Westchase Golf Club in northwest Hillsborough County

Westchase Golf ClubThe folks at Westchase Golf Club are far too low-key to create a brassy slogan like “It’s Not Private, You’ll Just Think It Is”. That line has actually come from more than one visitor to this upscale, but very public course located in the master-planeed development of Westchase in northwest Hillsborough County just north of downtown Tampa.

And the visitors who coined that moniker aren’t the only ones impressed by the day-in-day-out excellence of this 15-yearold Lloyd Clifton design. The National Golf Foundation surveyed players at hundreds of courses for their prestigious CLASP (Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction) awards and ranked Westchase in the Top 10 nationally, and #1 in the state of Florida.

Westchase Golf Club Pretty high honors, from the most important critics, the public who plays it. But don’t take anyone else’s word for it. This course, laid out over 213 acres of natural wetlands, lakes, woods and scenic conservation areas, and its clubhouse and other amenities should be experienced firsthand.

With the extension of the Suncoast Parkway and nearby Veteran’s Expressway, Westchase is also easier to get to than ever before from the south, the airport, or especially if you’re in the Westshore business area anyway. Westchase features brand new Cobra rental sets for businessmen who want to mix a little pleasure with their work.

Many golf courses love to trumpet their new upgrades or renovations, but Westchase has been a first-class facility since the day it opened in 1992 and has never needed any major changes. Its General Manager, Clay Thomas, went to work at the course right out of college, right after it opened. And Superintendent Gene Roberts helped build the layout from the ground up, and obviously has cared for it since its birth. It is that kind of “family” commitment that makes Westchase unique among upscale public courses anywhere, not just in the Tampa Bay area. The sole owner, who took over the course in December 2005, is obviously in it for the long-term by keeping Thomas and Roberts in-place and committing to maintaining Westchase’s immaculate grounds and clubhouse.

Westchase Golf Club in northwest Hillsborough CountyThe Westchase Experience will likely begin quietly, at the end of Westchase Golf Drive, tucked back into the development that, thankfully, is all developed, meaning very little construction noise or traffic as you escape the busy Westchase Village area. The modern, 9,500 squarefoot clubhouse, with its beautiful landscaping and trademark cupola, invites visitors into its open vestibule with easy access to the comfortable dining facilities and spacious, airy pro shop where you’ll find a lot more than stacks of golf shirts and sweaters. One of Westchase’s professional staff will delight in helping fit you to a set of competitively- priced Titleist or Cobra clubs, feeling that custom fitting is the only way to buy a set of clubs for maximum game enjoyment.

Then it’s out to the aqua range with its 5,000 square-foot island green for a little practice, or a lesson from one of Westchase’s four teaching pros to prepare you for the true Westchase Experience, a tour around this Lloyd Clifton masterpiece.

Like the entire “experience”, Clifton’s designs are subtle and understated, like the classic lines of a luxury car or a well-tailored suit. This course isn’t one to wow you with a lot of sharp angles or targets that must be hit. It is just a consistently strong, yet fun, challenge to golfers of all skill levels. From the 6,700-yard tips, you’ll get all you want from four solid par-5s, four par-4s over 400yards and four par-3s that’ll likely send you to your bag for four different clubs off the tee. Many of the greens, beginning with the very first one, encourage you to bump and run the ball into them, though a solid aerial game comes in handy with more than a dozen of Westchase’s holes having water in play.

Westchase Golf Club in northwest Hillsborough CountyClifton’s subtleties include extending greens out into his many lakes and wetlands, creating many risk/reward scenarios, or the intriguing placement on the seemingly short par-5 of a berm in front of one, a doubledogleg on the second and a sharp dogleg on a third to discourage those trying to reach them in two. The par-3 third might be Westchase’s “signature” hole, if they were into having something like that. The tee shot over wetlands and water gets longer to clear the bulkhead and hit the green the farther right you play it. The other par-3s are also either all-carry to get to relatively small putting surfaces, or deceptive in their green design (in other words, always hit an extra club at the shortest par-3, the seventh).

The three par-4s in the middle of the front nine again show some of the subtleties of Westchase, the long distance the homes are set back from the course, the mixture of pines and palms lining the fairways, the framing of the 6th hole with the use of a waste area off the tee and bunkers behind the green. The three finishing par-4s on the back side feature two of Westchase’s toughest holes. GM Thomas loves the 16th-17th combo, the two longest par-4s on the back side, both demanding distance control and shot placement for a successful approach to the pins. And new carts with the detailed graphics of ProLink GPS are there to guide you all the way.

The only two parallel holes at Westchase are the 9th and 18th, both with marshland carries on the approach to greens visible from the Westchase Grill clubhouse dining room and veranda. Diners not only have a perfect view of golf outside, they’re in a wonderfully collegial environment inside. And with separate private rooms and a large main dining area, Westchase is perfect for any sized meeting, conference, wedding or golf event, from a couple of foursomes to a fullcourse charity outing.

Westchase Golf Club leaves nothing to chance, which is how they received the CLASP award from the National Golf Foundation, and why you’re sure to enjoy the Westchase "Experience."

For much more information, or to book a tee time or an outing online, visit their extensive Web site at westchasegc.com or call (813) 854-2331 and find out if what they say is true, that Westchase isn’t a private club, but sure does feel like it.


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