This episode sees us head down to Naples to visit the beautiful Tiburon Golf Club. Tiburon is undoubtedly one of the best courses in Naples, and is the host of PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and Champions Tour events. In fact, the final event of the LPGA season is played here, where the winner hoists the coveted CME Globe. There are two courses, the Black and Golf course and on site is the Ritz-Carlton Resort Naples. The Golf Club is semi-private offering memberships, but also some public tee times each day so you can come and play the outstanding courses. Our trip to Tiburon is split into two episodes, with episode one seeing us tackle the Gold course.
The Gold course at Tiburon is a Greg Norman design with an array of natural beauty, stunning visuals, and immaculate conditioning. It’s no wonder the Tour pro’s love rave about it. We arrived early in the morning as the sun was rising and the place looked stunning. We start out at the range and meet Jim Simpson, who is the Director of Sales at Tiburon, as well as a useful golfer himself. Jim tells us a little about what we have in store for the day, and the format we’re going to be playing.
We only play the back side of the Gold course in this video, and we play an alternate shot match. Jim and Gabe, against Wade and Pat. Feelings are mixed among the teams as it’s a format that can help and hinder players. What ensues is a very tight match that comes down to the wire. The course itself is very fair. The tighter holes generally play shorter in length, and there tends to be a bail out option on most shots. The par 3’s are all very picturesque, and water is in play on a good amount of holes.
One thing you can be sure of is that you will enjoy your time on the course. You do feel quite isolated even though you’re in Naples, such a populated area. It will leave you wanting to come back, and to experience the Black course also, which is a very different challenge.
Post round this is the place to head to, grab a cold drink and some delicious food. Chef Jason Pierce gives us a run down on his methodology in the kitchen and we sample a variety of the signature dishes at Sydney’s. Fresh grouper sandwiches, juicy burgers, buttermilk chicken tenders, tuna tartare, short rib loaded fries, and an Italian flatbread are the dishes that we sampled, and it was all delicious. Granted we went with a lot of the ‘higher calorie’ options but the menu at Sydney’s has everything from light bites, salads, to our bulkier options.
Check out part 2 of our Tiburon adventure where we tackle the Black course, and sample some of the local attractions.
The Ritz Carlton Naples
The Ritz Carlton is a 5-star luxurious resort on the same grounds as Tiburon Golf Club. Gabe gives us a tour of his suite, definitely worthy of your next golf trip. Enjoy the pools, the spa, the fine dining, and one of the perks is the free shuttle service to the sister resort, the Ritz Carlton Beach Resort Naples. This property is on Naples beach and is a beautiful place to watch the sunset with a cocktail. The tradition at the beach resort is that they ring a bell every night as the sun hits the horizon on its way down. Gabe and Wade had the honor of ringing the bell for our beautiful sunset.
Our first adventure is where we meet Tom Long, with the Naples Kayak Company. He has been kayaking the mangroves in Naples for many years and has an extensive knowledge of their significance in the ecosystem. The whole crew head out on this tour and it’s a lot of fun. We encounter a pod of dolphins up close! So close in fact that Wade is lucky he escaped to tell the tale. We followed them around for a while before paddling on towards the ‘double secret tunnel’ as Tom calls it. It’s essentially a narrow pathway through the mangroves that let you experience the mangroves from the inside. The place was crawling with mangrove crabs and Richard gets up close to see one with Tom. After surviving the secret tunnel, we park on the beach and relax.
For lunch we visit Marco Island which is a 30-minute drive from Naples. It’s an interesting island with a lot of vacation homes and a very beachy feel to it. The Snook Inn is a staple on Marco Island, serving an array of fresh, beautifully prepared seafood dishes. Florida’s West coast is really a haven for seafood, and the Snook Inn is the epitome of this.
The Black Course
We’re back at Tiburon Golf Club to tackle the Black course this time. The guy’s duel in a two-man scramble match with Jim and Gabe taking on Wade and Pat again. The scoring is actually very impressive, and a barrage of birdies ensue after a stalemate first three holes. The Black course is different to the Gold, it is even more isolated, far more of a pure golf experience with no buildings or roads, just a golf course and a cart path. The holes are all fairly tight in comparison to the Gold course but still fair in length, and there are opportunities to score well as we proved!
After our match we return to the Clubhouse where the winners are presented with the actual CME Globe trophy…. which is the same one the best LPGA Tour players compete for all year. We host our own ceremony and things go almost as planned….
That wraps up our trip to Tiburon in Naples. It really is a must play if you’re in the Naples area looking to play some golf, and both courses will leave you in awe. We may be a little bit biased as we love the Naples area, it’s a golfing mecca, and there’s an abundance of things to do outside of golf too. I have no doubt we will be returning to Naples, and Tiburon Golf Club again very soon.