Longtime Gateway golf club gets new owner

Longtime Gateway golf club gets new owner, big improvements 

Casey Logan, Published 1:42 p.m. ET June 1, 2018.

While golf may still be the star, a Lee County club will soon offer a much stronger supporting cast.

A club in Gateway is under new ownership, with plans for major upgrades on the drawing board.

What’s been Gateway Golf and Country Club since it opened in 1989 is now The Club at Gateway. Donald Garrett, via Club at Gateway LLC, bought it for $5 million from club members on March 30.
“It’s a careful balance,” Garrett said of the name change, noting Gateway’s griffin logo remains. “We wanted to give the club somewhat of a new look without it being a major change. We thought the name change here gives a feeling of more of a community golf club.”

Garrett, who owns Naples-based D. Garrett Construction, has worked in the construction industry for 37 years, specializing in clubhouse and golf course projects.
The club’s signature feature is the 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed course. Plans call for surrounding it with more amenities to appeal to a variety of people.
“You start with a great golf course to sustain the game of golf,” Garrett said. “You supplement that with other activities such as bocce, pickleball, a resort-style pool, wellness and fitness. So you build around a great golf course and that’s what we’re doing.”

In its first season, the course debuted on the Golf Digest list of Top 100 Courses. That allowed it to host events from the Ben Hogan Tour Gateway Open to the Gateway Senior Invitational. It has also hosted many United States Golf Association qualifiers and PGA chapter and section events.

The course plays over 7,000 yards from the longest tees, with a par of 72, featuring stands of native cypress trees. It has six sets of tees.
The club was envisioned as the centerpiece of the Westinghouse Gateway Development. In 2002, its ownership was transferred from the developer to the members.
Jimmy Lynn, the club’s general manager from 2010-13, is now its operating partner.

“Tom Fazio did an incredible job, plus he had a good piece of property to work with,” Lynn said. “It’s a long, hard course if you want it to be, but it can also be short and friendly. There’s something for everyone. On the greens, there’s not too much movement, but just enough. It’s fair, but challenging.”

Lynn and Garrett recently formed Life Style Management Group of Florida, a company for managing golf clubs. Lynn is president of the entity, which aims to manage other golf clubs beyond this one.
A complete golf course renovation at The Club is expected in 2021. That will include new cart paths, a new irrigation system and renovation of greens, bunkers, tees, fairways and roughs.
First off, though: pickleball and bocce courts are being built this year.

In 2019, plans include doubling the size of the banquet room, adding a second-story wellness center and building a display kitchen to enhance the 4-year-old Grille & Pub, which added more than 4,500 square feet of casual indoor/outdoor dining.

These plans follow industry trends, which call for more of this type of dining, as well as additional wellness programs. The upgrades are designed to create a more social, family environment.
“It’s not dad’s club anymore,” Lynn said. “It’s also about mom, the kids, everyone.”

Those amenities will enhance what’s already there: including a “golf improvement practice facility,” which is a fancy way of saying a driving range and practice holes with a two-sided design.

In 2013, Fazio returned to oversee minor improvements. That’s also the time when Ron Garl, another notable course architect, came in to redesign the driving range.

“We have a big, 20-acre driving range,” Garrett said. “It also has two practice holes. That’s very unique,” adding the entire golf course spans 223 acres.

Today, The Club has nearly 500 members, through a mix of membership types. It employs as many as 70 people during peak season, then scales back for the summer months.

The Club also offers six Har-Tru clay tennis courts. The planned upgrades are designed to help grow membership, “but not to the point it affects the member experience,” Garrett said. “We do not want to dilute the value of the membership, we want to make it more valuable. It’s a private club, and members expect certain privileges.”

A Top Golf location expected to be constructed near I-75 and Colonial Boulevard is no competition, Garrett and Lynn said. If anything, such ventures help to attract more people to the game.

Gateway always meant community, now it also means jobs (link)

Gateway’s demographics, as well as business and residential growth there, played a role in the buying decision.

 “There’s a lot of good things going on in the neighborhood,” Lynn said. “Gateway is our largest market. Any more than a 15-minute drive is probably outside our wheelhouse. The majority are going to be right here in our backyard because it’s convenient.”

They are in the process of putting together corporate membership packages, wishing to partner with local businesses on corporate functions. It was a long process, however, for them to acquire the club, which attracted interest from many other parties. The board gave its unanimous support, with a presentation to the membership garnering 98 percent approval.

“In this industry, that’s unheard of,” Lynn said. “The members have been very welcoming.”

They think it was a combination of factors, from members’ familiarity with the pair to their strong reputations, that allowed them to emerge as the winning bid.

“We’re thrilled to be here,” Lynn said. “We’re very excited to be a part of the community.”

Residents weigh in

Robert La Belle of Downing-Frye Realty, who lives in the community, also handles many listings there. He confirmed that members were almost unanimous in their support of Garrett’s plans.

“All country clubs are a little bit in trouble because of the membership,” he said. “Golf courses are less and less. We had different offers of $4.5 million to $8 million for the club and golf course. Everything he wants to do makes a lot of sense to attract the younger people. We’re very happy about it.”

The United States built golf courses at a rate of 400 a year during the 1980s and 1990s, but it has since declined from a peak of 16,000 courses. The nation has lost 800 courses in the past decade, according to the National Golf Foundation, which says the number of U.S. players dropped from an all-time high of 30 million in 2005 to 24.1 million in 2015.

La Belle thinks it’s smart to focus on amenities beyond golf, and believes the upgrades will be a hit.

“When this is all complete, the one big difference is it’s going to increase the value of the properties in Gateway,” he said. “It’s going to be very spectacular. This is a good thing for the new buyer and present members here … it’ll be so much more than just golf.”

Terry Dwyer lives across the street from the club, in Hampton Greens.

“I’m thinking good things,” said Dwyer, who had just finished a round of golf Thursday. “It’s going to be good for people who live here and for people who use the golf course. It makes sense to me.”
Jim Jasenak lives in Gateway’s nearby Waterford Village.

“I think the plans are good,” said Jasenak, who also  had just finished playing golf. “You’ve got to bring it into the 21st century. It’s exciting. I think the upgrades to the clubhouse are the most important. You have to  be more things to more people these days.”

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Club News

  • The Club at Gateway Renovation Approached Completion!

    The excitement continues as all eyes are on The Club at Gateway renovation project. The new resort style pool is progressing nicely, all the equipment has been installed and they are putting the finishing touches on the detail items, including the tile, colored bubblers, fountains, coping and the pebbletech finish coat. The area is being graded and will begin installing some of the landscaping, irrigation, lighting and sound components and then the pavers. What a great addition to the Club… beach entry, water features, dedicated lap lanes, 16-seat outdoor bar with TV’s offering specialty beverages and poolside entertainment for Club Members.

    The fitness center drywall has been completed, the flooring is scheduled to be installed and all the new aerobics and weight and TRX strength training equipment delivered the end of March. A large array of fitness and water aerobics classes will also be provided for Members as part of the Club’s new fitness program. The Fitness Center will be built complete with separate spinning and aerobics room.

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    Another first class feature will be a 1,600 bottle glass wine cellar in the lobby area and a private wine room for dining and entertaining. Club amenities, tennis, pickleball, bocce, fitness center and pool including dining in the Grille Room remained open for Member enjoyment during the renovations.

    New fresh paint and roof tile stain on all the buildings has been completed giving the Club a more contemporary look.

    The Club at Gateway, known as “the friendliest Club in the area” is the recipient of the Best of Fort Myers Gold Award for “Best Private Golf Course & Country Club.” This distinguished award recognizes businesses with excellence in product, performance or services.

    “What a great time to join the Club, new amenities, no assessments and a special opportunity to join the Club and for a limited time, receive up to 6 MONTHS of FREE DUES,” states MJ Chappy, Membership Director.

    About The Club at Gateway:


    Conveniently located near the airport, shopping, beaches and entertainment, The Club at Gateway is a private, yet casual country club, known as having the friendliest Members. The Tom Fazio Signature course features 6 sets of tees, playing over 7,000 yards with a par of 72. Meticulously maintained and included in Golf Digest’s list of “Top 100 Private Courses,” Tom Fazio rates the 10th hole as one of the top four greatest golf holes he has ever designed. With a 20-acre trend-setting “Golf Improvement Center,” it’s also the home of the Golf Channel Academy. Created by course architect Ron Garl, this first-class facility features a double-sided range, 4 short-game areas, fantastic putting green, and 2 practice holes, a par 3 and par 4. Club amenities include The Griffin Grille offering panoramic views of the course is just steps from the tee box. The tennis center with 6 lit har-tru courts, bocce complex and pickleball courts all offer comprehensive programs for players of all ages and abilities. Members can also participate in array of clubs, classes, games and social events. Summer Camp and Jr. Golf Camps are available for Members and non-members of the Club. Under new ownership, over $5 million will be spent on the clubhouse renovations project and Members will not be required to pay any future assessments. For Information on Membership Opportunities and a Tour, please contact MJ Chappy at (239) 561-1012 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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    Minnesota Twins players, coaches and alumni joined baseball fans and business sponsors at the 22nd Annual Minnesota Twins Celebrity Golf Classic at The Club at Gateway, which raised more than $76,000 in support of the Integrative Medicine Program at the Lee Health Regional Cancer Center, Southwest Florida’s premier cancer care center that treats all aspects of patient care under one roof. The Center has received accreditation with commendation from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer.


    This annual event included golf with a Minnesota Twins player or personnel, lunch before the 1p.m. shotgun start, on-course refreshments and hole-in-one prizes. A dinner following the tournament was open to players and non-players and included cocktails, a tremendous dinner by Chef Dan and the opportunity to bid on exclusive silent auction items. Numerous Members at The Club at Gateway also volunteered to help throughout the tournament.


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    About The Club at Gateway:


    Conveniently located near the airport, shopping, beaches and entertainment, The Club at Gateway is a private, yet casual country club, known as having the friendliest Members. The Tom Fazio Signature course features 6 sets of tees, playing over 7,000 yards with a par of 72. Meticulously maintained and included in Golf Digest’s list of “Top 100 Private Courses,” Tom Fazio rates the 10th hole as one of the top four greatest golf holes he has ever designed. With a 20-acre trend-setting “Golf Improvement Center,” it’s also the home of the Golf Channel Academy. Created by course architect Ron Garl, this first-class facility features a double-sided range, 4 short-game areas, fantastic putting green, and 2 practice holes, a par 3 and par 4. Club amenities include The Griffin Grille offering panoramic views of the course is just steps from the tee box. The tennis center with 6 lit har-tru courts, bocce complex and pickleball courts all offer comprehensive programs for players of all ages and abilities. Members can also participate in array of clubs, classes, games and social events. Under new ownership, over $5 million will be spent on the clubhouse renovations project and Members will not be required to pay any future assessments. For Information on Membership Opportunities and a Tour, please contact MJ Chappy at (239) 561-1012 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Read more

  • The Club at Gateway Renovation Update!

    Season is here, Members are back and the excitement continues as all eyes are on the Club renovation project. The new resort style pool is progressing nicely and now you can really see how enormous it will be and imagine yourself having a tropical drink at the pool bar with friends! What a great addition to the Club… beach entry, water features, dedicated lap lanes, 16-seat outdoor bar with TV’s offering specialty beverages and poolside entertainment for Club Members.

    A variety of water aerobics classes will also be provided for Members as part of the Club’s new fitness program. All categories of memberships (except Tennis Only) can participate in the water aerobics and fitness classes. Once the Fitness Center is completed, a large array of fitness classes will be offered in addition to the current fitness classes. The Fitness Center will be built complete with separate spinning and aerobics rooms, as well as, new cardio, weight and TRX training equipment.

    After all that exercise, it will be time to enjoy one of Chef Dan’s specialty pizzas made in his new wood burning oven. Chef Dan has perfected his dough recipe and combined it with the freshest ingredients from Italy and toppings for every palette. Everyone is looking forward to eating the best pizza around!

    Moving upwards, windows have been installed, drywall is up and members are anxious to see the dining room completed so they can start enjoying all that it has to offer.

    Another first class feature will be a 1,600 bottle glass wine cellar in the lobby area and a private wine room for dining and entertaining. Club amenities, tennis, pickleball, bocce, fitness center and pool including dining in the Grille Room remain open for Member enjoyment during the renovations.

    The Club at Gateway, known as “the friendliest Club in the area” is the recipient of the Best of Fort Myers Gold Award for “Best Private Golf Course & Country Club.” This distinguished award recognizes businesses with excellence in product, performance or services.

    “What a great time to join the Club, new amenities, no assessments and a special opportunity to join the Club and receive up to 6 MONTHS of FREE DUES,” states MJ Chappy, Membership Director.

    About The Club at Gateway:

    Conveniently located near the airport, shopping, beaches and entertainment, The Club at Gateway is a private, yet casual country club, known as having the friendliest Members. The Tom Fazio Signature course features 6 sets of tees, playing over 7,000 yards with a par of 72. Meticulously maintained and included in Golf Digest’s list of “Top 100 Private Courses,” Tom Fazio rates the 10th hole as one of the top four greatest golf holes he has ever designed. With a 20-acre trend-setting “Golf Improvement Center,” it’s also the home of the Golf Channel Academy. Created by course architect Ron Garl, this first-class facility features a double-sided range, 4 short-game areas, fantastic putting green, and 2 practice holes, a par 3 and par 4. Club amenities include The Griffin Grille offering panoramic views of the course is just steps from the tee box. The tennis center, bocce complex and pickleball courts all offer comprehensive programs for players of all ages and abilities. Members can also participate in array of clubs, classes, games and social events. Under new ownership, over $5 million will be spent on the clubhouse renovations project and Members will not be required to pay any future assessments.

    For Information on Membership Opportunities and a Tour, please contact MJ Chappy at (239) 561-1012 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Read more

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