Women pros to use Suncoast Golf Center

 Suncoast Golf Center is my kind of course. Why? It measures only 877 yards from the back tees!

The only lighted course in the Sarasota-Bradenton area has had a new facelift and is scheduled for a soft re-opening Wednesday, Jan. 4. The public is invited to the soft opening and to the grand opening at a date yet to be determined. The par-27 executive course has been closed since May.

A facelift was badly needed. An inexperienced maintenance worker added too much undiluted fertilizer on the greens, killing all the grass.

The renovated Suncoast Golf Center is so nice that the LPGA Futures Tour players plan to use it when they visit Sarasota and Sara Bay Country Club in April.

With 25 driving positions on the range, it is large enough to handle the touring pros needs. The range also measures 280 yards.

Here are some of the improvements at the Center:

 --- New Tiff Dwarf grass has been planted on the greens that were revamped to make putting more fun and challenging.

--- Tee boxes also were redesigned and re-sodden, most to add new challenges to the course but also to avoid some of the cramped conditions where a few greens were too close to the next tee box.

--- Nine new bunkers were added, and the existing traps were deepened, recontoured and have crisp new edges that will require some nifty bunker play to escape. All now have new USGA-approved fluffy white sand that sparkles and is a vast improvement over the thick sand that used to fill the traps. Many were moved closer to the greens and have higher faces than in the past.

--- A new irrigation system was installed.

--- The facility is new, with a 1,000 square-foot indoor training center at the far side of the range where golfers and coaches can watch a swing on mirrored walls or on videotape, or hit balls directly onto the range from inside the facility. The building also has a new club repair facility.

--- The clubhouse has new restrooms and an improved bar area with new stools. The lanai was redone with new decking and a small outdoor patio.

---- The range was completely redone with a new all-grass hitting surface, new green-like targets on the range, and perhaps most importantly, new netting that will keep range balls on the range and away from golfers on the course. The lights that were often hit-or-miss in the past were also repaired or upgraded throughout the range and course.

The course renovation was done by Barbaron, a Florida -based firm.

According to the scorecard, Suncoast’s signature hole is the tricky 85-yard eighth. It didn’t get any easier with the renovation. A tricky shot over water to an elevated green surrounded by water is required. A new seawall was built along the water, and the green was moved more to the right where it almost hangs over the edge of the pond. A deep peanut-shaped bunker was also added to the left of the green that slopes dramatically back-to-front and down to the water fronting it.

Finally, the price is right. It will cost $10 to play the course at any time of the day.  It is an ideal facility for beginners, seniors and anyone wanting to work on their short games.

The course is located on 15th Street East just off the northeast corner of the SRQ airport property in south Manatee County. The phone number is 941-351-2666.


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