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Believe it or not, downtown Naples used to have a golf course—and airplanes occasionally landed on it. The nine-hole course ran south of Fifth Avenue South and east of Third Street. And because there weren’t many flat, dry spaces in swampy Naples, it also served as a landing strip. Pictured here in a photo from May 4, 1919, are two World War I-era Curtiss JN “Jenny” planes with ground crew and spectators assembled.

It was an inauspicious start to the sport for a town that would eventually be nicknamed the “Golf Capital of the World.” But eventually, the municipal course would be upstaged by better alternatives. About a decade after the Jennys landed on the municipal course, Naples’ first 18-hole course had been built about a mile north, and would later become the centerpiece of the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club.

Pilots continued to make use of the municipal course; legend has it, Charles Lindbergh would land there to shop in Naples while he vacationed in Captiva in the early ’30s. The Naples Airport, initially an Army training facility during World War II, once and for all displaced the need for golf courses (and the beach) to double as runways.

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