Members Sing Praises of Aerie's Modifications

Renovations to The Aerie, the Gary Player-designed course at The Club at TwinEagles in Naples, Fla., are getting a thumbs-up from the members, who say the changes have improved the course's playability while maintaining the original challenge and integrity.

The work, completed this summer, affected 15 holes and included the redesign of the third green, said Nathan Groce, the head golf at The Club at TwinEagles. "The changes make The Aerie more playable," he said. "We eliminated a lot of waste areas and grassed them in to create more effective playing room. Some of the holes involved just a little tweaking."

The changes, overseen by Gary Player Design, were recommended by a committee of nine members and representatives of Bonita Bay Group, which is developing the 1,115-acre TwinEagles.

"Bonita Bay Group did a great job," said resident and club member Chuck Pilkey. "They did everything the members had requested plus a little more and they stood behind what they said they would do, even in this downturned market."

"The extent of the course enhancements was more than I expected," added member Frank Romeo. "Companies are doing less, not more, these days. Everyone is very pleased with the 'new' course."

The project also included replacing turf which didn't survive last winter's lingering drought, extending fairways, eliminating some waste areas and adding formal bunkers - all with the goal of making the course less penalizing, according to Jeff Burgoyne, director of golf course operations.

The most noticeable change, he said, is the third green, which was redesigned and rebuilt. "We lowered it and reconfigured it to better accept shots," he said. The changes, however, haven't made the course easier or lowered scores, said several golfers. "It's more playable but still very challenging," said long-time member Russ Berkoben. "Before, you could hit a good shot and be penalized."

"The course is very fair now," said Pilkey. "It's more playable but it's still a challenging course. It's never going to be easy because of the greens, but now if you miss-hit a shot you can usually find it and hit it again."

Burgoyne and Groce said the modifications were completed in accordance with The Aerie's status as an Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary. The project also included littoral plantings along lake shores and waste areas were sodded with Bahia grass, which requires less water and maintenance.

The modifications are also getting rave reviews from nonmembers, including a group of low-handicap golfers who recently played there. "I overheard these gentlemen talking about the course, and they said it was the best course complex in Southwest Florida," said Cindy Garrison, a TwinEagles member who served on the committee. "It's an absolute pleasure to get a compliment like that. Bonita Bay Group has done an amazing job tweaking the course for maximum player enjoyment."

Bonita Bay Group is developing the 1,115-acre TwinEagles community, which is the only private club in Florida with courses designed by two living legends, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

TwinEagles is also the winter home of the Suttie Golf Academy, headed by instructor Dr. Jim Suttie. In 2007, Golf Magazine promoted Suttie to emeritus status, making him a permanent member of the Top 100 Teachers list. He has also been recognized as one of the Top 20 Greatest Teachers in America by Golf Digest and is a National PGA Teacher of the Year.

For additional information about TwinEagles, call 888/507-1765 or visit The information center is located inside the community's entrance on Immokalee Road, seven miles east of I-75.