Royal Poinciana Golf Club Review – Naples, FL

Written by Michael VanDerLaan 

Founded in 1969 and the second oldest golf course in Naples, Royal Poinciana is on every South Florida golfer's bucket list. We had an incredible opportunity to play this beautiful and exclusive course, and couldn't resist bringing you a Royal Poinciana Golf Club Review!

The Clubhouse at Royal Poinciana

The club known by locals and members at "RP" is situated on prime real estate just off of Goodlette-Frank Road in the bustling area of Naples, Florida. From the time you arrive at the clubhouse - which is at the end of a mile-plus long driveway - you know you're in for a treat.

As a golfer, the sights of perfectly manicured grass, a beautiful clubhouse, and amazing service personnel are always a great start. Little did we realize that the experience was only going to keep getting better.

On this particular day, dad and I had a tee time on the Pines course. That is one of the 2 courses that make up the 36 hole facility at RP, the other being the Cypress. 

The Pines begins with a benign par 4. 395 from the back tees and the only trouble being a pond left of a wide fairway, the first hole gives you a great chance to settle in and start with a good hole. Number 2 continues the trend, and after a couple of birdie chances just rolled over the edges for both me and dad, it was off to a good start. 

We stepped up to the third tee and knew that the course was about to show it's teeth.

3rd Hole At Royal Poinciana

It may not look crazy, but this par 3 puts an emphasis on accuracy with a long iron. I lasered 217 from the back tees to a green that falls off on 2 sides and is protected by a bunker on the third. I hit a perfect 5 iron to 35 feet, and dad missed the green short and right. My 2 putt and his missed par attempt meant I was 1 up early!

After the first challenge of the day, the course gave us an opportunity on 4. A short par 5 that I could reach in 2 meant a chance to extend my lead early - and I knew I would need it.

4th Hole at Royal Poinciana

This dogleg right demanded a drive up the left side to avoid the fairway bunkers, a task dad and I both handled confidently. After he laid up his second into the right side of the fairway, I pulled out my 7 wood from 240 and hit a perfect fade in to about 12 feet.

2 up through 4 was my reward.

5 and 6 gave us a level playing field of challenging par 4's that dad received strokes on, and we traded wins to keep me at 2 up headed to the 7th. I was treated to another opportunity, although this one was well protected by tough angles and a well placed hazard.

7th Hole at Royal Poinciana

Believe it or not, you're looking at a drivable par 4 for the long hitters. I took a high fade over those trees on the right, and ended up about 7 yards from the pin just short of the green.

The catch here is the pond short and left of the green that you can't see from the tee. Any attempt to drive the green that is pulled at all will result in a drop - and probably a bogey. My up and down for birdie was good to win another hole and take a 3 up lead over dad. Not only was I thinking about winning the match, I was starting to wonder about the course record.

After tying the par 3 8th with pars, we headed to the 9th and our last scoring opportunity on the front 9. At 511 yards, this par 5 had me licking my chops. I hit a solid drive into the wind, and when I got to my ball in the fairway I realized why this was rated as one of the hardest holes on the course.

Approach to the 9th At Royal Poinciana

A narrow green is protected by a pond just off the right edge, and out of bounds not too far from the left. Going for it in 2 is the definition of risk-reward.

I was feeling especially good with my long clubs this day and decided to give it a go. A 7 wood from 229 into a brisk wind flew right towards the pin, landed on the front right corner of the green, and settled in the first cut of rough. 20 feet from the flag, and 3 feet from being in the water.

After lipping out my chip for eagle and tapping in, my 5 under par 31 on the front 9 was good enough to give me a 4 up lead with 9 holes to play.

The wind continued to pick up as we played the first few holes of the back 9. Dad has a tendency to rally and fight back, so I knew I couldn't let up for a single shot. I managed to birdie the par 5 12th after dad made his 5-for-4 the maintain my lead, and the match stayed the same after the 13th.

Then there's 14. Up to this point, the Pines at Royal Poinciana will have given you everything you want in a golf course. Its mix of doglegs, long and short holes, and challenges mixed in with opportunities makes for an incredible experience. And then it makes you hit a long iron to this green that is guarded by the pond as well as deep bunkers on the left.

14th Hole At Royal Poinciana

This was the hardest shot I've hit in a long time. Not only was it tight and intimidating, it was long and into a crosswind blowing the ball towards the water. Thank goodness I had already built a good lead, because my tee ball flew into the hazard and I conceded the hole to dad.

Being 3 up isn't nearly as comfortable as being 4 up, but another par 5 meant another opportunity for me to bounce back. In true fashion, dad wasn't giving up until the bitter end, and after my birdie putt just missed, he made his par putt to win the hole with his handicap stroke. 

It was getting tight down the stretch.

We halved the par 3 16th with pars, meaning all I needed was one more tied hole to close the match. And that's exactly what I did with a great up and down out of a deep bunker on 17.

Standing on the 18th, I knew my chances of taking the course record had long since passed. All I wanted was one more birdie to cap off a great day at a beautiful golf course. A perfect drive that cut the corner and a half wedge to 3 feet took care of that wish for me!

It took a strong finish to cap off a round of 67 to beat dad at Royal Poinciana Golf Club. As always, the experience was so much more important than the score, and we count ourselves lucky to have had the chance to play such an impeccable course!

Practice Areas At Royal Poinciana Golf Club

Royal Poinciana Golf Club Driving Range

The driving range at RP was probably the only thing we thought could use improvement, for no other reason than it is short. Longer hitters are asked not to hit driver, and some may even be able to hit a ball out of the range with a long iron.

That said, the grass is pristine, the mats are high quality, and there are more than enough targets for every club in your bag. It would be easy for a member at the club to hit balls all day and never get bored!

Not pictured is the short game area, which I described in 2 words when I saw it - "almost Heaven."

You are able to hit shots up to 80 yards, and there are 3 greens - one for short chips and pitches, one for bunker play, and one for longer wedge shots. If I could go back again, I may never leave!

Wrapping Up The Royal Poinciana Golf Club Review

Not only is Royal Poinciana one of the oldest courses in Naples, it's one of the best. Fast, smooth greens, perfect fairways and well kept rough await at this hidden gem. 

Be ready to hit every club in your bag, and make a few decisions that could change the entire course of your round. From the time you drop your bag to the time to you get back into your car, you will feel like you've stepped into a dream. 

If you have a chance to play RP, we highly suggest you say yes and make it happen. You will not be disappointed!

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    Michael VanDerLaan

    Michael is an Associate Editor here at Golf Gear Advisor. He is a playing professional with a passion for finding the best equipment through product testing and evaluation. He has an intimate knowledge of the golf swing and a very effective way of communicating his knowledge to those that are interested in learning more. As an Associate Editor at Golf Gear Advisor, Michael shares his knowledge about the golf swing, fitness and finding the right equipment for your game.

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