Golf Coast News


According to the National Golf Foundation, one of the byproducts of golf’s pandemic-fueled resurgence has been an uptick in course construction.

One example in the Sarasota-Bradenton area is the reopening of Bobby Jones Golf Club. It closed prior to the pandemic, underwenst a major renovation anf opened Dec. 16.

It’s important to note, however, that the U.S. isn’t in the early stages of another building boom. The best-supplied golf market in the world is still seeing more course closures than new openings.

But landowners and developers who were sitting on the sidelines for a while are finding opportunity in certain markets that can support it. Consider that this year’s new openings were heavily weighted in states like Florida, Texas and South Carolina.

Nationwide, NGF is currently tracking 69 new courses of varying lengths and type under construction, and another 47 that are in planning (see definition below.) When it comes to courses actively under construction, the current count is a far cry from the 400+ that were being built two decades ago, but almost double the recent three-year pre-pandemic average.

NGF members interested in learning more can purchase our Construction Report, which tracks projects from the planning stages to opening day. This year, there have been more new openings in the U.S. than any time in more than a decade, some of which you can read about in this Spotlight sidebar.

The figures above pertain specifically to all-new courses, whether it’s an addition to an existing course or a ground-up project. There’s even far greater investment across the industry in the form of ongoing improvements at existing golf facilities – from renovations and restorations to full rebuilds.

When it comes to current new course development specifically, there are some marked differences:

  • About two-thirds of brand-new course projects are private clubs. By comparison, private facilities account for about 25% of the national supply.
  • About two-thirds of new course additions are at public facilities.

Once the year-end numbers are finalized next month, members will be able to find more in NGF’s forthcoming Facilities and Golf Industry (Graffis) reports.

Golf Coast News


Dan Smith has been playing at Bobby Jones Golf Club since 1967, the year I arrived in Sarasota.

A low handicapper, Smith has played more tournaments at Bobby Jones than most people.

That’s why he pushed city officials to renovate the courses years ago. He could not be more excited about the new Bobby Jones.

“I knew it was going to be light years better, but I was stunned,” he saId.

” Right out of the gate, the subtle stuff that changed the look: the mounding, the bunkering, the connecting of fairways and tees. There was something really cool about every hole. It’s a game changer and the practice facility is outstanding.”
Other golfers are just as impressed.

“Richard Mandell’s faithful Ross restoration brings stately city park golf back to Sarasota in the form of a highly playable classic with mellow greens & plenty of eccentric fairway mounding. The #munaissance!” – Tim Gavrich, Senior Writer, NBC Golfpass

“Bobby Jones Golf Club is an ace. The greens are larger and have more nuances and character than I remember. The fairways are wider with more mounding. You get the impression the elevation changes, where truth be told, none exist on the property. Most impressive to me is the practice facilities. Mandell has given Sarasota a spectacular golf course. Bobby Jones Golf Club is absolutely stunning.” – Michael Duranko (Sarasota Golfer and Writer)

Golf Coast News


Soleta Golf Club Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony as Construction Begins

MYAKKA CITY—Soleta Golf Club recently held a groundbreaking ceremony to officially mark construction of the highly anticipated Nick Price Design golf course that expects to open for play in late 2024.

According to Managing Partner and developer, David Turner, “The Soleta project finally is underway with equipment on site for our private residential club community. A superb Nick Price course coupled with David Leadbetter’s 30-acre “field of dreams” signature practice facility presents a golf experience unmatched by any club in the state or elsewhere.”

The 7,400 yard, par-72 Soleta Golf Club course is routed separately from the location of the planned 93 luxury residences and many other amenities. Holes will wind through the undisturbed sanctuary-like land and of great importance is the commitment to the preservation of all wetlands with absolutely no impacts to these sensitive areas. Water conservation also is a critical issue, as is the enhancement of wildlife habitat and sound environmental stewardship. Price’s courses focus on the art of strategy and his designs embody a handcrafted approach that requires a significant investment of personal hours overseeing details from start to finish.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to design the golf course at Soleta,” said architect Nick Price. “We’re part of a great team assembled to create a special place for golfers to play, spend time with friends and have fun. The property has wetlands, uplands, open grassland and some great trees. We’ve laid out the golf course to take advantage and incorporate those natural features into the design of holes. Importantly, no wetlands will be impacted or eliminated anywhere on the property. These natural elements will be part of what gives the golf course its natural look and feel.”

According to Price, the golf course will have a natural and open feel incorporating sand and native areas.  Course conditions will be firm and fast and challenge golfers with a variety of shot making choices.

Renowned golf instructor David Leadbetter, who has coached touring professionals to major championship titles and worldwide tournament victories, discussed his design of a world-class  practice and indoor performance facility.  Aptly named “The Field of Dreams,” the grounds will contain different grasses, a variety of greens and elevation changes to help players fine tune their games to be tournament ready.  In addition to the expansive outdoor practice areas, the indoor center will include a state-of-the-art biomechanics studio, club fitting, a putting studio, simulators and other advanced training technologies. 

Three exclusive enclaves (The Sanctuary, The Ranch and Village Bungalows) will accommodate the 93 custom built luxury residences.  Two celebrated builders, John Cannon Homes and Anchor Builders, will design the perfect lifestyle retreat.  One-acre plus estates will be available.  All home sites are conveniently situated within one mile of the clubhouse.  Additionally, 14 club cottages will be reserved for members and guests.

A limited number of National Golf memberships, in addition to Full Golf, Sports and Social categories, are available now.  For more information, contact Membership Director Alan Pope at [email protected] or (407) 284-0888.  Visit for updates on course construction and further details about the exceptional Soleta Golf Club lifestyle community.


       [email protected]         

Golf Coast News


BRADENTON –David Toms won Presidents Cups for the United States in 2005, 2007 and 2011, and now, 12 years after his last team golf victory, he can stake
a claim as a member of the winning team in the first World Champions Cup.
Toms made birdie on the eighth hole of the final singles group Sunday at The Concession Golf Club to put the Americans in the lead, then split the available
points on the ninth and final hole as Team USA held on for a victory that couldn’t have been any closer. Team USA’s 221 points was just two points better than Team International’s tally over the three-day tournament. Team Europe was third with 208.
“You know, I really didn’t think we had a chance (coming down to the last few holes), because in the middle of the back nine, last time I saw a scoreboard,
we were down like six points,” Toms said. “On No. 8 I had a putt to win the hole and one of the guys in the crowd said something to the effect that it was a big putt.
“Then I got to the (ninth) tee, and I heard ‘USA! USA’ after Billy (Andrade) made his putt and I was like, man, we have to be in good shape. And then to have
to play that hole, you’re the last guy playing that hole and it was tough. You’re just trying to finish. I hit a good tee shot; that was the big part of it, trying to get that in the fairway.
“Then to have a 4-iron, I made a comment to one of the guys outside, I said I’ve hit a lot of meaningful shots in my career just because I played golf for so
long and that one right there was one of the most nervous types of situations I’ve ever had having to hit a shot not quite knowing what was going on, but after I hit it, I obviously knew what was going on. Man, I was just, I guess I was ready for the moment,
I’m not really sure, but it felt good out there.”
The World Champions Cup is an annual three-team, three-day competition contested across nine-hole matches featuring team formats and singles play,
with points being earned for each hole won in each of the event’s 24 matches. Each of the three teams competing in the World Champions Cup consisted of six players, including a Playing Captain. Inspired by the passion and tradition of the Ryder Cup and Presidents
Cup, the World Champions Cup is officially sanctioned by PGA TOUR Champions.
Jerry Kelly led all 18 players in the competition with 61 total points. He scored double-digit points in five of the six sessions.
“These guys just fought, and I mean fought really hard,” Team USA Captain Jim Furyk
said. “I’m just so happy for them. It was a pleasure to be their captain. It was a pleasure to work with them all week. We’re
good buddies every week of the year, but to get together as a team is really cool. Just so
happy for everyone.”
Following Thursday’s opening day of play featuring morning six-ball and afternoon Scotch sixsomes (modified alternate shot), Team Europe held a slim lead, with
55.5 points to Team USA’s 55 and Team International’s 51.5. Friday brought the same format but slightly different results, as the International squad surged into the lead with 111.5 points, followed by Team USA with 111 and Team Europe with 101.5.
Team International continued to play well in Sunday morning’s singles round, though their 167 points heading into the tournament’s final nine holes hardly gave them a comfortable lead. Team USA was just a half point behind, and Team Europe was also within striking distance with 153.5.
Toms scored 11 of an available 27 points in his Sunday morning match, while Kelly totaled 12.5 and Steve Sticker had 10. In the afternoon groups, Toms and Kelly
each totaled 10, while Vice Captain Billy Andrade, pressed into action when Furyk’s back issues kept him off the course, scored 11 in a matchup with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Hall of Famer Vijay Singh. Andrade had never played in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.
“Just being with this team is amazing,” Andrade said. “You know, I just wanted to not be the anchor. I really wanted to contribute as much as I could. I’m just
absolutely floored to be a part of this and have this experience, especially at my age.”
The International team got 12 points from Captain Ernie Els on Sunday morning, along with 10 each from Singh and Steven Alker. Stephen Ames scored 10.5 points
Sunday afternoon, Alker had 10, and Els and K.J. Choi each totaled 9.5, but it wasn’t enough.
The U.S. team played solid,” said Team International Captain Ernie Els. “Coming down the stretch, I played with Brett Quigley, he made a solid birdie on 17
and a solid par on 18. No. 18 was playing tough, and the U.S. guys just kept grinding out the 18th. We just couldn’t make that one putt up the hill. I missed it, K.J. missed it, Vijay missed it. Unfortunately, Retief had such a tough lie.”
“What a week, what a format. This thing works.”
Team Europe fell behind Sunday morning and couldn’t keep the pace Sunday afternoon.
“Yeah, it was brilliant. The whole event was fabulous,” Team Europe Captain Darren Clarke said. “It was great. We just — unfortunately we found ourselves with
a lot to do coming into today.
We knew that anyway. The International guys and the American guys just played better than we
have this week unfortunately. Made a few more putts than Team Europe did, but that’s what
a team event — that’s what golf is sometimes, especially in the team events.”
The Concession Golf Club was named the Best New Private Course in America by Golf Digest in 2006. The seed of what would become The Concession Golf
Club was planted in 1969, with Jack Nicklaus’ famous gesture of conceding the final putt in the Ryder Cup to Tony Jacklin, clinching the first tie in the competition’s history. Decades later, the two golf legends paired up to design and create The Concession
Golf Club — a championship, privately-owned golf facility with no houses lining the course. The course has hosted the PGA TOUR’s 2021 World Golf Championships-Workday Championship at The Concession, the 2015 Men’s and Women’s NCAA Division I championships
and the biennial Concession Cup.

Golf Coast News


The long-anticipated opening of the renovated Bobby Jones Golf Course in Sarasota is finally here and the community is invited to participate in the grand reopening celebration for the club and Nature Park from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Dec. 15 at the restored historic municipal golf course and new nature park, 1000 Circus Blvd.

The free, family-friendly event will include:

Self-guided tours of the 199-acre golf course restored to the original layout as designed by famed golf architect Donald Ross
Guided and self-guided tours of the 90-acre nature park
Remarks from local dignitaries committed to enhancing water quality, conservation and recreation
Ceremonial first ball tee-off
Commemorative keepsake for the first 450 attendees
“This will be a day to celebrate and remember,” said Mayor Liz Alpert. “Our historic municipal golf course has been restored and is a beautiful amenity for the community. The new wetlands already are cleaning stormwater and attracting wildlife. And, the nature park and trails will be a destination for birders, bicyclists, and walkers. With a conservation easement on the property, it will be protected in perpetuity. There’s no question Bobby Jones will be an urban oasis for those who enjoy green space and being outdoors for generations to come.”

The Golf Course

The golf complex features:

Restored 18-hole Donald Ross-designed course
Renewed 9-hole adjustable Gillespie Course that can be played five different ways with 30 hole options
25-acre practice facility featuring:
Driving range with 70 hitting stations
3.75 acre short game area with three chipping greens and two teardrop target greens
21,000 square foot putting green
Temporary clubhouse with food and beverage service
“Bobby Jones Golf Club in Sarasota is as significant as they come because the land on which Donald Ross created this masterpiece is still intact, allowing us to restore his original plan,” said Richard Mandell, golf course architect. “The reintroduction of strategic mounding throughout the layout Ross planned long ago will be new and different from what many Ross golf aficionados are accustomed to playing. Bobby Jones has exceeded even my expectations as we approach opening day. I’m extremely excited to play the course myself.”

Mandell introduced “tee shot distance equity” offering six tee boxes at varying distances to create an enjoyable experience for all players and maximize club selection for all talent levels. The golf course yardage extends from 4,583 yards to 6,714 yards.

“By adding forward tee distances, we’re welcoming a wider range of golfers at different skill levels,” said Sue Martin, Parks and Recreation team member who managed the golf course and shepherded the restoration. “Traditionally, red tees have been the closest to a hole, then white and blue tees farther away. Golf is evolving. With three additional tee distances, more options are available for golfers at Bobby Jones to have fun and add variety to their game, whether they’re a novice or lifelong player.”

For those who want to experience the golf course as Donald Ross originally planned, a special set of “Ross tees” allow golfers to play from the Ross distance of 6,240 yards. The course plays to a par of 71.

The Ross Course will open for golf at 7 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16. Reservations can be booked online at beginning Saturday, Dec. 2.

The redesigned 9-hole Gillespie short course will reopen in early 2024 and feature adjustable holes, meaning the maintenance crew can rearrange holes. As many as 30 different hole combinations will be available, offering golfers distinct, new experiences.

The permanent clubhouse is anticipated to be constructed and open to the public in approximately two years.

The City borrowed $20 million to fund the golf course restoration and new clubhouse.

Bobby Jones Golf Club will turn 100 years old in 2027.

Nature Park at Bobby Jones

The Nature Park at Bobby Jones encompasses 90 acres on the eastern portion of the property and features crushed shell and decommissioned golf cart paths repurposed into walking/bicycling trails around the newly created wetlands teeming with wildlife. The 1.57 mile Eagle Trail is the primary path with three offshoots:  Prairie Trail (.4 mile), Hammock Trail (.12 mile) and Osprey Trail (.07 mile). Access to the trails is adjacent to the driving range.

The nature park is free and open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. The park will be closed when the golf course is closed.

Conservation Easement

Following extensive community discussion over five years, the City Commission in 2022 unanimously approved downsizing Bobby Jones Golf Club from 45-holes to 27. The non-golf green space, totaling nearly 100-acres, was designated a nature park.  

The Commission also unanimously approved a conservation easement on the property in partnership with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast. The agreement means the City-owned property will remain a protected, preserved green space in perpetuity.

“The grand reopening of Bobby Jones Golf Club and Nature Park is truly a joyous moment for our community,” said Christine P. Johnson, president of Conservation Foundation. “We worked for years, side-by-side with the City of Sarasota, citizens and community advocacy groups to ensure the permanent protection of this centrally located park. Benefiting people and nature, kids and grown-ups, wildlife and waterways – forever protecting Bobby Jones is a win for our entire community. We are thankful for the City’s foresight and willingness to conserve this special place.”

Water Quality

Covering 307 acres, the Bobby Jones property is the single largest green space in the City of Sarasota. It is a significant floodplain in the Philippi Creek watershed and filters stormwater for 5,800 urban acres as far north as University Parkway.

To improve water quality, nearly 20 acres of wetlands were created, almost 14.5 acres of native grasses planted and 49,000 nutrient-filtering aquatic plants installed, including sawgrass, fire flag and pickerel weed.

In addition, a diversion weir was constructed along one of the main Phillippi Creek tributaries to divert water into the newly created wetlands. The water flow is regulated with two control structures in the wetlands, allowing the wetlands to serve as a regional stormwater treatment system. Ultimately, the filtered water flows into Roberts Bay, the intracoastal waters between Sarasota and Siesta Key. It is estimated 900 pounds of nitrogen and 300 pounds of phosphorus will be removed each year.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) granted the City of Sarasota $1.5 million to support the water quality improvements and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) provided a $487,500 grant.

“We’re grateful to the State of Florida for helping to fund the construction of the wetlands to improve our water quality,” said City Manager Marlon Brown. “Thank you to our many partners and supporters including SWFWMD, FDEP, Sarasota County government and the Conservation Foundation. This truly has been a significant community effort to restore our historic municipal golf course and create a new urban nature park that will be a community treasure enjoyed by generations.” 

With the installation of new drainage pipes throughout the golf course and improved land grading, the property will drain quickly and efficiently following a rain event.

The American Society of Golf Course Architects honored Bobby Jones Golf Club and architect Richard Mandell earlier this month with a 2023 Environmental Excellence Award for improving stormwater retention and drainage, while reducing the risk of flooding. Bobby Jones is the only golf course in Florida to be recognized this year with the award and one of just eight in the United States. 

Golf Management

Daily operations at Bobby Jones will be handled by Indigo Sports LLC, a private management company. Green fees will be dynamic and include a 40% reduced rate on the Donald Ross course for City of Sarasota residents.

“Our commitment to providing an exceptional experience to players of all ages and abilities remains unwavering,” said John Sparrow, Bobby Jones Golf Club General Manager. “This beautiful golf club, practice facility and nature trail will ensure that we can deliver on that promise and more.”

“We appreciate Indigo revisiting the green fees schedule and offering that deep 40% discounted rate for our residents,” said Mayor Alpert.  “Bobby Jones is a municipal course and needs to be affordable for our City residents. Depending upon the month and time of day, a resident could pay under $10 to play while walking.  That’s a very good deal. We’re very pleased with this reduced rate.”

As part of the contractual agreement with the City, Indigo is expected to pursue certification for Bobby Jones in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, with the goal of becoming certified within two years after reopening.

During a recent annual bird count, the Sarasota Audubon Society documented 45 unique species on the property.

For more information about Bobby Jones Golf Club and Nature Park and to book online tee time reservations beginning Dec. 2 for the first day of golf Dec. 16, visit or contact 941-365-GOLF(4653).

Golf Coast News

Golf Coast – Entering a New Era

At Golf Coast Magazine, we’ve been working to reimagine the magazine for the digital age. Times are changing, and we need to adjust with the times.

We are relaunching Golf Coast Magazine as a digital, community driven publication. We will be welcoming submissions from our readers to build a true community. Our goal is to do what we always did best – promoting local golf from Tampa, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Sarasota, Fort Myers, and all the way to Naples!

You’ll see big changes on our website. We are building out a full directory of our local golf courses and highlighting the many great businesses in our community.

We look forward to taking the journey with you, and hope that you’ll continue to look to Golf Coast for the best of Golf on the Gulf Coast!