Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club
If you’re playing the Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club’s two courses—The Rookery and Hammock Bay—you might run into Peter Jacobsen, the effervescent former seven-time winner on the PGA Tour who fronted a band called Jake Trout and the Flounders, and then moved into golf-course design. Jacobsen, who designed Hammock Bay in 2003, along with Jim Hardy, and renovated The Rookery in 2014, has a home in Bonita Springs and is known to stop by Hammock Bay and hang out.
“He’s a great individual and a fantastic ambassador,” general manager Chris Major says. “He’s every bit in person the guy you see on TV. He will bend over backwards to help you out. I can’t say enough good things about him. And I know he thinks a lot of these two courses.”
The philosophy of Jacobsen and Hardy is “to make every hole beautiful and playable—but most of all, unique.” Based on my limited experience with their designs—Redstone and BlackHorse, both in Houston—they succeed. The two Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club courses are not to the level of those two—Jacobsen’s course at Redstone (now known as the Golf Club of Houston) hosted the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open from 2003-2005—but they perfectly complement each other.
“The Rookery is more of a championship venue—a little harder, a little longer (by 252 yards from the tips), a little more demanding,” Major explains. “There are natural wetlands that come into play, which make it little more difficult, and there are a few water carries. It has a big-time feel. We can host an event there.
“At Hammock Bay, golfers really like the playing experience— meaning they can play a round and not lose their ball,” he adds.
The courses are affiliated with the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort. Hammock Bay is 7 miles northeast of the resort, and The Rookery is 4 miles northeast of Hammock Bay.
A rookery is defined as “a breeding ground or haunt especially of gregarious birds.” Sure seems to fit at The Rookery. The shallow wetlands attract many species of birds—I saw great blue herons, great egrets, red-shouldered hawks and ibises—and there was one very vocal bird that I never saw on the second hole that was still squawking loudly an hour later when I teed off on the parallel seventh.
Hammock Bay’s fairways are lined with live oaks and rolling terrain. It was one of the first courses in the country to use paspalum, a salt-tolerant turfgrass. The entire development is one of only nine worldwide to earn a Sustainable Development Certified Gold ranking from Audubon International.
“One of the features of the paspalum grass and fairways is that the ball stands up,” Major says. “It’s kind of like hitting off artificial turf. It gives you a really comfortable feel. It’s visually stunning grass that has a real vibrant color so you can see the mowing patterns.”
How pleased is Marriott with the courses? Hammock Bay was named the 2014 Golf Property of the Year by Marriott out of its 70 worldwide golf properties. Rick Weber has won the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism and two Associated Press Sports Editors awards (column writing and features), has written a book, Pink Lips and Fingertips, and contributed to three Chicken Soup for the Soul books.