If you've been a regular reader of this column, you've probably gathered by now that one of my favorite golf course architects is Donald Ross, the legendary creator of Pinehurst in North Carolina, Oakland Hills in Michigan, Scioto in Ohio, and SaraBay in Sarasota. Well, nearby our great city, in Bradenton, is another wonderful course designed by Ross in 1924.
I've played Bradenton Country Club's 18-hole championship course several times, and can best describe it as pure: it comprises a perfectly balanced array of par-three, par-four, and par-five holes; is picturesque, fun and fair to play; and is superbly manicured.
Although Bradenton only measures 6,260 yards from the white tees, it's anything but a pushover when it comes to scoring. The reason is, like all Ross courses, this track also requires golfers to hit accurate drives to avoid water, trees and rough, as well as on-target approaches to avoid facing a difficult pitch, bunker shot or chip. The greens are super-fast and tricky, too. Still, if you hit good shots, you will be rewarded.
According to the club's first assistant Craig Knight, "The members like the course because it's a traditional Donald Ross design, it requires you to use every club in the bag and it's easy to walk around."
My favorite hole is number 18, a hole that plays 222 yards from the gold tees, even though it's out of the ordinary to finish a round with a par-three.
Bradenton County Club
4646 Ninth Ave. W., Bradenton
General info: (941) 792-1600
Pro shop: (941) 792-4159
Go around any Sarasota golf course and you'll hear experienced players speaking the language of the links: Golf-speak. Chances are, unless you also play to a single-digit handicap, you will not understand a word these hotshots are saying. Take the quick study course below and you'll be able to converse with golf experts about good and bad shots.
Good Golfer: "I smothered one o.b. on two, cost me double."
Translation: "I hit an exaggerated right-to-left shot out of bounds on the second hole, and ended up scoring double bogie."
Good Golfer: "I hit a knockdown into the three-par seventh, stiff, made bird."
Translation: "I hit a low-flying shot into the par-three seventh hole and scored birdie."
Good Golfer: "I got up and down from the frog-hair."
Translation: "I hit a chip close to the cup from the fringe grass and knocked the ball into the hole."
Good Golfer: "I hit it through the break and three jabbed it."
Translation: "I hit the putt so hard it didn't curve toward the hole, and ended up three-putting."
Good Golfer: "I hit a lob tight to the stick and holed out."
Translation: "I hit a 60-degree lob wedge shot close to the hole, then sank the putt."
Twenty years ago, while working in New York City as GOLF Magazine's senior editor of instruction, I was sent down to Sarasota's Bent Tree Country Club to work on a putting article with professional golfer Julie Inkster, who was competing in the LPGA Classic.
One of Inkster's best putting tips involved the position of the eyes at address. Rather than setting the eyes directly over the ball, as is commonly recommended, she sets them over the target line (an imaginary line that runs through the ball and is parallel to another imaginary line across the feet).
Setting up like Inkster gives you a clear picture of the ball, hole and the break in the green. Look toward the golf hole just prior to starting the stroke and you'll "see" what I mean. I guarantee you'll find it easier to imagine the ball rolling on a particular line, then falling into the cup. This positive imagery will encourage you to make a relaxed, technically sound putting stroke and sink putt after putt-just like Hall of Fame member Julie Inkster.
Just in case you play a one-against-one match at one of Sarasota's great golf courses, you'd better know the rule that applies in the following situation:
Situation: Player A's ball lands in bounds. Once Player A takes his stance, however, he determines that one of the white out-of-bounds stakes is in his way.
Common mistake: Player A removes the stake, breaching Rule 13-2, and then plays the shot. The penalty for such a breach is loss of hole in match play.
Correct procedure: Play the shot as best as possible while leaving the out-of-bounds stake in the ground (i.e., left-handed), or opt to take an unplayable lie and proceed accordingly.
Out of bounds is considered property off the golf course. When not marked by white stakes, out of bounds is usually defined by property line fences, walls or roads. The out-of-bounds line is defined by the inside edge (on the golf course side) of the stakes at ground level. If any part of the ball is in bounds, the ball is in bounds. Understand, too, that you may stand out of bounds to play a ball that's in bounds.
SPECIALTY OF THE CLUBHOUSE
While vacationing in France one summer, I played golf at Etretat, a superb course built atop steep cliffs, with sensational views of the English Channel.
One day I was paired with a gentleman whose father knew Arnaud Massy, the only Frenchman ever to win the British Open (1907).
Ironically, in 1926, Massy visited and played our very own SaraBay Country Club (formerly Whitfield Estates C.C.). So it's only befitting that I share with you the recipe for making a popular drink of the Normandy area. Try one after a round at your local country club, or at one of Sarasota's classy watering holes.
1 ounce white rum
1 ounce Calvados
Juice of half a lime
Three dashes crème de cassis
1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar
Shake and serve in chilled cocktail glass (ice is optional).
SARASOTA'S JOHN ANDRISANI is the former senior editor of instruction at GOLF Magazine and the author of more than 25 books, including Think Like Tiger. Send questions and comments to John at Jagolf3238@aol.com.