(September 2009) The Hyatt Coconut Point in Bonita Springs is a hotel like no other. Situated on 26 acres overlooking the breathtaking Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve, The Hyatt Coconut Pointe was awarded Three Palm Certification as a Florida Green Lodge. The resort offers limitless recreational opportunities, attention to detail and personalized service everywhere on the property. This includes access to the world class Raptor Bay Golf Club, massage and spa treatments at Stillwater Spa, a 140 foot waterslide for kids (and the young at heart) as well as a vast array of water sports which are available nearby. To tempt your palettes, Hyatt Coconut Point offers up a Four Diamond restaurant, which has helped this property earn a spot in Travel + Leisure’s 500 World’s Best Hotels.
Raptor Bay Golf Club
As you pull in to the Raptor Bay Golf Club, you are greeted by an attendant who will take your bags and direct you where to park. Upon your return, you will find you bags on a cart ready to go. After a quick visit to the pro shop to settle up and browse the sale racks (I admit it, I’m thrifty) it’s off to the range to hit a few balls and then on to bring the Raptor to it’s knees (it could happen).
This 18-hole, par 71 championship golf club was designed by PGA Tour great Ray Floyd. The course opened in 2001 and plays 6,702 yards from the back tees with a course rating of 71.9 and a slope rating of 129. Like most Florida courses it plays on Bermuda grass. Raptor Bay offers five sets of tees making it a challenge for players of all skill levels.
One of the first things you will notice about the course is that there are no houses on it. No distractions like kids screaming in the pool or honking horns. In fact, Raptor Bay was the first resort course in the world to receive the Audubon International Gold Signature Sanctuary Certification. If you happen to pick up a yardage book, you will find a detailed description of the wildlife that can be found on each hole.
Fairways are generous and feature one height of cut throughout the course (i.e. no rough to speak of). Surrounding the course are 22 acres of lakes and more than 200 acres of native vegetation and nature preserves: it’s not uncommon to spot a bald eagle or gopher tortoise. Tree-lined fairways and well-guarded greens give the course a tournament feel. Unique to Raptor Bay is the use of native sand and palmetto areas, which are incorporated into the design of the waste areas. You will not find any sand bunkers at Raptor Bay; instead you will find native sand areas adjacent to greens and fairways.
Raptor Bay has a driving range as well as a short game area and practice putting green; all in all an excellent practice area. After a round, enjoy casual cocktails and cuisine at Braxton’s, which offers magnificent golf course views.
Memorable Holes – Hawk Course
Number 1: Par 5, 585 yards. This slight dogleg left par 5 plays every bit of its 585 yards. The ideal tee shot is down the left center of the fairway. You will find a lot of mounding in the fairway which can lead to uneven lies (remember those lies from your days up north?). On your layup shot, take note of the water on the right which will come into play a lot quicker than you think. Your approach shot is to a large deep green that is flanked on the left by a large bunker. The rolling green is definitely a two putt green; par is a good start.
Number 5: Par 4, 370 yards. This short par 4 is a very narrow driving hole with woods and scrub brush on either side. Hit your approach shot to another large green that slopes right to left and features several subtle undulations.
Number 7: Par 5 564 yards. There is a generous landing area off the tee but you will need to be careful on your layup shot. The water on the left side of the fairway – which may not be visible from the tee -cuts into the fairway about 175 yards from the green. There is ample landing area past the water; a good layup shot will leave an approach shot in the neighborhood of 100 yards to a green that features a huge crown on the right side. Long ball hitters can play down the right side if the fairway, take the water out of play and go for the green in two.
Number 8: Par 4, 381 yards. Number 8 offers another good opportunity for birdie. There is plenty of room out left off the tee; that will give you an unobstructed mid-iron shot to another large undulating green.
Memorable Holes – Osprey Course
Number 1: Par 5, 521 yards. Off the tee you are faced with a forced carry of about 200 yards over water; more water awaits on the right side on your layup shot. The left side is no bargain either as thick brush and marsh area stretches from tee to green. Once you clear the pond on the right you will be looking at an approach shot of about 100 yards to a kidney shaped green that seems to funnel balls to the right middle side.
Number 4: Par 3, 190 yards. Although this is a par 3, I say it is one of the toughest holes on the course. No matter which tee box you play from, your tee shot is over water, LOTS of water! There is a small bailout area front and left of the green but for the most part your only shot off the tee is on the green. The green itself is well elevated and well sculptured. Best of luck here.
Number 7: Par 4, 411 yards. This long dogleg right is easily reachable in two with the proper tee shot. If you can find it in your shot repertoire to hit the ball about 275 up the right side and, at the same time avoid the humongous waste bunker, you will be left with little more than a 100 yard pitch shot to an odd shaped green. Birdie awaits if you can pull it off.
Number 9: Par 5, 639 yards. They saved the best (and longest for last). Accuracy is the key off the tee on this hole. Push your drive left and you are in the water; slice it right and you are in the woods. Not only that, but it takes a pretty good poke to get it over the waste area off the tee. Once you retrieve your tee shot – or pull out a second ball – you will be faced with a layup shot to perhaps the narrowest part of the fairway. From there a short iron into the green and a two putt for par; nothing to it.
Last Word: If you happen to take your wife or girlfriend (husband or boyfriend too if I want to be politically correct) along for the ride, be sure to pick up the yardage book available in the pro shop. Not only does it provide valuable yardage information, it has all kinds of Audubon information on flora and fauna along the way. This is especially helpful if you are in the woods looking for your ball and get bit; they can tell you what kind of snake got you!
All kidding aside, Raptor Bay is one of my favorite courses in the Naples area. There is ample area off the tees for drives that are a little on the wild side. But what I like most is that you need to hit the greens or pay the price. There are a few holes where being just a few feet off the green can mean a lost ball. A planned third nine, the Eagle, is currently on hold. To experience this for yourself visit Raptor Bay online at www.raptorbaygolfclub.com or give them a call at (239) 390-4600.