Saltleaf Golf Preserve Opens as Completely Reimagined Course
Saltleaf Golf Preserve, formerly known as Raptor Bay Golf Club, welcomed golfers on Monday as the 18-hole renovated course officially opened its doors. The transformation of the course has been nothing short of remarkable, according to Craig Klingensmith, the vice president of development for London Bay, the owner of the course.
“What started as a renovation turned into a completely reimagined course,” Klingensmith said. “If you had played Raptor Bay before, you won’t recognize anything on this new course. It is a completely different experience.”
The $25 million renovation is part of London Bay Development Group’s project near the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs.
A New Vision for Raptor Bay
London Bay took advantage of the former Raptor Bay’s 55-acre back nine and constructed two impressive 22-story condominium buildings, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Estero Bay, and Saltleaf Marina. This development adds a touch of luxury to the golfing experience.
Renowned golf course designer and four-time major winner on the PGA Tour, Raymond Floyd, came out of retirement to redesign the course he originally built 22 years ago. Floyd’s return was made possible by the strong relationship between London Bay owner Mark Wilson, Raptor Bay Superintendent Jason Brod, and Floyd himself. Floyd agreed to the redesign on the condition that bunkers would once again be excluded.
“I get a second chance to use the philosophy I had with Raptor Bay,” Floyd expressed during the groundbreaking ceremony in July 2022.
A More Challenging Course
Raptor Bay was initially designed as a resort course, prioritizing faster play and ease of playability. However, the new design of Saltleaf Golf Preserve offers a more challenging experience for golfers.
The course’s length has increased from 6,400 yards to 7,075 yards, and the par has been adjusted from 71 to 72. With seven tee boxes, each hole offers different lengths, providing golfers with a diverse range of challenges.
A Fun and Family-Friendly Addition
One notable addition to Saltleaf Golf Preserve is the transformation of hole No. 10 from Raptor Bay into a nine-hole short course. This casual course allows golfers to enjoy a flip-flop dress code and even play music while golfing.
“We wanted something fun, something that families could enjoy together,” Klingensmith explained.
Additionally, the short course provides an excellent opportunity for serious golfers to refine their short game, with holes ranging from 50 to 135 yards.
Accessible to All
Both Saltleaf Golf Preserve and the nine-hole short course are open to the public. Green fees range from $229 for a round in November to $349 in February, while the nine-hole course costs $79.
London Bay had initially planned to open the course last season, but Hurricane Ian caused significant setbacks. Many workers involved in the project lost their homes during the storm, leading to delays in construction. However, the course managed to weather the storm, with the only notable loss being some recently planted massive live oaks that were taken down by the wind and unable to be replanted due to soil erosion.
“That was a heartbreaker,” Klingensmith lamented.
The first of The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Estero Bay is expected to be completed in 2025. The marina, on the other hand, will not open until the first tower is occupied, according to Klingensmith.