A wooden footbridge leading to the beach

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Get Your Golf Game On

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Golf isn’t just a pastime in Longboat Key and Sarasota, it’s a way of life. For most visitors and residents here, leisure activities are at the top of a long list of area attributes, and among those, golf is a top priority. With literally dozens of links in the area, it’s impossible not to find one that’s the perfect fit, whether you want a formal club experience or a picturesque green by the water. The area might be known for its circus ties, but it’s equally steeped in golf history, with its first courses in place at the turn of the century. It was Scottish immigrant John Gillespie – eventually Sarasota’s first mayor – who brought golf not only to the area, but to Florida itself. And now there are so many links here, it helps to have a crib sheet.

The Highlands Golf Course

This championship course may feel like it belongs to a private club, but it’s not. Here you’ll find a par 72 course hugged by oaks and pines as you tool around on your GPS mobile-equipped golf cart which projects a 3D image of the hole you’re on. People love the thoughtful amenities and extras here, like the PGA-trained staff, spacious Centre Court Lounge and $2 beers on the turn at this course.

TPC Prestancia

This highly-regarded private club is just a few miles from Siesta Key and boasts two courses for a total of 36 holes of championship golf. Stadium is a Ron Garl design, a championship green with plenty of hills and broad fairways that has played host to a number of PGA Champions Tour events. The older Players Course is a bit more challenging, but still playable and abundant with oaks.


Tatum Ridge Golf Links

Tatum Ridge bills itself as fun, and it’s true. Because of its wetlands preserve setting, this is where you’ll see native Florida flora and fauna. It’s a Scottish-style links course that’s nicely accommodating, offering 18 holes and four sets of tees for varying skill levels. An 18-hole putting green rounds out this friendly course’s features, along with a pro shop and a restaurant overlooking the green.

University Park Country Club

This north Sarasota club is well loved for its woodsy setting and three Ron Garl-designed nines, which have earned it a four star ranking with Golf Digest since 1996. The three runs have their own character, but there’s something here for everyone, and it’s open to everyone. There is a membership option which can get you advance tee times as well as participation in golf association events and club tourneys.