Old Corkscrew Golf Club Review – Estero, Florida

Price Paid – $24.99 via GolfNow.com

Full Price (in season) – $179

The 2nd Hole at Old Corkscrew Golf Club

#2 is a relatively tame par 3 until you see the green

Before I had a chance to play Old Corkscrew I heard a lot of different things about the golf course. Some of the guys at my club told me it was “tricked up” and that the greens were somewhere between ridiculous and impossible. Others that I spoke with loved the course and described it as one of the best public tracks in SW Florida.  Naturally I had to check this place out.

The par 3 12th hole at Old Corkscrew Golf Club

Note the abundance of water on #12

As an obsessive golfer, former Columbus resident, and a lifelong Ohio State fan, I have a particular fondness for Jack Nicklaus. While most are aware of his 18 professional majors, his resume as a course designer is equally impressive. The day I played Old Corkscrew, a Nicklaus design in Estero, Florida, however, Jack was not my favorite. 😉

A view from one of the many bunkers at Old Corkscrew

Expect to see a lot of these views when you play Old Corkscrew

If I could describe Old Corkscrew with one word it would be “tough.” This course is a bear (no pun intended). The course plays to a 144 Slope Rating; from the white tees! With all that you’re probably wondering a couple things:

  1. What makes Old Corkscrew so difficult?
  2. Did you actually like the golf course?
A view from the fairway at Old Corkscrew

At least once I had a chance to play from the fairway

My experience with Jack’s courses is that they follow one general philosophy; give the player room to blast if off the tee (i.e. wide fairways) but challenge them on their approach and once they’re on the green (i.e. trouble and severe slopes). Old Corkscrew follows this approach almost universally. There is a ton of room off the tee. As a matter of fact, several of the fairways bleed into one another. The first hole for example you can hit it 100 yards off line to the left and it just means you’re playing your second shot from the 8th fairway with a clear shot to the green. Of course not all the holes are this easy but it’s fair to say the tee shots aren’t what makes it so tough. Most all of the holes you can give it a good rip and nowhere did I feel like I was playing “target golf.”

A HDR image of Old Corkscrew Golf Club

Another view of #12, this one with #11 fairway in the background

 Where the fun really starts is on the approaches. The golf course it seems, has trouble everywhere around the greens. There is water. There is sand. And once you do make it to the green you’ll see slopes unlike 90% of courses you’ll ever play. There are enough slopes and tiers that you have to be thoughtful in your approach or three and four putting become concerns. In describing Augusta National, I’ve heard it said that it’s possible hit every green in regulation yet still shoot 90. I think the same could be said of Old Corkscrew. And of course you generally don’t hear Augusta National described as “tricked up.”

Old Corkscrew hole #17, a par 3 over water

Another watery par 3, this one the 17th

So did I like Old Corkscrew? I liked it as much as one can like a course that kicks your behind for 4+ hours. As I described earlier, it’s just tough. It’s definitely not target golf, I don’t consider it unfair, it’s just a course where you have to be on your game.  If you read my earlier write-up of Raptor Bay, you’ll recall I characterized it as “playable”, particularly for the golfer who can only get out a few times a year. Old Corkscrew is the precise opposite of that. There isn’t a breather on the entire course. I thought it was a fun course to play, and I’d play it again, but I can’t imagine it being my daily play club. It’s just that difficult.

Final Grades:

Value – A – Everything about the golf facilities are of Tour quality.

Course Conditions – A – Absolutely beautiful

Service – A

Course Design – A+ – The plus is for the location and lack of housing around the course.

Cart Girl Talent – Incomplete – The day I played it was twilight and bad weather to boot so there were no cart girls out. I did see a cart by the clubhouse so there is service at least.

Overall Grade – A – Check your ego at the door and be ready for a test.

To see a larger image or to see the rest of the photography from this golf course click here. Feel free to use any of the images as your desktop wallpaper.