During my 10 years of living in SW Florida, I was always under the impression that Rotonda Golf & Country Club was a private club. It wasn’t until my sister moved there that I discovered that the public was welcome to play it, too. In the few times I’ve played it since then, I’ve always had a great time. The courses are always in good condition, they are challenging, and priced right, and the staff is friendly and helpful.
The Rotonda West community is located in southwest Charlotte County, Florida, less than a mile from the Gulf of Mexico, and Englewood Beach. It is a deed-restricted community that is home to over 15,000 residents. The community has an interesting shape to it when looked at from an aerial view; it’s perfectly round, with 7 pie-shaped wedges cut into it. Each wedge is a separate community – Oakland Hills, Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, Long Meadow, White Marsh, and Pine Valley. The eighth wedge is wetlands and preserves which is helpful for irrigation of all the courses. Each community has a golf course running through it, so if you live there, you’re never too far from the golf course! All of the homes and home sites front either a golf course, greenbelt, or body of water.
The Rotonda Golf & Country Club features 99 holes of golf across its five courses, designed by 5 renowned architects: Pete Dye, Ted McAnlis, John LaFoy, D.J. DeVictor, and Jim Petrides. Long Marsh has 27 holes and is considered Rotonda’s premier course; it’s also rated its toughest. Long Marsh was designed by Ted McAnlis. Rotonda Golf & Country Club has been awarded a “Beginner Friendly Certification” from the National Golf Course Owners Association and numerous accolades from the Charlotte Sun Herald.
The Long Marsh Golf Course is the centerpiece of all five golf courses at Rotonda Golf & Country Club. It was designed by Ted McAnlis and the original 18 holes – Long Meadow and White Marsh – opened for play in 1999. The 9 holes at Pine Valley were added in 2007. The course winds through 450 acres of natural Florida scrub and each of Long Marsh’s 27 holes has a distinctive character, making it unlike any other course in the area. Gently rolling fairways are framed by native pine, oak, and palm trees with natural waste bunkers, lakes, and marshes that add to the intrigue. What you see is what you get; there are no blind shots or hidden hazards. Four sets of tee boxes provide distances ranging from 5,257 from the forward tee yards to 7,120 yards from the back tees.
Number 6 on the Pine Valley Course is probably the most interesting while out. From the White Tees it plays350 yards around a small lake and is dotted with fairway bunkers in the landing area. Longball hitters can take their tee shot over the water straight at the green. Anything left of the green will most likely not be seen again. Bunkers front both sides of the green which slopes gently from back to front. It’s a good risk-reward hole.
The Palms was the second golf course built at Rotonda. It was designed by D.J. DeVictor and opened for play in 1980. With five sets of tees, there’s a yardage suitable for every level of golfer. The Palms’ five finishing holes have been astounding golfers ever since. These five holes bring six different water hazards into play and feature several multi-tiered greens. The 15th and 16th holes are considered by many to be two of the most and two of Florida’s most demanding holes in the area. At 404 yards from the Gold Tees, Number 15 is handicapped #2. What makes this hole difficult for most golfers is the water that runs down the right side of the fairway. Try and bail out to the left and you’re bringing the trees into play. Ideally, you want to play your tee shot down the right side close to the water. That will give the least obstructed path into the green. Several trees infringe into the fairway on the left and a large deep bunker guards the right side of the green which slopes back right to front left.
Number 16 is a 492-yard par 5 with more water on the right side off the tee. There’s room to bail out left this time, just before the dogleg. A good drive down the right side may allow you to cut the dogleg and go for the green but beware, there’s more water to the left of the green. A single sand trap sits on the left side between the water and the long, narrow green.
The Hills is an 18-hole championship course in the Oakland Hills community and was designed by Jim Petrides. It opened in 1972 and is the oldest of Rotonda’s courses. Well-placed water hazards present challenges in several landing areas and around greens. The Hills Course will test the accuracy and course management skills of more accomplished golfers while offering beginners and those less skilled an enjoyable round of golf. The greens are incredible and roll true.
Pinemoor is located in the Pinehurst community and is the most recent addition to the Rotonda lineup, becoming a part of the mix in 2011. The course was built in 2004 and was designed with input from Pete Dye: since then, it has been reworked to bring it back to its former glory. The golf course winds its way through woodlands and nature preserves, with rolling fairways that lead to Bermuda greens. At 6,057 yards from the back tees and a par of 70, it is Rotonda’s shortest non-executive course. At 205 yards from the Gold Tees, the par 3, 5th hole is as beautiful as it is challenging with the right side of the green guarded by water. Successfully finding the green off the tee is just the beginning; there’s a lot of undulation in the green and the right side slopes slightly towards the water.
The Links is an 18-hole executive-length golf course that meanders throughout the Cape Haze community. It was designed by George Cobb protégé, John LaFoy, and opened in 1990. Don’t let the “executive” monicker fool you.; the course has a lot of challenges. For starters, the golf course is built on 80 acres of land, 35 of which are water. Translation – bring a lot of golf balls! You’ll also encounter an array of pot bunkers, grassy knolls and swales, and triple-tiered greens placing a premium on club selection and accuracy. The nine par 3s and nine par 4s will challenge golfers of all abilities. The 329-yard, par 4, 11th hole is a member favorite. Although it may be drivable for many players, the risk of finding the water in front of the green outweighs the reward!
Golfers and residents alike flock to the Rotonda Hills Restaurant; the public is invited on Wednesdays and Fridays for dinner and on Sundays for breakfast. Their specialty is made-from-scratch dishes with new food and drink specials each week, You can see their menu online.
Should you find yourself playing at Rotonda more and more because of the great golf and friendly staff, you may want to consider becoming a member. A membership at Rotonda gives you access to all 99 holes of golf, free range balls, advanced tee time booking, and a 10% discount on pro shop merchandise. There are never any assessments or food and beverage minimums, and they even throw in handicap indexing through the USGA at no charge! Memberships are available for singles and families and can be purchased for one or two years. Each membership plan requires a small initiation fee. Best of all, you don’t have to live in the community to become a member!
For more information or to book your next round, visit them online at www.rotondagolf.com.