The Re­sort at Longboat Key Club

Golf Vacations - - News - by David R. Hol­land

A gold search was what brought Span­ish ex­plorer Her­nando DeSoto to Longboat Key in 1539. Man­ning a “longboat” with scout Juan Anasco, they found a beau­ti­ful Gulf of Mex­ico beach and never dreamed what the fu­ture held.


– A gold search was what brought Span­ish ex­plorer Her­nando DeSoto to Longboat Key in 1539. Man­ning a “longboat” with scout Juan Anasco, they found a beau­ti­ful Gulf of Mex­ico beach and never dreamed what the fu­ture held.

This warm weather stretch of Florida is now home to The Re­sort at Longboat Key Club, a AAA Four Di­a­mond re­sort, plus an­other beach­side re­sort ho­tel in the Lido Beach Re­sort just a few min­utes away. Both are Opal Col­lec­tion Des­ti­na­tion prop­er­ties.

But with all the wa­ter sports, beach ac­tiv­i­ties, fish­ing and ten­nis, I came for the golf.

The very first stroke you make on Longboat Key Club’s silky smooth greens you know: Th­ese are per­fect putting sur­faces that run quick and true. You can’t ask for any­thing bet­ter in the USA. And with 45 newly ren­o­vated golf holes to play the va­ri­ety is ex­cel­lent.

Longboat’s John Reilly, di­rec­tor of agron­omy ex­traor­di­naire, has worked with Ben Cren­shaw and Bill Coore, and has the task of keep­ing the greens and pas­palum turf in su­perb shape.


The Links on Longboat (for­merly Is­land­side) is 18 holes next to the beach­side ho­tel, and fea­tures wa­ter on ev­ery hole. It was re­designed by Ron Garl and has many char­ac­ter­is­tics of a sea­side links course.

Most im­por­tantly each green, dur­ing ren­o­va­tion, was re­designed and all 18 holes re-grassed with the su­pe­rior, salt tol­er­ant Plat­inum Pas­palum grass. In ad­di­tion to the beauty of the nat­u­ral wildlife seen on a daily ba­sis, more than 5,000 palm trees along with pink and white ole­an­ders line the Links on Longboat. Large greens com­ple­ment mas­sive nat­u­ral ar­eas, wa­ter­ways, and a par71, 6,748-yard rib­bon of per­fect grass. If you can’t putt th­ese greens you will still walk away know­ing Garl, Reilly and the staff cre­ated a noex­cuse line to ev­ery hole.


Harbourside, lo­cated a cou­ple of miles from the beach­side re­sort ho­tel, com­pletes The Re­sort at Longboat Key Club’s 45 holes with three nine-hole beau­ties named White Egret, Red Hawk and Blue Heron. Orig­i­nally opened in 1982, it has also been com­pletely re­done by Garl.

“Harbourside had be­come pretty tight with the orig­i­nal trees,” Reilly said. “We re­moved many of the Aus­tralian Pines that had grown, mak­ing some fair­ways like bowl­ing lanes. We used sod in­stead of seeds for all the new Plat­inum Pas­palum and in many cases put a lot of move­ment into the all-new greens.” Many of the holes bor­der Sara­sota Bay and the re­sort’s Longboat Key Club Moor­ings which makes for a beau­ti­ful set­ting.

The White Egret nine mea­sures 3,426 yards and has the least amount of wa­ter of the three nines. Red Hawk, 3342 yards, fea­tures risk and re­ward op­por­tu­ni­ties and is open and more for­giv­ing than the White Egret, this nine has wa­ter that plays into many shots. The fi­nal nine is Blue Heron mea­sur­ing 3,401 yards.

“The new pas­palum grass al­lows Longboat Key Club to use an ir­ri­ga­tion source that’s 7,000 parts per mil­lion salt,” said Reilly. “Ber­muda grass is more sus­cep­ti­ble to dis­ease so pas­palum works great and the ball sits up

nicely even in the rough.”

And here’s an­other tip: bring your sun­glasses. All the bunkers have white sand – some 400 tons of high-grade sand was trucked in for all 45 holes. Com­ple­ment­ing course im­prove­ments were com­plete ren­o­va­tions to both the men’s and women’s club­house locker rooms. On all of the cour­ses carts are now out­fit­ted with the lat­est GPS tech­nol­ogy. Th­ese up­grades of­fer ac­cess to a golf­ing ex­pe­ri­ence un­like any other pri­vate or pub­lic course in Florida. Longboat’s 45 holes are opened to mem­bers, guests and re­sort guests.

Things to do at the re­sort and in Sara­sota

Prob­a­bly the most fa­mous at­trac­tion in the area is The Rin­gling Mu­seum, which in­cludes a minia­ture cir­cus that is amaz­ing. The grounds also con­tain a price­less art col­lec­tion, and the Ca d’Zan Man­sion, on Sara­sota Bay -- home to the fam­ily be­gin­ning in the 1920’s.

Kayak­ing at Ted Sper­ling Park, with Kayak­ing SRQ Tours & Rentals, will take you be­neath a clus­ter of canopied man­groves with an in­ter­est­ing his­tory. Man­a­tees and dol­phins might swim by. We wit­nessed and os­prey’s suc­cess­ful dive for a fish.

The Re­sort at Longboat Key’s Ten­nis Gar­den is first class, with 20 HarTru courts set amidst beau­ti­fully land­scaped acreage along Sara­sota Bay. The Ten­nis Gar­dens are also home to the Court 21 Café and Lounge, serv­ing up post-game re­fresh­ments and a grilled menu. The other ex­cel­lent restau­rant choices here in­clude Portofino at the Ma­rina, Sands Pointe, Spike ‘N Tees at The Links course and the Tav­ern & Whiskey Bar at Harbourside.

At Lido Beach Re­sort my fa­vorite places to grab a bite were the Tiki Bar next to the pool com­plex and Lido Beach Grille. Also, if you want to ven­ture to Sara­sota for a meal try Boca Bistro. Here you can dis­cover a menu of Span­ish cui­sine and tapas. Try the shrimp and grits.

What a trip! I’m re­mem­ber­ing the fan­tas­tic ju­nior suites I had at both re­sorts with a kitchen, awe­some dé­cor, views of the Gulf of Mex­ico and beach – even a washer and dryer. Both re­sorts are great places to catch up on sleep af­ter the busy warm days with Gulf of Mex­ico sum­mer breezes al­ways present. Try this itin­er­ary with the kids and the fam­ily – you might just want to come back year af­ter year.

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