Bobby Jones Golf Complex
LOCATION: 1000 Circus Blvd., Sarasota.
PHONE: 955-8097 (automated tee times, 365-4653).
WEB SITE: www.bobbyjonesgolfclub.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Municipal; an eclectic mix of seniors, beginners and tourists (complex handles 140,000 rounds annually).
RATES: $11.60-$54.75, depending on the season.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1927/Donald Ross; Redesigned by Ron Garl.
HOLES: 45 (British Course, American Course and nine-hole John H. Gillespie Executive Course).
PRACTICE FACILITIES: A 10-station driving range, three putting greens, a chipping area and a bunker.
PAR/YARDAGE: British-Blue, 72/6,537; British-White, 72/6,184; British-Gold, 72/5,637; British-Red, 72/5,268; American-Blue, 71/6,039; American-White, 71/5,496; American-Gold, 71/4,799; American-Red, 71/4,326; Executive-Men’s, 30/1,716; Executive-Women’s, 30/1,483.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: British-Blue, 71.3/120; British-White, 70.0/118; British-Gold (men), 67.1/115; British-Gold (women), 72.5/121; British-Red, 70.4/117; American-Blue, 69.8/120; American-White, 67.6/109; American-Gold (men), 64.2/105; American-Gold (women), 67.5/106; American-Red, 64.5/101; Executive, not rated.
HEAD PRO: Paul Michaud.
DIRECTIONS: Take I-75 south to Fruitville Road and head west three miles to Beneva Road. Turn right and drive one block to Circus Boulevard. Take a right, and the entrance is on the right.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 6 on the American Course is a 459-yard par 5 reachable in two — if you’re brave enough to traverse the hazard guarding the green.
UNFORGETTABLE: The fairway of the first hole on the British is bisected by a diagonal creek, creating a dilemma for short hitters. Those who lay up must be accurate with a long iron or hybrid into a small green.
INSIDE INFO: The Bobby Jones 10-Play Card costs $16 and entitles bearers to 10 free green fees.
Bradenton Country Club
LOCATION: 4646 9th Ave. W., Bradenton
WEB SITE: www.bradentoncc.org.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Private.
RATES: $43-$68, depending on season; guests must play with members.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1924/Donald Ross; 1999/Ron Garl.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: A limited-distance, 30-station driving range, along with a putting green, chipping area and sand bunker.
PAR/YARDAGE: Gold, 71/6,712; White, 71/6,260; Green, 71/5,490; Blue, 71/4,796.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Gold, 72.3/125; White, 70.3/123; Green-men, 66.9/115; Green-women, 72.2/127; Blue-men, 63.2/105; Blue-women, 67.8/117.
HEAD PRO: Joe Stencik.
DIRECTIONS: Travel west on Manatee Avenue and turn left on 43rd Street W. Turn right on Ninth Avenue W. and proceed to the course.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 16, a 160-yard par 3. The tee shot is over a lake, and the green is framed by a front bunker, making the hole beautiful and dangerous.
UNFORGETTABLE: No. 5 — the No. 1 handicap hole — is a 438-yard par 4 that used to play as a par 5. Too far left, and you’re in the water. Too far right, you’re in a bunker.
INSIDE INFO: Ron Garl redesigned the course in 1999 while preserving the integrity of the original Ross design.
DID YOU KNOW?: The country club is the site of the annual Foundation for Dreams “Gatsby on the Greens” fundraiser, which features legends from the PGA Champions Tour.
The Concession Golf Club
LOCATION: Between State Road 70 and University Parkway, Sarasota.
WEB SITE: www.theconcession.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Private.
RATES: Members and guests only.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: Jan. 23, 2006/Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: A 23-acre learning area that includes two practice putting greens, a short range area with chipping green and three bunkers, seven target greens, and a practice area at each end of the facility.
PAR/YARDAGE: Black tees, 72/7,470; Blue tees, 72/6,600; White tees, 72/6,050; Red tees, 72/5,030.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Black, 77.6/155; Blue, 72.7/146; White, 70.0/139; Red, 69.7/122.
HEAD PRO: The Director of Golf is Jimmy Wright; Head Professional is Gary Geiger.
DIRECTIONS: From I-75, take University Parkway exit east for 7 miles to the entrance on the south side.
UNFORGETTABLE: The ambience of the area. Such an abundance of wildlife — from deer to wild turkeys — rarely is seen in this part of south Florida.
INSIDE INFO: The course has received national and international notice. Membership to the private club will be capped at 300.
DID YOU KNOW?: The Concession is named after the sportsmanship displayed by Jack Nicklaus at the 1969 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England, when he conceded a 2-foot putt to Tony Jacklin that resulted in a tied match between the European and American teams. The Americans retained the Ryder Cup trophy.
Paul Azinger, who captained the American’s to a U.S. Ryder Cup victory in 2008, holds the course record with a 7-under par 65.
Golf Club at Cypress Creek
LOCATION: 1011 Cypress Village Blvd., Ruskin.
PHONE: (813) 634-8888.
WEB SITE: www.cypresscreekgolfclub.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Public.
RATES: Before 1 p.m.: $59.95; After 1 p.m.: $39.95.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: Newly renovated 2007.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Driving range, putting green, chipping green, sand traps.
PAR/YARDAGE: Black, 72/6,839; Blue, 72/6,369; White, 72/6,009; Golf, 72/5,449; Red, 72/4,628.
HEAD PRO: Todd Pyle.
DIRECTIONS: Take exit 240 on I-75. Follow route 674 Eastbound and turn left at Cypress Village Blvd.
OTHER FACTS: Restaurant and bar at clubhouse.
The Founders Golf Club
LOCATION: 3800 Golf Hall Drive, Sarasota.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Private.
RATES: A member must accompany guests.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 2004/Robert Trent Jones Jr.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: All grass tees and target greens with a teaching center that includes chipping and putting greens, practice bunkers, a multi-camera system and launch monitor.
PAR/YARDAGE: Black 72/7,094; Pewter 72/6,450; Copper 72/6,157; Silver 72/5,635; Gold 72/5,085.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Black, 74.4/137; Pewter, 71.4/133; Copper, 69.7/129; Silver, 67.6/118, Gold, no rating.
HEAD PRO: Ed McConnell.
DIRECTIONS: 3 miles east of I-75 on Fruitville Road.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: Jones did not make a signature hole, insisting, “each one of them is.” But if you have to have one to remember, it’ll be the par-4 12th hole, with its intimidating bunkers that crowd both sides of the fairway.
UNFORGETTABLE: No. 4, a 528-yard par-5, is a slight dogleg right on which pot bunkers often play havoc with golfers’ second shots. The undulating green is shallow and difficult to hold and water on the right often comes into play.
INSIDE INFO: There are only 262 residential lots available at the club, and only 275 memberships are sold.
DID YOU KNOW?: The course is one of the few to be found with a full-time caddie program.
LOCATION: 3940 Upper Creek Dr., Sun CityCenter.
PHONE: (813) 633-4653.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: A lot of senior play. Great short game course for low handicappers.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Putting green.
PAR/YARDAGE: Gold, 63/3,099; Blue, 63/2,699; White, 63/2,393; Red, 63/2,022.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Gold, 78/56.0; Blue, 74/54.0; White, 70/52.3; Red, 67/51.0.
GOLF COURSE/PRO SHOP MANAGER: Bree Baker
DIRECTIONS: From Bradenton: North on I-75 to exit 240 (about 20 miles). Travel East to the first light and turn left onto Express Village Blvd. Travel to first street and make right on Upper Creek Dr. 1/2 mile on the right.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 6 Dogleg left with a blind tee shot to green.
OTHER FACTS: 3,200 yards to emerald fairways and greens. 18 holes: 9 par 4s, 9 par 3s. Longest fairway: 238 yards.
Heather Hills Golf Course
LOCATION: 101 Cortez Rd. W., Bradenton.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Semi-private; seniors, beginners and oriented toward league play in the winter.
RATES: $16-$30, depending on season.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1963/Roy Albert Anderson.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: A 12-station driving range.
PAR/YARDAGE: Men, 61/3,521; Women, 61/3,389.
HEAD PRO: Dick Miner.
DIRECTIONS: Turn south off Cortez Road next to Steak ’N Shake.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: The 330-yard eighth hole is a difficult driving challenge, with water on the right and out of bounds along the left.
UNFORGETTABLE: Let’s see what you’ve learned: No. 18 is a 188-yard par-3 with a lake in front of the green.
INSIDE INFO: It is one of the last remaining executive courses in the area.
DID YOU KNOW?: Twin sisters Aree and Naree Song, now professionals, practiced their short games here.
IMG Academies Golf & CC
LOCATION: 4350 El Conquistador Parkway, Bradenton.
WEB SITE: www.imgacademies.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Semi-private.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1972/Mark Mahannah; 2003/Gene Bates.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Driving range, putting green, pitching area and sand trap.
PAR/YARDAGE: No. 1, 72/6,855; No. 2, 72/6,536; No. 3, 72/6,182; No. 4, 72/5,756; No. 5, 72/5,270.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: No. 1, 73.5/139; No. 2, 72.0/135; No. 3, 70.0/126; No. 4-men, 68.4/116; No. 4-women, 73.4/131; No. 5, 70.8/127.
HEAD PRO: David Columbell.
DIRECTIONS: Travel south on U.S. 41 to westbound Bayshore Gardens Parkway. Parkway turns into El Conquistador Parkway; the clubhouse is on the left.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 3 is a 195-yard hole that requires a strong, accurate tee shot, lest the player hits into the water on the left or out of bounds and into traffic on the right.
UNFORGETTABLE: The toughest hole on the redesigned layout remains the 455-yard, par-4 fourth. With a huge oak tree on the right and sand on left, par is hard-earned and a birdie is like stealing.
INSIDE INFO: Who knows what future stars you might get to play with thanks to the IMG connection.
DID YOU KNOW?: IMG Academies purchased the course, facilities and the surrounding waterfront property back in 2005.
LOCATION: 6807 Buffalo Road, Palmetto.
WEB SITE: www.ilwgc.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Semi-private; players interested in a fun, fair test of golf.
RATES: $20-$40, depending on time of day.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1987/Ted McAnlis.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: An aqua range with grass tees, putting green and chipping area.
PAR/YARDAGE: Gold, 72/7,010; Blue, 72/6,739; White, 72/6,160; Silver, 72/5,597; Red, 72/5,232.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Gold, 73.9/136; Blue, 72.9/132; White, 71.0/126; Silver, 69.9/118; Red, 69.9/117.
HEAD PRO: Tracy Lowry.
DIRECTIONS: Exit 229 off I-75 to Moccasin Wallow Road, one mile north of I-75 and I-275 junction. Course is a quarter-mile ahead on the right side of Moccasin Wallow.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: The 18th is one of the most intimidating par 5s in the area. The dogleg left is 600 yards from the back tees and wraps around a lake from tee to green. The third shot is to a green that slopes toward the water.
UNFORGETTABLE: The redesign of the 310-yard 15th, necessitated by development, brings water into play on the approach shot to a narrow green.
DID YOU KNOW?: Scenic course is noted for its lakes, maples, oaks, palms and rolling terrain.
Key Royale Golf Club
LOCATION: 700 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach.
WEB SITE: www.keyroyaleclub.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Private executive. Between 600-700 members.
RATES: Guests must play with members; $12 for nine holes, $16 for 18 holes.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1965/Jim Cochran.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Hitting net, putting green and chipping area.
PAR/YARDAGE: Blue, 32/2,066; White, 32/1,978; Red, 32/1,833.
HEAD PRO: Danny Williams.
DIRECTIONS: West on Manatee Avenue to Gulf Drive N. Turn right and go one mile to Marina Drive. Turn right and go a half-mile to Key Royale Drive. Course is at the end of Key Royale Drive on the left.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 2 is a 305-yard dogleg test with a lake on the right. Players are discouraged from attempting to drive the green because it is not visible from the tee.
UNFORGETTABLE: The par-4 holes are short but tricky, featuring greens that slope from back to front and are easy to three-putt.
INSIDE INFO: The offices and kitchen areas have been renovated. The course was originally called School Key and was swampland until developer Bill Lee dredged the bay to build it.
Lakewood Ranch Golf & CC
LOCATION: 7650 Legacy Blvd., Bradenton.
WEB SITE: www.lakewoodranchgolf.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Private, about 600 members.
RATES: Seasonal, guests must play with a member, fees charged to member.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: Cypress Links 2001/Arnold Palmer; Kings Dunes 2004/Arnold Palmer; Country Club East 2008/Rick Robbins.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Large practice tees, multi-level double-ended range, 3 putting greens, several chipping greens and practice bunkers.
PAR/YARDAGE: Cypress Links—72/7,141-5,135; King’s Dunes—72/7,324-5,450; Country Club East—72/7,339-5,260.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Cypress Links — 74.3/133-69.1/120; King’s Dunes—76.3/145-71.9/130; Country Club East—74.6/125-69.2/110.
HEAD PRO: PGA member Mark Trotter.
DIRECTIONS: Located two miles east of I-75 off University Parkway. Heading east, turn left onto Legacy Boulevard, and the clubhouse is approximately a half-mile north of the gatehouse.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: The 590-yard, par-5 ninth on Cypress Links. It is a superb risk-reward hole designed to test skill and strategy.
DID YOU KNOW?: College basketball analyst Dick Vitale is a club member.
Links at Greenfield Plantation
LOCATION: 10325 Greenfield Blvd., Bradenton.
WEB SITE: www.linksatgreenfieldplantation.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Public; golf lovers of all ages and abilities.
RATES: $18-$42, depending on the season (call for rates).
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1998/Chip Powell.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Aqua range with floating targets; putting green.
PAR/YARDAGE: Black, 72/6,719; Blue, 72/6,262; White-men, 72/5,712; White-women, 72/5,739; Red, 72/4,944.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Black, 72.2/130; Blue, 70.0/126; White-men, 67.5/117; White-women, 73.0/131; Red, 68.2/112.
HEAD PRO: Peter Dennis.
DIRECTIONS: Take State Road 64 one mile east of I-75 and turn left.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: The eighth hole is the No. 1 handicap hole, and rightfully so. It’s a wicked, dogleg right that narrows near the green. In addition to water, there is a huge, deep sand trap on the right.
UNFORGETTABLE: Big hitters get their kicks on the 299-yard, par-4 second, but water down the left side can easily lead to a double-bogey or worse. Waterfowl and alligators add to the peaceful vista.
INSIDE INFO: Tournaments and leagues are welcome.
DID YOU KNOW?: The course is junior-friendly and plays host to the traditionally strong Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School boys team.
Longboat Key Club and Resort
LOCATION: 3200 Harbourside Dr., Longboat Key.
WEB SITE: www.longboatkeyclub.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Private.
RATES: Guests must play with a member or be a guest at the resort.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1982/Red, White nines; 1987/Blue nines, both by Willard Byrd; 2004/Blue, Ron Garl; 2005/Red, Ron Garl.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Driving range, putting green, sand trap.
PAR/YARDAGE: Red Nine, Blue, 36/3,323; White, 36/3,040; Gold, 36/2,821; Ladies, 36/2,666. White Nine, Blue, 36/3,426; White, 36/3,191; Gold, 36/2,985; Ladies, 36/2,803. Blue Nine, Blue, 36/3,376; White, 36/3,084; Gold, 36/2,836; Ladies, 36/2,599.
HEAD PRO: John Kindred.
DIRECTOR OF GOLF: Joey Rassett.
DIRECTIONS: Gulf Drive to Harbourside Drive on the east side of Longboat Key.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: The fifth hole on the Blue Nine is a 604-yard beast that is nearly impossible to reach in two shots. The player must be long off the tee and still avoid the two very long fairway bunkers on the left side.
UNFORGETTABLE: No. 5 Blue has it all — length, water, sand and beauty.
INSIDE INFO: The wildlife is the signature of the Harbourside layout. The birds, foxes and other exotic wildlife add to the golf experience.
DID YOU KNOW?: Designer Garl, who renovated the Blue and Red nines recently, wishes he had the foresight to buy property at the resort he started visiting in 1980.
LOCATION: 361 Gulf Of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key.
WEB SITE: www.longboatkeyclub.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Private.
RATES: Guests must play with a member or be a guest at the resort.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1960/Bill Mitchell.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Driving range, three chipping greens, putting green and sand trap.
PAR/YARDAGE: Blue, 72/6,792; White, 72/6,153; Gold 72/5,473; Forward 72/5,198.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Blue, 72.8/132; White, 69.6/129; Gold, 66.0/114; Red, 68.6/121.
HEAD PRO: Don Findley.
DIRECTIONS: Gulf Drive to the Longboat Key Club on the south end of the island, Gulfside.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 2 is not a long par-5 at 495 yards, but there is a creek 60 yards in front of the green, and the wind can be capricious.
UNFORGETTABLE: The par-5 18th is a traditional Florida-style hole, featuring large sand traps, water and an elevated green.
INSIDE INFO: Tee shots and approaches are extremely tough. If you strip it, you still have to hit a string. In March, it’s all crosswind.
DID YOU KNOW?: When it was built in 1960, the original course was a links design directly on the beach. A delight if you can afford to join or have connections.
Manatee County Golf Course
LOCATION: 6415 53rd Ave. W., Bradenton.
WEB SITE: www.mymanatee.org.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Ideal for average players.
RATES: $16-$51.50, depending on the season (call for current rates).
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1977/Lane Marshall.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Driving range, putting green, chipping green.
PAR/YARDAGE: Blue, 72/6,703; White 72/6,195; Gold 72/5,872; Red 72/5,587; Family, 72/3,375.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Blue, 72.3/126; White 69.8/121; Gold-men, 68.4/117; women, 73.4/124; Red 71.9/121.
CLUBHOUSE MANAGER: Dennis Bush.
DIRECTIONS: From U.S. 41, head west onto 53rd Avenue to the course on the right.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 4 is a deceiving, short par 5. If you don’t hit it dead center, there is no forgiveness.
UNFORGETTABLE: The 18th is a 543-yard par 5, featuring a dogleg-left fairway and water hazards on either side of the green.
INSIDE INFO: Greens were redone four years ago.
The Meadows Country Club
LOCATION: 3101 Longmeadow, Sarasota.
WEB SITE: www.meadowscc.org.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Meadows and Highlands courses are private; Groves open to the public.
RATES: $37.25 before noon to play The Groves, $31 after noon.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 2004 (redesign of private courses by Ron Garl); 1983 (Groves designed by Arthur Hills).
PRACTICE FACILITIES: A driving range, two putting greens, a chipping area and a separate teaching area.
PAR/YARDAGE: Meadows—Gold, 72/6,716; Blue, 72/6,314; White, 72/6,037; Green, 72/5,545; Red, 72/5,245. Highlands—Gold, 72/6,669; Blue, 72/6,375; White, 72/6,024; Green, 72/5,545; Red, 72/5,090. Groves—Blue, 65/4,182; White, 65/3,807; Red, 65/3,268.
HEAD PRO: Mike McClellan.
DIRECTIONS: Take I-75 south to University Parkway exit and head west to Honore. Turn left on Honore and travel to Longmeadow. Turn right and the club is 1 mile ahead on the left.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: The 387-yard, par-4 14th on the Groves course has bunkers surrounding the green and out of bounds left — along with a lake on the right — making this a hole that can ruin a scorecard.
INSIDE INFO: Memberships are available for the private courses. Call the main number for details.
Oak Ford Golf Club
LOCATION: 1552 Palm View Road, Sarasota.
WEB SITE: www.oakfordgolfclub.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Semi-private; golfers of all abilities who enjoy nature and challenging golf.
RATES: Vary by season, currently $23-$57; twilight rates available.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1989/Ron Garl.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Driving range, chipping green, putting green.
PAR/YARDAGE: Myrtle—Gold, 36/3,404; Blue, 36/3,189; White, 36/2,947; Red, 36/2,541 or 35/2,346. Palms—Gold, 36/3,349; Blue, 36/3,132; White, 36/2,862; Red, 36/2,510. Oaks—Gold, 36/3,330; Blue, 36/3,098; White, 36/2,867; Red, 36/2,544.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Palms-Myrtle — Gold, 72.5/131; Blue, 70.5/126; White, 68.6/119; Red, 68.1/118. Oaks-Palms —Gold, 71.8/129; Blue, 69.7/124; White, 67.8/116; Red, 68.8/116. Myrtle-Oaks — Gold, 72.1/130; Blue, 70.0/123; White, 68.0/116; Red, 67.6/116.
GENERAL MANAGER: John Trexler.
DIRECTIONS: Take I-75 south to Fruitville Road exit and drive 9 miles east. The entrance is on the south side of Fruitville.
UNFORGETTABLE: How difficult is the par-4 sixth on the Myrtle Course? Women have the option of playing the hole as a 135-yard par 3.
INSIDE INFO: The course has been rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest magazine, making it one of the state’s most-respected layouts.
DID YOU KNOW?: Oak Ford abuts an 800-acre wildlife preserve, which is home to wild boar, deer, bobcats, alligators and wild birds.
Palm Aire Country Club
LOCATION: 5601 Country Club Way, Sarasota.
WEB SITE: www.palmaire.net.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Private.
RATES: Guests must play with a member.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1957/Dick Wilson (Champions); 1982/Joe Lee (The Lakes).
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Driving range, two putting greens, pitching and sand-shot areas.
PAR/YARDAGE: Champions—Gold, 72/7,005; Blue, 72/6,453; White, 72/5,981; Red, 72/5,476; Green, 72/4,698. The Lakes—Gold, 72/6,698; Blue 72/6,440; White, 72/6,027; Red, 72/5,563; Green, 72/4,508.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Champions—Gold, 74.1/131; Blue, 70.8/129; White-men, 68.6/123; White-women, 74.6/128; Red, 71.9/122; Green, 68.1/119. The Lakes—Gold, 72.2/131; Blue, 70.8/124; White-men, 68.9/121; White-women, 75.0/130; Red, 72.3/123; Green, 67.0/115.
HEAD PRO: Steve Yates.
DIRECTIONS: From I-75, take University Parkway exit west to Whitfield Avenue. Turn right and drive one mile to flashing, four-way intersection and into Country Club Way. Follow the signs.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: Champs-No. 3, a 467-yarder, is a straightaway par 4, but there’s water to the left and a well-bunkered green. On the Lakes course, No. 3 is also the toughest — a 422-yard dogleg left that requires accuracy to a two-tiered green.
UNFORGETTABLE: No. 18 on the Champs course is a 400-yard par-4 to an island green. There is a fountain behind the green.
INSIDE INFO: Membership opportunities are available. Call the main number and ask for Kathleen Burck.
DID YOU KNOW?: Palm Aire was the home course for Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf. Many episodes were filmed there in the 1950s and ’60s, featuring such immortals as Sam Snead, Ken Venturi and Arnold Palmer.
Palmetto Pines Golf Course
LOCATION: 14355 Golf Course Rd., Parrish.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Open to the public; many beginning-level players and retirees.
RATES: Nov. 1-Dec. 31: $16.50 to walk, $25.50; Jan. 1-April 30: $21 to walk, $30 to ride; May 1-Oct. 31: call for rates.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1956, first nine; 1968, back nine/Floyd Myers.
HOLES: 36 (four 9-hole courses).
PAR/YARDAGE: Blue, 36/2,503; White, 37/2,855; Orange, 36/2,498; Red, 35/2,122.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Blue-White—men 65.8/107, women 70.6/115. Orange-Red—men 62.0/92, women 65.9/106.
GENERAL MANAGER-SUPERINTENDENT: Randy Bates.
DIRECTIONS: Take U.S. 301 north to 60th Street and turn right. Go one block to Fort Hamer Road and turn right. Take Fort Hamer to Golf Course Road. Left to the golf course.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: The white course’s ninth hole is a straightaway, 401-yard par 4 with a tree-lined fairway.
UNFORGETTABLE: Ever get eagle on a par 5? The 390-yard ninth on the Orange offers average golfers that chance, but beware of the water in front of the green.
INSIDE INFO: The purchase of the course by Neal Communities included a provision to donate one-fourth of 1 percent of home sales to Manatee County’s Boys and Girls Clubs.
DID YOU KNOW?: The ninth hole on the Orange Course was once used as a landing strip by the founder of the courses, Floyd Myers. He used to fly his plane in from Akron, Ohio, in the late 1950s and early ’60s.
Palm View Hills
LOCATION: 5712 28th Ave. E., Palmetto.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Semi-private executive course; largely for beginners and retirees looking for an affordable place to play.
RATES: $9-$24, depending on the season (call for current rates).
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1959/Dick Hamilton.
PAR/YARDAGE: Men, 63/3,485; Women, 63/3,122.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Putting and chipping green.
MANAGER: Gary Hamilton.
DIRECTIONS: Go north on U.S. 41 to 49th Street (Experimental Farm Road) and turn right. Drive one mile to 28th Avenue (Jackson Road) and turn left. Proceed to the course.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 3 is the one that will give beginners fits. It’s a long par 4 for Palm View at 302 yards, and with out of bounds on the left and water from about 75 yards off the green on the right, most players will be happy with a 4.
UNFORGETTABLE: The best-looking hole might be the 149-yard, par-3 17th. The elevation change and the old Florida hammock make it memorable.
INSIDE INFO: If you want to play, you can just show up. You don’t need a tee time in the summer. This short, flat course is fairly easy to play and the facility caters to beginners and seniors.
DID YOU KNOW?: The Hamilton family has operated the course since the late Dick Hamilton built it. Son Gary is the manager, and Gary’s son Greg is the course superintendent.
Pinebrook/Ironwood Golf Club
LOCATION: 4260 Ironwood Circle, Bradenton.
WEB SITE: www.pinebrookironwood.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Public course gets lots of use from nearby residents and offers a challenge to players of all skill levels.
RATES: $17-$39 depending on time of day and season; call for current rates.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1985/Dean Refram.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Driving net and putting green.
PAR/YARDAGE: Back tees, 68/3,706; Front tees, 68/3,146.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Back tees, 59.9/101; Front tees, 57.8/94.
HEAD PRO: Joel King.
DIRECTIONS: From U.S. 41, take Cortez Road west to the course entrance, which is on the north side of Cortez.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 15, at 378 yards, is a par-5 that appears easy until you play it. With water 30 yards in front of the green and out of bounds left, it might be a good idea to keep an extra ball handy.
UNFORGETTABLE: The sixth hole is a 296-yard par-4 with a mature oak in the middle of the fairway, requiring strategic placement off the tee. There also is out of bounds down the right side.
INSIDE INFO: The course takes great pride in its greens, which are unusually slick and smooth compared to most executive courses. The putting surfaces were renovated in the summer of 2003, when Champion ultradwarf was installed.
DID YOU KNOW?: Course superintendent Joe Nuzback has been at Pinebrook/Ironwood for about 15 years, and the dedication of Nuzback and his crew shows in the condition of the layout.
Preserve Golf Club at Tara
LOCATION: 7310 Tara Preserve Lane, Bradenton.
WEB SITE: www.golfthepreserve.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Semi-private; players of all skill levels.
RATES: $25-$65, depending on the season.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 2001/Ted McAnlis.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Driving range, putting green, chipping area.
PAR/YARDAGE: Eagle, 72/7,000; Hawk, 72/6,500; Heron, 72/6,005; Hummingbird, 72/4,870.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Eagle, 73.7/139; Hawk, 71.4/125; Heron, 69.7/115; Hummingbird, 69.4/112.
GENERAL MANAGER: Chad Barhorst.
DIRECTIONS: State Road 70 to Tara Blvd., then south on Tara to Tara Preserve Lane and the development on the left.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: The 580-yard, par-5 ninth features a demanding tee shot to a narrow landing area, and the second shot usually requires a layup short of the creek that flows in front of the green.
UNFORGETTABLE: The signature hole is the double-dogleg, 520-yard 16th. The hole takes a right and then left, with out of bounds on the left and water in the front of the tee.
INSIDE INFO: Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame member Billy Hardwick and his wife Rebecca live on the course.
DID YOU KNOW?: All the greens were renovated in the past couple years with Champion Bermuda and state-of-the-art GPS systems were added to the carts.
Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club
LOCATION: 15140 70th Terrace E., Bradenton.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Members and guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.
RATES: $195 regular season, $145 off-season.
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 2005/Tom Fazio.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Two private teaching areas, two putting greens and two chipping greens.
PAR/YARDAGE: Silver 72/7,033; Blue 72/6,557; Member 72/6,456; White 72/6,198; Green 72/5,791; Red 72/5,175.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Silver 73.7/128, Blue 71.5/124, Member 71.1/123, White-Men 70.0/120, Green-Men 68.3/115, White-Ladies 75.8/134, Green-Ladies 73.6/124, Red-70.1/114.
GOLF DIRECTOR: Glen Murray.
DIRECTIONS: Off I-75, take University Parkway, exit 213, east to Lorraine Road (approximately 3 miles). Turn left onto Lorraine and drive approximately 2 miles. The entrance is on the right.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 3 is a picturesque 208-yard, par-3. Members and guests hit into a green surrounded by bursts of color from native vegetation.
UNFORGETTABLE: The most challenging hole may be the 18th. This par-4 is 473 yards from the back tee. The fairway slopes left to right toward the lake in the final approach to the clubhouse.
INSIDE INFO: A “Premier” membership offers the privileges of full membership for any 30 days, providing access to The Members Spa Club and Members Beach Club on Lido Key.
DID YOU KNOW?: Fazio had “total freedom” of design with this project, with no residential land use and the largest landscape budget he’d ever received for a Florida golf course.
River Isles Golf Course
LOCATION: 3917 River Walk Court, Bradenton.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Members and guests.
RATES: Guests must play with a member.
YEAR BUILT: 1972.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Putting and chipping area.
PAR/YARDAGE: White tees, 30/1,600; Red tees, 32/1,477.
SUPERINTENDENT: George Cook.
GOLF ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT: Don Wagner.
DIRECTIONS: State Road 64 to Oakleaf Blvd. (two miles west of I-75). South on Oakleaf to Lakewood Avenue. Right on Lakewood to the course.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: The 125-yard fourth hole features an elevated tee and green, with a pond on the right-hand side of the fairway. More often than not, wind is a factor.
UNFORGETTABLE: No. 3 has water and trees on the right with homes on the left. From the fairway on this 234-yard, par 4, the green complex is very pleasing to the eye.
INSIDE INFO: River Isles is located in a 55-and-older retirement community.
DID YOU KNOW?: Member John Walukonis has 14 holes in one on the course, including nine combined aces on Nos. 4 and 5.
River Run Golf Links
LOCATION: 1801 27th St. E., Bradenton.
WEB SITE: www.riverrungolflinks.com.
WHO PLAYS HERE?: Public; kids, seniors, league players and tournament types.
RATES: $9-$40.50, depending on season (call for current rates).
YEAR BUILT/ARCHITECT: 1987/Ward Northrup; 2005/Jed Azinger and Gordon Lewis.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Putting green; enhancements planned.
PAR/YARDAGE: Championship, 70/6,293; Men, 70/5,809; Gold, 70/5,331; Women, 70/4,709.
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: Championship, 70.9/131; Men, 68.3/128; Gold, 65.9/119; Women, 66.9/119.
HEAD PRO: Clint Wright.
DIRECTIONS: 27th Street E. between Manatee Ave. and 26th Avenue E. Adjacent to Pirate City.
HOLE TO REMEMBER: No. 11 — formerly No. 2 before the recent renovation — is a long par 4 with pepper trees left of the fairway and a narrow landing area from the tee.
UNFORGETTABLE: With a small green protected by sand traps and a pond to the right, the 195-yard 17th (formerly