Sarasota: Where golf and culture combine for the ideal couples vacation

By Travel ArticlesDecember 3, 2012, 4:16 pm

Here's the suggestion from your spouse: I want to play some great golf, but I hope there are other things to do besides shopping and dining.

Your answer should be: 'Hey, I've got a great idea. Let's go to Sarasota.'

Encompassing places like Longboat Key, Lido Key and Siesta Key, the Sarasota area is an engaging blend of excellent golf courses, white sand beaches and some of Florida's most significant cultural attractions.

Following a round of golf, there are numerous options to visit museums, attend live theater, dance and musical performances and browse art galleries.

Sarasota's cultural scene

Dubbed 'Florida's Cultural Coast,' the Sarasota area is home to a professional symphony, ballet, opera, seven live performance theaters, several museums and more than 30 art galleries.

Enhancing the experience is St. Armands Circle, a European-style promenade lined with upscale restaurants, sidewalk cafes and designer boutiques.

The epicenter of culture in Sarasota is the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which is housed on the site of the circus magnate's former estate overlooking Sarasota Bay. The museum has one of the largest collections of Rubens paintings in the world along with many other works by notable artists. Other highlights are the Circus Museum, the 56-room Venetian Gothic palace that served as Ringling's residence, and the Asolo Theater, a magnificent structure that was built in Italy in the 1800s, then dismantled and reassemble at the Ringling estate in the 1940s.

Excellent events

If you enjoy live performances, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, offers musical entertainment and Broadway revivals throughout the year.

A great way to enhance a golf getaway to Sarasota is to plan it around one of its many local festivals.

For film buffs, the Sarasota Film Festival in April and Sarasota Film Society Cine-World Film Festival in November are highly regarded happenings.

For music enthusiasts, the Sarasota Music Festival, staged for three weeks every June, brings the best up-and-coming young musicians from around the world to the city, and the Sarasota Blues Fest is a rockin' good time in September.

The most comprehensive festival on the calendar is the Ringling International Arts Festival in October. Under the artistic direction of the Baryshnikov Arts Center, this festival has performances in dance, music, theater and film.

Sarasota offers golf options galore

When it's time to tee it up, Sarasota's golf possibilities are an excellent compliment to its cultural offerings.

One of my favorites is the Ted McAnlis-designed Tatum Ridge Golf Links, a Scottish-style links course with 11 lakes and lots of wildlife. I can't guarantee any birdies on the scorecard, but you'll see lots of interesting birds in this natural setting.

McAnlis also designed the Misty Creek Country Club, a Billy Casper Golf-managed course in a wilderness setting where golfers have seen everything from deer and bobcat to alligators and wild boar.

Natural woodlands and native habitat have also been well preserved at University Park Country Club, a 27-hole complex fashioned by Lakeland, Fla.-based designer Ron Garl. Ideal for all skill levels, the course has six tee placements on every hole.

If you hear locals in the Sarasota area talk about playing 'The Cat', they're referring to Bobcat Trail Golf Club, a design by former PGA champion Bob Tway and architect Lee Singletary. The design duo consistently forces you to make choices about your aggressiveness on this 'risk-reward' layout. The 411-yard, par-4 ninth is the signature hole. With water skirting the entire left side, it requires an approach to a wildly undulating green. My advice: Score par, smile wildly and head quickly to the 10th tee.

For a superb municipal golf experience, the Bobby Jones Golf Club is the only golf facility situated within the city limits of Sarasota. Only one of the 45 golf holes has any building development, making it a pleasurable way to spend four or five hours. Donald Ross fans love the British Course, designed by the Scotsman in 1926, which offers elevated dome shaped greens, open fairways and strategically placed bunkers.

One of the newer courses in the area is the Sarasota National Golf Club, a Troon Golf-managed facility that opened in 2008. If you play from the tips, you better bring a big stick as the championship tees measure 7,334 yards. Laid out around wetlands and natural areas, the course was designed by Naples, Fla.-based architect Gordon Lewis, who has fashioned several courses in southwest Florida, including Heritage Bay Golf and Country Club and ArrowHead Golf Club in Naples.

Arnold Palmer design fans are drawn to the Legacy Golf Club, a superb Troon Golf-managed, upscale daily-fee course with wide fairways, multiple elevated tees, numerous holes framed with water and sand, and a high service level.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.