Serenoa is a public course, ideal for the average resident or visitor who just wants to golf once a week for the fresh air and exercise and is not interested in joining a posh private club. This golf course only measures 6,333 yards from the blue tee markers, 6,035 from the white tees, 5,232 from the yellow tees, and 5,024 from the red markers, so it's especially suited to senior players, juniors and beginners.
Serenoa is not, however, a good course for low-handicap players to test their skills, or for average players to practice shots. The layout is very basic in design, although I did fancy the second hole, a sharp dogleg left that requires you to hit a controlled draw shot off the tee. Furthermore, the condition of the course is just fair, and the driving range and short-game practice area really should be redone. The practice bunker is tiny and lacks a sufficient amount of sand to simulate the course experience, and the green you hit shots to is small and covered with scruffy grass.
Still, the course is good to learn on, because it requires you to hit all the clubs in your bag, and the greens, although not super-fast, roll quite nicely. In addition, head PGA pro Bob Ridge and LPGA pro Shelley Sanders are available to give lessons.
Serenoa gets a lot of play, probably due to low rates, so I suggest calling a few days in advance to book a tee time.
SERENOA GOLF CLUB
6733 Serenoa Drive
THE LINGO If you find yourself puzzled on the golf course, trying to figure out what the heck your fellow golfers are talking about, you'd better learn Golf-speak, the language spoken by savvy players. Here's some help that may increase your on-course vocabulary.
Block: A wild shot that flies right of the intended target, due to the player's natural release of the club being blocked by the body in the impact zone.
Crossing the line: The club's shaft points right of the target line when the player reaches the top of the swing.
Duck hook: A shot that flies severely from right to left.
Open face: Laying the clubface back to increase its effective loft and hit an extra-high shot.
Over-clubbing: Hitting too strong a club into a green.
Sole: The bottom of the club-head.
TIPS FROM THE PROS
One of the most common faults the average golfer makes is "reverse pivoting"-dipping the left shoulder downward on the backswing. The result: Weight does not shift to the right foot on the backswing and then back to the left foot on the downswing. Instead, the player leaves most of his or her weight on the left foot when swinging back and on the right foot when swinging down. As a result, the player tends to pull the club across the ball and target line in the hitting area, causing a pull-slice shot.
To learn to shift your weight properly, pivot around your right foot and leg on the backswing, and pivot around your left foot and leg on the downswing, practice this drill that Terry Walsh, a professional instructor at Palm-Aire Country Club, showed me.
Step One: Take your address position for playing a driver.
Step Two: Swing back to the top, then lift your left foot off the ground, so you feel balanced on your right foot.
Step Three: Swing through to the finish, then lift your right foot off the ground, so you feel balanced on your left foot.
Repeat this practice exercise several times, then swing normally, and you'll start hitting the ball farther and straighter.
THE RULES If you've ever been embarrassed by unknowingly breaking a rule, take heart. Millions of golfers make the same mistakes because, frankly, The Rules of Golf, published by the United States Golf Association, is hard to understand. So that you do the right thing on the course, know how to handle the following course situation.
Situation: Player A hits the ball over a pond fronting the green. The ball lands on the bank, inside yellow stakes marking the hazard, and rolls back down into the shallow water.
Common mistake: Player A believes that since his ball carried the water and hit land, he's entitled to incur a one-shot penalty and drop outside the water hazard, near where the ball lay. Therefore, he lifts the ball from the water, climbs back up the bank, and drops the ball on land close to the green, then plays his next shot.
For such a violation in a stroke play tournament, Player A would be disqualified for a serious breach of Rule 20-7b, because he failed to negotiate the water hazard and did not correct his mistake.
Correct procedure: First and foremost, understand that the area of land inside the yellow stakes is part of the hazard. Player A may as well have hit the ball in the water, because the options available to him according to the rules are the same.
When you hit a shot into such a hazard, your options under Rule 26-1 are as follows:
- Go back and play a shot from the original spot from which you last hit the ball and then add one stroke to your score.
- Keep the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard between you and the hole, and go back as far as you like on that line. Drop the ball and, again, add one stroke to your score before playing another shot.
- Play the ball from out of the hazard, under no penalty.
SPECIALTY OF THE CLUBHOUSE After playing a few of Sarasota's golf courses with John Anselmo, the man who taught Tiger Woods from the age of 10 until 18, he told me that his father used to make his own brandy and had me try one of his favorite concoctions; a Brandy Fizz. You can have one of our great bartenders make this splendid drink for you or prepare it yourself at home, using the following ingredients and directions.
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce lime juice
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 ounces of brandy
Shake with crushed ice and strain into 12-ounce Tom Collins glass. Fill with club soda.
SARASOTA'S JOHN ANDRISANI is the former senior editor of instruction at GOLF Magazine and the author of more than 25 books, including the newly released Tiger's New Swing. Send questions and comments to John at firstname.lastname@example.org