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Now browsing: Hometown News > Golf > James Stammer

A day trip offers golfing experience
Rating: 2 / 5 (7 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Jun 21 - 08:55

Nothing beats a weekend away with the loves of my life, my family and my golf clubs. If you ask my wife, she may just tell you that it's not always in that order, either.

Living in Florida, we're blessed with a plethora of places to escape for a couple of days. Wanting to enjoy a special Father's Day weekend, I chose a special place. The Inn on Fifth in Naples, an elegant boutique hotel, comes complete with its own spa, signature restaurants, fitness center and a dazzling pool. Judging from my brood's reaction, I chose well.

Located in the heart of old Naples, the Inn on Fifth isn't close to everything, it's the centerpiece of it. This lavish hotel was originally a bank building built in the late 1940s. In 1998, work was completed to turn the 50-year-old building into a hotel fashioned in the spirit of popular 1920's Palm Beach architect, Addison Mizener.

The Inn features an abundance of Spanish archways, private terraces, lavish fountains and pineapple finials. Each of the 87 rooms offers an assortment of views from the sparkling pool and courtyard to fabulous Fifth Avenue. There are also oversized suites with walkout balconies, Jacuzzis, Italian marble baths and separate living rooms. Each room comes decorated in relaxing rich tones and classic European art.

The doors of the Inn on Fifth open to a celebrated collection of upscale boutiques, shops, gourmet restaurants, sidewalk cafes and art galleries. Just a short, sunny five-block stroll away is the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

Everything one needs to enjoy a relaxing stay is within a stone's throw of your room.

After enjoying the sunset and a hand-in-hand stroll along the beach with my wife, we picked up the kids and found the best place for an evening of casual food and lively entertainment.

Our choice, McCabe's Irish Pub and Grill, is located on the first floor of the Inn. The pub was originally hand-crafted in Dublin, then shipped and reconstructed in Naples.

McCabe's offers great food, cold draft beers from around the world, live music and one-of-a-kind ambiance. The old vault was kept and incorporated into the bar. It's easily the most popular spot on Fifth Avenue for a fun evening.

After taking care to see that one love of my life was being properly pampered by the Inn's superb staff, it was time for me to play golf. The Inn on Fifth offers several golf packages that include many courses in the Naples area. I was fortunate enough to play at the Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club.

Designed by PGA and Champions Tour star Peter Jacobsen and his partner, renowned designer Jim Hardy, Hammock Bay is truly a spectacular golf experience.

The course features one of the highest golf course elevations in southwest Florida and was named one of the top ten new private courses in the world when it opened in 2004.

Golfers at Hammock Bay experience a variety of environments as the course winds through rolling terrain, natural dunes, native lakes, mangroves and beach-like areas.

The course, developed by WCI Communities and located between downtown Naples and the beaches of Marco Island, features five sets of tees, allowing golfers of any ability the option to play the course as difficult or as relaxed as they desire.

"We set out to create a memorable golf experience at Hammock Bay and the finished product has, frankly, surpassed our own expectations," states Jacobsen.

I found the course immensely enjoyable. The SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum greens rolled fast and true. Jacobsen and Hardy's design offers a constant variation in difficulty, taking full advantage of the unique environment and forcing golfers to use nearly every club in their bag as they travel the course.

The diverse visual experience brought on by the contrast between the white sand and shells and the fairways and greens, along with the elevation changes and mangroves, provides a most beautiful setting for great golf.

Hammock Bay's signature hole may be the shortest hole on the course. The par-3 11th is visually spectacular with native grasses, shell rock and sand framing the elevated green. Depending on the wind and pin location, the hole can play as much as 40 yards different from one day to the next.

There is even a short, tempting par four that begs you to play aggressively and drive the green. I succumbed to the temptation, but paid a price as I missed the green and had to play my second shot from the shells and sand.

It doesn't have to be a holiday weekend to treat the loves of your life to a relaxing stay, with a little golf thrown in. Contact the Inn on Fifth at (888) 403-8778 or online at www.innonfifth.com. For information on Hammock Bay call (239) 259-1100 or visit hammockbaygcc.com.

James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday Night Golf Show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at stammergolf@yahoo.com.

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