Spanish Wells is a gated golf community located in Bonita Springs, FL. Although the original plan for this 600-acre community was an 18-hole Gordon Lewis-designed golf course, the community was so popular that in 1996, the 9-hole North layout was added. The North Course was designed by golf course architect Bruce Howard.
Spanish Wells Golf and Country Club has been a staple in the area for many years. The club was founded in 1979, way before Bonita Beach Road is what it is today. Once upon a time, this master-planned community was one of the finest members-only golf clubs in all of Lee County, offering members 27 holes of championship golf and an active, robust social calendar. As with many clubs of this era, the economy dealt them a severe blow, but in January 2018, the Homeowner’s Association stepped in and purchased the golf course. The HOA turned to Indigo Golf Partners to manage the property and while the public has had access to the golf course since about 2010, getting the proper mix and management of member and public play has been a huge part of the current success. Since coming on board, General Manager Bill Shiles and his team have created a club that has a distinctly private club vibe but can be enjoyed by the public.
Spanish Wells may be located in a private club-saturated market; however, membership is not a requirement, at least to play golf. I guess you could say that Spanish Wells is a public golf course with private club amenities. The public is welcome to play golf on any of the 27 holes and they are welcome to dine there, as long as they played golf that day. All of the other amenities are for the members and their guests.
Indigo Sports is committed to ensuring the future of the club and have completed several improvements and modifications to the golf course and club amenities. Golf course renovations included renovating the greens and re-grassing them with Tif-Eagle Bermuda, making them some of the best putting surfaces in the area. Green surrounds and tee boxes on all 27 holes were rebuilt and re-grassed. Changes were made to the bunkers as several were added, deleted, or reshaped. The banks around some of the lakes were restored and changed in some areas which has given the courses a totally new look and feel.
At the annual Troon Global Leadership Conference this year, Spanish Wells was named Indigo Sports’ 2022 Facility of the Year. Shiles, who has been named Indigo’s Regional GM of the Year and led Spanish Wells to the Regional Top Performer of the Year two years running, attributes all the club’s success to his staff, in fact, the majority of online reviews about Spanish Wells mention how friendly and helpful they are. As a result, Shiles and Indigo have grown the public golf revenue and membership revenues equally by almost doubling each over a four year period.
Spanish Wells Golf & Country Club features 27-holes of Championship Golf that can be played in three different 18-hole combinations. There are six sets of tees, and the scorecard gives you eight different options including some “hybrid” distances. Course length can range anywhere from under 4,000 to over 6,700 yards.
Tropical palm trees, mature live oaks, and water hazards define all three layouts at Spanish Wells Golf & Country Club. Like many Florida courses, water hazards are the dominant obstacle to overcome. Water comes into play on all but two of the 27 holes and may have you thinking twice about hitting driver off the tee on several holes.
As you would expect there are several memorable holes. Number 2 on the South Course is a short par 5 that plays a mere 436 yards from the Blue Tees. An accurate, well-placed drive will leave you the option to try and go for the green in two. Off the tee, there’s water on both sides and your tee shot is best played just slightly left of the center of the fairway. A good drive past the water and fairway bunker on the right is going to leave a lengthy but doable shot into a slightly elevated and large green with no sand around it, just a lake on the right! Should you decide to layup, make sure you’re left of the trees in front of the pond.
Those who can drive the ball a long way off the tee will love Number 3 on the South Course. It’s a par 4 that plays 276 yards from the Blue Tees. The water in front of the tee box should not be a problem, however, the bunkers that guard the front of the green may be. I say it’s worth the risk!
Number 7 on the South course is a challenging Par 3 that plays 144 yards from the Blue Tees. The hole plays slightly uphill, over water into a green that is fronted by a bulkhead and rocks. The green is wider than it is deep with a bunker left of the green and a second directly behind it. A shot from the back bunker can be intimidating with the water looming beyond the pin.
Number 7 on the North Course – The Horseshoe Hole as many members describe it – is a par 5 that plays 488 yards from the Blue Tees. At about 220 yards from the tee, the hole takes a dogleg to the right, then another dogleg right at about 110 more yards. Horseshoe requires two well-executed shots before you can even see the green! Water on the left and a cypress preserve on the right make this a tough driving hole, and, if you hit your layup shot a little too far there’s a good chance, you’re in someone’s backyard. For most players it’s at least 3 shots, maybe more to reach the green!
Spanish Wells has some impressive practice facilities including an aqua driving range, a short game area, and putting greens. The pro shop at Spanish Wells Golf & Country Club is the hub where everything golf-related happens. Here you can set up a lesson or take part in a clinic under the guidance of one of the club’s PGA Professionals. They can also help to get you involved in some of the many golf-related activities and tournaments. It’s also the place to pick up some logoed apparel from some of golf’s most revered manufacturers.
The 32,000 sq. ft. clubhouse is the centerpiece of the country club. It overlooks the iconic fountain and offers panoramic views of the golf course. Spanish Wells has an award-winning culinary staff making it the perfect gathering place for family, friends, and neighbors. Spanish Wells prides itself on providing fun and exciting member events all year long, from the annual Labor Day golf tournament to themed shotguns for golfers, and Music, Bingo, and Trivia Nights for the socialites. There is truly something for everyone at Spanish Wells Golf & Country Club. New kitchen equipment was recently installed giving Spanish Wells the ability to host larger banquets and events. A new “ceremony” location was added in front of the fountain and the landscaping in front of the clubhouse has been updated to help showcase the property.
Other than golf, all of Spanish Wells’ amenities are for members only. Over at the club’s 5,000 sq. ft. Fitness Center, new flooring was recently installed as were new Hoist and True fitness machines, providing both cardio and strength training. There’s also a good selection of dumbbells, and kettlebells or you can participate in a variety of fitness classes. Just outside the Fitness Center, you’ll find the recently renovated Har-Tru Bocce Courts which are open to all Sport, and Full Golf Members and their guests. According to GM Bill Shiles, the club has around 175 active bocce members.
Spanish Wells’ Har-Tru Tennis Courts have recently been renovated for the enjoyment of the Tennis members. With pickleball being the fastest-growing sport in America, construction was recently completed on four state-of-the-art pickleball courts.
Spanish Wells’ tropical pool is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon swimming, sunbathing, or relaxing with one of the club’s tropical cocktails. You can also take an energizing aqua aerobics class. Get there early and claim one of the tables, and lounge chairs that surround the pool deck. Changing rooms are also available for members’ convenience.
Spanish Wells Golf & Country Club is conveniently located in Bonita Springs, minutes from some of southwest Florida’s finest shopping, dining, and pristine white sandy beaches. For more information, visit their website at www.spanishwellscountryclub.com.