The Suncoast is much like the rest of Florida in terms of year-round sunshine and golf courses.
From November through April, golf season is in full swing in the Sunshine State, and Manatee County has no shortage of courses for locals, snowbirds, and visitors.
It’s when the temperatures change from scorching summer to a bit cooler that the weather becomes very appealing to year-round residents and snowbirds for a short vacation or winter home away from cold northern climes.
And the area is on par with any other area in Florida – or nationally – when it comes to its golfing history.
So here’s some info on local links, where you can find yourself walking the same fairways as some legends in golf and other sports.
The Sarasota/Bradenton area has seen several legendary golfers play golf. The PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Champions Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and Symetra Tour have held tournaments locally.
The area’s golfing history goes even deeper than that.
In 1885, Scotsman John H. Gillespie arrived in Sarasota, where he began building one of the first courses in America – it is hotly debated which course was the first – in what later became the Bobby Jones Golf Club. The course’s namesake is one of the finest golfers ever seen. Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam of golf, all four majors in one season, in 1930.
He then founded The Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
Bobby Jones Golf Club in Sarasota honors his slam feat by naming his US and UK courses after his US Amateur, US Open, British Amateur and British Open titles for each of the nine on the respective courses.
The original architect was Donald Ross, who also designed the Sara Bay Country Club in southern Manatee County. This course hosted a stop on the LPGA Symetra Tour for six years, with the last event taking place in 2017. The table greens are reminiscent of a famous Ross course: North Carolina’s No. 2 Pinehurst. Coincidentally, Jones played the first match to christen Sara Bay, which was originally called Whitfield Estates, in an exhibition match with the “Silver Scot” Tommy Armour.
Baseball legend Babe Ruth played at Bobby Jones Golf Club and Sara Bay Country Club.
Another Ross design is the Bradenton Country Club, which has hosted several US Open qualifiers. Sara Bay and Bradenton Country Club were founded in the 1920s. It is also the home of Tony Jacklin, who won two major championships during his career. This includes the 1970 US Open, where he became the first UK player to win the event since 1925. He also won a British Open, and his key Ryder Cup moment with Jack Nicklaus in 1969 was the inspiration for The Concession Golf Club. Name.
This course – which Jacklin and Nicklaus co-designed – hosted the last high-level professional tournament when the PGA Tour World Golf Championship event scheduled for Mexico in 2021 was moved to the exclusive East Manatee course due to COVID-19 restrictions at the time. .
The concession, however, is a private club along with Sara Bay and Bradenton CC. Additionally, the Palm-Aire Country Club is another private club that got its start in southern Manatee County and once hosted the PGA Tour’s DeSoto Open, which legendary Sam Snead won in 1960. The Hall of Famer holds the record for most career wins on the PGA Tour. at 82 with Tiger Woods.
The Palm-Aire Champions Course also hosted the television show “All Star Golf”, later known as “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf”, as well as an LPGA Tour event and
Further south, TPC Prestancia in Sarasota was a regular Champions Tour stop in the 1990s through the early 2000s.
Golf courses to play
But these courses, apart from the Bobby Jones Golf Club, are private. The city’s River Run Golf Links is right next to Pirate City, where the Pittsburgh Pirates begin spring training before moving to LECOM Park.
River Run hosts the annual Bradenton City Men’s Amateur Tournaments and other amateur tournaments. It is a narrow site which requires precision from tee to green.
Bobby Jones GC is the city’s golf course in Sarasota, but is closed until early 2022. East Manatee venues like River Strand, Legacy Golf Club, Rosedale Golf and Country Club, The River Club, and Waterlefe Golf and River Club present various challenges and are among some of the best courses.
There’s also University Park Country Club, IMG Academy Golf Club, Moccasin Wallow Golf Club and unique executive-style courses to test your short game at Pinebrook/Ironwood Golf Club, Peridia Golf and Country Club and Timber Creek Golf course.
The two county courses, Buffalo Creek and Manatee County Golf Course, are operated by Pope Golf.
In total, the area has many golf courses to choose from, so there is no shortage of options throughout the year.