Crown's Golf Courses

With the addition of Hillsborough County’s Westchase Golf Course and Heritage Isles Golf and Country Club, Chicago-based Crown Golf Properties has added two golf jewels that bring to six the number of glistening gems managed by Crown in the Tampa Bay area. And in a golf destination as fragmented, and underrated, as Tampa/St. Petersburg, it’s not a stretch to say that Crown’s presence now offers resident golfers and visitors nearly every kind of golf adventure imaginable, all under one Crown!

Within 40 minutes of downtown Tampa, you can play six venues completely unique in their golf odysseys, yet remarkably consistent in the excellence of their course conditioning and the level of service. Three of the courses (Heritage Isles, Westchase and Northdale) are in Hillsborough County, three in Pinellas County (Bardmoor, Bayou Club and Lansbrook) giving golfers a surprising diversity of scenery and styles of play. Yet it is Crown’s singular dedication to each golfer’s enjoyment of his or her day on the links that sets the entire Crown Golf group on a throne above other area courses.

Many courses pay lip service to great service. Crown demands it from its 18-point Championship Service training program for all of its employees, subtle but significant benchmarks of personal service to make every player at every course, every day, feel like royalty.

Crown has also figured out that the Tampa Bay area is the next great golf kingdom, and has embarked on a program to work with area Convention and Visitors bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, meeting planners, accommodation providers and others to bring more players to the most underrated region of great Florida golf.

A prime example of growing the game, and of personal service, is Crown Golf’s commitment to groups large and small, under the direction of Heather Cooke. Heather’s Group Sales operation (which can be reached at (352) 263-3141, or by e-mail at hcooke@crowngolf.com) is a one-stop shop steering clients to the perfect Crown course for their golf outing, meeting, banquet, training session, etc. and then helping organize and support those events however possible. And she’s got a marvelous variety of venues to choose from.

Working west to east, the first jewels in the Crown are the legendary Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club and its next-door-neighbor, the private Bayou Club in Largo, west of the bay. You’ll likely remember Bardmoor from its 13 years hosting the JC Penney Mixed Team Championships in the late ‘70s through the ‘80s, though the course has been recently renovated by former Tour pro and rising course designer Gary Koch. Koch made the once sharply-elevated greens a little more player-friendly, slicing off a layer to make them larger and a bit flatter. The course is still old-school, though, in that the entire layout (except the multiple lakes) is playable. Hit it and chase it, whether it be down the fairway or into the pine straw or waste area under one of the thousands of trees on this course that stretches from just over 5,000-yards to over 7,000 from the tips.

While the Bayou Club is private with a very active membership, multi-foursome groups are allowed access for Monday outings on a space-available basis. This Tom Fazio layout is worth organizing a business or charitable gathering just to play through its bayou routing between fabulous tile-roofed homes. The Bayou Club features back-to-back par-5s on the outgoing nine and back-to-back par-3s coming in, the renowned 16th highlighted by a set of tees you reach by stepping off a bridge. Water is in play on every hole at the Bayou Club, though it might take that trip across the bridge at 16 for you to realize it.

North of Bardmoor and the Bayou Club in Palm Harbor is the “Cheers” of the Crown family, Lansbrook Golf Club. You almost expect everyone here to know your name when you drive up to this neighborhood-style gem. Ron Garl updated this Lane Marshall original that is a true hidden treasure, drawing groups of players weekly and monthly from more than an hour away. Water comes into play on 16 of the 18 holes that wind their way through mature pines, live oaks and palms, nowhere more evident than at the par-3 11th locals say looks, and feels, like Augusta’s famed 16th.

With all the growth in the Westchase community northwest of the airport, you’ll be stunned almost as much by the quiet that greets you at the Westchase Golf Course as you will the spectacular entryway to its 9500 square-foot clubhouse. This 1992 Lloyd Clifton design gives new meaning to the southern term “drop-dead gorgeous”. There are no parallel fairways in this links-style routing and on the few holes where residents have golf course views, golfers have to look hard to see the well-set-back homes. Vertically-planked bridges (much quieter) lead you across wetlands to a number of bulk-headed greens on a course that is “only” 6700-yards from the tips, yet carries a daunting 72.6/131 rating and slope from those tees. Westchase’s other “signature” is the marsh-carries at the 9th and 18th that leave every close match in doubt until the end.

Northdale Golf and Tennis Club was carved by renowned Florida designer Ron Garl out of a dairy farm in the late ‘70s. The bucolic setting remains amongst the stately cypress trees along Brushy Creek and sparkling natural lakes that now challenge players on 11 holes. With only two parallel fairways, this 6800-yard test features lush fairways, well-contoured greens and unspoiled wooded boundaries that make it an escape from the city while still carrying a Tampa address.

Just east of I-75 and north of I-4 is Heritage Isles Golf and Country Club, a delightful mixture of public access and membership in a wonderfully natural setting of wetlands, 36 ponds and critters galore.

Gordon Lewis and Jed Azinger designed this course with accuracy at a premium. Though less than 7000 yards from the tips, it carries a rating and slope of 74.3/137 thanks to water on all 18 holes. Even from the 6236-yard blue tees, the slope of 133 will make for a most challenging day. In other words, check your ego at the clubhouse door and consult with the friendly and honest golf shop staff to find the tees that will give you the most enjoyment.

Heritage Isles is a rare public-access course that has its club facilities, including a spectacular themed dinner buffet, open in the evening for members and guests. Heritage Isles is also very comfortable catering for golf and reception groups of up to 250. And it is now home of the Dent/Bradshaw School of Golf, operated by Champions Tour pro Jim Dent and legendary area teacher Rick Bradshaw, who counts among his pupils last year’s TOUR winner in New Orleans, Tim Petrovic.

The power of becoming a part of this growing group of courses comes into play by joining the Crown Club. Currently comprising Bardmoor, Lansbrook and Northdale this FREE membership program rewards frequent play with free golf, discounted rates and members-only tournaments. Their e-mail newsletters also keep members up-to-date on special events and opportunities to play in other charity events at Crown courses.

Golf courses like to consider themselves “must-plays”. Crown’s jewels are in the ranks of “will-enjoys” too, just a short drive from anywhere in the Bay Area. Crown Golf’s growing presence and commitment to providing consistently superior service make its exceptional golf experiences more accessible every day. For more information, contact the courses or visit www.crowngolf.com.

 

 

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