The Must Play Golf Courses in Sarasota
Nearing retirement and on the hunt for a new place to call home? Florida has a long-standing and well-deserved place in the minds of Americans as the retirement hotspot. Whether it’s the sunshine, white-sanded beaches, theme parks, or generous tax-breaks, it’s no surprise that no place in the country draws in as many retirees looking for their slice of paradise as Florida.
Studies have shown an active lifestyle is key to a happy, healthy retirement. When it comes to maintaining an active retirement, there are a number of paths to the same destination. For many retirees, especially in Florida, that pathway is golf.
For most Americans, the first thing to come to mind when talking about Florida is retirement, and there’s a good chance that golf would be the second. Florida is home to more golf courses than any other state in the country, and so much choice can make things difficult for retirees looking for a place to set their tee.
Known to many as the “Cradle of American Golf,” Sarasota is an excellent place to start. Whether you’re a life-long linksman or a newcomer to the sport, of the 29 golf courses in Sarasota, there's something for everyone. The history of golf communities in Sarasota runs deep, dating back to 1885 when John Hamilton Gillespie brought the sport to town from his native Scotland, establishing the first course the following year.
With its stunning beaches, proximity to Tampa Bay and its reputation as “Florida’s Cultural Coast,” Saratoga’s got plenty to love outside of the country club, as well. There are also a number of excellent active adult communities in Sarasota for when it comes time to pack up the clubs and head home for the evening.
Some people are born with golf in their blood, but there’s no reason that those of us who get bit by the golf bug later in life can’t get up to par and enjoy a golf-centered retirement. For Sarasotans looking to jump-start their golf game, The Golf Academy at University Park offers a wide range of courses and clinics led by PGA pros to get you ready for tee-time in no time.
First and Second Swing Beginner Series’ will get you started off on the right foot, while the 1,2, or 3-day Golf School courses give experienced but out-of-practice golfers an opportunity to shake off the sand and do a deeper dive into the game. The Friday Clinic and Cocktail is a fun, active alternative to Friday Happy Hour where LPGA Pro Sue Ertl leads you through a quick three holes before capping the experience off with cocktails and a casual Q&A.
The course itself is also a local favorite amongst more experienced golfers, very well-maintained with generous fairways, excellent fairways and friendly staff.
If you feel you’ve graduated from the Academy or this isn’t your first rodeo, the award-winning Arnold Palmer-designed Legacy Golf Course is a beautiful jaunt through the Florida wetlands with enough unique twists and turns for returning players without being too punishing for newer golfers to enjoy.
Stretching out over 7,000 yards of oak and pine-lined wetlands teeming with wildlife, the course is known for its frequent water-hazards and unconventional approaches. Tricky as they are, the hardest shots are like puzzles waiting to be solved, rewarding those with the patience to hack away until the solution is found.
The off-course amenities are spectacular, as well. With practice facilities, some of the best gourmet pizza in town, a well-stocked and well-staffed bar, and tournament and event hosting, there’s more than enough reason to make Legacy your home-away-from-home.
Once you’ve worked your way through town, hopping from green to green, conquering every fairway along the way, it’s time to take on one of the ultimate challenges golf courses in Sarasota have to offer: The Concession.
Inspired by Jack Nicklaus’s tie-braking concession to Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder cup, The Concession is an ode to the spirit of friendly competition shared by the two champions. Both renowned course-designers in their own rite, this course is the result of a one-off collaboration between the two. Named “Best New Golf Course” by Golf Digest upon its opening in 2006, the 77.6-rated course provides thrill after thrill over nearly 7,500 yards of immaculate, fast greens, expansive bunkers, and generous fairways.
With its notoriety, renown, and top-notch practice facilities, it’s no wonder that several Pro players call The Concession their home course.
If you’re looking to retire in one of the world’s strongest golf communities, in Sarasota you’ll find unparalleled access to the training facilities, courses, and pro events that will make your retirement worth the lifetime of work you’ve put in. Check out these active adult communities in Sarasota today!
Contributed to The 55+ Society by Brittney Villalva
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