Dunedin Country Club - Remembering Yesterday ... Tomorrow

Dunedin Country ClubYou've heard the phrase "hidden gem" heavily overused in golf, but it might actually fit the Dunedin Country Club. It rises out of a comfortable long-time slumber into a revitalized club with many unique features to offer residents and visitors in the Dunedin area.

Located just a long driver or maybe a couple of well-placed five irons from the Gulf of Mexico, Dunedin Country Club has been known for years for its unbelievable history that included nearly two decades as the headquarters of the PGA of America, playing host not only to Hogan and Snead and Sarazen, but the two most popular "Babes" of the 20th Century, Ruth and Zaharias. What many thought was the unwritten motto after "Rich in Heritage, Rich in Tradition" was "need to be rich to belong." Yet that's never been the case, and the club is even more affordable than ever as it dives into its 9th decade of existence. And, contrary to long-held beliefs, the course has been open to limited public play for years. Semi-private golf much like semi-sweet chocolate, delicious no matter how you enjoy it.

Dunedin Country ClubThat wonderful tradition and the camaraderie of an active membership is now complemented by amenities that stand out among all the courses in the vibrant Tampa Bay area, brand new greens and a renovated clubhouse with indoor and outdoor dining options.

Dunedin's greens have just been reopened, after being brought back to the original character designed by the legendary Donald Ross, with the cuttingedge Mini-Verde strain of Bermuda grass.

That's the same surface that covers the TPC Sawgrass, only four other courses in Florida, and NO other course in the Tampa Bay area. The new Mini-Verde can be cut closer and is much more heat and disease-tolerant than any other Bermuda yet developed, meaning that not only will they not have to be overseeded, but that they'll hold their color longer, and be truer and faster throughout the year.

Match greens that are like the TPC Sawgrass with bunker sand from the very same place Augusta National gets theirs and you've got something special. Put them both on a Donald Ross original and you've got a little slice of golf heaven.

Dunedin Country ClubThe clubhouse, built new in 1997 with a remarkably open covered patio added in 2004 featuring spectacular views down to the 13th and 18th greens, offers a wide variety of dining options off an extensive menu, during a very busy social calendar. The buzz around the clubhouse and the comfortable locker rooms makes Dunedin Country Club a friendly place to call your golf "home".But the golf course is still the star. You get the idea you're in a unique atmosphere when you read the plaque outside the fully-stocked Pro Shop that reads, From 1945 until 1962, this course was leased by the PGA of America and known as the PGA National Golf Club. During that pe-riod, 18 consecutive PGA Seniors Championships were held here. Gene Sarazen's win in 1954 caught world-wide attention and led eventually to the formation of the popular Seniors Tour.

And if that doesn't get your attention, there's a reminder at the first tee, also emblazoned in bronze. "You are at the tee from which some of the world's greatest athletes have teed off. Follow now in the footsteps of Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Babe Zaharias, Babe Ruth, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Paul Runyan, Louise Suggs, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret and a host of others. And don't forget to smell the flowers."You inspired for an unforgettable round yet? That inspiration will be countered by the challenge of the first four holes, which many in the area consider the "toughest opening foursome in Pinellas County." Three of the seven lowest handicapped holes on the course are in this four hole stretch that includes three of the four longest par-4s at DCC and a par-3 third with a large, sloping and wellbunkered green that'll convince you that every time you play the course, you'll get a very different look, just by the number of possible hole locations. The variety of trees that come into play if you stray from the generous fairways is a horticulturist's dream, from the enormous 100-foot wide oaks on the left hand side of the second hole to the pines and pineapple palms that flank the dogleg right fourth. There's another of those historic plaques at the third tee reminding us that Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk and Jean Hopkins played a benefit match at Dunedin Country Club in 1947. We'll leave you to find out which of that foursome won with a score of even-par 72.

Dunedin Country ClubAfter you conquer, or at least survive, the first four holes, the rest of the front nine still has plenty of challenges, whether it be the huge "shark's mouth" bunker that's even bigger than the green at the par-3 sixth, the eucalyptus trees that guard the fairway of the par-5 seventh and culminates in a green elevated 20-feet above the fairway. The shorter par-4s on the front side present another problem, driving the ball through the fairway on the doglegs, requiring exceptional course management and distance control.The back side gives players a little different look, with elevation changes of up to 40-feet and Ross' sloping greens even more pronounced, from the saddle-backed 10th to the steeply-slanted par-3 11th and the false front at the diabolical par-4 12th. After you face the scrutiny of the patio diners watching you putt at the 13th, you can take out your frustrations at the 14th tee if you take the risk of driving through the two famed "crooked palms" that frame the dogleg left. Thread that needle and you'll either be right up next to, or maybe even on the green of the short par-4 (the smart play is a long iron or hybrid to the corner and a wedge in, but where's the drama in that?).

A tough second (or third) shot over water at the par-5 15th, a precarious tee shot to a green that slopes more from left-to-right than back-to-front at the par-3 16th, the long 17th and difficult bunkering on the approach to the finishing hole bring you home in style. You've been challenged, but not beaten up, and hopefully your first question is "When can we play it again?" The answer is, "whenever you want."

Whether it be a call to Head Professional John Falcone and his attentive staff for tee times (727) 733-7836, or the Membership/Marketing Director to inquire about their many membership options at (727) 733-2134, ext. 235, you'll be impressed by the hospitality of Dunedin Country Club, the club that's "Rich in Heritage, Rich in Tradition", but also "Where the Golfing Public is Always Welcome."

 

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