Return to Case Study Briefs

Old Collier Golf Club

Landscape Performance Benefits


  • Protects 53 acres of mangrove and wetlands bordering the Cocohatchee River as a wildlife preserve.
  • Retains on-site rainfall in addition to runoff from a nearby neighborhood for a 25-year storm event using 11 water management lakes, which keep pollutant discharge to the river at or below permitted levels.
  • Established 109 acres of interconnected native upland scrub habitat by preserving 45 acres and creating 64 new acres. This habitat supports the vulnerable gopher tortoise among other species.
  • Increased the number of bird species on the site from 60 to 118, including nesting bald eagles, osprey, and purple martins. The site has also seen a significant increase in local fauna, including alligators, foxes, and gopher tortoises.


  • Saves $35,000 annually in water use compared to a typical golf course by using brackish water from the adjacent Cocohatchee River for irrigation.

At a Glance

  • Designer

    Fazio Golf Course Designers; Turf Ecosystems

  • Project Type

    Golf course
    Nature preserve

  • Former Land Use


  • Location

    790 Main House Drive
    Naples, Florida 34110
    Map it

  • Climate Zone

    Tropical savanna

  • Size

    267 acres

  • Budget

    $10 million

  • Completion Date


Old Collier Golf Club is the world’s first Audubon International Certified Gold Signature Sanctuary, a designation that recognizes excellence in environmental planning for new and undeveloped golf courses. The site previously comprised mixed uplands and wetland habitat along the Cocohatchee River. Because of the myriad environmental challenges of developing a golf course on the site, particularly those associated with water, the designers decided to go above and beyond permitting requirements to work with Audubon International and create a landscape with mutual advantages for both golfers and wildlife. Although a major goal was to invoke an “Old Florida” feel on the property, the design features new approaches to water use (including the first time that brackish water has ever been used for golf course irrigation), land management, selection of turfgrass species, and maxi maximizing the use of native plants. The result is a course that offers a magnificent golf experience and provides an international model for environmental stewardship.


The site’s most significant challenges were water-related. The site is located 3/4 of a mile from the Gulf of Mexico and is adjacent to the Cocohatchee River, a designated Outstanding Florida Water. The area was under intense development pressure and had experienced water restrictions. A significant limitation, particularly for a golf course, was that no practical source of fresh water for irrigation was available nearby.


Old Collier pioneered the “tee-to-green” use of two types of seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), a native salt-tolerant turf grass that can be irrigated with brackish water, which is readily available from the river. The landscape comprises native plants that can survive without irrigation and chemicals while providing superior play aesthetics. 

  • Turf areas were limited to 77 acres, 35% less than the 90- to 130-acre average for golf courses. Reduction of turf are reduces irrigation needs, nutrient runoff, and maintenance costs.
  • Salt-tolerant native vegetation including sand pine (Pinus clausa), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens), and wildflowers reduces the need for irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers.
  • Protective berms divert surface runoff away from the mangrove buffer and Cocohatchee River.
  • The low-pressure computerized irrigation system features 2,700 sprinkler heads (a typical course has 800 to 1,200), lower sprinkler angles, and soil probe analysis to apply brackish water only on turf grass, representing a much more efficient use of water than a standard system.
  • Diffusers in lakes and wetlands provide oxygen to prevent fish kills, last longer, and use 75% less electricity than fountains.
  • Concrete cart paths were installed only in high-use areas and on slopes; pervious crushed concrete screenings that blend in visually with the white sand are used elsewhere. Concrete lasts longer than asphalt, is 40 to 70°F  cooler and is not petroleum-based.
  • Golf course bridge surfaces, benches, trash cans, and water coolers are made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastics.
  • Reduced turf acreage saves $20,000 annually in nitrogen application costs and reduces man hours, fuel consumption, and machinery for maintenance.
  • Irrigating at night saves $1,700 per month in peak electrical demand charges and is more efficient with less misting and evaporation from wind and sun.
  • The state-of-the-art irrigation will last 5-8 years longer than a standard system.
  • The involvement of Audubon International was key. Their approach fostered design and operations that improve the long-term health of the site and surrounding watershed through an integrated resource management plan, which required that each decision have an ecological benefit.

Project Team

Landscape Architect and Project Lead: Fazio Golf Course Designers
Client: Collier Enterprises
Golf Course Manager: Tim Hiers, Old Collier Golf Club
Design/Irrigation: Turf Ecosystems
Partner: Audubon International

Role of the Landscape Architect

Jan Bel Jan, a registered landscape architect, served as project lead. She worked within the small team in a process that incorporated sustainable design principles in an approach where multiple missions, plans, and goals were addressed.


Land efficiency/preservation, Stormwater management, Habitat creation, preservation & restoration, Populations & species richness, Operations & maintenance savings, Wetland, Permeable paving, Native plants, Efficient irrigation, Biodiversity

The LPS Case Study Briefs are produced by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), working in conjunction with designers and/or academic research teams to assess performance and document each project. LAF has no involvement in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the projects. See the Project Team tab for details. If you have questions or comments on the case study itself, contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Help build the LPS: Find out how to submit a case study and other ways to contribute.