The Naples area consistently ranks among the top places to play in the country.
I suspect I'm somewhat of a disappointment to the Scottish side of the family. I don't play golf ... well. My grandfather was practically born with a driver in hand, spent his formative years in the land where the game was invented and was the perpetual country club champ. I, on the other hand, have the clubs, the cute outfits and even live in what some consider the golf capital of the USA – a putter's throw from the nearly 90 courses sprinkled along the Paradise Coast
and Marco Island
. I just don't seem to have the skill ... yet.Top Places to Play
The Naples area consistently ranks among the top places to play in the country, with more holes per capita than any other Florida location, according to the National Golf Foundation. And, we can play year 'round. Sure, it's a little more crowded during the winter when vacationers and seasonal residents are here. But come summer, the Paradise Coast is a golfers' paradise. Tee times open right up, greens fees are discounted and even some of the area's more exclusive semi-private courses that are generally open only to members or resort guests allow us outsiders in. I know I'm not quite up to par (pun intended) for the likes of The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort's
Greg Norman-designed 36 or The Rookery at Marco
, but a girl can dream, right? Plus, I'm thinking about taking lessons. Everyone I've golfed with tells me I should. Hmmm.Golf Schools
You'll find some of the top-rated golf schools in the country right here in Naples, including academies headed by some very recognizable names – David Leadbetter, Rick Smith (who works with Phil Mickelson) and Nick Faldo. Plus, many courses offer personalized instruction, from one-hour to full-day sessions and week-long clinics guaranteed to help even golfers like me. Many also use the latest technology to analyze problems with swing or stance.Packages and Savings
As if a golfer needs any more incentive to play in Naples,
Palm trees, beaches and warm aquamarine water await you in Naples.
Marco Island and the Everglades, summertime savings are now in full swing, making the game even more wallet-friendly. Golf-centric vacation packages
, discounted greens fees and May to October access to semi-private clubs are available at the click of a mouse – even for that last-minute golf getaway. The Paradise Coast's website
also provides online booking, a sample of the dozen or so pre-planned packages available and limited-time offers such as complimentary breakfast and dinner for two, spa and resort credits and even a free night. You can even search by budget and number of desired rounds. I found one tempting deal that includes a night at a beachfront resort and one round of golf priced under $70 per person per night!
If you live here, visit frequently or just want to get in even more golf during an extended vacation, the South Florida PGA Golf Pass features discounted play at 33 Naples-area country clubs plus a rate reduction for two instruction programs and a golf shop. Membership is just $45 and good through October.Beyond the Fairways and Greens
Because man can not live by golf alone – nor play at night – the Paradise Coast is also the perfect spot away from the fairway. (Yes, some people actually come here and don't
golf.) Think palm trees, beaches and warm aquamarine water. The Values in Paradise
, or VIP, card offers more than $3,000 in savings, including discounts on restaurants, attractions and activities that appeal to all ages and interests and showcase the best the area has to offer.
I find myself checking every few days to find discounts on everything from bicycle and boat rentals to spa services, shopping and museums throughout Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades. They're so good and only offered to bona-fide vacationers, I might just have to book a night and bring my clubs.
This article is brought to you by the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB. To plan your own getaway, visit www.paradisecoast.com