The Meadows, located just off 17th Street at 3101 Longmeadow Drive, prides itself on being "the closest private country club to downtown Sarasota." That's definitely a plus-factor, but this first-class, well- established course community has a lot more to offer golfers, namely three 18-hole layouts: the par 72 Highlands course; the Groves, a shorter executive course designed by renowned architect Arthur Hills and open to the public; and the Meadows, considered the facility's signature course.
The Meadows course was recently designed by Ron Garl, a golf architect I have interviewed and with whose designs I'm very familiar. Ron is a genius at providing golfers with a challenge while not making a course so punishing that it frustrates the average player. The Meadows is a classic example of a strategic course versus a penal layout. It's Ron's philosophy that it's tough to master the game of golf, so why make the course so hard that only low-handicap players and pros can play it well? He likes all golfers, low- and high-handicap players alike, to be tested, but not severely penalized for hitting a shot that only wavers a little bit off line.
This wonderful Meadows course measures 6,716 yards from the tips, 6,314 from the blue tees, 6,037 from the white tees, 5,545 from the green markers, and 5,245 from the red tees. So there are plenty of choices as to where to play from, depending on your standard of play or how you feel on the day.
Three of my favorite holes are the par-four first, the par-five fifth, and the par-four 14th, although you'll find the entire course enjoyable to play if you're invited as a guest. The Meadows is scenic to play, too, owing mostly to mature pines, palms, and oaks that line the fairways.
The Meadows also has a superb practice facility and talented teaching pros led by director of golf Mike McClellan. So if you join, you have a good chance of learning to play to your full potential and lowering your handicap.
For further information and a tour of the club, call Glenda Bachner, membership sales director, at (941) 378-5957.
The Meadows Country Club
3101 Longmeadow Drive, Sarasota
Pro shop: (941) 378-5153
Savvy Sarasota golfers, pros and amateurs alike, know Golf-speak, the language of the links. You should, too. Here are a few words and definitions to help sharpen your golf vocabulary and impress your playing partners.
Bermuda: a coarse type of grass, common on greens in Bermuda (and Florida), that causes the ball to roll more slowly than across bent-grass greens common on Northeastern courses.
Down: The number of holes a player is behind an opponent in a match-play competition (e.g., two down after five holes).
Grain: The direction the grass grows on the putting surface, toward the hole or toward the player. The player who faces a down-grain putt should hit the ball more lightly and, in contrast, more firmly when putting into the grain.
Provisional: A second drive played from the tee when the original ball may be lost or out of bounds.
Sandbagger: A golfer who regularly scores well below his or her handicap. In Great Britain, this type of golfer is referred to as a bandit.
Texas-Wedge shot: A shot hit with a putter, from the fringe grass surrounding the green.
Up: The number of holes a player is ahead of an opponent in a match-play competition (e.g., one up after nine holes).
Greg Hood, a close friend of mine from California and former personal assistant to golf legend Ben Hogan, recently visited me.
Playing golf at some of our fine local courses was fun, but even more of a treat was listening to Hood share a Hogan story with me about golf technique-one he had kept close to his vest, but which, once let out, prompted us to start planning a new golf instruction book. Those of you who are from Texas, like Hogan, should be particularly interested in this story. Having said that, since Hogan's swing secret has always remained a mystery, all golfers who read this column should find this anecdote intriguing.
According to Hood, he had to get permission to watch Hogan practice at Shady Oaks Country Club in Texas. Still, even then, all Hood was allowed to do was watch from 100 yards away. So he looked through binoculars, and after several weeks discovered what he now claims is the secret to Hogan's virtually perfect ball-striking and ability to hit super-controlled, left-to-right fade shots.
In the hit-zone, Hogan rotated his left hand toward the target, but at the split-second of impact he turned it outward slightly away from the target. This singular move, Hood claimed, allowed Hogan to keep the clubface open slightly at impact and, in turn, impart left-to-right sidespin on the ball. Incidentally, if you are a new golfer, the fade is a much better percentage shot to hit than a right-to-left draw; the ball stops more quickly, preventing it from running through a fairway into trees or bounding over a green into deep rough, a water hazard, or treacherous sand bunker.
There's no excuse for not knowing the rules of golf set down by the United States Golf Association. Here's a rule you better know, particularly since breaching it will cost you disqualification.
Situation: Player A and Player B are competing in a stroke play tournament. While playing one of the last few holes, Player A's ball moves out of position while he's addressing a shot in the rough.
Common mistake: Player A nudges the ball back to its original position, looks up at Player B, and says, "The ball moved, but I moved it back." Player B says, "Yeah, I know. Don't worry about it."
Correct procedure: Well, it may be true that Player A and Player B are not playing in a big-time professional golf tournament. Still, rules are rules. Moreover, ethics are ethics. The fact is, once Player A's ball moved out of position, he should have penalized himself one shot and then replaced the ball as nearly as possible to its original position. Further, because both players agreed to waive the rules, they are disqualified under Rule 1-3.
Specialty of the Clubhouse
The Stonewood Grill & Tavern on Stickney Point Road is a popular place for golfers. So visit the bar after a round and order a Morning Glory Fizz in memory of former U.S. and PGA champion Tommy Armour. The first pro at our own Sara Bay Country Club, Armour loved to teach golf while sipping Scotch.
This lovely libation is prepared by shaking one ounce of lemon juice, one half-ounce sugar syrup, one egg white, one teaspoon of powdered sugar, a dash of Pernod, and two ounces of Scotch. Next, pour over ice cubes in a Collins glass and fill with soda water.
SARASOTA'S JOHN ANDRISANI is the former senior editor of instruction at GOLF Magazine and author of more than 25 books, including the best seller The Tiger Woods Way. Send questions and comments to John at firstname.lastname@example.org.