WOW...........So lucky to play the Harbourside Course 30.3.2019
A great opportunity to play at very private Members Club "Longboat Key Club", playing the Harbourside course in the Inaugural Tournament for Longboat Key Foundation raising money for a multitude of projects that will enhance the quality of life on Longboat Key for both its residents and its visitors !
The Harbourside course consists of 3 loops of nine (alongside Sarasota Bay & Longboat Key Club's own moorings) respectively named after local birds: Blue Heron, Red Hawk and White Egret. The 3 loops offer their own challenges,the Blue Heron is the signature 9 most affected by the swirling winds which put a premium on your course strategy, the White Egret has the least water but tight fairways, the /red Hawk is more forgiving but water come into play on may holes. The course seems flat but don't be fooled into thinking it is going to be easy, there are many undulations hiding large bunkers, brooks or lakes . NO need to say that everything is in 1st class condition, the fairways superbly cut, rough nicely short, greens impeccable with the most subtle turns where one can easily get caught out but as a Team we surveyed the Greens from every angles. I did managed a few tricky putts for our Pars. There were 2 types of beautiful bunkers: some with very soft sand, in immaculate condition and other type with coarser sand/shells where one does not rake the bunkers who are huge, looking just like a desert with a few local tropical plants in them. The layout is very well indicated, tee boxes absolutely superb with ball washers/towels and bins.
The on course Washrooms/toilets are like a 5 stars hotel facility, one could fit a bath and a shower in these large rooms covered in marble !
The scenery is spectacular with the Marina and it huge yatchs on one side, the tropical vegetations, palm trees, succulents & tropical flower, etc
So here we go about my lucky experience: I saw an ad. in the local paper on the Thursday before the event, made a quick phone call to make sure I got it right, joined on line for $125 (usual Guest rate $189 inc. of buggy).
I took part in the inaugural tournament alongside another 96 golfers all unknown to me, I was paired up with 2 excellent golfers (Andy & Bob from Wisconsin) and another one of my standard, Robert from Canada with whom I shared a posh buggy "EZGO" equipped with GPS (hence no ordinary course planner available), ice box, sand/seed dispenser etc.
We played the White Egret and the Red Hawk loops in a scramble format with a shotgun start. We had 2 Birdies and 16 Pars as a Team but this was not enough to win the great prizes for the 2 top teams: $50 each for the 2nd, and $75 each for 1st team with a Trophy!!!!!!!!
When I arrived, at the Bag drop, my bag was taken to my allocated buggy where my name & my partner's was clearly displayed and numbered according to our starting Tee (6th on the White Egret).
The organisation was faultless from registration to presentation of awards, to free beer or coke (kindly donated by Members) on the course. We had a superb Buffet type food as well in the Club's Ballroom with a fantastic view of the Marina, gorgeous gardens, miscellaneous attractive sun terraces by the entrance. We could buy some "mulligans" to help raised funds.
The Proshop was very well stocked but rather expensive. I was greeted by a charming Pro from Glasgow who emigrated to a rather cold part of the USA, but decided Florida was his scene as it was much warmer and sunny, I dont blame him.
Ladies changing rooms,large entrance, loungee type so very classy, with things I have never seen before: sanitisers for combs/hair brushes, toilet seats liners etc., hairdryers (Judy L. would love these changing rooms), there were little dispensers for nuts and nibbles to take onto the course, water and cups.
A fantastic Chipping area, Putting Green and bunkers with free Callaway premium balls and an unusual roller type ball picker ! I did not see the Driving range but I expect it must be premium too.
The Car Park is huge and well laid out with pal trees and other attractive vegetation.
I have never seen so many buggies in a golf club before: I think it was 145 or so and apparently, sometimes it is not enough. One has to have a buggy for speed of play as a very long walk between tees sometimes.
The weather was jut perfect on the day, very sunny but never too hot due to slight breeze.
Well that is all for now but what a memorable day and I am so happy I had the opportunity to take part in this inauguralTournament at this exclusive Club, looking forward to next year's as I probably be visiting my family again.
If any TSGers are in the beautiful part of Florida at this time (end March) next year, do not hesitate to take part, it will be an experience to remember.
(My very personal recollection of a truly fantastic day) and of course
"Vive Le TSG"