Saltleaf Golf Preserve is ready to tee off, as the 18-hole renovated course, previously known as Raptor Bay Golf Club, opened to golfers Monday.
“What turned into a renovation really turned into a completely reimagined course,” said Craig Klingensmith, vice president of development for London Bay, which owns the course. “If you played Raptor Bay before you’re going to come out and play this course, you won’t recognize anything. … The course is completely different.”
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.
On what was formerly Raptor Bay’s 55-acre back nine, Naples-based London Bay took to building two 22-story condominiums buildings, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Estero Bay and Saltleaf Marina.
Raymond Floyd, a four-time major winner on the PGA Tour and golf course designer, came out of retirement to redesign the course he built 22 years ago.
London Bay owner Mark Wilson and Raptor Bay Superintendent Jason Brod retained a good relationship with Floyd, Klingensmith said. Floyd said he would do the redesign if he could once again not include bunkers.
“I get a second chance to use the philosophy I did with Raptor Bay,” Floyd said at the groundbreaking in July 2022.
Raptor Bay was a resort course, meaning it was designed for faster play and not to be too difficult. The new design is more challenging.
The length of the course grew from 6,400 yards to 7,075 and from par 71 to 72. The course has seven tee boxes, creating different lengths for each hole.
Saltleaf took hole No. 10 from Raptor Bay and turned it into a nine-hole short course where the dress code is flip-flop casual, and music isn’t frowned upon.
“We wanted something fun, something fun that you could go out with the family and play,” Klingensmith said.
It also is a course where serious golfers can work on their short game, he said. The holes range from 50 to 135 yards.
Both courses are open to the public, and green fees range from $229 for a round in November to $349 in February. The nine-hole course costs $79.
London Bay hoped to open the course last season, but Hurricane Ian set the rebuild back, Klingensmith said. Companies working on the project were delayed because many of their workers lost their homes during the storm.
The course made it through the storm OK. The biggest loss was some recently planted massive live oaks taken down by the wind. Water washed away the soil so they couldn’t be replanted.
“That was a heartbreaker there,” he said.
The first of The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Estero Bay will be finished in 2025. The marina won’t open until the first tower is occupied, Klingensmith said.