The Dunes Golf Course, Sanibel Island, Florida

I like Golf.

I started playing the sport when I was a teenager. My dad was into the sport, and I got hooked after going to the golf course with him. I later played on my high school team. After several years away from the game, I am now back into it, and I’ve got the “fever” again.

So a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I took a trip to the west coast of Florida, to our favorite getaway, Sanibel Island. We decided we would take the opportunity to play a round of golf while we were there, so we booked a tee time at The Dunes Golf Course. From the pictures of the course, it seemed like a real challenge. The course is cut out of the wildlife preserve, surrounded by water, and we were looking forward to playing on this unique course.

Our tee time was at 8 am. We booked it early so that we would have time for other activities later. When we arrived, we were one of the few cars in the parking lot. Our first impressions were very good. The Country Club consists of a club house, with a restaurant and pro shop, a driving range where you hit balls into the water, and the course itself. Everything was very clean, and quite inviting.

As soon as we got out of the car, one of the staff immediately took our clubs, and asked us to register at the pro shop. This was a nice touch. It’s nice not having to lug your bag around while registering. The girl in the Pro Shop was also very friendly, registering us quickly. The pro shop is small, not too different than most golf course pro shops. After registering, we went out to get our cart, and noticed that our clubs were already on a cart, and ready to go. The starter greeted us, letting us know when we would tee off, and also advised us where to get drinks if we wanted.

One thing I really liked about the staff here was how they handled teeing off. In some of the courses I play at, there is really no organization at the first tee. The result is that everybody bunches up and you end up in a long line waiting to tee off. Not here. The carts are all lined up and you are asked to stay there until it is your turn. The starter does an excellent job of checking to make sure the party ahead of you has gone far enough on the first hole before allowing you to step up to the first tee. It makes the round more enjoyable, so that you don’t spend too much time waiting to hit your shot, and don’t hold anybody up either.

As for the course itself, it is simply breathtaking. Most of the holes have water on either one or both sides. Some holes look as if they are an island unto themselves. However, the interesting thing is that even though the water is in play on many of the holes, the hazards are so strategically placed that if you know how to manage your game well, you can avoid them easily. The result is a great round of golf while enjoying the nature around you. I lost two balls during the round, which I consider pretty good for never having played it before.

You will need to be smart off the tee on this course. The fairways are not brutally narrow, but they are not wide by any stretch. If you tend to slice, you are encouraged to account for this by aiming correctly to account for it, or you will surely play from the rough. However, another interesting thing about this course is that because of how well it is maintained, the fairways are a joy to hit from, and even the rough isn’t so – well – rough, where you will be hitting from longer grass, not weeds. Since you don’t have weeds on this course too tangle up your clubs, hitting an iron out of the rough is very possible.

Because I had never played the course before, I decided to avoid keeping score. However, after about 7 or 8 holes, I realized I probably should have. I had read reviews that said playing here was like playing “target” golf. I disagree. As I said, the maintenance of the course and positioning of the hazards were such that all you really need to do is play smart and your score should be comparable to what you normally shoot on other courses. What you definitely cannot do is whack your tee shot or approach without carefully considering you landing zone. Because you have water and narrow fairways, you must play the odds and lay up or otherwise play conservatively at times. But so what? As amateur golfers, we should be doing that anyway right?

At the end of our round, someone was there immediately to help us take our clubs off the cart, and even cleaned our clubs for us. We were truly impressed. If you are considering a weekend trip that includes a round of golf, I urge you to consider The Dunes Golf Course on Sanibel Island. You will not be disappointed with either the staff or the course.

Now, if your are still disappointed with your round, that will be on you my friend, not the course.

Have fun!

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