Raptor Bay – Bonita Springs, Florida

Price Paid – $45
Perks Included – Free range balls, $7 gift card for future use.
Full Price – $115 In Season

The Practice Range at Raptor Bay Golf Club in Bonita Springs, Florida

The Practice Range at Raptor Bay

I’m spending a week in Bonita Springs, FL and I thought it made sense to check out some of what the area has to offer in the form of cheap golf. I completely understand however, not everyone thinks Florida in the summertime is a good idea. I beg to differ. The high temperature today in northeastern Ohio, where I spend most of my summers, is 86 degrees. The high for Bonita Springs is 90. Plus in Bonita (depending on location) you have a nice breeze off the Gulf of Mexico. Some might say I’m crazy but if you like heavily discounted green fees and zero crowds, by all means head to SW Florida for some great golf.

Raptor Bay, designed by Raymond Floyd, is located right next to the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa. While I have not stayed at this hotel (obviously it falls far out of the “on the cheap” lifestyle), it looks spectacular. Thankfully Raptor Bay falls in the same category. Everything from the range to the course conditions are amazing. The ranger asked me as I was making the turn, “Is it wet out there?”. Some courses the employees are downright defensive about the course conditions, in the case of Raptor Bay they are almost apologetic. I told the ranger that other than a handful of well-marked areas the course was immaculate.

Below is the first green; nothing like being first off the tee in the morning.

The Par 5 First Hole at Raptor Bay Golf Club

How does the course play? Is it tough? Raptor Bay is an interesting golf course. I would call it very “playable”. By this I mean there aren’t a ton of hazards and the hazards that do come into play don’t involve a lot of forced carries. You might think this means the course is easy; far from it. It’s the kind of course where it’s relatively simple to play bogey golf (assuming you don’t spray it like a drunken John Daly) but you’ll have to work to score. Most of difficulty lies in the subtleties; the slope of the greens, a bunker to punish a bad miss, etc. If you are the type who generally keeps in in the fairway because you lack the big time power game I think you’d like, and score well, at Raptor Bay. If you hit it a mile but have no idea where it’s going then you’ll suffer. For the aforementioned reasons it’s a course I’d expect women and seniors to enjoy.

The hole below, #4 on the Osprey course, is one of the few forced carries on the golf course. It’s 185 yard par 3 over water but the carry is only about 150 from the blue tees.

Raptor Bay Golf Club

Lastly, one thing I don’t particularly enjoy about most Florida golf courses is the fact that many of them seem to be surrounded by housing developments and the courses lack any kind of natural feel. Another nice thing about Raptor Bay is that it’s quite the opposite of this. As a matter of fact, it was the first resort course in the world to receive the Audubon International Gold Signature Sanctuary Certification. I’m not sure exactly what this means but I can tell you you’re 100% certain to see more wildlife than million dollar homes on Raptor Bay.

Great Blue Heron at Raptor Bay Golf Club

The Gallery at Raptor Bay

Value – B

Course Conditions – A – As good of conditions as you’ll find in SW Florida

Service – B+ – It’s a little rough around the edges although that might just be due to staffing levels in the off-season.

Course Design B- – Not a real tough course. It’s quality resort golf that won’t punish the twice-a-year player.

Cart Girl Talent – Incomplete – I’m not sure they have them although the layout is such that you’ll pass the starter station/snack bar multiple times during your round for refills.

Overall Grade – B+ – Solid, if not spectacular facility. It’s as natural a setting as you’ll find for golf in this part of the state.

You can see the rest of my pictures of the course here.