BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB:
A LANDMARK LOCALE IN U.S. GOLF

By Mike May

The Bobby Jones Golf Club today.  The City of Sarasota added to the star power of the Bobby Jones Golf Club when it renamed the street that leads into the Bobby Jones Golf Club. 

The Bobby Jones Golf Club (1000 Circus Boulevard, Sarasota, Florida) exudes history and star power.  Very few U.S. golf clubs can claim a legendary golf course architect (Donald Ross) and one of the game’s all-time greats (Bobby Jones) present at a grand opening.  Yes, Ross -- the hall of fame Scottish golf course architect -- designed the first 18 holes at this golf club and Jones -- the legendary, hall of fame golfer -- was present for the opening round at the golf course which was renamed after him in 1927.

The Bobby Jones Golf Club (www.bobbyjonesgolfclub.com; 941-365-4653) was originally called the Sarasota Municipal Golf Course when it opened in 1926.  The following year, the City of Sarasota renamed the course after Jones.  On that special day in 1927, more than 1,000 people watched Jones shoot 73 around his namesake course.  Of course, three years later, Jones completed the Grand Slam when he won the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open and British Amateur -- in the same calendar year (1930).

In 1927, more than 1,000 people watched Jones shoot 73 around his namesake course.

The City of Sarasota added to the star power of the Bobby Jones Golf Club when it renamed the street that leads into the Bobby Jones Golf Club.  That roadway is now called Paul Azinger Way, to honor the local golfing great who won the 1993 PGA Championship.  Azinger grew up in the Sarasota area and attended nearby Sarasota High School.  Azinger, now a network TV golf analyst, is a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, who played on four U.S. Ryder Cup teams.  Azinger captained the 2008 winning U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Today, the Bobby Jones Golf Club has 45 holes.  The expansion of the original 18 holes started when nine more holes were opened in 1952.  An additional nine holes were added in 1967.  That gave the Bobby Jones Golf Club 36 holes.  In the late 1960s, Ross’ original 18-hole course was divided in half and matched with the newer nine-hole tracks.  One 18-hole course was named the American Course – to honor Jones’s U.S. Amateur win at Merion (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and his U.S. Open triumph at Interlachen (Edina, Minnesota) in 1930.  The other 18-hole layout was named the British Course, to recognize Jones’ two 1930 wins at the British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club (Hoylake, England) and the British Amateur at St. Andrews (Scotland).

If you want to play the original Donald Ross-designed golf course, play the back nines of the American and the British.

The last nine holes at the Bobby Jones Golf Club were added in 1977 when a nine-hole, par-30 executive course was designed by Lane Marshall and was named in honor of Scottish-born Col. John Hamilton Gillespie.

As you would expect for a golf course with many decades of history, the Bobby Jones Golf Club is part of the Florida Historic Golf Trail, which includes 53 golf courses from Pensacola to Key West.

It’s one thing to have 45 holes of golf for the general public, but maintaining this facility 365 days a year to a high standard is no easy chore.

A golf course with many decades of history, the Bobby Jones Golf Club is part of the Florida Historic Golf Trail.

When asked to compare and contrast the American and British layouts, assistant PGA professional Christian Martin says the British Course is wider, longer, more forgiving, and more appealing to younger players, whereas the American Course is shorter and tighter with raised greens, which appeals more to older golfers.

It’s worth noting that Sarasota’s golf history runs deeper than Ross and Jones, as golf was first played in Sarasota back in 1886 when Gillespie moved to Sarasota and built two greens and one long fairway.  By 1888, there were four holes plus a practice range.  By 1906, there was an 18-hole course plus a clubhouse.  But, in 1924 – Gillespie died in 1923 – the course was sold and developed.  Gillespie’s role in bringing golf to Sarasota is why Sarasota is also known as “The Cradle of American Golf” – or at least one of them!

When you are ready to experience true American golfing history, head to the Bobby Jones Golf Club and take your time traveling down Paul Azinger Way.

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