Marco Island: Embrace The Hammock Life

Speaker of the House John Boehner, the most tanned man in American politics just gave Marco’s beachcombing rep a ringing endorsement plunking some serious coin down to purchase a condo in The Tampico.

A leisurely hour drive from Fort Myers Airport, Marco Island offers respite from party beach scenes in Miami and the political meat grinder in Washington alike.

On a recent Southwest Florida sojourn, bedding down at the plush Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa, along with plenty of soleil worshipping on the stunning 3.5 mile long and plenty wide crescent of Gulf hugging moon-white sand that abuts the hotel I also spent plenty of quality time plunking down next to opulent pools decked out with mid-water shade palms and flags on chaise lounges to summon drink orders without having to lift a finger. While gorging on the offerings of the AAA four Diamond resort’s eight eateries and applying complementary Spf-50 to bikini clad coeds could have easily occupied my attentions for a fortnight, I could not resist partaking in the area’s other vaunted leisure pastime, top shelf golf.

Hammock Bay, a Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy design is a true standout amongst Collier County’s 70-odd spreads.  The lush tee-to-green seadwarf paspalum layout has a unique ambience and aesthetic with crushed seashells lining waste areas and a large stretch of the back nine meandering past all development toward the serene trappings of the 10, 000 islands.

An Audubon Gold Certified Sanctuary Golf Course, bird lovers (who’ll also find plenty of their feathered friends at this Marriot’s other track, The Rookery) will be rendered giddy at the feathery flyby action.

Stands of palms trees, some leaning at sharp angles, perpetually warped by Hurricane Wilma’s wrath coupled with purple muhly grass paint a mesmerizing canvas. The course also gets sky-high marks for its uniformly stunning par-3’s.  No. 11 is the only short hole on Hammock Bay where you don’t have to worry about staying dry but it’s also the signature.  You tee off from an elevated perch (the highest point on the golf course) offering players a stunning panoramic view of the course.  Wildlife keeners ought to keep their eyes peeled for bobcats known to scurry by the cart path on occasion, and nary a round goes by without at least a half-dozen gator sightings.

Sure, alligators may interfere with “play it as it lies” a tad but el lagarto sightings also remind golfers that while our game may lack the bone crushing hits of football or hockey, we often share courses with scaly cold-blooded, mammal killers who’d make a 300 lb linebacker or fourth line goon run for mama.  While they’re  typically content to swim and lurk in the marsh, every once in awhile U of F’s mascot will on saunter up onto the fairways for some sun.  If you feel the need for high octane jollies I can vouch for the unadalterated rush of flying across the water and navigating the maze uninhabited isles upon a late model Yamaha Waverunner while spying manatee, dolphins and other exquisite sealife you typically don’t get to sidle right up next to in your day-to-day.  Enroute back to the hotel on a Marco Island Watersports guided tour we lucked out with a sighting o the aviary symbol of America.  Sitting atop her nest amid a sparse cropping of trees on a remote strand of beach “Betty” the bald eagle posed while the braver among my party attempted to steer with one hand and snap-pics with the other.

Southwest FL is an intoxicating golf destination and inclined travelers have a myriad of excuses to visit with their clubs in tow.  But not all excuses are created equal, and the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa is a leaderboard topping valid one.

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