Located a few miles from Naples, Calusa Pines is a golf-only development that was named after the Calusa Indians who once lived in this part of south-west Florida. The course was designed by Dana Fry and Michael Hurdzan, who were given the task of transforming a flat and barren 550-acre property into a memorable golf experience. Pivotal to their design plan was a large central mound, almost 60 feet high, which would dominate vistas from the clubhouse and be an integral feature on several key holes.
In order to create the hill, as well as the crucial ground undulations, the team built a series of lakes, using more than a million cubic yards of fill to shape the landscape and push up their green and fairway areas. The entire site was also heavily planted with native ground vegetation as well as hundreds of mature oaks, pines and sabal palms. The design itself is pretty solid. Fairways are nicely rolling and generous, the bunkering deep and well positioned and greens are often raised and generally tie in well with all the earth moving.
Holes of note include the short 3rd, its small green protected on one side by deep bunkers and by a steep fall off on the other, and the peninsula par three 16th, which drops off the central hill. Of the longer holes, the most interesting are those around the hill as well as the cross-lake par four 9th and the strong and open 5th, which features an elevated target guarded by sand and slopes. The shaping of the par three 11th and the approach into the left-leaning 10th also work particularly well, as does the short par four 8th, a fun gambling hole with a shallow green built into the base of a dune and protected by sand running down its entire left side. What makes the hole so effective is a small pot bunker standing short and right of the green, which aggressive drives need to flirt with in order to set up an eagle putt.
Quiet, private and with an impressive degree of maturity for a course so young, Calusa Pines is an expensive club to join but its membership is treated to some fine golf and excellent conditions throughout the golfing season.