Insider Info: Great tips for planning the perfect golf trip to Southwest Florida
Dialed Down Dye: You can almost smell the old money at Gasparilla Inn & Club ($115-$139; 877-403-0599, gasparillainn.com), a legendary, low-key retreat between Sarasota and Fort Myers. Pete Dye redid the course a few years ago, and while not completely defanged, it is a gentler effort than most of the fearsome Dye products you've seen over the years. The 6,811-yard layout has vexing green complexes and beautiful views across Charlotte Harbor. You must be a hotel guest to play, but on the plus side there are no tee times at the course -- there just isn't enough traffic to warrant it.
Grapefruit League: Spring training baseball and great golf along Florida's west coast go hand-in-glove. Bright House Networks Fields, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, is 15 minutes south of Innisbrook Resort.
Among the value options are Bardmooor Golf & Tennis Club ($60-$85; 727-392-1234, bardmoorgolf.com), in Largo. This former site of the PGA Tour/LPGA Tour's Mixed Team Classic is 12 miles south of Dunedin's Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, where the Toronto Blue Jays play.
TPC Tampa Bay ($89-$159; 813-949-0090, tpctampabay.com) in Lutz is a long-time Champions Tour venue, and just 30 minutes from the New York Yankees and George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
Perfect Practice: If the pasha of practice, Vijay Singh, ever sets foot here, he'll think he's died and gone to Heaven. The range at World Woods Golf Club (worldwoods.com) is the best golf practice facility on the planet. Even more memorable than the two Tom Fazio-designed 18s here is the staggering 23-acre circular practice range ($6.50 for approximately 35 balls), which provides hundreds of hitting stations in four directions, target fairways and greens, bunkers with native and white sand, and short-game areas hidden between trees.
Toss in a three-hole warm-up course ($6 per three holes), an irons-only range and a two-acre putting green, and you've got the grand enchilada of practice areas.
On the Tee: If you plan on being a frequent visitor to the Naples area between this May and October, consider spending $113 for the Franklin Templeton Shootout Player Pass (franklintempletonshootout.com). During that timeframe the Pass gets you up to four discounted rounds each at 14 area courses, including Tiburon, The Rookery, Naples Grande and Hammock Bay.
Top 100 Teacher
Need a lesson from one of the country's best teachers while in Naples? Then contact Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Tom Patri at 239-404-7790.
If you have downloaded the My Pro To Go app (myprotogo.com) and want an in-person swing consultation, or just need a tune-up before starting your first round in the Tampa area, head to GolfTec's locations in Carrollwood (813-962-8060), Clearwater Mall (727-797-2138), Sarasota (941-926-6025), University Town Center (941-926-6025) or Westshore-South Tampa (813-202-8516. In Fort Myers call 239-628-1653 and in Naples call 239-514-4653.