One of Sarasota's best semi-private courses, Tatum Ridge Golf Links is cut out of a gorgeous piece of natural land and abundant with wildlife. Designed by Ted McAnlis in 1994, Tatum Ridge is now a more mature course, and because of its new look, the variety of challenging holes winding through trees and water and its superbly manicured fairways and putting greens, I believe it's deserving of five stars, rather than the three and a half stars Golf Digest gave it.
The signature hole is the par-five 13th, a dogleg right that will test your skills to the maximum and force you to concentrate very intently to avoid water, hit three good shots according to plan and, once reaching the green, take two putts for a proudly earned par.
Tatum Ridge, like most other courses in our area, has a good array of amenities and enforces a strict dress code (no T-shirts, tank tops or sneakers). However, it separates itself from the pack in one chief respect: There's a telephone on the ninth tee to order food, so it's ready to pick up by the time you make the turn. I've only seen this feature before at my former private club, Lake Nona in Orlando. Not only is this service super-convenient, it allows the speed of play to flow, something all golfers love.
Great course, great place!
TATUM RIDGE GOLF LINKS
421 N. Tatum Road, Sarasota
THE LINGO If you're a Sarasota golfer who thinks your fellow players are talking about cooking when they mention chili-dip, it's a sure sign that you need to learn Golf-speak, the language of the links.
Butt-end: The thickest end of the club's shaft that a player grips when getting ready to swing.
Chili-dip: A faulty "fat" shot that flies only a few feet because the player jabs the club into the ground behind the ball.
Flyer: A shot that flies about 20 yards farther than normal, owing to thick blades of grass or moisture (dew) intervening between the ball and clubface at impact. The flyer occurs because the grooves of the club fail to grip the ball.
Getting home: A player "gets home" when he or she hits the ball onto the green from the fairway. For example: "I got home in two with a five-iron on the par-four sixth hole."
In the zone: Playing in a cocoon of total concentration, usually for the entire round.
Medal play: Competition played according to stroke play rather than match play format. The player adds up his or her strokes for all 18 holes, and the low medal score wins.
THE RULES If you want to shoot lower scores without going to the trouble of changing your swing, learn the rules that apply in course situations, such as the following one involving your caddy indicating the line of play.
Situation: Player A's ball is near the base of a very steep bank behind the green. Player A is so close to the high slope that he's unable to see the flagstick in the center of the green. He asks his caddy to remove the flagstick from the hole and lift it up high, so he can get a feel for the line of the shot.
Common mistake: The caddy moves toward the fringe with the flagstick, closer to Player A. Next, the caddy raises the flagstick high into the air while Player A hits the shot. According to Rule 8-2, the caddy is not allowed to stand on the line of play and hold the flag in the air while the player hits a shot. This breach will cost you two penalty strokes.
Correct procedure: The caddy is allowed, according to Rule 17-1, to stand by the hole and raise the flagstick, since this is considered tending the flag. The caddy also is permitted to move away from the hole and hold the flag in the air to help the player see the target line, provided he or she moves out of sight or away from the designated line before the player hits the shot.
TIPS FROM THE PROS
When I heard that Jimmy Wright is the new director of golf at The Concession, I was thrilled. Not only is Jimmy an upstanding individual and a superb golfer I had the pleasure to play with once on Long Island, he's a heck of a teacher. Here's his tip for golfers looking to gain more power through a stronger turn of the body.
Set up closed, with your right foot dropped back a couple of inches and turned out slightly rather than perpendicular to the target line. Stand a little farther away from the ball, so you get the feeling of reaching.
Once establishing your address, swing the club back, allowing your head to move slightly away from the target. Because of your new setup, you will automatically swing on a flatter plane and trigger a good weight shift into your right side. Allowing your head to move off the ball slightly will further promote a more solid shift action as well as a strong turn of the shoulders and hips that you need for winding up powerfully.
Next, swing down and unleash that stored power and watch the ball fly fast off the clubface, far down the fairway.
FUN AND GAMES This month the Masters Tournament is played on Augusta National, one of the world's premier courses and one I've been lucky enough to play. Although we're used to playing golf in warm weather, the Masters gives golfers a jolt of added enthusiasm every spring and signals the "official" start of the golf season. The Masters is also special since former Sarasota resident Bobby Jones was the co-designer of Augusta's championship course (with Alister MacKenzie), and I believe got a lot of his design ideas from playing our very own Sara Bay Country Club.
Sara Bay is where I plan to hook up with Nathaniel Crosby, the 1981 U.S. Amateur champion who played in the 1982 Masters.
I recently spoke to Nat, son of singer Bing Crosby, about his father's passion for the game. Bing loved golf-in fact, he died on a golf course in Spain-and enjoyed playing betting games. So when I meet with Nat to discuss collaborating on a new golf book, I'm going to suggest a game called "Long Shots."
I was introduced to Long Shots by Robin McMillan, one of my former colleagues at Golf Magazine. Should you ever be looking to break the boredom of a Nassau match and shake things up, here's the simple formula for playing this on-course game.
The player who wins the hole is awarded points equaling the yardage of the hole. For example, if you shoot the lowest score on the par-three 150-yard second hole, you gain 150 points. Ties on a hole make for carry-overs. Whoever wins the most yards by the end of the day wins the match.
John Andrisani is the former senior editor of Golf Magazine and the author of more than 25 books.