them the opportunity to experience many exceptional courses throughout this region.
Number 1: Par 5, 511 yards. The starting hole at Gateway is a straight par 5 with a number of deep lipped bunkers that come into play off the tee. Your layup shot can be a little intimidating with sand on the right side and water on the left. More sand waits on the right side on your approach shot to a slightly elevated green, as does water on the left that shouldn’t really come into play. But it’s early and, if you pull your shot, it could be wet. The narrow green slopes back to front; the greens here tend to run on the fast side.
Number 3: Par 4. This dogleg left par 4 plays around a lake on the right side. A good drive will leave around a 100 yard approach shot to fairly flat green that falls off at the front. Make sure you take enough club as the hole seems to play a little longer than the yardage indicates.
Number 4: Par 3, 201 yards. You need to play across a marsh area that starts out on your right side by runs diagonally all the way up to the green. The hole plays slightly uphill so be sure to take enough club. Anything left of the green could be trouble depending upon how hard you hit it and how the wind is blowing. The large bunkers on the right side should not come into play; if they do you’re in trouble! The green has some subtle undulation to it and is not as deep as it is long. Par is a good score here.
Number 6: Par 4, 244 yards. Most golfers with any gumption will have a go at the green off the tee, although the smart play is to hit a hybrid or long iron off the tee and leave a short chip shot to the green. The green is slightly elevated so hitting the upslope off the tee will definitely slow the ball down and hopefully hold for an eagle putt.
Number 9: Par 5, 540 yards. This hole provides the best challenge of the outward nine. Water covers the entire length of the hole on the right side while out of bounds looms left for anything hooked wildly off the tee.
Number 10: Par 4, 363 yards. More water right and woods left on this medium length par 4. The hole is pretty straight so the emphasis will be on accuracy and control off the tee. The green slopes back to front and is well guarded by bunkers.
Number 12: Par 4, 450 yards. There’s a little bit of a carry over water as well as water all down the left side on this long par 4. Long and straight off the tee is required to score well on this long par 4. Two large fairway traps on the right side, about 120 yards from the green shouldn’t come into play for most golfers playing from the blue tees. You’ll want to avoid these traps at all costs as they are about 6 feet deep and can leave a very challenging approach shot. The green is small and surrounded by nasty little pot bunkers. Par or better here and you’re ready for the tour!
Number 16: Par 4, 365 yards. Water left on the left and out of bounds on the right put the focus once again on accuracy off the tee on this very narrow, medium length par 4. Play your approach shot to an elevated green with four deep bunkers on the right side. The water on left shouldn’t come into play off the tee.
Number 17: Par 4, 395 yards. There’s water on the right side that can easily come into play however the water on the left, behind a large cluster of fairway bunkers should not. Your approach is to an elevated green with several bunkers between you and the green.
The course at Gateway is extremely well maintained; how well you score will depend on how you handle the fast greens and wind of this beautiful Tom Fazio design. Like many Florida courses, there is water on most holes; if that’s not enough you’ll also find almost 100 bunkers. The front nine has a links-style feel to it while the back nine winds clockwise through wooded areas. Number 18 is considered by many to be one of the finest finishing holes in the country. Tom Fazio has designed a number of courses in Florida including a couple at the PGA Golf Club in Port Saint Lucie. For my money, this is the nicest Fazio course I have had the pleasure of playing in the Sunshine State.
For more information on membership at Gateway, you can find them on the web at www.GatewayGolf.com or call GM Jimmy Lynn at (239) 561-1036. Remember, Gateway is a private club, so you will need to play with a member or get lucky and find something on an online tee sheet.