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The Bonita Bay Group Announces Nicklaus Course


In March 2001, Jack Nicklaus joined The Bonita Bay Group to launch The Retreat, a private golf club that will feature a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course built to Audubon Cooperative Signature Sanctuary standards. The Retreat will be located on a wooded and secluded 275-acre site on Corkscrew Road seven miles east of Interstate 75 in Bonita Springs, Florida.

The site chosen for The Retreat involves mature oak, pine and cypress trees. “The property itself dictates so much – the land and its variety of features play the biggest role,” Nicklaus said of his approach to the course. “A golf course and its environment go hand-in-hand. The golf course is very much a part of the environment and likewise, the environment is very much a part of the golf course. The two complement each other.”

The Retreat will be a free-standing amenity, with no residential development ever occurring on the property. The private club will limit its membership to 275, and no tee times will be required. The club will offer a caddie program for players who prefer to walk the course.

“The unique natural assets of the site require and deserve the level of commitment to environmental sensitivity and experience that The Bonita Bay Group brings to this endeavor,” said Ed Rodgers of The Bonita Bay Group. “Jack Nicklaus walked the site in late February and made it clear from the outset that he and The Bonita Bay Group share the same philosophies of excellence and environmental consideration.”

“I believe that the surrounding environment helps determine the overall character of the golf course; therefore, the two have to work well together,” said Nicklaus. “When I first look at designing a hole, I consider what Mother Nature has already created on that property, and then I try to mold a golf hole that fits very naturally with what is there. I blend my ideas with the natural environment and let it help me shape the design of each hole.

“I really do not have a set philosophy when it comes to my design work, but there are several constants to my approach,” continued the man known familiarly as the Golden Bear. “I design layouts that challenge golfers to play intelligently rather than ones that test their strength – golf is a game of precision more than power. And I avoid disrupting the natural setting as much as possible. The golf holes should fit the terrain – I never try to force an idea into a piece of land.”

The Retreat’s clubhouse is designed by Richard Diedrich of Diedrich NBA in Atlanta, one of the world’s leading clubhouse design firms. “The Retreat is the perfect name for this private club,” said Diedrich. “We are designing the clubhouse to complement the site’s outstanding natural assets. It will have the character of an estate-house retreat with a Florida ranch theme, amply using Florida limestone and wood.”

The entry drive will overlook the 9th hole and a large lake. “The clubhouse will feature traditional, ranchstead elements, such as a porch across the front and a veranda across the back with rocking chairs and ceiling fans, all in keeping with the ambience of the site,” Diedrich said. “One of the features that sets this clubhouse apart from others in Southwest Florida is its absence of the Mediterranean influence. Because it is a pure golf club, the clubhouse’s public spaces, including the grillroom, will be more intimate. The locker rooms with social areas are designed for the avid and traditional golfer, and the entire facility is what I refer to as a ‘stand out’.”

Groundbreaking on the course will be scheduled when 100 membership reservations have been received. It is anticipated that the golf course and its support services will open in the fall of 2002, with the clubhouse open in fall 2003.

The Bonita Bay Group has overseen the development of four master-planned communities – Bonita Bay, The Brooks, Mediterra and TwinEagles – 11 golf courses and two marinas. Nicklaus Design is a division of NICKLAUS, the privately held company of Jack Nicklaus and his family. Services of the NICKLAUS companies include golf-course design, development of golf and real estate communities, marketing and licensing of golf products and services, event management and golf instruction. Nicklaus Design currently has 227 golf courses open for play worldwide.