The Sporting Life

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The Florida Gulf coast is an angler’s playground, rife with game fish and charter captains eager to introduce you to your first rolling tarpon or mahi dolphin catch. Sarasota also has ample opportunities to view our coastline by sea, whether your tastes run toward the adventurous (as in windsurfing) or the sedate (as in sailboating). […]


The Florida Gulf coast is an angler’s playground, rife with game fish and charter captains eager to introduce you to your first rolling tarpon or mahi dolphin catch.

Sarasota also has ample opportunities to view our coastline by sea, whether your tastes run toward the adventurous (as in windsurfing) or the sedate (as in sailboating). Canoe and kayak rentals offer group tours of our bays, inlets and rivers to get you up close and personal with our amazing marine life.

On dry land, our state has more golf courses per capita than nearly any other, and more are popping up every day, courtesy of world-famous designers like Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio. Some lie parallel to breathtaking ocean vistas. Others wind through pristine Florida wilderness preserves where wildlife roam peacefully in their native habitats.

Most adjoin perfectly manicured country club communities and require membership to play, but several outstanding courses are available to the public at minimal cost.

Care to "court" another game? Sarasota and Bradenton boast numerous tennis facilities for all ages. Our temperate climate allows for outdoor play all year long, and Bradenton is home to IMG Academies, the world’s largest sports center. Here, internationally renowned athletes like Monica Seles and Mary Pierce have trained, and ambitious youngsters like them are now molding their own hopes for greatness someday.

The area is home to a variety of spectator sports as well, from major and minor league baseball to football and hockey.

BASEBALL

Cincinnati Reds, Ed Smith Stadium, 12th Street and Tuttle, Sarasota. Spring training games with Sarasota’s home town Major League team are scheduled here all during March. 953-3388, ext. 233.

Pittsburgh Pirates, McKechnie Field, 1750 Ninth St. W., Bradenton. Spring training games during March. 747-3245.

Sarasota Red Sox. Minor league ball, at Ed Smith Stadium spring through fall. 365-4460.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg. Major League baseball in St. Pete’s domed stadium. (727) 825-3137.

BOATING, FISHING

A sampling of the area’s diverse opportunities. Look in the Yellow Pages for more.

Adventure Charters. Sport fishing, half and full day. 923-2605.

Cannons Marina, 6040 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. Boat rental, sales. 383-1311.

Captain Action Charter Service, Marina Plaza, Sarasota. Gulf and bay fishing. 955-4524.

Capt. Bob Smith Sport Fishing Guide. Half-day and full-day fishing trips. 366-2159.

CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, 1249 Stickney Point Road, Siesta Key. Bay, backcountry and coastal Gulf fishing. 349-4400.

Custom Charters, 2520 Constitution Blvd., Sarasota. Full and half-day charter fishing boats. 922-1045.

Dockside Marine, 1265 Old Stickney Point Road, Sarasota. Boat rentals. 349-8880.

Flying Fish Deep Sea Fishing, Marina Jack, Sarasota. Party-boat fishing. 366-3373.

Hart’s Landing, 920 John Ringling Causeway. Bait, tackle, fishing equipment rentals. 955-0011.

Le Barge Tropical Cruises, 2 Marina Plaza. Daily sightseeing tours, private charters available. 366-6116.

Midnite Son Charter Fishing, 1 Marina Plaza. Sport fishing, half-day, full-day, overnight. 349-7677.

O’Leary’s Sarasota Sailing School, Island Park. Boat rentals, charters. 953-7505.

Snook Haven, 5000 Venice Ave. E., Venice. Motor boats, canoes, tour boat ride. 485-7221.

Spindrift Yacht Services, 410 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. Party cruises, instruction. 383-7781.

CANOE AND KAYAK RENTALS

Economy Tackle, 6018 S. Tamiami Trail,

Sarasota. Complete canoe and kayak supplies, guided tours throughout the Tampa Bay area. 922-9671.

Silent Sports Outfitters, 2301 Tamiami Trail N., Nokomis. Ocean kayak specialists. Tours, sales and rentals. 966-5477.

Walk on the Wild Side, 3434 N. Tamiami Trail, Suite 817, Sarasota. Tours and rentals. (941) 351-6500

DIVING, SNORKELING

Dolphin Dive Center, 6018 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Local charters, instruction, rentals. 924-2785.

Florida West Scuba School, Inc., 509-B N. Tamiami Trail, Venice. Lessons, rentals, trips. 486-1400.

Ocean Pro Dive Shop, 2259 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. Dive charters, instruction, dive trips. PADI 5-star training facility. 924-3483.

Scuba Quest, 1129 S. Tamiami Trail 366-1530 or 5770 S. Tamiami Trail, 925-7055, Sarasota. Charters, rentals, sales.

SURFING

West Coast Surf Shop, 3902 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Boards, sportswear and more. 778-1001.

Wind Flight Surf Shop, 722 Albee Road W., Nokomis. Surfboards, wet suits, accessories. 484-2794.

EVENTS

Sarasota Clay Court Classic, held in April at The Meadows. 378-5957. www.sarasotaclaycourtclassic.com, info@sarasotaclaycourtclassic.com.

FOOTBALL

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. NFL team plays at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. (813) 879-2827.

GOLF

Some of the courses listed are public; some are semi-private. Call for tee time availability.

Bird Bay Executive Golf Club, 602 Bird Bay Drive W., Venice. 18-hole course, tennis courts. 485-9333.

Bobby Jones Golf Club, 1000 Circus Blvd., Sarasota. 45-hole complex. 365-4653.

Forest Lakes Golf Club, 2401 Beneva Road, Sarasota. 18-hole course, driving range, tennis. 922-1312.

Foxfire Golf Club, 7200 Proctor Road, Sarasota. 27-hole course, driving range. 921-7757.

Heritage Oaks Golf and Country Club, 4800 Chase Oaks Drive, Sarasota. 18-hole course. 926-7600.

Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch, 8255 Legacy Blvd., Sarasota. Arnold Palmer-designed, 18-hole course open to public for daily fee. Also pro shop, restaurant. Tee times: 907-7067.

Links at Greenfield Plantation, on S.R. 64 two miles east of I-75, Bradenton. 18-hole layout, golf club rentals. 747-9432.

Longboat Key Club, 301 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. 45 holes of golf (Islandside and Harbourside courses) open to members and guests of The Resort at Longboat Key Club. 383-8821.

Misty Creek Country Club, 8954 Misty Creek Drive, Sarasota. 18-hole private course, clubhouse. 922-5258.

Oak Ford Golf Club, 1552 Palm View Road, Sarasota. 27-hole championship course, practice range. 371-3680.

Pelican Pointe Golf & Country Club, 575 Center Road, Venice. 18-hole Ted McAnlis-designed course; driving range; pro shop. 496-4653.

The Plantation Golf and Country Club, 500 Rockley Blvd., Venice. Two 18-hole courses, tennis courts. 493-2000.

The Private Course at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club, 7710 Legacy Blvd., Lakewood Ranch. Twenty-seven holes designed by Palmer Course Design Company. Elegant 42,000-square-foot clubhouse with pro shop, locker rooms, dining area, meeting rooms, ballroom. Members only, but membership open to residents outside Lakewood Ranch. 907-4700.

River Club Golf Course, 6600 River Club Blvd., Bradenton. 18-hole course. 751-4211.

Rolling Green Golf Club, 4501 N. Tuttle Ave., Sarasota. 18-hole course. 355-7621.

Rosedale Golf and Country Club, 5100 87th St. E., Bradenton. 18-hole course, Har-Tru tennis courts. 756-0004.

Sarasota Golf Club, 7280 N. Leewynn Drive, Sarasota. 18-hole course, driving range. 371-2431.

Serenoa Golf Course, 6773 Serenoa Drive, Sarasota. 18-hole course, driving range. 925-2755.

Stoneybrook Golf & Country Club, 8801 Stoneybrook Lane, Venice. 18-hole course. 966-1800.

Tara Golf & Country Club, 6602 Drewry’s Bluff Road, Bradenton. Tee times: 758-7961.

Tatum Ridge Golf Links, 421 N. Tatum Road, Sarasota. Par-72 course, practice range. 378-4211.

University Park Country Club, 1.8 miles west of I-75 on University Parkway. 27-hole championship course. 359-9999 (tee times).

Waterford Golf Club, 1454 Gleneagles Drive, Venice. 18-hole championship course. 484-6621.

GREYHOUND RACING

Sarasota Kennel Club, 5400 Old Bradenton Road, Sarasota. Greyhound season here is January through April; simulcast horse and dog racing the rest of the year. 355-7744.

HOCKEY

Tampa Bay Lightning. NHL team plays in Tampa’s Ice Palace, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 223-6100.

TENNIS & RACQUETBALL

Bath & Racquet Club, 2710 Robinhood, Sarasota. 27 tennis courts, several racquetball. Private, but memberships available. 921-6675.

Bollettieri Tennis Academy, 5500 34th St. W., Bradenton. Tennis instruction available, children and adults. 755-1000.

The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. Tennis, pool, health club. 383-4322.

Evalyn Sadlier Jones YMCA, 8301 Potter Park Drive, Sarasota. Facility in south Sarasota offers three racquetball courts, elevated track, aerobics, fitness center, pool. 922-9622. Also at 1075 S. Euclid, Sarasota. The new Berlin Center on South Euclid has no tennis courts, but several racquetball courts, aerobics, fitness center, pool and state-of-the-art indoor spinning room. 955-8194.

Longboat Key Club, 301 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. Thirty-eight Har-Tru tennis courts, six lighted. Open to members and guests of The Resort at Longboat Key Club. 383-8821.

Longboat Key Public Tennis Center, 590 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key. Six courts available. 316-8367.

Payne Park Tennis Center, 2050 Adams Lane, Sarasota. 954-4884.

Plantation Racquet Club, 500 Rockley Blvd., Venice. Thirteen lighted Har-tru courts, tennis shop. Private, but memberships available. 493-0047.

Serendipity Racquet and Tennis Club, 3600 Torrey Pines Blvd. At the Country Club of Sarasota; recently renovated to include new tennis courts, new fitness and locker room and new pro shop. 922-1591.

Tennis Center at The Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club, 8488 Legacy Blvd., Lakewood Ranch. Eighteen lighted courts, 16 Har-Tru, two red clay. Lessons, leagues, pro shop, locker rooms, deli. Members only, but open to residents outside Lakewood Ranch. 907-4700.

Total Tennis, 240 Avenida Madera, Siesta Key. Teaching facility located at Forest Lakes Country Club. 349-7742 for pro shop and teaching.