Golfweek names best public golf courses in Florida. This Naples gem made the list

Mark H. Bickel
Naples Daily News

Golf course access in Southwest Florida can be challenging unless you are a member of a club, a resident in a gated community with a golf course or rich enough to buy your own country club.

There are public golf courses here, but they are few and far between and usually a few notches below the upscale private clubs when it comes to the overall quality and experience.

Golfweek announced its annual best public course by state for 2022 on June 1 and two Southwest Florida golf courses appear on the Florida list — the Gasparilla Golf Club at the Gasparilla Inn & Club on Boca Grande in Lee County and JW Marriott Marco Island's Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club in Naples.

TJ Boone chips over the water hazard. The 46th annual Eagle Open golf event was held Saturday morning at JW Marriott's championship Hammock Bay golf course.

A total of 30 courses made Golfweek's cut for the Sunshine State, including No. 1 TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course) in Ponte Vedra Beach where The Players Championship is played and No. 5 Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando.

Hammock Bay is No. 17 and the Gasparilla Golf Club is No. 27.

SEE THE FULL LIST:Golfweek's best public access golf courses for 2022

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Nationally, prestigious golf courses like Pebble Beach Golf Links (California), Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Ocean Course) in South Carolina, Arcadia Bluffs (Bluffs Course) in Michigan, Bethpage State Park (Black Course) in New York and Bandon Dune Golf Resort (Pacific Dunes Course) in Oregon are on the list.

That is elite company to be in. According to Golfweek, a nationwide network of raters are used to compile the annual list:

"The hundreds of members of our course-ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on 10 criteria on a points basis of 1 through 10. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings are averaged to produce these rankings."

All the courses on this list allow public access in some fashion, be it standard daily green fees, through a resort or by staying at an affiliated hotel. 

Here's a closer look at two Southwest Florida course deemed worthy by Golfweek's experts: 

Players in the South Collier YMCA (Marco) annual golf tournament fundraiser finish up on the beautiful 18th hole at Hammock Bay.

Hammock Bay

Location: Naples (Collier County)

Address: 1370 Borghese Ln, Naples, FL 34114

Phone: (239) 394-2511

Holes: 18 (Par 72, 6,995 yards)

Architects: Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy

Website: Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club

What they are saying: "From the blues of the surf to the rolling fairways discover a golfer’s paradise on this par 72 course. Planned by acclaimed designers Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy, you’ll enjoy stunning water features, fast greens, and refreshing, yet unpredictable Gulf breezes. Tee off from multiple tees designed for increased playability, ready to challenge professionals and golfers with a low handicap."

Did you know?: Hammock Bay is a  Audubon Gold Certified Sanctuary Golf Course, one of just 45 designated communities in the world. The gold certification is the highest level of the Audubon Signature Programs, recognizing sustainable communities within the natural environment.

The Gasparilla Golf Club at the Gasparilla Inn on Boca Grande in Lee County was listed as one of Golfweek's best public access courses in the U.S. for 2022.

Gasparilla Inn & Club

Location: Boca Grande (Lee County)

Address: 500 Palm Avenue Boca Grande, FL 33921

Phone: (941) 964-4500

Holes: 18 (Par 72, 6,837-yards)

Architect: Pete Dye

Website:Gasparilla Golf Club

What they are saying: "No round of golf is ever the same on our ‘island within an island’ championship course, where gentle breezes blow in from the surrounding waters of scenic Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. Our par 72, 6,837-yard course features eco-friendly native Seashore Paspalum turf grass throughout, and each hole has five tees to suit all levels of play. Our master designer, Pete Dye, is especially fond of the 15th, a par 4 dogleg to the left."

Did you know?: The Gasparilla Inn & Club is a proud member of Historic Hotels of America and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Gasparilla Inn is one of the largest surviving resort hotels in Florida, constructed originally for wealthy northerners during the time when the state became a travel and vacation destination. It opened in the 1911-12 season as the Hotel Boca Grande and was changed to The Gasparilla Inn when it opened for the 1913 season.

Top private courses in U.S.

Golfweek’s Best rankings of top private courses in each state will be published June 6.

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