Nestled inside the gates of Pelican Landing in Bonita Springs, FL lays Pelican’s Nest Golf Club. The Nest – as it is affectionately referred to by residents and members alike is one of the best kept secrets in all of Southwest Florida. This award-winning golf club embraces the environment and provides a sanctuary to the surrounding wildlife that inhabits the area. Golfers who have the opportunity to play this true jewel of a layout are certainly in for a treat. This private club provides both memorable golf and dining experiences in a tranquil setting.
Tom Fazio is the architect behind Pelican’s Nest Golf Course. When the course opened back in 1985 it was an immediate sensation, winning multiple honors including a number 3 ranking on Golf Digest’s Best Public Courses in the US list. This marked Mr. Fazio’s initial appearance on any Best New Courses list. Pelican’s Nest is also recognized by The Audubon International Society as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
The 45,000 square foot clubhouse has recently been renovated. Casual dining is available in the Thirsty Pelican Lounge & Grill Room. Alternatively, members may enjoy the Terrace overlooking an expansive view of Spring Creek and the finishing hole on the Gator Course. Both options provide a great opportunity to unwind after a round or to visit with friends over cocktails or dinner. The view at sunset is absolutely breathtaking.
If a quite dinner with friends or dancing the night away is more your style, the newly redecorated Main Dining Rooms are perfect. The Executive Chef at Pelican’s Nest offers a wide variety of culinary delicacies featuring signature seafood dishes and other delights. Pelican’s Nest boasts two private dining rooms and can accommodate corporate events, weddings and private wine dinners.
As a member of Pelican’s Nest, you will find a wide variety of golf-based and social activities – The Nest is known for its hospitality, community involvement and 36 fun-filled fantastic holes of golf.
Practice areas include a full length driving range just outside the back of the clubhouse as well as a large putting green. A spacious short game area can be found by the number 18 green of the Hurricane Course.
The Gator is an exciting 18-hole regulation that plays 7,039 yards from the back tees and plays to a par of 73. The course rating is 74.3 with a slope rating of 139. Six sets of tees make The Gator enjoyable for players of all skill levels and abilities; just be sure to pick the tees that best match your skills. Chris Sheehan is the Director of Golf at Pelican’s Nest.
The Gator Course winds its way through protected wetland areas and the generous fairways play through rolling terrain and trees line a number of fairways. Avoiding the water and ample bunkering will go a long way in shooting a good round.
Memorable Holes – Gator Course (all Yardage is from the Blue Tees)
Number 3: Par 5, 488 yards. This par 5 offers many options off the tee. Long ball hitters will have a chance to get home in two provided they have a good drive off the tee. For the rest of us who have to lay up, a good second shot will leave a short wedge to the green with the hopes of getting it close for a birdie putt. With a small pot bunker protects the front of the green. The green is two tiered so hitting your approach shot to the right level is important if you want to score well on this hole.
Number 8: Par 4, 408 yards. This hole is the number one handicap on the Gator layout. It’s a long and narrow hole with the fairway sloping downward on each side. Most players will be hitting a long iron, hybrid or fairway wood for their approach shot. The green is guarded in front with a large grass bunker which eliminates the possibility for bump and run and requires the player to carry the ball onto the putting surface. The green is fairly level and offers the player an opportunity to make up any lost ground.
Number 13: Par 5, 498 yards. It’s hard to get in trouble off the tee on this hole and allows you some time to recover after the first three holes on this par 37 back nine. The water on the right can easily come into play on your layup shot. The green is well guarded with bunkers on all sides, however with a front right pin placement you do have an opportunity to bump and run the ball up onto the green.
Number 16: Par 5, 553 yards. Although number 16 is a rather lengthy par 5, it does have with a generous landing area. Be sure to avoid the water on the left that off the tee; as well as on your second shot. The right side is no bargain either as out of bounds looms down the right. A poorly hit layup shot can easily find one of the bunkers on the left side of the fairway that come into play. Find one of the bunkers and you will be looking at a 100-yard bunker shot. Once you reach the green you will find it to be wide and deep.
Number 18: Par 4, 402 yards. This is a great finishing hole, from the first shot to the last. With hazards right and out of bounds left, a long, accurate tee shot is a must. A short drive will leave either a long second shot over the wetlands even possibly a layup. A good drive will leave a middle iron to a well-protected green with bunkers and grass collection areas on the left and a large bunker and hazard on the right. Par or better on this hole is quite an accomplishment.
Last Word: Any golfer would be ecstatic over the opportunity to play either course at Pelican’s Nest. The Gator Course is an exceptional treat, especially if you like to “air it out”; the three par fives on the back nine let you do just that. Length off the tee goes along way on these holes but only the par 3, number 17 is a forced carry over water. There are no extraordinary long forced carries out here; however playing from the yardage that best suits your game will go a long way in making for an enjoyable round of golf. No need to beat yourself out here on the golf course; there is too much beauty to be seen as you meander along the cart paths.
My favorite part of the course is the putting greens. They roll true and fast with very subtle undulations. Reading the greens can be a little tricky at times and it helps to have a playing partner with some course knowledge. Four-putts are not uncommon on these greens. The bunkers around the greens are in immaculate condition – well groomed and quite playable. Some of the fairway bunkers can be quite penal in nature; especially if you find yourself tucked up under the lip. Par 3’s are fair in length and there is a good chance that you will use every club in your bag on the par fours alone.
For more information on becoming a member at Pelican’s Nest, you can reach out to A. J. Szymanski – Director of Membership Sales at (239) 992-7782 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org