Ham­mock Bay Golf & Coun­try Club

RSWLiving - - Golf - BY RICK WE­BER

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.

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