Given that the Resort sets the bar so high, does Tiburon hold up its end of the deal as a golf centerpiece?
Without question, yes.
Guests of the Ritz-Carlton have access to all of Tiburon’s amenities, the newest being a TaylorMade Performance Lab, one of only three in Florida. The Lab dissects every part of a golf swing through computer imaging in a unique fitting experience, and users can apply that information to new TaylorMade clubs built on-site.
Teaching facilities are top-notch and the clubhouse is memorable, from a gigantic pro shop to Sydney’s Pub, a prime lunch spot.
But the golf courses, of course, are the stars of the show, and the simply named Gold and Black are terrific. The Gold hosts the Franklin Templeton Shootout every winter, hosted by Tiburon designer Greg Norman, while the Black was named 17th-best among Florida public courses by Golf Magazine this year.
Both courses test your brain as well as your swing, but staff and members at Tiburon will tell you the Black demands just a bit more from your game. I agree – if I only had time for one round on a visit (heaven forbid!) I’d tee it up on the Black. The course is shorter than the Gold by some 200 yards from the championship and the back tees, so length isn’t a primary factor in success. Accuracy off the tee is job one, and a well-struck fairway wood or hybrid can be enough to set up the approach on most par 4s.
Anything well off the mark will find woods, water or waste areas – there’s no rough at Tiburon to gobble up errant shots. Instead a lush carpet greets you on every hole, all the way through the green. If you’re a little yippy with short chips, Tiburon is especially inviting. All day long you can putt from well off the surface with confidence as the closely mown areas roll splendidly.
Three cool holes
No. 2, 436-yard par 4: The No. 1 handicap comes early and requires a drive down the middle or a shade right to attack a green protected by water on the right.
No. 8, 345-yard par 4: Most visitors will play this hole from 282-yard tees and be very tempted to attack the green despite a pond fronting it. Resist the temptation.
No. 9, 581-yard par 4: If you want to get home in two shots here (501 yards from the second and third tee boxes) you’ll have to carry a pond in front of the green. Short of the water is a 100-yard-long waste bunker.