Herons Glen Golf & Country Club in North Ft. Myers has recently reopened their championship 18-hole golf course after an extensive $6 million renovation. Designed by Mr. Florida Golf, Lakeland-based golf course architect Ron Garl and opened in 1992, the 6,500-yard par 72 course received a wall-to-wall upgrade of tees, greens, bunkers and fairways.
“We were fortunate to work with Ron Garl and Clarke Construction during the redesign. Our members are ecstatic with all of the enhancements that were made to the golf course. With six sets of tees, we feel it will provide a memorable golfing experience for players of all skill levels,” said General Manager J. B. Belknap.
The upgrades include the installation of TifEagle Bermuda on the greens, and Bimini grass in the fairways, tees and rough. The greens were restored to their original size and now average over 6,000 square feet per green. The contours of the greens were softened to accommodate the increased speed of the new smoother grass. All of the original design was kept except for the relocation of the 10th green to accommodate the new 5,000-square-foot fitness center. New fairway contouring was installed to improve drainage.
The course winds through the Herons Glen community around lakes and wetlands a full three and a half miles from one end of the property to the other. With a good mix of holes from long par 5s to short par 3s, the layout is more a shot makers design than a ‘grip-it-and-rip-it’ expanse. Picking the right tee, avoiding the numerous hazards and choosing the right club is the key to maneuvering Herons Glen to enjoy a good score.
Prior to the renovation, Ron Garl met with focus groups from the membership to hear what changes they wanted to have happen. “It’s their course,” said Garl, who has designed close to 100 courses in Florida alone. “They play it every day and talk from the heart.” Some of the changes that grew from the discussions were the installation of more forward tees and ‘gap tees’ in between the existing tees for more options. The elimination of greenside bunkers that opened up the front of the greens for chipping into the greens for older players which also helped with the pace of play. All the other golf course bunkers were reworked. The membership was so pleased with the results that they invited Ron to be the featured speaker at their Member-Guest Tournament Banquet.
Herons Glen Golf & Country Club is a 1,300 home-gated community bordering Lee & Charlotte counties near the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Florida. Along with the newly renovated 18-hole championship golf course, the club’s amenities include the new state-of-the-art Fitness Center with on-site physical therapists, a community swimming pool, Har-Tru tennis courts, Pickleball, Bocce and Shuffleboard. The expansive 45,000 square-foot clubhouse is the centerpiece of the community providing a full-service restaurant, bar, ballroom, pro shop, and a healthy schedule of activities for residents and social events.
The golf course renovation is the first of several upcoming capital projects at Herons Glen. This summer the Club is scheduled to update the dining facilities, build additional pickleball courts and upgrade the sports complex.
The Herons Glen Recreational District is a governmental entity, which under Florida Law is called a Special District that serves a specific geographical area and is governed by an elected Board of Supervisors. A Special District is very similar to a municipality, but is set up to perform more specific and limited functions. Because of this, Herons Glen can issue tax-exempt bonds in order to raise capital for certain projects. In 2020, the residents voted to take advantage of the favorable interest rate and reissue the bond which raised $12.9 million for future capital projects including the $6 million course renovation. The additional funding costs each homeowner an additional $130 per year.
Even though not every resident is required to be a golf member, the majority recognized that the golf course is, in J.B. Belknap’s words, “The anchor amenity of the community and home values are directly related to the condition and esthetics of the golf course.” The homeowners had the wisdom and foresight to realize that Herons Glen is in competition with other golf course communities and again according to Belknap, “In order to stay relevant and stand the test of time we needed to reinvest in our community. It was well worth it.”
Herons Glen is conveniently located on U.S. 41 just four miles north of the Shell Factory in Lee County, near the beaches of Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach.