Rolling Green Golf Club ranks among our city’s best 18-hole par-72 championship courses, mainly because its tree-lined fairways and large greens are kept in such fine condition, and it boasts a very good balance of par-three, -four and -five holes.
The course is a strategic rather than penal layout, so there’s not such a fine line between risk and reward. The architect, Andy Anderson, provides golfers of all handicaps different choices—various routes to the hole—making for a more challenging and amusing game. Rolling Green has no huge forced carries requiring players to hit the ball, say, 250 yards in the air off the tee on par-four or par-five holes to reach the fairway.
This course, which is open to the public with tee times available seven days in advance, does demand that you keep the ball in play and not stray too far from the short grass. The fairways are quite wide and the greens fairly big, so you should be able to get around just fine, although you’d better bring your “A” game when playing hole 17, which many locals consider the signature hole.
Hole 17 measures a hefty 200 yards from the gold tee markers to a green with water in front. Don’t let up, or you’ll surely be fishing your ball out of the drink.
Even from the gold tees the course only measures 6,440 yards, long enough to test your ability to hit all shots without making you feel dead tired after the round.
Those of you who like to hit balls before you play will love Rolling Green’s practice facility, equipped with driving range, putting and chipping greens and sand bunker.
Lunch and breakfast are served, and look for Friday night specials. ROLLING GREEN GOLF COURSE, 4501 N. Tuttle Ave., Sarasota (941) 355-7621
THE LINGO Just to feel like one of the guys (or gals) in your weekend golf group, and at home on any Sarasota course, you’ve got to know the language of the links. So, let’s start today’s lesson on building your vocabulary.
Army golf: A golfer plays Army golf when he or she hits a shot that flies left, another right, another left, etc. Thus the marching lingo: left-right, left-right, left-right.
Blast: To hit forcefully, or blast the sand two inches behind the ball with the flange or bounce of the club, propelling the ball high up over the sand bunker’s lip and onto the green.
Borrow: The degree of slope or break in a green that causes the ball to turn left or right toward the hole.
Chili dip: A faulty fat chip shot that flies only a couple of feet, due to the golfer jabbing the club into the ground behind the ball.
Dead-stymied: The player is dead-stymied when surrounding trouble (tree branches, for example) prevents him or her from employing a free swing.
Hanging lie: The position of a ball resting on a severe downhill slope.
Overclubbing: Hitting too strong a club into the green, e.g. an eight-iron instead of a nine-iron. The lower the number the less lofted and the “stronger” the club.
Underclubbing: Not hitting a strong enough club on an approach shot.
Yip: A nervous in-to-out faulty stroke that causes the ball to usually be pushed well right of the hole.
TIPS FROM THE PROS
Bob Irving, head golf professional at The Founders Club, provided me with this simple formula for hitting a recovery shot with an iron out of deep rough bordering a fairway.
1. Choose a lofted enough iron that you know will lift the ball out of the rough and allow you to advance the ball down the fairway.
2. At address, set 60 percent of your weight on your forward foot and position your hands a couple of inches ahead of the ball that should be played back in the stance.
3. Swing the club back and down on a steep angle, allowing your wrists to hinge freely on the backswing and then to unhinge in the hitting area so that the clubface is snapped down squarely into the back of the ball.
THE RULES One shortcut to becoming a complete player and saving wasted strokes on the course is to learn the rules of golf, especially this one involving a common situation of grounding a club in a hazard.
Situation: Player A, while playing in a stroke play championship, discovers his ball in a sand bunker.
Common mistake: In taking his address, Player A rests the bottom of the club on the ground, just as he would when hitting a shot off fairway grass. However, Rule 13-4 does not permit grounding the club in a sand bunker. Player A must incur a two-stroke penalty.
Correct procedure: When preparing to hit a recovery shot from a sand bunker, make sure to keep the club elevated. The bottom of the club is not allowed to touch the sand when you take your address or during your backswing.
John Andrisani is the former senior editor of instruction at Golf Magazine and the author of nearly 30 books, including his latest, Tiger’s New Swing.