In the News 1909-Now
Bobby Jones Golf Club News Archives
Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club looks into the archives of newspapers and newsmakers, with selected articles that bring history alive
American Course to close for drainage improvements Aug. 13
august 9, 2018
city of sarasota
SARASOTA — The American Course at Bobby Jones Golf Club, owned and operated by the City of Sarasota, will close temporarily for drainage improvements effective Monday, Aug. 13. The 18-hole course is expected to reopen by Dec. 1.
Due to poor drainage, the course is overwhelmed with water and frequently unplayable following a heavy rain. During the temporary closure, the drainage on all 18 fairways will be corrected.
“The improvements are needed as a stop gap measure,” said Bobby Jones Golf Club Manager Sue Martin. “By eliminating the water and soggy conditions, the American Course will be playable and once again attract golfers who want to spend time playing a round at this urban oasis.”
The City Commission approved limited capital improvements at the municipal golf course last month to help keep Bobby Jones open to the public and playable while a master plan for the golf course is finalized and executed over the coming years.
NOT JUST CHILD'S PLAY
CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK
JULY 28, 2018
SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE
BY JIM BROCKMAN / CORRESPONDENT
Youths take shot at trip to Augusta National in Drive, Chip and Putt competition
SARASOTA — A trio of 10-year-old boys led the charge Saturday as 11 area junior golfers advanced with a chance to play Augusta National Golf Club next April and then stick around to watch the 2019 Masters Tournament.
Jordan Brown of Lakewood Ranch, Jayden Potter of Sarasota and Bradenton’s Ferguson McLeod finished one-two-three to sweep the Boys 10-11 Division at the PGA Drive, Chip and Putt competition at the Bobby Jones Golf Club.
It’s the fifth straight year Sarasota’s historic municipal golf course has played host to the qualifying event. The top three finishers in each of the eight age divisions, four divisions each for boys and girls, will move on to play the sub-regional event slated for Bonita Springs on Aug. 11.
More than 200 young golfers from Miami to Ocala were on hand, vying for one of the 24 qualifying spots as the heat and humidity skyrocketed. Players were awarded points for their distance and accuracy in three of the game’s basic fundamentals.
Brown won his division with a 39 (driving), 55 (chipping), and 55 for putting for a total of 149 points. He’s headed for sixth grade at Nolan Middle School in the fall.
“It was nice to win,” Brown said. “I played well. I hit some good drives and did some good chipping.
“My goal is to continue to get better and win more tournaments. Nolan Middle School has a golf team.”
Making it all the way to Augusta would entail a top two finish in their division at the Bonita Bay Club to earn a berth in the regional qualifier, scheduled for TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach on Sept. 29. The winner there in each division gets the red carpet treatment and a free trip next spring to Augusta, Georgia.
“I have never been to Augusta,” Brown said. “It sounds like it would be fun. It would be awesome to get to go there.”
Potter went 25-60-60 for a total of 145 to nail down second place.
“My putting was very good,” Potter said. “But my chipping was better. I got them all within 20 feet. The hard part is trying to get it close to the pin. I was able to do that today.”
Potter knows a long journey remains to make the trip to Augusta. However, the effort is worth it.
“I would probably think I was dreaming if I got to go there,” Potter said.
McLeod, who will be a fifth-grader at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School this fall, wrapped up third place with a 36-50-55 for a total of 141. Conlin Bradshaw of Brandon was a distant fourth with 127 points.
The only other area golfer to finish first on Saturday was Tristan Pasch of Parrish, who went 13-36-65 – 119 to capture the Boys 7-9 Division.
Gentry Gauthier of Nokomis and North Port’s Charles Kemble finished second and third, respectively, in the Boys 12-13 Division. Gauthier tallied 146 points and Kemble collected 123 as Jake Ackerman of Riverview in Hillsborough won the division with 151 points.
A pair of Sarasota boys qualified for the sub-regional in the 14-15 Division as Harrison Chojnowski finished second with 158 points and Jackson Septer was third at 145. Tampa’s Saraj Kollegal won the division with 168 points.
The top area finish by a female golfer was Chloe Chang of Sarasota, who snared second place in the Girls 10-11 Division with a total of 138 points. Bradenton’s Natalie Angelo was third at 97.
Hayli Snaer of Venice finished third in the 12-13 Division with 119 points.
[NOTE: FRIENDS OF BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB SPONSORED THE INAUGURAL DRIVE, CHIP AND PUTT BOOTCAMP AT BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB.]
WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE BOBBY JONES GOLF COMPLEX?
JULY 26, 2018
SARASOTA MAGAZINE AUGUST 2018
BY DAVID HACKETT
The City Commission is expected to vote late this summer on whether to fund improvements to the neglected facility.
On a weekday afternoon in mid-June, the air of neglect hangs over the Bobby Jones Golf Complex like the sagging branches of a willow tree. Three cars dot a parking strip that spans the length of a football field. The golf cart attendant sits idly by his stand. I walk into the clubhouse, which was built during the first term of the Nixon administration and has the 1970s-style wood paneling from your uncle’s den to prove it.
“Think you can squeeze me in today?” I ask the fellow behind the register.
“Not a problem,” he replies, looking out over the nearly deserted course. “You’ll almost have the place to yourself.”
The whole scene is hard to fathom. For decades, Bobby Jones has been, like Siesta Key Beach, Selby Gardens or the Ringling Museum, a place that defines Sarasota. The 45-hole facility includes two 18-hole courses, as well as a Par 3 “executive” course, spanning 300 acres and encompassing nearly half the city’s public green space. Players who have battled its challenging contours, part of which were designed nearly a century ago by legendary golf architect Donald Ross, include Babe Ruth, Gene Sarazen, Babe Didrikson Zaharias and former top pro Paul Azinger, who honed his game at Bobby Jones as a teen-ager and still holds the course record of 62.
Yet its true spirit is embodied in innumerable duffers, kids, seniors and minorities who could never afford to tee up at a private club, yet still had access to a championship course in the heart of the city at rates that even in the height of season are roughly half the average for courses in Sarasota County: $49 compared to $82.56. Scores of courses are open to the public in Southwest Florida, but Bobby Jones is the only municipal course from Sarasota south to Fort Myers.
“In its heyday, people from all over the world came to Sarasota to play Bobby Jones,” says Al Woodle, a Sarasota native and retired city police captain who has been playing golf here for more than 40 years. “But now it’s basically unplayable. I can’t recommend it to anyone.”
Since critical maintenance has been put off for decades, everything from tee boxes to bunker sand to the irrigation system is in failing condition. Drainage is so poor that the course is forced to close for days after heavy rains. Strapped for cash during the Great Recession, the city raided Bobby Jones’ reserve funds, which had nearly $2 million.
It should be obvious. If you let a golf course fall apart, people will stop coming. In 1993, 164,000 rounds of golf were played at Bobby Jones. Last year, despite Sarasota’s growth, only 79,000 rounds were played at the three courses.
After more than paying for itself for most of its history, Bobby Jones is likely to need $625,000 from the city to cover its operating costs this year. And that does not take into account the capital improvements, which an architect hired by the city has pegged at between $16 million and $22 million.
This fork in the road for Bobby Jones comes at a time when land values are soaring, as are calls for more affordable housing, trails and parks. All of which would seem to make a vast golf complex in the heart of the city vulnerable to being sold off or converted to other use.
Yet public sentiment has been strong for preserving Bobby Jones as a golf center, says Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch. “Bobby Jones is such a big part of our heritage,” she says. “Young people, seniors, snowbirds, tourists, it’s there for everyone. It doesn’t need to be a cash cow, it just needs to pay its own way. If we make the necessary improvements, it can do so again.”
One of the biggest things Bobby Jones has going for it has nothing to do with sand bunkers or tee boxes. It’s the city’s comprehensive plan, which calls for 100 acres of public green space for every thousand residents. The city’s population is swelling toward 60,000 and Sarasota has about 600 acres of green space, of which Bobby Jones constitutes half. That means selling the golf course for development, even for affordable housing, would put Sarasota at odds with its own mandate. In addition, under the golf course are four aquifers, part of the city’s reserve water system.
Course manager Sue Martin says the low end of the capital improvement plan—$16 million—is enough to revive Bobby Jones. It includes a new training center and clubhouse, both of which would boost revenue. She’s confident that with those changes and course improvements Bobby Jones could get back to 125,000 rounds a year.
In addition, Bobby Jones is home to such a vast variety of birds and land animals, Koch-Ahearn says a birding trail could be part of the renovations if it does not infringe on the golf courses.
Bobby Jones opened in 1926 and, a year later, its namesake, then the world’s most famous golfer (who was in Sarasota selling real estate), dedicated it. Because Bobby Jones was an amateur, he could not accept payment, so the city gave him a Pierce-Arrow automobile.
It will cost far more than that to restore Bobby Jones to its former luster. The City Commission is expected to vote late this summer on whether to fund the improvements.
STRUGGLING BOBBY JONES COURSE USED TO RAKE IN CASH
JULY 26, 2018
SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE
BY NICOLE RODRIGUEZ
The financially floundering municipal course — which requires nearly $17 million in renovations to transform the dilapidated club into a destination again — boasted fund balances that fluctuated between roughly $1.3 million to nearly $2 million from budget years 2005 to 2009, city documents show
SARASOTA — Financially depleted Bobby Jones Golf Club was once self-sufficient, profitable and at one point had a lofty fund balance capable of covering some of the pricey renovations the deteriorating city-operated club needs today, city records dating back more than three decades show.
The cash-strapped municipal course — which requires nearly $17 million in renovations to transform the dilapidated club into a destination again — boasted fund balances that fluctuated between roughly $1.3 million to nearly $2 million from budget years 2005 to 2009, city documents dating back to 1983 show.
During its most profitable stretch from budget years 2004 to 2006, the club generated approximately $1.5 million after expenditures, according to city documents. The 45-hole club — which received a $425,000 subsidy from the general fund this year and could require a $650,000 subsidy next year — now has a fund balance of $102,280, incapable of contributing to basic repairs it needs.
Declining rounds of golf played at the club, neglected renovations and the city funneling more than $333,000 from Bobby Jones from 2008 to 2011 during the Great Recession to cover vital city services contributed to the drain, according to city officials and documents.
An additional $295,000 a communications tower on club grounds generated was siphoned from Bobby Jones from 2009 to 2016 because of the recession, course manager Sue Martin said. Even more money for city employee pensions was subsidized by the course, said Martin, who began running the course in 2008.
In 2017 alone, roughly $48,400 from Bobby Jones was transferred to a post-employee benefits fund. The number fluctuates annually, records show.
Regardless of how profitable the course was, Martin maintains the major renovations required today were not needed during the course’s boom years before the economic downturn.
“Over the years, we’ve had to dip into those fund balances to do minor repairs just to keep going,” Martin said. “Now we’re at the point where we don’t have the fund balance anymore.”
In the past 30 years, the city has invested roughly $3.2 million in major course improvements, according to city documents. That’s an average investment of about $106,600 annually during those three decades. Tee boxes, which have a typical life expectancy of 15 to 20 years, have not been replaced in more than 30 years. Irrigation heads and pipes, which have a life expectancy of 10 to 30 years, are more than three decades old. Bunker sand, which has a life expectancy of five to seven years, is more than 20 years old.
The American course received $1.9 million in renovations in 1988 and British course greens were rebuilt in 1994 and 2008 at a cost of $320,959. American course greens were rebuilt in 2000, costing $247,911, city documents show.
But you’ll hear a different story if you ask Jay Fink, a former member of the now defunct Bobby Jones Advisory Board. Fink says the nearly 50-year-old clubhouse, which currently needs a new roof and air conditioning system, had the same problems during the profitable years. Fink also recalls hundreds of thousands of dollars being funneled out of Bobby Jones to support other city funds and projects.
“It seemed like every month when we went to the meetings, there were always major issues with the clubhouse,” Fink said.
“Based on studies, they said we would actually be better to have that building torn down to build a brand new clubhouse,” Fink added.
According to a 2004 Herald-Tribune story, commissioners at the time agreed to spend about $3.5 million to replace the 7,720-square-foot clubhouse, which had a leaky roof, aging plumbing and an outdated air-conditioning system. The new clubhouse, however, never materialized because the course never recovered from the loss of tourism after the Sept. 11 attacks and the city wanted to avoid raising rates at the municipal course to cover the price of the project.
Questions swirled the following year about the potential mismanagement of money at Bobby Jones.
A 2005 city audit of the course criticized deals city officials made with private contractors and detailed a variety of violations. In one instance, then-City Manager Michael McNees signed a $438,000 contract to lease global positioning equipment for Bobby Jones golf carts without seeking competitive bids or City Commission approval.
McNees also sealed the deal before the City Commission budgeted money for it — a violation of city ordinances. Another contractor, hired to run the restaurant in the Bobby Jones clubhouse, was consistently late on rent payments and didn’t pay a penalty. At the same time, the city was charging the restaurant too little for its electricity and too much for water and cable.
Martin and golf architect and city consultant Richard Mandell in May recommended a slew of upgrades to the club — which opened in 1926 — including: replacing the antiquated irrigation system, renovating the deteriorating clubhouse, creating a golf development center, rebuilding all the greens by 2023 and expanding the driving range. It’s estimated to cost nearly $17 million to perform the specified renovations to all 45 holes, which would include a new development center and a clubhouse. Roughly $735,000 of the cost would be covered by an existing one-cent sales tax, and the city identified $3.5 million in possible grant funding.
The City Commission is considering the proposal.
Bobby Jones fund balances
FY 1983-84: $20,810
FY 1984-95: $137,606
FY 1985-86: $107,645
FY 1986-87: $213,749
FY 1987-88: -$240,050
FY 1988-89: -$301,269
FY 1989-90: -$449,378
FY 1990-91: -$566,564
FY 1991-92: -$503,210
FY 1992-93: -$464,717
FY 1993-94: -$338,769
FY 1994-95: -$257,999
FY 1995-96: -$236,717
FY 1996-97: -$62,673
FY 1997-98: $63,526
FY 1998-99: $170,407
FY 1999-00: $63,301
FY 2000-01: $585,808
FY 2001-02: $491,505
FY 2002-03: $465,426
FY 2003-04: $469,597
FY 2004-05: $740,198
FY 2005-06: $1,301,085
FY 2006-07: $1,942,806
FY 2007-08: $1,979,926
FY 2008-09: $1,979,459
FY 2009-10: $1,294,205
FY 2010-11: $393,894
FY 2011-12: $332,797
FY 2012-13: $202,608
FY 2013-14: $914,043
FY 2014-13: $505,386
FY 2015-16: $48,564
FY 2016-17: -$183,034
May 2018: $102,280 (with the help of a subsidy)
SARASOTA CITY COMMISSION WANTS TO AVOID A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
JUNE 28, 2018
SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE
BY NICOLE RODRIGUEZ
SARASOTA — City commissioners want to trim fat from the proposed budget to avoid a potential property tax hike.
The Sarasota City Commission on Wednesday voted 3-2 to have city administrators re-evaluate the proposed $229 million 2018-19 budget to find areas to cut expenditures or hires to spare property owners from a suggested 2.85 percent property tax increase that staffers have recommended. City administrators on Tuesday asked the commission to consider a tax hike from $3.17 per $1,000 of assessed value to $3.26 to cover a roughly $914,000 deficit to the $73 million general fund budget — which is the main operating fund of the $229 million budget — they say was created by the transfer of five parks from Sarasota County. The potential tax increase would cost a homeowner with a taxable value of $200,000 an extra $1.51 per month or $18.10 a year, city officials said. The dissenting votes belonged to Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch and Commissioner Willie Charles Shaw.
A revised budget is expected to be presented to the commission sometime next month.
“We’ve got to look at this a little bit more conservatively,” Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie said during a special meeting about the budget. ”... We can’t fund all of this now. We just can’t.”
Commissioner Hagen Brody, who fiercely opposed a property tax hike, questioned how the city could blame the budget shortfall solely on parks.
“You’re labeling this ‘the parks tax increase,’ but I just want you to know I’m not buying it,” Brody told administrators.
City administrators, however, insist the unanticipated costs with taking over the parks has created the deficit. The transfer will require 14 new full-time and 14 part-time employees, officials said. Beginning Oct. 1, the city will retain ownership of Arlington Park and Aquatic Center, Centennial Park, Ken Thompson Park, Payne Park Tennis Center and the Sarasota Lawn Bowling Club.
The proposed budget includes several items classified by staff as “budget issues” that city staff characterized as new costs the city had to assume. The parks transfer is listed as an issue in addition to personnel and equipment requests from the police department, human resources, the planning department, housing and community development and financial administration. The requests, which also include street and highway maintenance costs, total $2.1 million.
Financially depleted Bobby Jones Golf Club is projected to require a subsidy of $650,000 next budget year. The 45-hole golf club could also require $375,000 in subsidies this budget year in addition to a $425,000 subsidy the commission already approved this year. Just recently, part of the nearly 50-year-old air conditioning unit in the aging clubhouse broke and drainage issues on parts of the course have become so bad a temporary fix is required, course manager Sue Martin said.
“We just keep getting more surprises,” Martin said.
City officials have attributed the need for a subsidy for the second consecutive year to neglected improvements to the course and declining revenues because of a diminishing golf industry. Golf architect and city consultant Richard Mandell last year identified $21.6 million of improvements needed for all 45 holes. The city recently held a series of public workshops to help the City Commission at a later date determine which of Mandell’s recommendations to undertake. It’s estimated to cost nearly $17 million to perform the specified renovations to all 45 holes, which would include a new development center and a clubhouse. Roughly $735,000 of the cost would be covered by an existing one-cent sales tax, and the city identified $3.5 million in possible grant funding.
The upcoming budget, however, did not set aside funding for the significant renovations that will require commission approval.
“Inevitably, some supplemental additional funding is going to be necessary,” City Manager Tom Barwin said. “And with the kind of history it has, and its potential, we’re going to work real hard to market it and keep it a fun experience and hopefully have it come very close to breaking even or returning to being a positive cash flow over time.”
SARASOTA MULLING A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
JUNE 26, 2018
SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE
BY NICOLE RODRIGUEZ
ADMINISTRATORS SEEK ADDITIONAL REVENUE TO MAINTAIN FIVE PARKS TRANSFERRED FROM COUNTY
SARASOTA — Property owners in the city of Sarasota could face a slight tax rate increase to cover costs associated with extra park maintenance.
City administrators have asked the Sarasota City Commission to consider approving a 2.85 percent property tax hike — from $3.17 per $1,000 of assessed value to $3.26 — to cover a roughly $914,000 deficit to the $73 million 2018-19 general fund budget created by the transfer of five parks from Sarasota County. The potential tax increase would cost a homeowner with a taxable value of $200,000 about $1.51 per month or $18.10 a year, city officials said at a budget workshop on Tuesday.
Beginning Oct. 1, the city will retain ownership of the Arlington Park and Aquatic Center, Centennial Park, Ken Thompson Park, Payne Park Tennis Center and the Sarasota Lawn Bowling Club. The city had an agreement with the county that the county would maintain the parks until September 2021, unless the county gave the city a year’s notice it no longer wanted the parks. The county gave proper notice last year. The transfer also requires the city to hire 14 new full-time positions next budget year to handle the added maintenance, Finance Director Kelly Strickland said.
“The operation of the city-owned parks is not something that we had anticipated, and it’s an additional expense for the city — that’s why we’re proposing a tax increase,” Strickland said.
Commissioner Hagen Brody was skeptical that parks are solely to blame for the shortfall, adding he hopes that city staffers could find fat to trim off the budget to avoid a rate hike.
“In my mind, presenting a balanced budget doesn’t mean presenting a budget that requires us to raise taxes,” Brody said.
Officials anticipate the city will collect roughly $35.6 million in property tax revenue for the general fund — the city’s main operating fund — should the commission approve the tax rate increase, city documents show. The projection is also based off preliminary taxable property value estimates released earlier this month by Sarasota County Property Appraiser Bill Furst that show the city experienced an estimated 8.49 percent jump in values from $9.7 billion in 2017 to $10.5 billion this year.
The city last raised property taxes in 2013, according to city documents. The commission next month will set a tentative property tax rate and will approve the final budget in September.
Next year’s budget — which is about $6.2 million larger than the current 2017-18 general fund budget — requests 22 new hires for the Sarasota Police Department, Parks & Recreation and human resources, according to city documents. The police department requested seven positions and allocated $250,000 toward launching a body camera program — should the commission desire to equip officers with them. The program would require two new hires and would outfit 100 officers with body-worn cameras and equip patrol cars with 100 cameras, documents show.
The commission was reluctant to approve the expenditure Tuesday without holding a workshop on the issue.
“We have been very conservative about adding any positions at all, so we can be prepared for the next downturn — whenever that comes,” City Manager Tom Barwin said.
The beleaguered Bobby Jones Golf Club is projected to require a subsidy of $650,000 next budget year. The 45-hole golf club could also require $375,000 in subsidies this budget year in addition to a $425,000 subsidy the commission already approved this year. City officials have attributed the need for a subsidy for the second consecutive year to neglected improvements to the course and declining revenues because of a diminishing golf industry.
FORUMS FIND SUPPORT FOR BOBBY JONES UPGRADES
THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2018
AFTER GATHERING PUBLIC INPUT, THE CITY IS PREPARING TO ONCE AGAIN TO DISCUSS OPTIONS FOR RENOVATING ITS 45-HOLE GOLF COMPLEX
BY DAVID CONWAY, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
One of Richard Mandell’s major takeaways after four public workshops about the future of Bobby Jones Golf Club: Sarasota residents still believe the course can succeed.
“I feel like everyone’s pretty supportive of our efforts,” said Mandell, a golf architect working with the city on plans to renovate the municipal golf course. “They recognize something needs to be done — on a large scale, not just Band-Aids.”
On June 13 and 14, the city held a series of meetings designed to gather community feedback as officials debate the best path forward for Bobby Jones. In 2017, Mandell wrote a report stating the 45-hole complex needed more than $20 million in comprehensive renovations.
Following the production of the report, the city has demurred on how much it should actually invest in the golf course.
The course hasn’t turned a profit in the past five years. It needed a $425,000 subsidy in the previous budget and is projected to need a $600,000 subsidy in 2018-19. Concerned about the financial state of Bobby Jones, the City Commission wanted to hear what residents envisioned as an appropriate renovation plan.
Based on the input at the final workshop, those who chose to attend the meeting were enthusiastic about investing significant money into the course. Golfers said they would use the course more if it were improved. They believed the larger golf community felt the same way.
“Nobody wants to go play because of the condition,” said Steve Matthews, a golfer who spoke at the June 14 workshop. “I’m totally in support of spending this money to go fix it, because it’s a gem we as a city and a county should be really proud of.”
Matthews said he would be happy to pay $40 or $50 to play at Bobby Jones if it was in good shape, potentially double the existing fees. Other golfers shared the same sentiment, Mandell said, which could radically change the financial equations for the course.
Mandell suggested a tiered-fee system could generate additional revenue. The commission expressed a desire to keep Bobby Jones affordable for residents, so Mandell said the course could charge its lowest rates for city residents. But after examining other local golf course rates, Mandell said the city could potentially charge tourists more than $100 to play a round and still draw them.
“That’s a game-changer, from a revenue standpoint,” Mandell said.
Some golfers suggested a gradual approach to renovating the course — perhaps an initial smaller investment designed to improve 18 holes before proceeding to improve the rest of the course and clubhouse.
Other attendees suggested the county should be responsible for contributing funds to Bobby Jones, arguing the course is a regional amenity.
“The city is a part of the county,” resident and golfer Bill Coughlin said. “The county should share the costs.”
Mandell said that, because he was hired by the city and the city owns the course, he does not plan to broach that subject as part of a conversation about renovating the course.
At a May meeting, city commissioners made clear they hoped the workshops would include more than just the golf community. Mandell estimated that 40% of the attendees were nongolfers. He believed that group was largely of the opinion that Bobby Jones is an open-space asset that needs to be maintained.
“We did not hear from any nongolfers saying, ‘Tear it up and build condos,’” Mandell said. “I think they understand the benefits of that beyond just the golf itself.”
Mandell intends to return to the commission later this summer with more detailed financing options for a potential final decision on Bobby Jones renovations.
Despite the financial challenges the course is facing, Mandell said he thinks the general consensus is that Bobby Jones can turn its situation around with the proper investment.
“A majority of people want to preserve all 45 golf holes,” Mandell said.
DECADES OF NEGLECT AT SARASOTA'S BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB
JUNE 14, 2018
SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE
BY NICOLE RODRIGUEZ
CITY OFFICIALS BLAME RECESSION FOR YEARS OF NEGLECT, BUT RECORDS SUGGEST DELINQUENCY SPANNED DECADES
SARASOTA — City officials blame the Great Recession for years of neglect to the financially floundering Bobby Jones Golf Club, but city records suggest the delinquency spanned three decades.
The recession, which caused the real estate market to collapse and halted new construction 10 years ago, forced city officials to divert money from the once-profitable club — which could require a $650,000 subsidy next budget year — to pay for vital city services, Sue Martin, the course’s manager said Thursday.
The neglect, however, started well before the recession, city documents suggest. In the past 30 years, the city has invested roughly $3.2 million in major course investments, according to city documents. That’s an average investment of about $106,600 annually during those three decades.
“It really had to do with the recession. Our city commissioners are faced with having to balance a budget, and notoriously, recreation is one of the things that kind of goes to a lower priority in any city, any state, any county,” Martin said. “Because you have to pave your roads, you have to fix your water lines, you have to have sewers and police protection.”
Tee boxes, which have a typical life expectancy of 15 to 20 years, have not been replaced in more than 30 years. Irrigation heads and pipes, which have a life expectancy of 10 to 30 years, are more than three decades old, city documents show. Bunker sand, which has a life expectancy of five to seven years, is more than 20 years old, documents show.
“There was some money put into it,” Martin said of the years preceding the economic downturn. The life cycle of many of the club’s components began to “age out” and needed replacement when the recession hit, Martin added.
The American course received $1.9 million in renovations in 1988 and British course greens were rebuilt in 1994 and 2008 at a cost of $320,959. American course greens were rebuilt in 2000, costing $247,911, city documents show.
The club, which opened in 1926, was last profitable in 2012 when it generated roughly $2.84 million. Minus expenses of about $2.82 million, the course had an income of $25,502, city records show.
Records also show the courses have seen a steady decline in play for the past three budget years, which run from October to September. Budget year 2015-16 saw a decrease of more than 7,800 players from 98,315 players the previous year. The city reported about 79,000 players in budget year 2016-17.
Golf architect and city consultant Richard Mandell last year identified $21.6 million of improvements needed for all 45 holes. The City Commission recently agreed to hold a series of public workshops to help it determine which of Mandell’s recommendations to undertake.
Mandell and Martin were on hand Thursday during a workshop at City Hall where they heard suggestions from Sarasota residents. Those in attendance suggested upgrading all 45 holes, maintaining only 36 or 27 holes and using the rest of the space for other recreational activities, forming a foundation to sustain the course and implementing Florida resident rates.
Priority fixes Mandell and city staff have recommended: replace the antiquated irrigation system, renovate the deteriorating clubhouse, create a golf development center, rebuild all the greens by 2023 and expand the driving range. It’s estimated to cost nearly $17 million to perform the specified renovations to all 45 holes, which would include a new development center and a clubhouse. Roughly $735,000 of the cost would be covered by an existing one-cent sales tax, and the city identified $3.5 million in possible grant funding.
“The infrastructure at Bobby Jones is pretty much shot, and that’s why conditions are the way they are,” Mandell said.
The findings from the public workshops will be presented to the City Commission at a future date.
BOBBY JONES ISSUES REMAIN UNSETTLED
THURSDAY, JUNE 7, 2018
THE CITY HOPES COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS AND AN ADVISORY BOARD WILL HELP ESTABLISH A STRATEGY FOR ADDRESSING THE GOLF COURSE'S FINANCIAL WOES.
BY DAVID CONWAY, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
It’s been six years since Bobby Jones Golf Club last turned a profit.
Fiscal year 2012 is the lone blip in what has been a long downward trend for the municipal golf course, which had previously been a self-sustaining entity. Other than the $25,502 the golf course made that year, the city has lost money operating the course every year since 2009.
Typically, the losses have been substantial — at least $140,000 every year since 2010, and an average of $364,331 annually over the past five years. The course depleted its reserves, which necessitated a $425,000 subsidy from the city’s general fund in this year’s budget. Preliminary staff estimates say that subsidy could increase to $600,000 next year.
Still, at the latest in an ongoing series of meetings regarding the future of Bobby Jones, city officials expressed optimism the golf complex could once again become financially stable.
“We have seen Bobby Jones be sustainable,” Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch said at a May 31 meeting. “Bobby Jones had $2 million, almost, in reserves. When you take care of it and you invest in it, it’s going to be profitable. It’s not pretend.”
Even though the city continues to believe in the viability of Bobby Jones, it’s still unclear how, exactly, the City Commission wants to improve the course. At the May 31 meeting, held specifically to discuss Bobby Jones, the city declined to make any substantive decision regarding the complex itself. Instead, the commission directed staff to hold public workshops on potential improvements and to create a new advisory board for Bobby Jones-related topics.
Last year, the city received a recommended renovation plan from consultant Richard Mandell. In total, the report estimated the improvement needs of the facility at $21.6 million. Even a less intensive overhaul could cost more than $18 million, he said.
After discussing the report in October, the commission directed staff to research strategies for funding and implementing changes to Bobby Jones.
Staff, including Mandell, presented updated financing strategies for improving the course. Renovating all 45 holes, including a new player development center and clubhouse, would require an additional $16 million in funding, staff said. Staff has identified $3.5 million in potential grant opportunities to pay for that project.
The presentation also included smaller alternative scopes of work. Renovating just 36 holes, ignoring the clubhouse and development center, would require an additional $12 million. Renovating 27 holes would require $10 million, and 18 holes would require $6.4 million. Shrinking the number of holes at the golf course would require fewer rounds played to pay off the debt service from any renovations, staff said.
A majority of the commission expressed interest in maintaining 45 holes at Bobby Jones.
“There’s strong evidence, if we bring this course back up to its ability to be enjoyable and playable, we will see the returns,” Ahearn-Koch said. “I believe it’s an investment the community wants.”
City Commissioner Hagen Brody was the lone vote against the city’s actions May 31. Already a critic of the state of Bobby Jones, Brody said finding a less expensive plan was even more crucial in the wake of a recent lawsuit that has the city facing a payment of nearly $50 million in damages.
“I think pursuing the ‘best Christmas ever’ package is — to me, it’s crazy,” Brody said.
The city has scheduled meetings June 13 and June 14 to gather input on the facility’s future. Brody said he wanted the discussion to expand beyond just people who use the course, a sentiment the rest of the commission echoed.
“This is not only a golf issue, but it’s a taxpayer issue,” Brody said. “I want to hear what the people in all three districts think.”
SARASOTA SOLICITS COMMUNITY INPUT ON BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB
JUNE 6, 2018
SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE
BY NICOLE RODRIGUEZ
SARASOTA — The city is holding a series of public workshops next week to garner community input on the future of the deteriorating Bobby Jones Golf Club.
The Sarasota City Commission has called for the meetings to solicit input on which improvements it should undertake of an estimated $21.6 million overhaul that golf architect and city consultant Richard Mandell recommended late last year. The 45-hole flood-prone complex in recent years has been a financial strain because of neglected improvements and declining play at the course, city officials have said.
This budget year, for the first time, the club received a $425,000 subsidy. City staff previously estimated the course would need $1 million more next budget year, but that figure is closer to $600,000, city officials said. Administrators in March predicted a roughly $1.5 million deficit in the upcoming budget year despite an anticipated rise in property values — the nearly 100-year-old Bobby Jones Golf Club is a contributing factor to that shortfall, city officials have said.
Meetings will take place on June 13 at 2 p.m. at Payne Park Auditorium, 2100 Laurel Street and at 5:30 p.m. at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex, 1845 John Rivers St. A second round of meetings will be held on June 14 at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in the SRQ Media Room, 1565 First St.
“We pride ourselves on customer service and listening to feedback from our patrons and neighbors,” course manager Sue Martin said in a statement Wednesday. “We appreciate all the opinions we’ve heard so far about our historic course, and we look forward to receiving even more community input that will help guide Bobby Jones Golf Club into its next 100 years.”
The City Commission last week put off making renovation decisions on the course until after the public meetings. It also voted to reestablish a Bobby Jones advisory board — disbanded in 2010 — to advise the commission as to which upgrades it should undertake.
Priority fixes that Mandell and city staff have recommended: replace the antiquated irrigation system, renovate the deteriorating clubhouse, create a golf development center, rebuild all the greens by 2023 and expand the driving range. It’s estimated to cost nearly $17 million to perform the specified renovations to all 45 holes, which would include a new development center and a clubhouse. Roughly $735,000 of the cost would be covered by an existing one-cent sales tax and the city has identified $3.5 million in possible grant funding.
CITY ESTIMATE OF SUBSIDY NEEDED FOR GOLF COURSE DROPS
JUNE 1, 2018
SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE
BY NICOLE RODRIGUEZ
SARASOTA — The financial hemorrhaging of the city’s Bobby Jones Golf Club isn’t as extensive as city staffers initially thought — a development mentioned fleetingly Thursday during a lengthy City Commission workshop on the course’s deteriorating condition.
The financially depleted golf course needs a $600,000 subsidy rather than the $1 million previously estimated to sustain it in the 2018-19 budget year, city officials say. Course manager Sue Martin cited the revised figure about three hours into the workshop in which commissioners discussed needed upgrades and renovations to the facility that opened in 1926. The city has not kept up with needed improvements and the course has seen declining play, contributing to the financial problems.
In the meeting, Commissioner Hagen Brody, referred to the $1 million shortfall figure, at which point Martin interjected: ”$600,000 ... preliminary numbers.”
Neither Brody nor Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch were briefed on the new figure prior to Martin’s cursory revelation, they said Friday.
“I did notice the correction when Commissioner Brody said ‘$1 million’ and she said ‘$600,000,’” Ahearn-Koch said.
City spokeswoman Jan Thornburg on Friday acknowledged commissioners were never briefed about the update.
“The City Commission will be updated on all department budgets during budget workshops later this month,” Thornburg said in an email.
City officials on Friday were unable to provide the Herald-Tribune with an itemized list of needs the course requires to justify the subsidy.
“It was a projection based on trends,” Thornburg said in an email.
“It never was a firm $1 million subsidy. It was a projection,” Thornburg wrote. “Projections change, as this one did. The golf course manager corrected misinformation at the table.”
Brody wants “straight answers and verifiable math” from staff about the fluctuating subsidy, he said Friday.
“Something to me stinks. I think people are going to see through this fuzzy math and we need honesty, not only from our staff, but also honesty with ourselves about how we’re going to move forward with Bobby Jones,” Brody said. “I want to save Bobby Jones and I want to make decisions that are going to ensure it’s viability for years to come. And if we’re not honest with ourselves about the reality of the Bobby Jones situation, then we’re never going to move forward and put it on a path to viability.”
Ahern-Koch is expecting the breakdown of course needs and how much they’ll cost at the workshops later this month.
“I’m sure we’ll get one. We usually do get an itemized breakdown,” Ahern-Koch said. “We usually get details when we ask. I’m not worried they can’t provide it.”
This budget year, for the first time, the club received a $425,000 subsidy. City staff previously estimated the course would need $1 million more next budget year. Administrators in March predicted a roughly $1.5 million deficit in the upcoming budget year despite an anticipated rise in property values — the Bobby Jones Golf Club is a contributing factor to that shortfall, city officials have said.
The commission on Thursday called for the reestablishment of a Bobby Jones advisory board — disbanded in 2010 — to advise it as to which improvements it should undertake of an estimated $21.6 million overhaul of the 45-hole complex golf architect and city consultant Richard Mandell recommended late last year.
Priority fixes Mandell and city staff have recommended: replace the antiquated irrigation system, renovate the deteriorating clubhouse, create a golf development center, rebuild all the greens by 2023 and expand the driving range. It’s estimated to cost nearly $17 million to perform the specified renovations to all 45 holes, which would include a new development center and a clubhouse. Roughly $735,000 of the cost would be covered by an existing one-cent sales tax and the city identified $3.5 million in possible grant funding.
FINANCIAL TRAVAILS CONTINUE AT MUNICIPAL BOBBY JONES COURSE
BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUBS'S FINANCIAL WOES CONTINUE
THURSDAY, MARCH 8, 2018
The municipal golf course could need another $400,000 subsidy before the end of the fiscal year — and a $1 million subsidy next year.
BY DAVID CONWAY, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
Sue Martin, the manager of Bobby Jones Golf Club, can tell you a long list of challenges the city-owned facility faces.
The infrastructure of the 45-hole complex is in disrepair. A 2017 report from an outside consultant said the course could use more than $21 million in renovations.
There are lots of other competitors in the region, many of which are able to offer competitive rates and courses that are in better condition. And, in general, the golf industry throughout Florida is seeing fewer rounds played.
During the past three years, these issues have been reflected in the city’s budget discussions. Ahead of approving the 2017-18 budget, staff requested a $425,000 general fund subsidy for operations at Bobby Jones. Although the course is intended to be self-sustaining, its reserves had run out for the first time staff could recall.
Now, as the city looks ahead to the 2018-19 budget, the issues appear to be deepening. A preliminary estimate suggests Bobby Jones could need a $1 million subsidy in the next fiscal year. And, before this year is over, staff could come back to the commission to ask for another $400,000 to fund Bobby Jones in the 2017-18 fiscal year — the $425,000 subsidy proving insufficient to buoy operations.
Despite all those challenges, Martin seems confident there’s a path to restoring Bobby Jones to a more sustainable place.
“It’s a gem,” Martin said. “It just needs some polishing right now.”
The City Commission expressed more trepidation about the future of Bobby Jones. At a Feb. 26 budget meeting, the board directed staff to come back with additional information about why the course appeared to be faring worse than originally projected.
“That’s really outrageous,” City Commissioner Hagen Brody said. “I think the community is going to agree that subsidizing that golf course to that extent is really ludicrous.”
Martin stressed that the figures presented at the budget meeting were preliminary. She said they were based on conservative projections from the city's financial staff, though she acknowledged the numbers were variable in either direction.
She couldn’t identify a single reason as to why the course was faring worse than expected. The issues with the course’s infrastructure are daunting, Martin said. When it rains, the drainage is so poor that sometimes the course is closed for multiple days afterward.
The course was particularly hard hit in the wake of Hurricane Irma last year, which closed at least a portion of the course for two weeks.
That’s one reason why the number of rounds played at the course continues to decrease. In other cases, Martin said, golfers are looking elsewhere, opting to play at better-maintained facilities.
Whatever the factors may be, the decline is stark. Through the end of February in 2015-16, there had been 46,794 rounds of golf played at Bobby Jones. Through the same point in 2017-18, there have been 35,723 rounds played.
This, Martin argues, underscores the need for significant improvements.
“Until we fix the infrastructure out there, we’re not as competitive as we could be in the market for golf,” Martin said. “If you’re not competitive, you’re not going to attract the golfers. It all hinges on the rounds of golf.”
The city has spent an extended period of time considering what improvements it should make at Bobby Jones. In early 2015, a resident advisory committee began examining the needs of the golf facility. In early 2017, the city hired golf architect Richard Mandell to produce a master plan for renovating the course.
After receiving Mandell’s report in October, the commission directed staff to engage with the public about potential improvements and research possible funding mechanisms. Martin said staff hopes to present that information to the board in April or May.
Brody said he wants to see Bobby Jones remain public space — and for the city to continue to offer a municipal golf operation — but he thinks the city should consider all its options as it searches for a way to reverse the financial status of the facility. That includes potentially reducing the number of holes and re-examining the management structure.
“It’s clear something has to change,” Brody said. “I’m not prepared to continue having Bobby Jones absorb that amount of taxpayer dollars.”
He suggested the course should be looking for a way to at least break even. Martin agreed, and said beyond selling the facility, staff was not ruling out any possibilities as it prepared to present options to the commission for consideration.
“Pretty much everything’s on the table,” Martin said.
SARASOTA CITY COMMISSION FACES BUDGET Choices
SATURDAY, MARCH 3, 2018
SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE
BY NICOLE RODRIGUEZ
SARASOTA — The City Commission might face the tough decision of raising taxes, cutting services or dipping into reserve funds to balance an anticipated budget shortfall of nearly $2 million for the next fiscal year.
Administrators predict a roughly $1.5 million deficit in the 2018-19 budget year despite an anticipated rise in property values, Finance Director Kelly Strickland told the commission during a special budget workshop last week. The Bobby Jones Golf Club will require a $1 million subsidy and the city must cover roughly $2 million in costs associated with taking over six county operated parks — two factors that put the general fund in the red.
“We could use our reserves to balance the budget (but) that’s not ideal depending on where we’re at,” Strickland said. “Another option is to raise taxes and another option is to look at the services that we provide. Do we really need to increase? Maybe not. Or maybe we even have to decrease.”
The estimated budget of $66.8 million — about $5.1 million larger than the current budget — factors in a 7 percent increase in property values, which should generate $31.6 million for the general fund, but won’t be enough to balance the shortfall, Strickland said. Strickland, however, said she believes property values could rise by 9 percent. The state estimates an increase of 6.3 percent in taxable property value and will announce the figures in June. Last year the city saw a 9.8 percent rise in assessed property values.
Some commissioners were incensed by the news, with Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie calling for a review of the municipal golf club’s finances, rounds of play and rain days.
Commissioner Hagen Brody decried the proposed subsidy for the club.
“Bobby Jones is really outrageous, and I think that community is really going to agree that subsidizing that golf course to that extent is really ludicrous,” Brody said.
“The economy goes up and down, but when we’re in an up economy, we really should be in the position to lower taxes for people, not have to decide whether we’re going to raise them or not every time,” Brody later added. “If we spent a little smarter, I think that we would be in that position. It’s hard to see us being in that position this year.”
The city has not raised taxes since 2014, Strickland said.
Bobby Jones course manager Sue Martin attributes the need for a subsidy for the second consecutive year to neglected improvements to the course and declining revenues due to a diminishing golf industry. This budget year, for the first time, the club received a $425,000 subsidy to prop up its $2.8 million budget.
The commission last year approved a $21.6 million overhaul of the club, which consists of three courses with 45 holes total, but agreed the fixes will be carried out in phases. The $21.6 million iteration includes every upgrade that every stakeholder wanted, including renovating both 18-hole courses, a new clubhouse and driving range, extensive stormwater upgrades and constructing a new player development center with an innovative “adjustable” nine-hole course at the site.
“We’ve been putting very expensive band-aids on the facility to keep it going during these years of deciding what’s going to happen,” Martin said.
Records show the courses have seen a steady decline in play for the past three budget years, which run from October to September. Budget year 2015-16 saw a decrease of more than 7,800 players from 98,315 players the previous year. The city reported about 79,000 players in budget year 2016-17.
Rainy days typically wash out the course for several days, Martin said. The club’s irrigation system was installed in the 1970s and needs to be replaced, she said.
“When (players) leave because we’re closed due to weather, they find a different golf course and they start to think, ‘Well I’m kind of comfortable here,’” Martin said.
Adding to the deficit is $2 million the city must spend to take over six county parks. Beginning Oct. 1, the city will retain ownership of the Arlington Park and Aquatic Center, Centennial Park, Harts Landing, Ken Thompson Park, Sarasota Lawn Bowling Club and the Payne Park Tennis Center. The city had an agreement with Sarasota County that the county would maintain the parks until September 2021, unless the county gave the city a year’s notice it no longer wanted the parks. The county gave proper notice last year, Strickland said.
The commission will hold several budget workshops and hearings this year before approving the final budget in September.
CITY LOOKS AHEAD TO 2018-19 BUDGET
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2018
PRELIMINARY ESTIMATES SHOW A NEARLY $1.5 MILLION GENERAL FUND BUDGET DEFICIT. COMMISSIONERS HAD DIFFERENT APPROACHES ON A SOLUTION.
BY DAVID CONWAY, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
The city isn’t even halfway through fiscal year 2017-18, but the City Commission is already looking ahead to next year’s budget.
On Monday, the City Commission held a special meeting to get a preliminary outline of the 2018-19 budget. The meeting was designed to discuss basics, outline challenges and identify opportunities in the coming year, as well as give the commission a chance to direct staff as it prepares budget proposals.
Much of the attention at Monday’s meeting focused on an overview of the general fund budget. Although staff currently projects revenues to increase from $66.8 million to $69.6 million, expenditures are expected to rise from $68.5 million to $71.1 million.
The early gap in next year’s budget was a source of concern for some commissioners. City staff identified several sources of increased expenditures in the preliminary 2018-19 budget. One of the largest ones was $1.9 million to assume control of parks the county currently operates, a change expected to occur later this year.
Kelly Strickland, the city’s director of financial administration, said the 2018-19 budget projections did not incorporate information regarding potential revenue from those parks. Still, the responsibility for the parks is likely to negatively affect the city’s balances.
Another major expense is a projected $1 million subsidy for Bobby Jones Golf Club. The golf complex is designed to operate as an enterprise fund, where the revenues fund the expenditures. But last year, Bobby Jones exhausted its reserves and required a $425,000 general fund subsidy.
That was the first time staff could recall the golf course requiring a subsidy, but Bobby Jones has continued to struggle. Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie and Commissioner Hagen Brody both directed staff to provide more information on why Bobby Jones was faring poorly enough to demand such a large cash infusion.
“That’s really outrageous, and I think the community is going to agree that subsidizing that golf course to that extent is really ludicrous,” Brody said.
GOLFING MAYOR PUT EARLY SARASOTA IN THE SWING OF THINGS
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2017
BY JEFF LA HURD, CORRESPONDENT
In 1902, upon hearing the hoped-for news that legitimate train service was coming to Sarasota, 53 men gathered in Harry Higel’s office on the wharf at the foot of lower Main Street and voted to incorporate as a town. For the town seal they chose what was described as “A mullet with a rising sun over palmettoes with shells at the base.”
The town motto was the hopeful, perhaps prayerful, “May Sarasota Prosper,” and John Hamilton Gillespie was elected mayor.
Gillespie was well-suited for the role. He had arrived in 1886 at the behest of his father, Sir John Gillespie to reverse the fortunes of the failed Ormiston Colony of the Scottish Florida Mortgage and Investment Company. This syndicate had purchased 50,000 acres — at $1 per acre — in what was a veritable wilderness, and after the colony disbanded in despair, the company wanted to dispose of their property.
Gillespie was a large, gregarious man of wealth, and well-liked by the locals. As Alex Browning, one of the original colonists put it, “The natives and early settlers came to look upon him as a great big boy who could take a joke and was always ready to do a good turn for his neighbors.”
It was left to Gillespie to put into the fledgling community the infrastructure that should have already been in place upon the arrival of the Scots.
Gillespie, who today is considered the Father of Sarasota, knew that to be successful, a community needed ease of transportation, accommodations and activities to attract and to keep the visitors occupied.
For the first, he established rail service from Braidentown with his often derided Slow and Wobbly train, which made the journey only when the conductor felt that enough cargo and passengers were available to make the short trip worthwhile. It was not a successful venture.
For accommodations, he constructed the 35-room De Soto Hotel on Palm Avenue and lower Main Street at the bayfront.
His third and most important achievement was the construction of a golf course — the first in Florida.
Gillespie had long been an avid golfer. He recalled that his grandfather left him a set of McEvan and Philip golf clubs when he was 8 years old and played the sport regularly thereafter. It was a real passion for him, and early on he saw its potential as a tourist draw. Later he would lay out courses for the Plant System in Kissimmee, Jacksonville, Winter Park, Tampa and Cuba. He became known as the “golfing mayor.”
The Sarasota Times noted, “It was not until Bellaire became famous as a golf course that Tampa waked up to its responsibilities and now what a change we do find.”
On one of his forays around the state extolling the virtues of golf for a successful community, he was reported as a miscreant to law enforcement as he slapped the ball around with a stick. In another community he was nearly shot by “an excited and inebriated cowboy who spied me as I passed the saloon in my red (golfing) coat.”
Shortly after he arrived here in 1886 he laid out a two-hole practice course near his home. Alex Browning, a youngster who arrived with the Scot Colony, recalled seeing Gillespie practicing his swing there.
Gillespie asked if he played. When Browning replied that he did not, Gillespie said to him, “Mon, y’re missin’ half ye life.” (Young Browning later became an architect and designed the Frances-Carlton Apartments and also worked on the Tampa Bay Hotel.)
Years later, Leonard Reid, Gillespie’s manservant and friend, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune the story of how he and Gillespie laid out the first nine-hole course in the area. They walked for miles through the palmettos and brush, while Gillespie sketched. According to Reid’s account, 50 men grubbed the palmettos and set up the fairways. He indicated the fairways were 30 to 40 feet wide and stated, “That’s why the Colonel (honorary title) was so good. He’d always win his match because he could shoot straight. Colonel Gillespie only took a half a swing and the other men could always out hit him. But they would end up in the woods while Colonel got in the hole.”
His nine-hole course went from Links Avenue east toward today’s Sarasota County Terrace Building, the second further east, the third near Ringling Shopping Center, the fourth near Tuttle Avenue, then the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth all headed back west, with the ninth hole directly in front of the Gillespie’s house, Golf Hall. A clubhouse was completed in 1905. (The seven-hole, near what is today the Kane Building, had a swampy water hazard and Reid remembered that Gillespie liked it, calling it his “sporty” hole.)
Clubs in this era were given names instead of numbered woods and irons. They were dubbed niblick, lofter, mashie, mashie niblick, midiron, cique. The shafts were made of hickory wrapped with sheepskin. Wood T’s were yet to be used; instead the ball was put on top of some sand, and the smaller British size ball was played.
The Sarasota Times reported Gillespie was “Perhaps the most ardent of golfers ... and spends many hours every day in the winter season practicing difficult hazards and making famous shots.” The paper noted “His judgement is the criterion to which all disputes are taken for settlement.”
Writing under the name The Colonel, Gillespie was a regular contributor to New York Golf and The Golfers’ Magazine.
Among the changes to golf, Gillespie mentioned an article in an 1867 periodical: “As for his (the golfer’s) wife, she must amuse herself as best she can; she cannot even accompany him in his game as a spectator, the presence of ladies being by no means regarded with favor ... the links is not the place for women; they talk incessantly, and they never stand still, and if they do, the wind won’t allow their dresses to stand still.”
Gillespie sold all of his holdings to Owen Burns in 1910, including the golf course. Sometime later, as the course began to deteriorate, a group of citizens met to decide its future. Perhaps echoing Gillespie, someone was quoted, “A resort town without golf is like the play Hamlet without the main character.”
On the morning of Sept. 7, 1923, Gillespie left Golf Hall to give instructions to his workers, and as he was returning he collapsed on the links and was carried to his home, where he died.
He was eulogized in The Sarasota Times: “The Colonel was a great man. His passing leaves us lonely, mournful, filled with grief... Now his voice is still forever and the light of his eyes are gone, but his memory is imperishable.”
TOP 100 STORIES OF 2017
A NEW PLAN FOR BOBBY JONES
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2017
BY DAN WAGNER
Sarasota city officials embraced a multimillion-dollar plan for the municipal Bobby Jones Golf Club.
Sarasota city leaders endorsed a plan for a $21.6 million overhaul of the municipal Bobby Jones Golf Club in October, despite balking at the price tag.
The full project includes renovations to both 18-hole courses, a new clubhouse and driving range, extensive stormwater upgrades and construction of a new player development center with an innovative “adjustable” nine-hole course.
But city leaders are unlikely to fund all of those ideas, instead suggesting they might phase in pieces of the master plan to revamp the historic municipal golf course originally conceived by legendary course designer Donald Ross in the 1920s.
That is exactly how golf architect Richard Mandell designed the plan for the course that sought and received, for the first time, a $425,000 subsidy from the city’s general fund this year to prop up its $2.8 million budget amid declining revenues.
BOBBY JONES PLAN APPROVED
SARASOTA ENDORSES NEW BOBBY JONES GOLF PLAN
tuesDAY, octoBER 3, 2017
BY ZACK MURDOCK, STAFF WRITER
CITY COMMISSION EMBRACES $21.6M OVERHAUL, HINTING THAT PRICE MAY DROP
CITY LEADERS ARE LIKELY TO PURSUE ONLY PIECES OF A $21.6 MILLION PLAN.
SARASOTA - City leaders endorsed a plan for a $21.6 million overhaul of the municipal Bobby Jones Golf Club on Monday night, despite balking at the price tag.
Instead, city commissioners hinted they do not intend to spend anywhere near the entire cost of the whole project, likely favoring a plan that combines individual elements that could be eligible for grant funding into a smaller-scale upgrade for the facility.
That is essentially how golf architect and city consultant Richard Mandell designed his new master plan to revamp the historic municipal golf course originally conceived by legendary course designer Donald Ross in the 1920s.
The $21.6 million iteration includes every upgrade that every stakeholder wanted, including renovating both 18-hole courses, a new clubhouse and driving range, extensive stormwater upgrades and constructing a new player development center with an innovative “adjustable” nine-hole course at the site.
Mandell has broken it down further to provide costs for each of those elements, suggesting the city could mix and match its priorities depending on how much it wants to spend and pointing to potential grants that could help defray those costs.
“We all know in life we don’t get everything we want,” Mandell told the City Commission. “So I went back and created a less involved alternative, something that would get the job done.”
For example, Mandell’s plan includes extensive stormwater improvements for the site that is a critical piece of the Phillippi Creek watershed that helps control water quality and flooding in that area of the city and county.
It could pursue those projects and upgrade tee boxes for about $9 million and likely would be eligible for several grants, including a match of up to half from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, according to the plan.
Those grant opportunities particularly interested Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie, who asked the city to accept the plan and have staff begin to pull it apart to identify what pieces could be reasonable based on available city and grant funding opportunities. After staff identifies those possibilities, she has directed the city to host workshops to present several reasonable options the commission could begin to fund and construct over the coming years.
The workshops will give golfers an “opportunity to tell us what they want, whether it’s all, nothing or some combination of the options” and the commission can make final funding decisions from there, she said.
More than a dozen avid golfers, some of whom served on the original study committee that led to the new master plan, spoke in support of the improvements. But some have suggested Mandell’s plan strays too far from the original Ross designs, which some hoped to restore exactly and fear anything otherwise could jeopardize grant funding.
Only Commissioner Hagen Brody voted against the plan, extending his ongoing criticism that the commission is not being conservative enough financially. He echoed the frequently heralded numbers that “golf is dying” as courses close and fewer players hit the links.
This year, for the first time, the club sought and received a $425,000 subsidy from the city’s general fund to prop up its $2.8 million budget amid declining revenues.
Brody suggested crafting several options that actually scale back the golf club, potentially dropping one or more of the courses or facilities entirely in an effort to save money. None of the other commissioners supported and neither do the groups that helped develop the master plan, which did at least briefly consider that option.
“We have to be realistic here. The facts are that golf is in decline,” Brody said. “We’re not trying to save golf and I don’t see us creating a world-renowned destination. We’re trying to provide a public course at an affordable price that’s a quality course people can enjoy playing on.”
Mandell disagreed. He has argued that as long as the city wants Bobby Jones to remain a golf facility, it will have to pony up for at least some upgrades, which will be expensive no matter how minimal.
“There is a core of golfers and there are a bunch of them right behind me,” he said. “The game of golf is strong, but once golf decided to become an industry ... people started losing money. It’s not a dying sport at all; it’s a bubble.”
BOBBY JONES IMPROVEMENT NEEDS TOP $20 MILLION
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2017
A consultant says Bobby Jones Golf Club is in need of major renovations — and that there’s no guarantee the course will ever turn a profit.
BY DAVID CONWAY, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
Throughout his 169-page business plan recommending renovations for Bobby Jones Golf Club, golf architect Richard Mandell repeatedly states the 45-hole, city-owned facility has fallen into disrepair.
Nearly all of the course features have outlived their recommended lifespans. The lack of infrastructure investments has diminished the reputation of Bobby Jones.
“Public perception of Bobby Jones Golf Club … is of an old and tired, rundown (municipal course) with terrible conditions compared to surrounding semi-private courses,” Mandell wrote.
Mandell, hired in January to develop a master plan for improvements at Bobby Jones, presented his finished report to the Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection board Sept. 19. In addition to detailing hole redesigns and drainage upgrades, Mandell also provided an estimate for the work needed to restore Bobby Jones to a high-quality public course.
In his plan for renovating Bobby Jones Golf Club, Richard Mandell attempts to maintain the elements of the course players like while emphasizing the history of the facility and improving the infrastructure.
Mandell’s recommendations include:
Transforming the Gillespie Course into a player development center
Removing the “American Course” and “British Course” designations, creating four nine-hole groupings that can be configured into two different 18-hole courses
Redesigning the 18 Donald Ross-designed holes to capture the spirit of the original layout
Building a new two-story clubhouse
Replacing the irrigation system
Expanding the drainage system
Re-grassing the entire course
The full report is available on the city website.
The total price for a comprehensive renovation of Bobby Jones is $21.6 million, Mandell estimates. Recognizing the significance of that expense, he also shared a “less-involved” plan — with a price tag of $18.7 million.
The city commissioned Mandell’s report because of declining revenues and activity at Bobby Jones. In the budget for 2017-18, the municipal course will receive a $425,000 subsidy from the city’s general fund. Bobby Jones is supposed to be a self-sustaining operation, but after six consecutive years of losses, the facility’s reserve fund has run dry.
Mandell said most of the investments he recommended are the only way that Bobby Jones could become a successful long-term golf operation. But, questioned by members of the parks board, he said there would still uncertainty about the course’s profitability.
“If the city of Sarasota wants Bobby Jones to stay as Bobby Jones, they have to rebuild these features,” Mandell said. “Will it be self-sufficient? I can’t answer that.”
Hitting the green
That uncertainty didn’t sit well with John Tuccillo, a member of the parks board.
He was complimentary of Mandell’s work, but felt the city wasn’t in a good position to make a decision about the future of Bobby Jones without an equally thorough analysis of the business operations after any upgrades were implemented.
“We are operating here under the ‘Field of Dreams’ assumption — if you build it, they will come,” Tuccillo said. “Golf is a dying sport; golf courses are a dying business. There really isn’t any kind of guarantee that the financial performance of Bobby Jones Golf Course is going to be improved even by implementing your full plan.”
Mandell said some expenses could be offset with grant funding. Still, Tuccillo feared the prospect of the city investing upward of $10 million only for the course to keep losing money.
Mandell has objected to the characterization of golf as a dying sport. Instead, he says golf went through a 30- to 40-year period of bloat, with the bubble bursting recently. As a result, there is more competition among golf operations.
He admits that’s a challenge for Bobby Jones. But he believes the municipal facility has its own advantages. It has history in the community. It bears the name of a legendary golfer, and renowned golf architect Donald Ross designed the course. It’s not surrounded by residential properties, and it’s priced competitively.
And he thinks the city benefits from maintaining 425 acres of open space. The idea of the city cutting ties with the golf operation at Bobby Jones was not part of his analysis.
The City Commission is scheduled to discuss Mandell’s report Monday, Oct. 2. Mandell has itemized his recommended improvements, anticipating some fiscal concerns from officials. He’s also presented a four-year phasing plan for the renovations.
He knows the scope of the upgrades is jarring. But based on the current status of Bobby Jones, he said there’s no reasonable way to keep operating the facility without a major overhaul.
“Forget everything this report says — the bottom line is, at some point, these features need to be rebuilt in order to function as a golf course,” Mandell said. “That’s no matter what.”
BOBBY JONES RENOVATION TO COST UP TO $21.6 MILLION
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2017
BY ZACK BURDOCK, STAFF WRITER
CITY CONSULTANT SUGGESTS DIVVYING UP IMPROVEMENTS INTO SERIES OF MINI-PROJECTS
SARASOTA - A completely renovated and improved Bobby Jones Golf Club could cost the city of Sarasota more than $21.6 million, according to the final master plan finished this month.
The long-awaited plan has been in the works since the beginning of the year and represents a best-case proposal to revamp the historic municipal golf course originally conceived by legendary course designer Donald Ross in the 1920s.
But the price tag for the full project is $7 million more than a study committee estimated the project could cost several years ago and will raise eyebrows at the City Commission, which just concluded a contentious budget process with lingering questions about future obligations.
Members of the city’s parks board, who have helped develop the plan with city consultant and golf course architect Richard Mandell, struggled with the sticker shock, too. They unanimously approved the plan last week and lauded its recommendations, but they conceded it is a steep price with no guarantees.
To help, Mandell has broken the project into a series of mini-projects from which the city can pick and choose its favorites — greens and tees, a practice facility, a clubhouse, drainage and environmental improvements can all be mixed and matched.
Parks board member John Tuccillo praised Mandell’s vision for the course but offered a grim warning.
“We are operating here under the ‘Field of Dreams’ assumption: If you build it they will come,” he said. “Golf is a dying sport, golf courses are a dying business and there really isn’t any kind of guarantee that the financial performance of Bobby Jones golf course is going to be improved, even by implementing the full plan. For people who golf, it’ll be delightful. Will it bring more people? I don’t know.
“My problem is, are we going to get, with the redesign and with the renovation, sufficient traffic on an operational basis to keep Bobby Jones solvent?”
But Mandell challenged that thinking, arguing much of the course and its facilities are long past their expected 30-year lifespan. There is no disagreement that the area should remain a golf club, it’s just a matter of choosing how to invest in it, he said.
“If the city of Sarasota wants Bobby Jones to stay as Bobby Jones, they have to rebuild these features,” he said. “Will it be self-sufficient? I can’t answer that. If the city sees this as open space and there are all these environmental benefits and they see it as a recreational opportunity, they’ve got to improve the infrastructure no matter what.
“I can’t guarantee you you’re going to make money at it, but if you’re in, you’ve got to be in.”
At the center of Mandell’s plan for the three-course, 45-hole complex are course renovations, a new clubhouse and the re-imagining of the nine-hole executive course on the west side of Circus Boulevard there. He envisions turning the area into an "adjustable course," driving range and extra practice facilities as a learning center for new or young golfers.
The final recommendation for the two 18-hole courses, the British and the American, is to revamp them as four, nine-hole segments. During part of the year, they could play as the existing British and American courses. But during another part of the year, the city could open the north and west nines as a new 18-hole configuration and the south and east nines as another, essentially turning the complex into four distinct courses.
The entire project also would include extensive improvements to the course’s capacity as a stormwater site.
The proposal includes increasing the important wetland’s floodplain capacity by almost 20 acres with additional canals, pond storage and dry hollow. It also includes planting another 18 acres of native pond buffers to help water runoff and sites for 10 additional wellhead locations to expand the city’s capacity to draw drinking water from underneath the course in an emergency.
“We start with one basic estimate, which is what I would call a comprehensive renovation option, for the whole site that satisfies all desires of all stakeholders,” Mandell explained. “So if we took everything that everybody wanted and we did our ‘Bewitched’ little nose thing — all desires of all stakeholders as best we can — here’s what we’re going to do and here’s our cost.”
But Mandell is the first to admit the entire project likely is too expensive to bite off at once, or even at all.
Nearly a quarter of Mandell’s almost 170-page report details more than a dozen funding options, from spreading projects over several years to breaking them into individual pieces the city could choose from and schedule at will.
For example, it would cost about $4.25 million to rebuild bunkers and greens on the British and American courses. It would cost about $9 million to pursue just the drainage improvements and remake the tee boxes, Mandell offered.
As much as $10 million in various local, state and federal grants also could be available for the project, which could help at least partially fund nearly every type of improvement the city might choose, Mandell added.
Any option the City Commission ultimately might choose for Bobby Jones is likely to come with a cost-benefit analysis of the future of the municipal club.
This year, for the first time, the club sought and received a $425,000 subsidy from the city’s general fund to prop up its $2.8 million budget amid declining revenues.
The golf course is projecting a $287,000 loss in the coming year. It has turned a profit once since 2009 — of $25,000 in 2011 — in the heart of the economic downturn, according to city documents. From 2007 to 2013, total rounds at the club annually dropped from a high of 143,000 to 102,000, Mandell reported.
“It’s all about attracting rounds and getting more rounds,” Mandell said. “That’s the challenge.”
Mandell’s plan does not address how upgrades could affect the courses’ prices — that is a policy decision city leaders would have to weigh against their goals for the club, he said.
When the study committee recommended upgrades for the facility, it estimated a $14.5 million project would require at least a $5 increase to per-round costs to help defray the expense, said parks board member Shawn Pierson, who leads the Friends of the Bobby Jones Golf Club and has passionately worked for years on plans for the course.
Parks board members agreed it will be critical to keep Bobby Jones an affordable golf option, particularly compared to other private courses competing for many of the same players.
That must be part of the discussion with the City Commission about the plan and how or when to implement any of it, Bobby Jones General Manager Sue Martin said. She hopes to bring the plan to the full commission at its Oct. 2 meeting.
IRMA'S WINDS 'FIND' DOZENS OF LOST GOLF BALLS AT BOBBY JONES
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017
BY ERIC GARWOOD, MANAGING EDITOR
The city of Sarasota announced that the American course at Bobby Jones is expected to open for play Saturday, Sept. 23. The British and Gillespie courses were already open for play.
In golf, the cardinal rule is simple: Play it where it lies.
In the sand, in the mud, in the long grass. Just take your medicine and hit it. And hit it again, if necessary.
Except in the case of a palm tree on the par-5 sixth hole of Bobby Jones Golf Club’s British Course. And a few more similar palms around the course.
When Hurricane Irma struck over the weekend, that particular palm gave up at least a dozen reasons for violating golf’s most basic tenet -- they had been stuck there after errant shots. Plenty of other balls turned up similarly below other palm canopies around the course, as they often do after high winds.
“It’s kind of like an Easter egg pick-up out there,’’ said Sue Martin, the golf manager at the city-run course, adding the staff probably collected 150 balls that tumbled from the tightly packed palm fronds atop the trees that line the fairways.
The course on Fruitville Road came through the storm fairly well, according the city of Sarasota. Martin said 17 trees fell, but none of them are in play. Crews are in the process of removing them and clearing debris from around the property. Martin said the course’s 6-inch rain gauge filled up between Saturday and Tuesday, so at least that much rain fell, but the water is receding.
She said she hopes the British course will be ready by Friday morning, but the American might take a little longer.
Oh, and the penalty for hitting a ball semi-permanently into a tree?
It’s either a lost ball (if you can’t see it) or an unplayable lie (if you can). Either way, It’s one stroke.
NEW BOBBY JONES PLAN NEARING COMPLETION
THURSDAY, JULY 13, 2017
BY ZACK MURDOCK
SARASOTA - With a plan to revamp Sarasota’s Bobby Jones Golf Club just a few weeks from completion, city officials and their consultant on the project are still fine-tuning every last detail.
That means what the city is affectionately calling the 100 percent master plan for its historic municipal course is unlikely to remain that way, joked city consultant and golf course architect Richard Mandell.
“This is the plan, and it will be the basis of what I present to the City Commission next month along with my full report,” he said. “But once that goes out, I know people are going to have a field day with it. I expect plenty of new suggestions and ideas after that presentation, and that’s what this process is all about, and we can keep adjusting; we’ve just got to get it right.”
At the center of Mandell’s plan for the three-course, 45-hole complex are course renovations, a new clubhouse and the reimagining of the nine-hole executive course on the west side of Circus Boulevard there. He envisions turning the area into an "adjustable course," driving range and extra practice facilities as a learning center for new or young golfers.
He and the city’s parks advisory board spent almost two hours on the would-be complete master plan on Thursday night, trying to workshop ideas for possible alternative locations for the planned new driving range and entirely rebuilt clubhouse — each with a smattering of pros and cons.
Moving the driving range to the eastern end of all the courses could be a problem with the canals running across the property or could leave one of the two 18-hole courses a few yards short of regulation, Mandell said. But leaving it along Circus Boulevard would require a shorter range and netting, both of which raised red flags with golfers and the course’s Glen Oaks neighbors, he admitted.
The city also could consider inching the new clubhouse closer to the road or farther north to make more space behind and around it, depending on their preference or worries about a temporary clubhouse structure, Mandell added.
The course’s representative on the parks board, Shawn Pierson, who leads the Friends of the Bobby Jones Golf Club and has passionately worked for years on plans for the course, advocated strongly for further tinkering on the driving range’s location. But the idea got little support from the parks board, and Bobby Jones General Manager Sue Martin said City Manager Tom Barwin also favors the current design.
“I think we’re still in the solving-the-puzzle phase, versus selecting from among one of three or four options,” Pierson said. “We’re just now looking at the options and starting to digest them.”
Mandell is scheduled to present his final recommendations to the City Commission for review on Aug. 21. The city hired Mandell at the beginning of the year for $115,000 and will receive a lengthy, technical report along with the conceptual design.
“There are limitations to this site that, no matter what we choose, will keep it from being what everybody wants,” Mandell told the parks board. “The solution I’m showing, because we’ve studied all this, is the better solution.”
Golfers’ yearslong hopes of upgrading the course lie under the cloud of financial uncertainty, though.
Mandell has not yet presented cost estimates for his concept, but the price tag is expected to be a multimillion dollar investment. His final report to the commission, to be made available shortly before the meeting, will include specific cost figures, he said Thursday.
The recommendations will land in the middle of ongoing discussions about the city’s budget, including a first-ever subsidy to the golf club.
Bobby Jones has struggled financially since the economic downturn and has asked for a $425,000 transfer from city coffers in 2018 to prop up its $2.8 million budget.
IN THE ROUGH: BOBBY JONES FACES REVENUE CHALLENGES
THURSDAY, JULY 13, 2017
IS AN INFUSION OF CASH INTO BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB ENOUGH TO TURN THE MUNICIPAL COURSE INTO A MONEYMAKER FOR THE CITY?
BY DAVID CONWAY, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
If the City Commission approves staff’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-18, taxpayers will fund a $425,000 subsidy to Bobby Jones Golf Club — a facility whose reserves have run dry for the first time officials can recall.
The deterioration of Bobby Jones is an oft-discussed subject at City Hall. City staff say the 45-hole municipal facility, located on the east end of town, is suffering because its infrastructure dates back to the 1980s. The irrigation is bad. The drainage is bad.
As a result, the course tends to be in rough shape, too. The city replaced the greens on both 18-hole courses at Bobby Jones, and General Manager Sue Martin said that $500,000 investment has more than paid off. But golfers still grouse about the conditions of the fairways, and the estimated income from greens fees declined by about $20,000 over last year.
City staff isn’t denying there are problems with the way the course has operated during the past decade. As they asked for that $425,000 subsidy from the city’s general fund at a budget workshop in June, they made clear that Bobby Jones will continue to struggle if nothing changes.
“Over the last 10 years, the golf course has been in decline, and the capital influx hasn’t been there to compete with the golf courses in the area,” Martin said.
That capital influx, officials hope, is the key to turning around the fortunes of Bobby Jones. On Thursday, golf architect Richard Mandell will unveil his complete master plan for improving the facility at a Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection Board meeting.
The city hired Mandell in January, paying $115,000 to get advice on how the golf club could be brought up to par. That contract came after a citizen study committee spent nearly a year assessing the needs of Bobby Jones and said the city should invest $14.5 million to improve the facility.
Mandell isn’t making his plans public before Thursday’s meeting because he wants to incorporate input from the advisory board before sharing it with a broader audience. During seven walkthroughs with golfers during his planning process, he’s gotten positive feedback to his vision for Bobby Jones, which is built around maintaining the existing character of the courses while improving the quality.
One thing that won’t be included in Mandell’s plans? A model for how to make Bobby Jones a financially stable business in the wake of any improvements.
Mandell said his expertise is in the physical conditions of the course, and the scope of his contract with the city doesn’t include the operations of the facility.
So, if Bobby Jones gets the “capital influx” staff says it needs, how sure can the city be that the club will stop losing money? Martin said it’s hard to understate the impact of the aging infrastructure the courses use. A rainy day could cost facility two or three days of revenue because the courses are so slow to drain.
“It doesn’t help that there’s a lot of attention being given to the decline of the facility,” Martin said. “There could be golfers out there saying, ‘Let’s wait for them to improve it before we go.’”
Martin said staff has begun discussing the need to have a formal business plan in place to go along with any improvements, but she described that as the next step in the planning process.
“We can’t get a business plan until we know where we’re going with the master plan,” she said.
Although Mandell didn’t want to get into the specifics of managing the course financially, he shares Martin’s optimism about the club’s ability to succeed following the right improvements. He dismissed a narrative that calls golf a declining sport.
What has happened, he said, is a burst bubble. The number of golf courses expanded beginning in the 1980s, mostly private courses that anchored residential developments. The number of casual golfers increased around that time, and has drawn down since.
Mandell said that has created a real problem for the golf business. Those private courses, struggling to stay afloat, are opening up to the public — and offering rates competitive with municipal facilities.
“That all of a sudden does become competition for Bobby Jones, but Bobby Jones has a lot more going for it than these courses,” Mandell said.
The history of the course in the community is a legitimate asset, Mandell said. So are the names associated with it: golfer Bobby Jones and architect Donald Ross, both influential figures in the early history of the sport in America. Both residents and visitors want to golf at Bobby Jones — just not in the current conditions.
“People are finding Bobby Jones,” Mandell said.
“What they’re finding is a golf course that’s in decline.”
Nearly six months after Mandell began his master planning work, many questions remain unanswered. How much will the improvements cost? How long will it take to overhaul the facility? And what, exactly, does a thriving Bobby Jones Golf Club look like from an operations standpoint?
Despite those questions, officials have not shown any signs of wavering in their belief that Bobby Jones is an asset for the city. And Mandell is confident that a high-quality municipal golf facility can succeed in Sarasota.
“If the country hears that Bobby Jones has been completely renovated and rebuilt, they’re going to flock,” Mandell said.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
July 11, 2017
This is being referred to as a bailout of Bobby Jones, but we know that Bobby Jones has generated funds that have been rerouted by the City over the years to other areas. So let's look at this as the City repaying the golf course for monies it borrowed from the club.
There was no mention of taxpayer dollars to fund the capital improvements in discussions other than from misinformed individuals. What has been discussed was Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Historical Preservation grants which protect the environment and protect the history of Florida. The rest of the funds were proposed to come from a REVENUE bond secured by the future revenues of the golf course which industry data for municipal golf courses show would support this. Certainly a public private partnership should be explored but only with the right companies.
Troon, for instance, struggled with Legacy Golf Club and there are other instances of private management failures in the area. These companies are profit driven and it is important to find the right fit, especially in a municipal golf course environment.
Environmentally, as we have mentioned many times before, this project will result in significant improvements to the water quality of Phillippi Creek and Sarasota Bay.
From a historical standpoint this golf course is the most significant historical asset the City has and is a key destination on the Florida Historic Golf Trail when operating properly. If you are truly vested in your community this history should be important to you!
Municipal courses in Coral Gables, Miami Shores, Ft Myers, Orlando and other areas have gone through major improvements to great success. These are the examples we should be looking at not major cities in other regions that really aren't comparable to Sarasota. Florida municipalities have the same basic characteristics, are located in the same region of the country and have the same need to attract golfing retirees.
People have no problem with taxpayers funding parks that generate no revenue but when it comes to one that does, the largest park which happens to be a golf club, its "oh no we can't do that", even though it would pay for itself. Seriously??
The answer maybe with private management but make no mistake the answer is yes we need to move forward with this project but as part of the plan demand that the City fixes the many operational problems that are beating the club in to the ground.
Dan M. Smith, Chairman, Bobby Jones Golf Course Study Committee, Sarasota; and Treasurer and Trustee, Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, Inc.
BOBBY JONES COURSE NEEDS CHANGE, NOT BAILOUT
THURSDAY, JULY 6, 2017
BY ADRIAN MOORE, CONTRIBUTOR
The city-owned Bobby Jones Golf Club has been going downhill for years. Unable to compete with many much nicer and similarly priced golf properties around Sarasota, it just can’t bring in the golfers needed to pay for running it, let alone improving it.
The course has only brought revenue above operating costs one year out of the past eight, losing over $1.3 million in recent years and consuming all of its reserves. So it’s no surprise that this year they have come to the City Commission to “humbly ask for a subsidy out of the general fund.” They anticipate a loss of $287,000 in the coming year unless they raise fees or get a bailout from the non-golfing taxpayers.
Note this comes after the city spent $115,000 to hire a golf architect to propose a multimillion dollar plan to upgrade the complex. Those millions will come, you guessed it, from the non-golfing taxpayers.
Given that Bobby Jones hasn’t been able to compete against other golf courses for many years, it makes no sense for city taxpayers to bail them out or spend millions to rebuild a losing competitor. The Bobby Jones Golf Club was once nice, but it lost the competition with rivals. Making it nice again, but keeping the same management, is repeating the same thing and expecting a different result, and we all know what that is the definition of …
So I am going to repeat what I said a year ago. The city should look into a private golf company to take over management of Bobby Jones under contract. Let a company that runs golf courses all over the nation, and makes money with them, invest its money in the improvements, rather than gambling taxpayer dollars. They would do the marketing to bring in more golfers and reap the rewards if they succeed — but also bear the costs if they fail. This kind of arrangement puts the risk of success or failure on the private firm, where it belongs, not on city taxpayers. But the city retains ownership of the course and control of rates and policies through the contract.
Cities like Chicago and Phoenix have done exactly this a few years ago and have experienced great success. The City Commission should look at this winning idea instead of spending millions on a failed formula.
FORE! BOBBY JONES NEEDS $425,000
FOR THE FIRST TIME, HISTORIC 45-HOLE COMPLEX REQUIRES HELP FROM THE CITY'S GENERAL FUND
THE MUNICIPAL COURSES ARE PROJECTING A $287,000 LOSS NEXT YEAR AND HAVE ONLY TURNED A PROFIT ONCE SINCE THE RECESSION
MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2017
BY ZACK MURDOCK
SARASOTA - The Bobby Jones Golf Club needs $425,000 in city subsidies to prop up its $2.8 million budget next year as golfers and city leaders await a final master plan to revamp the historic municipal complex.
It will be the first time the three-course, 45-hole complex requires help from the city’s largely property-tax funded general fund while it grapples with the same declines facing the entire golf industry, said Sue Martin, the club’s general manager.
“This is the first year we’ve had to come in front of the City Commission and humbly ask for a subsidy out of the general fund,” Martin told the commission during budget workshops last week. “Over the last, probably 10 years, the golf course has been in decline and the capital influx has not been there to compete with our neighbor golf courses.”
The golf course is projecting a $287,000 loss in the coming year and has only turned a profit once since 2009 — in 2011 — and the heart of the economic downturn, according to city documents.
“If we don’t keep our golf course in playable condition — and that is our product, the golf course is our product — we can’t get the price point in order to cover all of our expenses,” Martin said. “Basically it’s come down to, we are looking at the general fund.”
The first subsidy will allow the club, which hosts roughly 115,000 golfers each year, to forgo large jumps in green fees and cart rentals to try to make up the difference, Martin said.
“I think a municipal golf course really serves a purpose,” she said. “We invite and welcome any and all golfers, at all levels, all economic status and we’d like to keep our price point so that it is available for just the normal person to come golf. But the tradeoff is that we will need a subsidy.”
In an effort to reduce costs further, Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Fogle is working with the course’s landscaping and maintenance company to cut about $100,000 out of its contract without reducing maintenance of the courses themselves.
The subsidy request comes just ahead of the unveiling of a new master plan to overhaul the 90-year-old club following two years of review and debate.
Golf architect Richard Mandell is expected to present his final recommendations to the city’s parks board, which helps oversee Bobby Jones, and the City Commission in mid- to late July. The commission hired Mandell for $115,000 earlier this year.
So far Mandell has detailed parts of his planned proposals at several workshops, including redesigning the nine-hole Gillespie Course as an "adjustable golf course" with a learning center for new or young golfers.
Although the plans have received some positive feedback, the price tag for major changes to the club remains to be seen.
Once the commission hears Mandell’s pitch, it will have to determine how much of his plan to implement and how to pay for it. That could mean spreading the changes out in phases over several years, Martin suggested.
The project also would have to be added to a growing and expensive to-do list, which now includes the potential purchase of the Players Centre for Performing Arts and the eventual big ticket costs of the Bayfront 20:20 plan.
But Fogle and Martin agreed the recommendations should be implemented, however possible, to try to restore course.
“Obviously the main thing is getting the master plan hopefully approved and trying to figure out a way to fund this master plan, so we don’t throw it on the shelf and do nothing with it,” Fogle said. “Bobby Jones is a historic golf course and ... I want it to be the world class golf course that it once was, that the city could be proud of.”
GOLF ARCHITECT OUTLINES BOBBY JONES OVERHAUL
THURSDAY, MAY 25, 2017
Richard Mandell says Bobby Jones Golf Club needs major infrastructure upgrades, but the character of the courses don’t have to change for the facility to succeed.
BY DAVID CONWAY, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
After completing 90% of the design work for a Bobby Jones Golf Club master plan, golf architect Richard Mandell’s vision for the course doesn’t involve too many radical changes — on the surface, at least.
Most of the more significant alterations he’s recommending are contained to the Gillespie Executive Course west of Circus Boulevard, which he wants to transform into a training area with a larger driving range. But on the American and British courses, Mandell wants to preserve the character of the 36 holes while improving the conditions for golfers.
In the past week, Mandell has provided a series of updates on his master plan for the city-owned facility. On Tuesday, he held a pair of workshops at Bobby Jones, where the public could provide feedback on the plans.
The city has expressed a desire to reinvigorate Bobby Jones as both revenue and the number of rounds played at the course have declined annually. In 2015, a citizen advisory committee recommended $14.5 million in improvements. In January, the city approved a $115,000 contract with Richard Mandell Golf Architecture to develop a master plan.
Mandell has affirmed one of the findings of the study committee: Bobby Jones is in need of major structural improvements. One of his priorities is improving drainage on the course, which includes adding five acres of flood control to the 325-acre site. He recommends achieving that by building ponds and dry basins that, in conjunction with raising some of the low-lying holes, is designed to redirect water away from the playing area.
Beyond the natural drainage improvements, Mandell said the course needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, for the irrigation and drainage systems at Bobby Jones have outlived their useful lifespan. He thinks infrastructure upgrades would address many complaints about the facility.
“They don’t like the drainage problems, the lack of sand in some of the bunkers,” Mandell said. “They like the general character of the golf course.”
Mandell repeatedly referred to the distinct characters of the two 18-hole courses at Bobby Jones. Golfers told him the American Course is shorter, designed for “target golf” with a lot of water throughout. The British Course, by contrast, is longer, sleepier and has relatively little water.
Within these 36 holes, he’s recommending a change that would allow staff to dynamically arrange two 18-hole courses on a day-to-day basis. Dividing them into four nine-hole segments, Mandell suggests staff could have golfers play the front nine of the American and the back nine of the British, or other combinations.
Beyond that, the changes are minor. He recommends lengthening both courses, and creating seven different tee boxes for each hole to accommodate golfers of various ability levels. He wants to make sure the holes are more clearly defined, too, for both safety and playability reasons.
The golfers at Tuesday’s workshops shared largely positive feedback. Sheila Schwabl plays at Bobby Jones twice a week, and she said the proposed changes strike a good balance between preserving what’s good about the course and making much-needed improvements to a deteriorating facility.
“It’s been a tough year for the fairways, that’s for sure,” Schwabl
Mandell said he’s strived to keep the public engaged.
“If you listen to what people want and try to figure out how to accommodate them, the rest of the process is a breeze," he said.
There’s no solid estimate on the cost or timeline of the improvements at this point. Mandell said it should take no more than a year to improve an 18-hole segment of the facility, and that any improvements would likely be conducted in phases. He said the budget figures he’d seen thrown around in the past — including the $14.5 million the committee presented — were probably “somewhat in the ballpark.”
Mandell is scheduled to present a final report to the City Commission in July. On its own, he said even a major investment won’t be enough to secure the facility’s long-term success.
“Once this is done and the shot in the arm is there, the key is for the city to stand behind it and give people the resources to keep it from slipping like it had in the past,” Mandell said.
CITY TO BRIEF GOLFERS ON BOBBY JONES PLANS
MONDAY, MAY 22, 2017
A consultant is 90% done with a master plan for Bobby Jones Golf Club. On Tuesday, he’ll present his ideas to the public during two workshops.
BY DAVID CONWAY, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
Before golf architect Richard Mandell lays out his vision for the future of Bobby Jones Golf Club to the City Commission, you’ll have a chance to share your thoughts on his master plan for the city-owned course.
On Tuesday, Mandell will lead two presentations about the master plan at Bobby Jones. The plans are approximately 90% complete.
If You Go
What: Bobby Jones Golf Club master plan discussion
When: 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 23
Where: Bobby Jones Golf Club conference room, 1000 Circus Blvd.
Mandell has provided two public updates on his work in the past two months. In April, at a City Commission workshop, he shared a plan for the land on which the nine-hole Gillespie Executive Course sits. The proposed changes focused on adding practice facilities while maintaining a short nine-hole course.
On Thursday, Mandell made a presentation to the city’s Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection Board. The update included a discussion of potential drainage improvements and changes to the layout of the 18-hole American and British courses.
In January, the city agreed to a $115,000 contract with Richard Mandell Golf Architecture to develop master plan for the course. As the annual number of rounds played at the course has declined, the commission has expressed an interest in refreshing the property.
A citizen study committee suggested the city should invest as much as $14.5 million to update the course.
GOLF: FOX COMPLETES COMEBACK FOR CITY TITLE
MAY 7, 2017
He closes with 71 to edge Knight by a stroke
BY JIM BROCKMAN, CORRESPONDENT
K.C. Fox found himself nine strokes off the lead following the first round of this year’s City of Sarasota Men’s Golf Championship.
A lesser competitor might have quietly faded away and waited until next year.
But the 57-year-old came roaring back with sizzling rounds of 66 and 68 after a dismal opening round of 77 to trail co-leaders Bradley Knight and Scott Cox by a single stroke, heading into Sunday’s final round.
Fox fired a solid 1-under par 71 on Sunday to finish 6-under for the tournament at 282, edging the 26-year-old Knight, who played his high school golf at Riverview, by a single stroke.
Knight’s 1-over 73 on Sunday was his only round of the tournament, held annually on the British Course at the venerable 90-year-old Bobby Jones Golf Club, that wasn’t under par.
Cox, who fired a third-round best 5-under 67 on Saturday, finished with a 78 Sunday to wind up at even-par 288.
Three-time City champion Phil Walters and Ray Wenck were tied at 286, four shots behind Fox.
“It’s a tough tournament over 72 holes, on a tough golf course,” Fox said. “There are a lot of good players. You’ve got to be patient. I think patience was my main virtue out there today. I didn’t get frustrated about anything.”
Fox’s patience was certainly tested when he shot his disappointing first-round 77 nine days ago. He suffered a quadruple bogey on the par-4 fifth hole.
“You need to have a good attitude,” Fox said. “I’ve been working on my attitude and mental game a lot more the past few years since I turned a senior. That as much as anything has helped my game.
“You need to know your game. What you can do and what you can’t do. Staying in the moment, those type of things help you with any victory.”
Fox, who has lived in Sarasota the past 20 years, was playing in his 17th City of Sarasota tournament. It was his first victory.
“This is a pretty big win,” Fox said. “I’ve had some big wins in my career. I just try to keep the same thought process the entire 18 holes.”
Fox birdied three of the course’s four par-5′s on Sunday. His key shot of the day was saving par with a clutch six-foot putt on No. 17.
“You’ve got to stay in shape, and I work on my flexibility a lot,” Fox said. “That is what helps me to keep hitting the ball long. After playing competitive golf for 45 years, maybe I’m finally getting the hang of it.”
Ryan Jaso shot a final-round 74 to finish the tournament with a 5-over 293 to win the first flight on Sunday. Brandon Johnson was second, three shots behind Jaso after shooting a 74.
Jiri Curzydlo’s tournament total was 303, winning the second flight by three strokes over Tim Judy and Nicolas Schwenger.
Mike Miller shot an even-par 72 on Sunday to win the third flight at 313, four strokes better than Rob Manoogian.
Tyler Redmond ran away with the fourth flight, finishing with a total of 329. It was 10 strokes better than Toby Snelson, Nick Exarhou and Ted Roberts.
BOBBY JONES IMPROVEMENTS COULD EXPAND PRACTICE SPACE
THURSDAY, APRIL 6, 2017
During the Bobby Jones Golf Club master planning process, a golf architect has located space to build a larger training facility.
BY DAVID CONWAY, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
The driving range at Bobby Jones Golf Club is so short that staff encourages some golfers not to use their driver.
It’s not even technically called a driving range — it’s a “practice range,” Bobby Jones General Manager Sue Martin said.
The practice facilities at the city-owned golf course have been a target of criticism. Even City Manager Tom Barwin was surprised by the conditions when he visited the range with his sons.
“I thought one of them was going to hit me with their stick,” Barwin said.
As the city works with a master planner to develop a new vision for Bobby Jones, improving and expanding the practice options has become a priority. On Tuesday, golf architect Richard Mandell presented an update on that master planning process at a City Commission workshop.
Mandell has honed in on the nine-hole Gillespie Executive Course, the one segment located west of Circus Boulevard, as a location for training facilities. He presented three options for reshaping that segment of the property. All three options include a larger driving range — 270 yards long instead of 235 — putting and chipping greens, and a short nine-hole course.
The three options mainly differ in the scope of that course:
Option 1 would create a standard par-3 course.
Option 2 would create a shorter pitch-and-putt course.
Option 3 would create an adjustable par-3 course.
The adjustable course would allow staff to create different configurations for the course on different days. Mandell said this type of adjustable course is not unheard of in golf design, but he hasn’t heard of a facility like Bobby Jones using the concept.
“It’s not often utilized,” Mandell said. “I have no idea why that is.”
He said the idea would help Bobby Jones stand out as it competes for customers with other local golf facilities. Members of the City Commission — although professed non-golfers — were excited by the potential marketability of the adjustable practice course.
“I don’t play a lot of golf, but if I did, it would be appealing to me,” Commissioner Liz Alpert said.
Mandell said the adjustable course would come with more maintenance, because there would be more fairway space.
The planning process for Bobby Jones is still ongoing. The city approved a $115,000 contract with Mandell in January, with a deadline to complete a plan by May.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
THURSDAY, APRIL 6, 2017
I was very pleased with the time I spent with Richard and the progress report he gave displayed his great talent and could create a very special piece to the overall restoration of the Club.
As he focuses now on the main 36 holes expect designs that will be enjoyable to play yet challenging, give you several options for length, be aesthetically pleasing, respectful of the natural surroundings and very practical for maintenance purposes and dealing with the awful storm water issues they now have. With Bobby Jones's connection to Phillippi Creek and the local fisheries an exciting piece to this will be natural systems that filter the water that dumps in to the creeks and will ultimately enhance the quality of our waterways.
Dan M. Smith, Chairman, Bobby Jones Golf Course Study Committee, Sarasota and Treasurer and Trustee, Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, Inc.
Bobby Jones architect calls for ‘adjustable’ course
TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 2017
Proposal is part of a redesign of the 90-year-old Sarasota course.
BY ELIZABETH DJINIS, STAFF WRITER
SARASOTA - Sarasota could become one of the first cities to have an adjustable municipal golf course, should the initial designs of the city’s golf architect come to fruition.
At a City Commission workshop Tuesday night, architect Richard Mandell updated the group on his progress since being hired in early January for $115,000 to draw up plans to redesign the 90- year-old Bobby Jones Golf Club. In his presentation, Mandell focused primarily on the changes he would make to the Gillespie Course, the property’s nine-hole course. There, he proposed a new learning center, a building for newcomers to the sport and experienced players alike to learn new aspects of the game, the driving range and additional parking, with one notable addition: a nine- hole golf course that Bobby Jones staffers could adjust depending on the day or type of player.
“People have done adjustable golf courses before in the world, but I don’t think it’s ever been used as a practice facility in such a prime piece of property,” Mandell told the commission. “This is something that would really make the city of Sarasota stand out as a golf facility that rivals anything.”
While the commission does not vote on any decisions at workshops, most of the board seemed pleased with Mandell’s early results. Commissioner Suzanne Atwell asked whether this strategy had been tested before.
“I wouldn’t call it a new concept, but it’s a rare concept,” Mandell said. “This is rare but it’s not infeasible, and it’s something that, for all golfers, you’re going to capture their attention.”
Before his designs, Mandell conducted a series of golf course walkthroughs with interested parties and heard from almost 75 people regarding their thoughts on the course. The feedback he received ranged from a desire for better fairways to restoring the course to the original plans of 1920s designer Donald Ross.
The course’s assistant general manager, Christian Martin, sat in the chambers as Mandell showed the commission his initial plans. Martin had been consulted throughout the process and noted previously that one of his key priorities was an improved practice facility. As the presentation finished, Martin was practically beaming.
“We’re really excited — you can feel the excitement in the air,” Martin said. “Bobby Jones needs a rebranding.”
Mayor Willie Shaw noted that the adjustable golf course would be an asset to new and old golfers, another way to both introduce people to and keep people interested in a game that has been dwindling in popularity in recent years.
“I think that the Gillespie addition brings new energy to the conversation and going forward with this renovated Bobby Jones,” Shaw said. “I always say, we got what nobody else has, and that is Bobby Jones.”
Fix bobby jones
letter to the editor
SaturDAY, MArch 4, 2017
Fix Bobby Jones
Award-winning golf-course architect Richard Mandell is working on a long-awaited master plan for Bobby Jones Golf Club. I spent some time with Richard and I am very pleased with his approach.
This historic and cherished municipal club desperately needs a major overhaul to restore its past prominence. Unfortunately this facility has been overlooked for years and the time has come to make the investment that will create a thriving center for golf activities in a community suffering a decline in its reputation as a top golf destination.
A 2015 City Commission-appointed committee studied material that clearly demonstrated the path to success is a capital improvement plan that will overhaul the courses, establish a golf training center and build a new modern and more functional clubhouse. The financial data supports the plan.
There was some support for what I believe is the best move, to restore the original Donald Ross course making it more playable and more interesting and to give a strong nod to a glorious history that most golfers don't know about. With 36 holes we have the opportunity to pair it with a modern design to give players a wonderful experience of playing two unique layouts.
A question lingers in the minds of local golfers about Bobby's future. Because of this sentiment I believe that, if the city means business, it owes a strong statement of commitment to all who have waited so long. We want our cradle of golf back!
Dan M. Smith, Chairman, Bobby Jones Golf Course Study Committee, Sarasota and Treasurer and Trustee, Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, Inc.
AWARD-WINNING GOLF ARCHITECT TALK HIS PLAN for BOBBY JONES
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2017
PROSE AND KOHN: RYAN KOHN.
BY RYAN KOHN, SPORTS REPORTER
If you have been out to Bobby Jones Golf Club lately, you’ve probably noticed that things could do with an upgrade, both on the club’s 45 total holes and in the clubhouse.
Well, your prayers have been answered, and something of a holy figure in the golf architecture world is the one answering them.
Richard Mandell has been hired to completely re-do the course. Mandell’s courses have won Golf Inc.’s Municipal Renovation of the Year award two years in a row, and won a similar award from Golf Magazine in 2014.
Legendary designer Donald Ross laid out the original 18 holes in 1925. For anyone worried about what Mandell might turn the course into, fear not.
"I don't want to turn it into anything,” Mandell said. “I want to return it to its peak of greatness. Part of that is rebuilding the infrastructure of the site so that it’s more functional, and improving conditions, and recapturing some of the great strategic charm of the golf course. Bunker locations, hazards that challenge golfers more than penalize golfers.
“In the world of golf, people have lost their way as it relates to fun and strategy and focused more on aesthetics. I want the place to look great, and that is part of my vision, but I don’t want it to just be a place to get great views. Form follows function. It has to serve a purpose of creating an activity. We don’t want to create something that is an art piece at all, really. We want something that is about playing golf.”
Mandell identified two main areas where the course needs improving the most: The fairway grass, and drainage. He seemed excited at the prospect of that last issue, though. There are lots of ways to get creative with drainage, including habitats for wildlife and storm water retention for surrounding communities, Mandell said.
It’s not just the course itself that is getting a makeover. The entire clubhouse is getting built from scratch. Michael Bryant, a subcontractor on Mandell’s team who works mainly as a clubhouse architect, will be assisting with that job. Bryant previously worked on The Lodge at Country Club East in Lakewood Ranch, which was awarded the Golden Fork second prize by Golf Inc. in the “new, private” category.
At a morning Feb. 7 meeting with Mandell and Bryant, golfers gave their opinions on what they would like to see in the new clubhouse. While none of the ideas are official (and will not be for at least a few months), it is clear that people want Bobby Jones to be more of a community center than it has been in the past. Even if you don’t play golf at all, you should be able to head to the center once or twice a month and find something fun to do, whether that be grabbing dinner, taking a class in a classroom or dancing at a party.
There is also a fervor for showing off the course’s history and place in Sarasota golf’s heart.
“The locals feel that this is the center of Sarasota golf,” Mandell said. “There has been talk long before I showed up that maybe this could be the spot for a Sarasota golf Hall of Fame. I think it’s a great idea. I think the history should permeate throughout the building, but I also think there should be some sort of permanent display.”
Mandell won’t have the final word on that decision, but his opinion carries a lot of weight. There is certainly Bobby Jones history worth telling, not just of the player, but of the course — Even George Herman “Babe” Ruth teed off there, after all.
The master plan process, or the renovation business plan process, as Mandell calls it, has a notice to proceed deadline of May 1. That’s the date when the full master plan and its hard numbers will be revealed to city officials.
Until then, Mandell and Bryant will stay hard at work on implementing all the changes the public wants to see while revitalizing the spirit that made Bobby Jones so special. Get excited, golf fans.
GOLF ARCHITECT ADDRESSES BOBBY JONES PRIORITIES
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2017
Golfers and management are looking for better fairways and a new practice facility.
BY ELIZABETH DJINIS, STAFF WRITER
As the city's newly hired golf architect considers a master plan for the Bobby Jones Golf Club, he's faced with two key priorities based on feedback from golfers and the complex's management: better fairways and a new practice facility.
In a series of tours recently, architect Richard Mandell led golfers around parts of the 45-hole municipal facility, asking for feedback on the general environment and architecture as well as specific holes. From these six tours and meetings with various staff, Mandell said one thing was resoundingly clear.
"Without a doubt, the quality of the fairways and the surfaces of the fairways, as far as smoothness and grass, was No. 1, along with drainage," Mandell said. "And everybody noted how the course is pretty unplayable in the summer because of drainage."
Hired by the city in early January for $115,000 to create a new master plan this spring for Sarasota's historic 90-year-old golf complex, Mandell is very early in the planning process. He said he is collecting his notes and getting a sense of his limitations with the course. Then he will begin drafting a preliminary design. Either way, it is clear that he's interested in a proposal for a better practice facility, which may mean better golf for everyone in Sarasota.
Mandell will present his final report this spring. The City Commission will then consider how to move forward and at what potential cost.
Reviewing the holes
On a bright afternoon, at least 10 people, mostly men and many dressed in the golfer's uniform of a polo shirt and khakis, traversed nine holes of the American Course with Mandell, noting what they liked and disliked about each hole.
In a meeting before the tour, many of the golfers noted their love of the course, with one even saying, "One of the reasons I moved to Sarasota was because I enjoyed playing here so much."
But most agreed that the course has suffered since its heyday, deteriorating to the point that one man said he would be embarrassed to bring his friends. While many of the golfers pushed for the improved fairways, the complex's assistant general manager, Christian Martin, said there's one major initiative on his mind: getting a better practice facility.
"That would be a place where people get introduced to the game," Martin said. "Right now, we don't have a world-class short game, but it's something we've aspired to."
Although much of Mandell's tour focused on the course, he said later that the practice facility would certainly be under his purview and is definitely something he is considering, especially given the complex's current facility.
"The facility that Bobby Jones has commensurate with the 45 holes is just poor," Mandell said of the course's current practice facility. "It's too poor and the number of golfers that have been through there and that will go through there cannot be accommodated by the 12 or 15 stations they have on that driving range facility. They need something; plus it's an eyesore. To have a world-class practice facility would really be a good boost to the city economically as well."
One of the reasons golf courses have declined in recent years is because of the dwindling popularity of the game.
But Bobby Jones managers hope an improved practice facility would bring more would-be golfers out to the course, allowing for a whole new set of custumers to populate the property.
Mandell said this has become somewhat of a national trend.
"Practice is big in golf right now, because of time constraints more than anything," he said. "People don't have the time to play 18 holes, but they have the time to hit a bucket of balls."
Mandell said the course should be an asset that attracts people to the game.
"That's what Bobby Jones golf course is all about," Mandell said. "It should be a place where juniors can come and learn the game and a place for them to spend time and play the game.
"It's a city park, and they look at it as a city park with golf on it."
A LETTER TO THE CITY OF SARASOTA FROM THE DONALD ROSS SOCIETY
SOURCE: THE COST OF UPGRADING SARASOTA'S GOLF COURSE COULD GO INTO THE MILLIONS
WedneSDAY, JANUARY 4, 2017
WWSB My SUNCOAST ABC CHANNEL 7 NEWS
BY RAY COLLINS
SARASOTA - Golf course consultant Richard Mandell will have a busy 12 weeks. The City of Sarasota is paying him $115,000 to draw up suggestions to improve the Bobby Jones Golf Complex. He realizes when you work on a course that dates back to the 1920's, chances are there may be some issues.
"Left and right of many holes there are ditches that no one worried about in the '30s and '40s. It was wet in the summer because nobody played here. That's different now. When you're running 100,000 [golfers] through here [per year], you have to think drainage, drainage, drainage," Mandell said.
Despite the complex hosting a 100,000 rounds a year, a source close to the complex says it hasn't turned a profit since 2008. Complex General Manager Sue Martin is quick to point out the course doesn't use tax dollars but rather user fees.
"We are still covering our own costs because we've had a fund-balance or a savings account. So we've not needed taxpayers money," Martin pointed out.
However many believe major improvements to the complex will run into the millions of dollars, and at this point, it's not clear where that money would come from. Some go as as far as to question why the city is in the golf course business at all, especially with other pressing needs in the city.
"I understand their point of view, [but] they have to look at it as a recreational facility, and it's not just a business of running a golf course, it's a quality of life issue. But there's always going to be people who suggest we sell off all different auditoriums, or any of the amenities we offer," Martin said.
We asked the City Hall Spokesperson, Jan Thornburg if she could help us find anybody in city government who we could interview about whether there has been discussion about the City getting out of the golf course business, but she deferred questions back to the person running the golf complex.
GOLF COMPLEX MASTER PLAN
BOBBY JONES GETS AN ARCHITECT
CITY APPROVES HIRE TO BREATHE LIFE INTO 90-YEAR-OLD FACILITY.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 3, 2017
BY ZACK MURDOCK
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated which recommended projects the city funded last year. The city spent almost $240,000 to re-grass the greens on the American course at the municipal complex.
SARASOTA - Golf course architect Richard Mandell has been hired to create a new master plan this spring for Sarasota's municipal Bobby Jones Golf Course complex.
The project is more than two years in the making as the city, parks leaders and avid golfers have worked to draw up new plans for the course that has struggled through declining popularity and aging infrastructure.
Now Mandell - based in Pinehurst, North Carolina - will spend the next 12 weeks trying to breathe new life into the course through a series of recommendations, wish lists and competing agendas for the historic 90-year-old complex.
The City Commission unanimously approved his hiring Tuesday afternoon for $115,000.
"There are a lot of ideas already to work off of, and we'll do our first course walk-through tomorrow morning," Mandell said after the meeting. "Everyone's trying to work toward making the course the best it can be, so it's all going to come together."
Mandell's plan will include short, mid- and long-term projects and goals for the course and will incorporate recommendations from the citizens' ad hoc committee that suggested the master plan be created in the first place.
That ad hoc committee was formed in late 2014 to study the complex's current and future needs. It recommended last year a spate of improvements estimated to cost $14.5 million, including the renovation of the British and American courses, construction of a new clubhouse and a new master plan for the complex.
The city paid to re-grass the greens on the American course last year and reviewed requests for proposals for the master plan throughout the fall.
Some parks leaders have objected to the plan, though.
Shawn Glen Pierson is the founder of the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club and has repeatedly asked the commission to reconsider its master plan process since early last summer.
He instead wants the course restored using the original plans drafted by legendary course designer Donald Ross in the 1920s, arguing that playing historic course designs would attract more avid golfers who appreciate the history of Ross courses, which are all across the country.
Pierson also serves as the Bobby Jones representative on the city's Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection board, known as PREP. The group voted unanimously in July to ask the city, to no avail, to withdraw its request for proposals for the master planner amid questions about how it was drafted and whether city administrators were trying to interfere with what plans would ultimately be made. City leaders denied that suggestion.
Mandell has discussed the master plan process with Pierson and will consider those ideas for the final report, which will set out what kind of improvements could be made in certain price ranges. They and other stakeholders will walk the course and discuss potential recommendations throughout the process.
Mandell will present his final report later this spring. The City Commission will then consider how to move forward and at what potential cost.
BOBBY JONES' GREENS PROBLEM
THE DETERIORATING COURSE HAS PUT STAFF IN A ROUGH SPOT AS THE CITY SEEKS TO DIP INTO AN EARMARKED FUND TO PAY FOR NEW GREENS AT BOBBY JONES.
THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 2016
CLASH ON THE COURSE: bobby jones improvements raise questions about funding
CITIZENS AND CITY OFFICIALS AGREE THAT BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB IS IN NEED OF SERIOUS UPGRADES. THEY JUST HAVE A DIFFERENT IDEA OF THE BEST COURSE TO TAKE.
BY DAVID CONWAY, NEWS EDITOR
The city of Sarasota is preparing to search for a master planner to help guide the future of Bobby Jones Golf Club after a citizen committee suggested the course needs as much as $14.5 million in improvements.
In the meantime, city staff is responsible for managing and operating a public golf complex that needs as much as $14.5 million in improvements.
These two notions - that Bobby Jones is in dire need of substantial upgrades and that the city must also keep it open on a day-to-day basis - are a source of tension. This was highlighted at the June 6 City Commission meeting, when staff asked to free up money reserved for the replacement of the facility’s aging clubhouse.
When Sarasota voters agreed to renew the 1-cent infrastructure sales tax in 2007, the city included $1.5 million to replace the Bobby Jones clubhouse on the list of projects it intended to complete with that money. Now, staff wants to reallocate some of those funds, which had already been reduced to $1.1 million.
In the hole
As the number of rounds played annually at Bobby Jones has continued to decrease, so too has the public golf course’s reserve fund. Here's how the money available for the facility has declined during the past five years:
About $300,000 would go toward installing new greens on the American course. Additional money would be allocated toward the master planning effort, a cost estimated anywhere between $25,000 and $100,000.
Sue Martin, general manager of Bobby Jones Golf Club, said the current conditions of the course — both physical and fiscal — are forcing the city to prioritize its needs.
“Golfers will stop coming if you don’t have a good golf course,” Martin said. “They won’t necessarily stop coming only because we have a dated clubhouse.”
Although the commission voted 4-1 to approve staff’s request to reallocate the clubhouse funding, the move didn’t come without questions. Bobby Jones Assistant General Manager Christian Martin said replacing the American greens is in keeping with the recommendations of the Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee, a citizen board that spent 10 months studying the needs of the facility.
Dan Smith, the chairman of the study committee, disagreed with Martin’s assessment. He thought investing in greens was a short-sighted move, because the course could be overhauled in the not-so-distant future.
“Our recommendations called for a complete rebuilding of the golf course, which means the tees, greens and everything would get bulldozed,” Smith said. “Regrassing them now, to me, would be similar to putting carpet in a building you’re going to knock down anyway.”
Martin contested Smith’s assertion. She said that even if the course’s drainage and irrigation systems were replaced, the new grass should remain usable.
There are additional questions about the lifespan of the greens. Staff asserted the new grass could last between eight and 12 years, but when the city undertook a similar effort to replace the British course greens last year, Martin described it as a “short-term (three to five years) solution.”
Surveying the course
George Martin is the secretary of Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, a nonprofit group that is advocating for significant upgrades to the public facility. Although he opposes the use of clubhouse funds to replace the American greens, he understands that the city is in a bind because of the deteriorating course.
What really troubles him, he said, is that there seems to be no consideration of why the city needed to dip into a capital reserve to pay for what he considered fairly standard maintenance.
“You can say, ‘We gotta put some money in, or else nobody will go there for the next two years, and that would be stupid,’” Martin said. “But it’s very dangerous to keep doing it without saying, ‘How the hell did we get to this point?’ And nobody seems to be doing that.”
Although Bobby Jones staff used to keep a distinct operating and capital budget, dwindling reserves ended that practice in 2015. In preliminary budget documents for fiscal year 2017, the city projects a negative fund balance for the Bobby Jones Golf Complex.
There’s a belief — among both city officials and the public - that Bobby Jones can become a positive asset again. Those critical of the decision to reallocate the clubhouse money think the city is committing one of the last pots of money available to a model that isn’t working.
“I think what’s happening today is just a symptom of this larger problem we’ve been dealing with at Bobby Jones for a long time,” said Jay Logan, another member of the Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee. “It’s a business that is failing and that’s in dire need of large capital improvements and better management.”
The city hopes to complete a request for proposals for a master planner for the course by early July. Even when that search formally begins, City Manager Tom Barwin estimates the master planning process could take two to three years.
With a 10-month study of the course recommending a comprehensive overhaul, critics of the city’s approach are distressed by what they see as a lack of urgency. Considering the position the facility is currently in, the need for a new paradigm at Bobby Jones should be obvious, they say.
“Every move the city makes is in defense of the status quo - which is the last thing we need,” said Shawn Pierson, the founder of Friends of Bobby Jones.
Pierson and other citizen advocates for the course remain hopeful the city is committed to significant investments. In the wake of the decision to spend the clubhouse money, they’re pushing to make a reinvigorated Bobby Jones a higher priority for officials.
“Repairs aren’t going to get it done,” Smith said. “If you build a building on a crumbling foundation, it’s eventually going to topple over.”
MOTE DIPS NET INTO CANAL FISH SURVEY
TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2016
BY THOMAS BECNEL
SARASOTA - In a canal that runs between Circus Boulevard and the Bobby Jones Golf Club, Mote Marine Laboratory researchers pulled up a seine net and peered in to see what they’d found.
“Well, we got a bass,” said Dr. Nate Brennan on Tuesday morning. “We caught a largemouth — two largemouth bass. Who’d have guessed, huh?"
Mote researchers are conducting the first scientific survey of fish in the canals of Sarasota. The question is how these drainage ditches, which were built for flood control, might be enhanced to benefit fisheries and add to the natural beauty of Sarasota County.
“That’s the value of this,” said Dr. James Locascio, manager of the Fisheries Habitat Ecology Program at Mote. “What is the value of these ecosystems and what can we do to enhance that value?"
Recommendations for the canal system could include everything from building small pools to adding marshy plants and shade trees.
The canal survey, funded by the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, began a month ago and will take another month to complete.
There are more than 100 miles of canals that drain into Phillippi Creek and Sarasota Bay. Tidal waters are an important habitat for sport fish such as snook.
Canals run through popular parks and preserves such as the Celery Fields and Red Bug Slough. For the public, they’re already an amenity.
“People walk along and they say, ‘Oh, I saw an otter’ or ‘I saw a blue crab — isn’t that amazing?’ ” said John Ryan, environmental manager for Sarasota County’s Stormwater Environmental Utility. “I hear that all the time."
On Tuesday, at the Main B Canal, Mote researchers demonstrated devices that measure water temperature, salinity and oxygen levels.
Their seine nets pulled in bass, green sunfish and mosquito fish, along with clams, mussels, grass shrimp and a host of other native and exotic species.
“I’m looking for a crayfish, but I don’t see any,” Brennan said. “This is a fun project. We always find something new.”
CITY TO PROCEED WITH BOBBY JONES RENOVATION
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2016
BY EMILY LE COZ
The city will proceed with plans to renovate the Bobby Jones Golf Course as recommended by a citizen-led committee that had studied the municipal complex for nearly a year.
Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously adopted the committee’s full recommendations, which they had first received in a report the committee had submitted last November.
City commissioners formed the group in late 2014 amid concerns about the facility’s “tired” infrastructure and waning popularity. They directed members to study the current status and operation of Bobby Jones and devise a master plan for its long-term future.
Among the group’s recommendations are to hire a master planning firm with experience in professional golf course architecture to consult on the following improvements: the renovation of the British and American courses, the creation of a player-development center and construction a new clubhouse.
The commission also voted to start the process of hiring the master planning firm.
In all, the report calls for $14.5 million in capital improvements. The renovation of both golf courses represents the biggest cost, estimated at $3.75 million each — $7.5 million combined.
It will cost an additional $3.5 million to construct a new clubhouse, which the committee recommends be relocated from the footprint of the original course and placed somewhere else on the property. And a new player development center is estimated at $1.5 million, with contingency costs coming in at $1.75 million.
“Bobby Jones needs attention after years of neglect,” committee member Norman Dumaine told commissioners during the public comment period.
Dumaine was joined by other study committee members, many of whom hinted at rumors the city might sell the golf course by reminding commissioners what a jewel they believe the property to be.
“It is the largest land asset that the city owns,” said committee vice chairman Rich Kyllonen.
City Manager Tom Barwin acknowledged the uniqueness of the grounds, which occupies more than 300 acres near the city’s northeastern boundaries. He said he wants to make sure the municipality retains ownership of the land in perpetuity.
Because the current commission can’t prevent future commissions from selling the property, Barwin said, the city must find an alternative way to keep the golf course public for years to come.
Commissioners directed staff to look into the matter.
FOX NAMES AZINGER AS LEAD GOLF ANALYST
THURSDAY, JANUARY 28, 2016
[Sarasota High School alumnus] Paul Azinger has been selected as the lead golf analyst for Fox Sports as it enters the second year of televising the U.S. Open and other USGA championships. Azinger will replace [World Golf Hall of Fame member and former World No. 1] Greg Norman. Fox signed as 12-year deal with the USGA that started last year, and the first big test was the US Open at Chambers Bay. Among the criticism of the broadcast was Norman going flat during the decisive moment when Dustin Johnson three-putted from 12 feet on the last hole for Jordan Spieth to win his second straight major. Azinger is a former PGA champion - he beat Norman, of all people, in a playoff at [Donald Ross designed] Inverness in 1993 - who led the Americans to a rare Ryder Cup victory at Valhalla in 2008. It was the only Ryder Cup the U.S. has won since 1999. Azinger, a Manatee County resident, has made his mark as an analyst for his candor and blunt observations. Azinger, who won 11 times on the PGA Tour, will work with lead announcer Joe Buck at the U.S. Open at Oakmont, along with other USGA events such as the U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Amateur.
PANEL PITCHES $14.5 MILLION OVERHAUL FOR BOBBY JONES GOLF COURSE
MONDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2015
By EMILY LE COZ
Time is critical for a series of sweeping improvements recommended for the Bobby Jones Golf Course, according to a city-appointed study committee that presented its report Monday at City Hall.
The group pitched $14.5 million in capital improvements to the municipal facility described as “tired” by the National Golf Foundation after a review of the grounds last year.
“We are highly recommending that you move quickly on this,” said Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee leader Dan Smith during the presentation. “If we felt we could fix this with just some minor repairs, we wouldn't be here today. It's way beyond time.”
City commissioners formed the citizen-led group late last year amid concerns about the facility. They directed members to study the current status and operation of Bobby Jones and devise a master plan for its long-term future.
Members took the mission to heart, holding 30 meetings, listening to 20 experts and studying thousands of pages of research, said Susan Dodd, assistant to the city's finance director.
Among their recommendations are that the city should hire a master planning firm with experience in professional golf course architecture to consult on the following improvements: the renovation of the British and American courses, the creation of a player-development center and the construction a new clubhouse.
The group also suggested the facility raise its fees by $7.50 per round of golf to generate more revenue and that it implement a professional marketing plan.
Commissioners will mull the proposal over the holiday season and could decide how to proceed sometime in January. They generally praised the group's work and voiced support for improving the golf club.
“We are not competing with others; others are competing with us,” said Mayor Willie Shaw. “We are Bobby Jones."
But they also peppered Smith with questions during the two-hour meeting. Commissioners asked how the committee arrived at its recommendations and cost estimates, if it had buy-in from the golf community and why it appeared to deviate from the National Golf Foundation's 2014 report, which had suggested a less comprehensive improvement plan.
“The NGF report really missed the big picture that the physical plant has deteriorated so quickly that you've lost 30 percent of your business over a 10-year period,” Smith said.
Annual rounds at the complex dropped from a high of 143,066 rounds in 2007 to less than 102,000 last year, statistics show. The faltering economy spurred some of the decline, as did golf's waning popularity over the years.
“I look at the numbers, and I see the drop in play,” Smith said. “I drive by there, and I see the parking lot is not as full as it once was.”
Bobby Jones could recapture some of its glory — and its earnings — if the city proceeds with the recommended improvements, Smith said. If not, it will continue its slow decline.
Among the most controversial aspects of the plan is the redesign of the two 18-hole golf courses to “capture the spirit” of the original architect, Donald Ross. Some citizens and committee members had warned against returning the courses to the nearly 90-year-old designs, while others supported the move.
“The question of whether it should be Donald Ross or Donald Duck or anybody is one that should not be answered now,” said former study committee member Clarence Rogers. “It's something the master planner will get to after all of the facts have been unearthed.”
The renovation of both golf courses represents the biggest cost, estimated at $3.75 million each – or $7.5 million combined.
“Building a golf course is building a golf course,” Smith said. “We know a big part of the cost is going to be irrigation” and drainage.
It will cost an additional $3.5 million to construct a new clubhouse, which the committee recommends be relocated from the footprint of the original course. A new player development center is estimated at $1.5 million, with contingency costs coming in at $1.75 million.
The group predicts the facility will lose $250,000 during improvements because of closures.
The committee also identified several funding sources, including the optional local sales tax, a revenue bond and a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Vice Mayor Suzanne Atwell raised concerns about creating more bond indebtedness for the city, saying taxpayers are ultimately liable for the repayment.
Not pursuing the bond will be worse, countered study committee member Jay Logan.
“If you take the trend of where the business is going at moment, we'll be running a deficit that will equate to the bond debt service,” Logan said. “Doing the bond and reconstructing the golf course should be something that happens.”
BOBBY JONES REPORT SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2015
BY EMILY LE COZ
SARASOTA — The Bobby Jones Golf Course Study Committee will recommend $14.5 million in capital improvements to the municipal facility, according to a long-awaited report scheduled for presentation at a special City Commission meeting Monday.
City commissioners formed the citizen-led group late last year, directing members to study the current status and operation of the golf course and devise a master plan for its long-term future.
Among its recommendations are that the city should hire a professional golf course architect or master planning firm to reconstruct the British and American courses, create a player-development center and build a new clubhouse.
The renovation of both golf courses would cost $7.5 million combined and the two new buildings would cost a total of $5 million, the group estimated in its report.
The committee also identified several funding sources, including the revenue from the optional local sales tax, a bond and a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
It also recommended raising the fees by an average of $7.50 per round of golf to generate an additional $750,000. Fees to play an 18-hole round there currently range from $19 to $47, depending on the season.
The city has considered improvements at Bobby Jones before. It hired National Golf Foundation Consulting in 2008, and again in 2014, to study the golf club, built in 1926 off the northeast corner of Fruitville and Beneva roads in Sarasota.
A LETTER FROM PAUL AZINGER
what does the future hold for BOBBY JONES golf club?
JULY 29, 2015
Amid privatization talks, the committee tasked with mapping out a plan for the long-term viability of Bobby Jones is keeping all its options on the table.
BY DAVID CONWAY, NEWS EDITOR
Vice Mayor Suzanne Atwell may not be an avid golfer, but that hasn’t stopped her from teeing off on the status quo at Bobby Jones Golf Course.
At a July 13 budget meeting, Atwell read a strongly worded message regarding the future of the city-owned golf course. The Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee, tasked with researching a path to better management for the course, plans to complete its research toward the end of the year, but Atwell wants to see more immediate results.
She also wants to be clear with her expectations for the course, which she thinks must earn a profit to justify its operation by the city.
“City taxpayers should not subsidize the golfing costs of a clientele, most of whom are not city residents, and where many local golf courses are available to non-members,” Atwell said.
For years, Bobby Jones has drawn criticism for its increased maintenance and capital costs and lack of corresponding rise in revenue. The commission officially formed the golf club study committee in February, assigning seven area residents with the task of researching the best practices for the municipal course, possibly in advance of a formal master planning process.
When budget talks began this summer, Atwell was frustrated with what she saw as unrealistic revenue projections for the course — and the lack of substantive progress from the study committee as the city made its financial plans for the next year. Atwell stressed that she is a big fan of the course and wants to see it succeed, but also wants to make sure it’s operating in the black, either on its own or by a partnership with another entity.
If, by the beginning of 2016, the city has developed no clear plan for the future of Bobby Jones, Atwell suggested a private vendor could be the best option for managing the operations of the club.
“I want the advisory committee to come up with some very creative, responsible decisions that are not on the backs of the taxpayers,” Atwell said.
In addition to the missive from Atwell, the board has been working without its original chairman following John Bondur’s resignation in April. Still, the group is confident that it’s proceeding in the right direction, and plans to consider all options available.
Clarence Rogers, the new chairman of the committee, said it was too early to comment on Atwell’s comments regarding the best management structure for the course. Still, in the five months the committee has been operational, the group has heard first-hand accounts that municipal courses can still run efficiently.
“We've certainly received information from folks who have testified from other venues that it certainly is and has been the case in other places,” Rogers said. “We know it can be done.”
In addition to the capital and infrastructure improvements the course has needed for years, Bobby Jones is also suffering from an increased amount of competition from other local courses. With some public courses offering lower rates than the municipal club — and well-equipped private courses opening up their facilities to the public to generate more revenue — Bobby Jones needs to create its own niche in the market.
“The business of golf these days is very tough,” Rogers said. “You have to consider all aspects of competition. That's reflected in the pricing and the amenities and so on.”
At the golf club study committee’s July 23 meeting, the board began a dialogue with one potential partner to help reshape the future of Bobby Jones: Visit Sarasota County. Virginia Haley, the tourism group’s president, agreed that despite the popularity of recreational golf in the region, the municipal course needed to first develop its own distinct identify before tourism funding and marketing could enter the equation.
“I think you have to create that unique proposition,” Haley said.
PROPOSED CITY BUDGET KEEPS TAX RATE FLAT
TUESDAY, JULY 14, 2015
BY ZAC ANDERSON
SARASOTA — Boosting city commissioner’s salaries, privatizing the city-owned Bobby Jones Golf Club and deferring payments on a troubled new lift station were among the financial issues discussed Monday at a Sarasota City Commission budget workshop.
…[Vice Mayor Suzanne] Atwell was much less pleased with the budget proposed for Bobby Jones, which she slammed for continuing to run deficits. In a prepared statement Atwell noted that the golf course has relied on taxpayers to cover deficits totaling $1.3 million over the last six years.
“City taxpayers should not subsidize the golfing costs” for Bobby Jones patrons, Atwell wrote.
If a viable plan for balancing Bobby Jones budget does not materialize by Jan. 1, Atwell said the city “should consider leasing the facilities to a private operator."
Other commissioners expressed concerns about Bobby Jones but there was no formal action taken Monday.
SPECIAL CITY COMMISSION MEETING
MONDAY, JULY 13, 2015
CITY OF SARASOTA
Vice Mayor Suzanne Atwell's prepared comments:
“Over the past six years, the Bobby Jones Golf course has run deficits totaling $1.3 Million dollars, $400,000 last year alone, as a result of declining numbers of rounds with resulting revenue losses coupled with expenditure increases. We’re in a course this year for another deficit, optimistically projected at about $100,000.
“During these years, the staff has projected unrealistically high revenue estimates, same for golf rounds and cart rentals, which are not realized, and hence the deficits. This is the real ball game here.
“We have a situation here right now in which the Friends of Bobby Jones [Golf Club] has lost confidence in the staff’s financial management, and where the Friends do not appear to be working well with the advisory committee appointed by us.
“What I fear is that we now are getting a dysfunctional situation in which Bobby Jones may be spiraling out of control, with as yet no plan for dealing with the vast capital needs. Year after year, the City Commission has kicked the can down the road (I take a lot of responsibility for that) while not insisting until the appointment of the advisory committee with the need for long-range planning, including how to pay for it.
“I give staff credit for keeping this going. And, and I understand it. I was part of it for all these years. But it’s not sustainable anymore.
“I think a good starting principle which should guide the planning and implementation is that city taxpayers should not subsidize the golfing costs of a clientele, most of whom are not City residents, and where many local golf courses are available to non-members, albeit at prices somewhat higher than those at Bobby Jones.
“So what to do? This is just my thinking, my forecast.
“[No. 1:] Ask the advisory committee for an interim report within a month. I don’t want to wait ‘til December…if it’s possible. It’s just my view. And that report should include but not [be] limited to how to pay for capital requirements.
“[No. 2:] The advisory committee should be asked to work with the Friends of Bobby Jones [Golf Club] on these reports.
“[No. 3:] Reduce the staff estimates of revenue for $2.85 Mil to $2.6 Million which is still, still higher than just under $2 Million last year and probably optimistic staff estimate for this year for $2.6. Perhaps Mr. Lege could refine these estimates. My quarrel at this point is not with expenditures but with revenue.
“The result of the above would be a deficit of about $150,000 assuming staff recommendations for expenditures.
“No. 4: The Friends of Bobby Jones [Golf Club] perhaps should be asked to cover the deficit, whatever it turns out to be, in the interests of a Public Private Partnership.
“No. 5: If there’s no viable plan that we can see by January 1, 2016, the City Manager and all of us should consider perhaps leasing the facility to a private operator under conditions that would allow for profitability.
“These are my concerns.”
City Commissioners' additional comments:
“One final recommendation is that we look into what it would cost from a staff funding perspective to help assist with the funding of a master plan for the Bobby Jones Golf course. We’ve been talking about it for years, and that’s been a recommendation that’s come from both the advisory side and the Friends side, and looking at how much that might cost even as a portion of an investment going forward. That’s going to be the first step in us getting Bobby Jones back to its glory days.”
- City Commissioner Shellie Freeland Eddie
“I really would like to look at how we can perhaps sit at the table with the County on their Master Plan for Parks. They’ve hired a consultant to come in and do a master plan for Parks and Rec. Can we, and I’m just throwing this out there, I know we talk about what want to do with Parks and Rec and whether we go with a parks district and whatever, but can we sit at the table and would that reflect the money that we’re going to put into a consultant, can we do it that way, I’d just like to know if that’s an option to have place there, and make this a regional consolidation of Parks.”
- City of Sarasota Vice Mayor Suzanne Atwell
“I would like to see a status report from the Bobby Jones Committee. I would like to know where they’re standing on it. On the other issues I’d want to defer judgment about Bobby Jones but I would like to know if they are making progress, what direction they’re heading for, to. I would just like to know where they stand, because we haven’t heard from them since the previous Chair left.”
- City Commissioner Susan Chapman
SANTARELLI WINS SARASOTA MEN'S CITY GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
SUNDAY, MAY 3, 2015
BY JIM BROCKMAN
SARASOTA — Antione Santarelli blazed through the final round of the Sarasota Men’s City Golf Championship with a 3-under-par 69 on Sunday to claim the crown at the tournament held annually at the Bobby Jones Golf Club.
Santarelli, 21, finished the tournament, which began with the first two rounds of play last weekend, with an 8-under total of 280.
Santarelli, who currently trains at the Missing Link Golf Academy at Lakewood Ranch, finished seven strokes ahead of 55-year-old longtime Sarasota resident K.C. Fox.
Tononari Fukyama, 21, who is in his second year of training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, took third place after a disappointing round of 74 on Sunday. The former resident of Okinawa, Japan, was eight strokes back with an even-par 288 for 72 holes.
“It is always great to win,” Santarelli said. “I took it as a personal challenge.
“I knew I was playing good, so I had a feeling it was going to be a great day. I just went out and tried to play as well as I could.”
Santarelli seized the lead with a tournament-best 67 in the second round and never relinquished the top spot.
Fox trimmed Santarelli’s lead to two strokes following a Saturday-best 68 in the third round.
“I thought his course management was really good,” Fox said after playing in the same foursome with Santarelli on Sunday. “He got in trouble on No. 7 and got a double bogey. But he came back to make some putts, some six- and eight-footers for par. That’s what you’ve got to do.
“We had to chase him a lot. It’s a lot harder to chase than stay in the lead.”
Santarelli believes he played even better during the first weekend of the event played on the British Course at the 45-hole municipal facility that first opened in 1927.
“Last weekend I putted really well,” he said. “I didn’t putt as well this weekend, but I was still hitting it good. My putter wasn’t as kind this weekend.”
Santarelli, originally from Corsica, plans to play in a U.S. Open prequalifier at TPC at Prestancia in Sarasota later this month.
It was the second runner-up finish at the Sarasota City Championship for Fox in the 15 years he has played in the tournament.
“The golf course was set up much more difficult today,” Fox said. “It was playing long. They used every inch of this golf course. I have never seen it like this.”
Sarasota resident Brandon Johnson shot a final-round 73 to finish fourth with a one-over total of 289.
There was a three-way tie for fifth place between Mike Calomeris, Michael Butler and Ray Wenck at 292.
Two-time defending champion Phil Walters, who also won the crown in 2008, finished with a 76 to wind up with a 7-over par 295.
David Perna won the first flight championship with a total of 296. Matt Berube (299) won the second flight and the third flight title was a tie between Jeff Haire and Ken Kigongo at 320.
Richard Baran won the fourth flight at 319 and Al Anderson won the fifth flight at 337.
SARASOTA'S FIRST MAYOR LIVED AND BREATHED GOLF
SUNDAY, MAY 3, 2015
BY JEFF LAHURD
When John Hamilton Gillespie was 8 years old, his grandfather gave him a set of McEvan and Philip golf clubs. This was about 1860, those long ago days when golf was a man's game and clubs, or sticks, were handcrafted and bore names like niblick, lofter, mashie, midiron and cique.
(Gillespie recalled that a magazine article in 1867 addressed the issue of women on the golf course: “As for his wife, she must amuse herself as best she can; she cannot even accompany him in his game as a spectator, the presence of ladies being by no means regarded with favor...”)
From the day of his grandfather's gift forward, the Scot who is considered the Father of Sarasota never put the clubs down. In fact, he made a name for himself throughout Florida as the “Golfing Mayor,” an ambassador for the sport when few people in this country had even heard of it.
When his father, Sir John Gillespie, bid him to go to Florida and rekindle the failed Scot Colony in Sarasota for the Florida Mortgage and Investment Co., his clubs were in tow. To keep his game sharp and his passion for it alive, he roughed out a two-hole practice area near the site of today's post office building on Ringling Boulevard. That was in 1886, a year or so after the town of “Sara Sota” had been platted.
The Sarasota Times called him “perhaps the most ardent of golfers... (who) spends many hours every day in the winter season practicing difficult hazards and making famous shots.” The paper also noted that “his judgment is the criterion to which all disputes are taken for settlement.”
Colonist Alex Browning recounted coming upon Gillespie practicing his game. Gillespie asked the young man if he had ever played. When Browning replied that he had not, Gillespie said to him, “Mon, y're missin' half ye life.”
Gillespie was a large, good-spirited man with a ready smile who made the success of Sarasota his life's work.
To that end, he began a building campaign that saw the completion of the dock at the end of Main Street, the construction of the DeSoto Hotel at Main Street and Palm Avenue and two rusticated block buildings, one at Five Points the other on Gulf Stream Avenue. He also was involved in beautifying the downtown area and laying tracks for a minor railway line from Braidentown, derided as the Slow and Wobbly during its short lifetime. Later he would help establish the Church of the Redeemer.
In 1902, when a legitimate train line announced its intention to come to Sarasota, the citizens of the small community held a meeting at the pier and voted to incorporate as a town. Gillespie was the obvious choice to become its first mayor.
The importance of golf to the success of a community seeking newcomers was obvious to Gillespie. He noted, “It was not until Bellaire became famous as a golf course that Tampa wakened up to its responsibilities and now what a change we do find.”
Gillespie traveled throughout Florida developing golf courses and forever extolling the benefits of golf to the communities that supported it.
According to Historian Karl Grismer, in 1905 Gillespie laid out the first 9-hole course in Sarasota.
Gillespie's manservant and friend, Leonard Reid, recalled in a Herald-Tribune article how he was invited by Gillespie to walk with him through the palmettos and brush. They walked for miles as Gillespie sketched what would become Sarasota's first golf course.
Reid remembered that 50 men grubbed the palmettos and set up the fairways, which were only 30 to 40 feet wide. He stated, “That's why the colonel was so good. He'd always win his match because he could shoot straight. Colonel Gillespie only took a half a swing and the other men always could outhit him. But they would end up in the woods while the Colonel got in the hole.”
The first hole of his course went east from Links Avenue toward today's Sarasota County Terrace Building.
The second was further east, the third near today's Ringling Shopping Center and the fourth near Tuttle Avenue. The course then took a dog leg to the fifth, and the rest of the holes all headed back west, with the ninth hole directly in front of Gillespie's house, Golf Hall.
Writing under the name “The Colonel,” Gillespie was a regular contributor to “New York Golf” and “The Golfers Magazine.”
The local realization that Gillespie's pitch that golf could be a tourist magnet was amply demonstrated after Gillespie's clubhouse burned down in in 1915 and the course fell into disrepair. A town meeting to decide how to remedy the situation revealed how much golf had been embraced by the community.
The Sarasota Times wrote: “A golf-less tourist resort in Florida is in much the same class as a production of Hamlet with the star character left out.” Siesta Key developer Harry Higel chimed in, “The tourists will not come to Sarasota because every town in Florida is getting golf links.” Property owner Joseph M. Downey from Chicago added that it would be no use building a good tourist hotel without a golf course.
On the morning of Sept. 7, 1923, Gillespie left Golf Hall to give instructions to his workers, and as he was returning he collapsed on the links. He was carried home, where he passed away.
The Sarasota Times eulogized him: “The Colonel was a great man. His passing leaves us lonely, mournful, and filled with grief.”
In the grip of their loss, the townspeople promised that a bronze statue of the Golfing Mayor would be cast, and both a life mask and a full-length body mold were made. But the passage of time seemed to have diminished the sentiment and the project was forgotten. When the new Municipal Golf Course was dedicated in 1927, it was not to Gillespie but to golf's great amateur, Bobby Jones.
BOBBY JONES COMMITTEE PITCHES VISION FOR FUTURE
IN AMBITIOUSLY EXAMINING THE COURSE'S PROBLEMS, THE BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB STUDY COMMITTEE HOPES TO DISCOVER A REALISTIC SOLUTION
APRIL 23, 2015
BY DAVID CONWAY, NEWS EDITOR
SARASOTA – After a whirlwind — and occasionally tumultuous — first two months, the city’s Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee is finally getting its bearings and preparing to take a big swing at the challenge it’s facing.
The city established the committee late last year to help create a long-term plan for the golf course, which is facing structural issues and ran up an operating deficit of more than $100,000 each of the past two years. The goal, commissioners said, was to review various options for improving the facility and to gauge the financial viability of those options. At some point after that, they said, a full master plan might be developed.
When the City Commission appointed seven members to the board in February, commissioners praised candidates for having reasonable and realistic outlooks on the future of the course — driving home that cost would be a driving factor in any eventual improvements.
To familiarize itself with the subject matter, the group held seven meetings in its first five weeks, all of which were more than two hours long. The most intensive was a site visit held in February, a crash course on the operations and infrastructure at Bobby Jones.
Over those first five weeks, they became acutely aware of many of the problems facing the course — most of which have been raised in past studies, but which have been difficult to address financially.
“Excellent drainage and efficient, reliable irrigation are really necessary,” committee member Norm Dumaine said. “Bobby Jones is crying out for that. The very structure of the course — the way the banks are built up the canal — really forms a kind dish that drops water into Bobby Jones.”
At the March 16 City Commission meeting, the committee provided an update on its early work to the commission. To do its job right, compiling the report would take 3,000 to 4,000 hours, the group said. That meant not only maintaining a busy schedule, but also working until the end of the year to compile a report rather than the initial summer deadline.
At that meeting, the commission gave its blessing to the committee to extend the timeline.
However, at an April 7 committee meeting, city administration informed the board that it could not commit the staff hours needed to that work schedule. Although most board members were fine with scaling back, Chairman John Bondur was not — and so he tendered his resignation immediately.
“I understand the approach,” Bondur said at his final meeting. “I don’t agree with it, and I think it’s unfortunate that there’s an unwillingness from whomever the parties may be.”
Still, the board is charging forward. Now that it’s identified obstacles to address, the group is focused on gathering more public input and developing a work plan for completing its directive. At a meeting earlier this month, members of the committee took one last preliminary look at the big picture, sharing their personal visions for the future of the facility.
On April 2, the Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee gave its members a chance to offer their outlook on improving the course.
There are so many golf courses in this area, even within five miles of Bobby Jones, that if Bobby Jones can’t somehow create some kind of niche in this market, some kind of thing that makes it really special, I’m not sure in the long run that we would be doing Bobby Jones a great favor if we just simply focus on budget. I think, at some point, you may have to spend a little bit of money to make more money. … It seems to me, over a long period of time, you might accomplish what you can’t do at this very moment.
My vision for Bobby Jones Golf Club starts with a question: How can we effectively create a plan for the future if we don’t face the reality of the present? It starts with the reality of the current condition of all three courses. … It is apparent that the courses and buildings have not been maintained for several years as they should have been, but budget cuts and other policies enacted by past commissions have created the present situation of replacements rather than repairs and regular maintenance. I have never envisioned dramatic changes to either of the 18-hole courses — just do what is needed.
If we don’t deal with the really big issues, making a few changes to greens and tees is going to get us back to square one in two, three, four years. It’s an unfortunate situation. We all were there, took the tour and saw the condition of the property and the dysfunctional nature of the irrigation system and the drainage and the bathrooms and all the problems there. … To think there’s $8 (million) to $10 million to do a whole bunch of work — we all know that’s not there. But to be fiscally responsible, we have to acknowledge maybe minor isn’t the answer, either.
adam schenk takes bobby jones open
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2015
BY Tom Balog
SARASOTA - Adam Schenk seized upon a break that kept the 23-year-old Purdue University graduate alive on the first hole of the Bobby Jones Open three-way playoff to win his second West Florida Golf Tour title Sunday.
Schenk birdied the par-4 No.10 hole with an eight-foot putt to defeat Don Leafstrand and Spence Fulford and take home the $4,000 first place money of the $25,000 tournament at Bobby Jones Golf Club. It wouldn’t have been possible had Schenk’s drive not hit a rock on the fringe of a pond, out of bounds, and caromed back onto the fairway, 33 yards from the pin. “Lucky,” said Schenk, who is from Vincennes, Ind. “I swung a little too hard and I pulled it and it was heading for the water and I figured it was in. But it apparently hit the rocks and kicked out. I got it up-and-down to win. “I was lucky enough to roll it over the front edge - last roll,” Schenk said.
“He hit it in the middle of a lake and ended up winning the golf tournament,” said Christian Martin, the tournament director and head golf pro at Bobby Jones. “It hit the rocks and came back. He got the break of his life.” “If I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Christian Bartolacci, the president and director of the West Florida Tour.
Schenk, Leafstrand and Fulford each finished the 36 holes of regulation tied at 11-under par 133. “I’ve actually been on the unlucky side of things,” Schenk said. “The biggest one was the round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills. I was in a playoff, 21st hole. I was 10 feet for birdie and the guy was I don’t know, 50 yards for birdie, and he made it against me. So it’s nice to have it come back my way once.” The first-round leader, Samuel Chavez, who shot 8-under par 64 Saturday, fizzled with a 2-over 74 Sunday. Michael Visacki (68-68) of Sarasota and Adam Hogue (67-69) of Lakewood Ranch ended tied for fourth at 8-under 136.
“Just couldn’t make any putts coming down the stretch,” said Visacki, who watched a few roll in and out. “I had a couple ‘burnouts,’ ‘lipouts,’ almost like 360s. You make those, I’m right there.” Thirty-five of the tournament’s 115 entrants (93 pros and 22 amateurs) broke par.
This event completes the second year of a five-year contract that the West Florida Golf Tour has with the City of Sarasota to stage an event at Bobby Jones. Bartolacci expects the Bobby Jones Open to continue indefinitely.
CITY OF SARASOTA COMMISSION RECAP
FEBRUARY 2, 2015
MILES LARSEN, CITY OF SARASOTA
A look back at the Regular City Commission Meeting of February 2, 2015. The Commission went to Board appointments, and there was one to take care of: The Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee. The Commission appointed the following members to that Committee: John Bondur, Jay Logan, Millie Small, Clarence Rogers, [Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club Charter Friend] Rich Kyllonen, [Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club Trustee and Treasurer] Dan Smith and Norman Dumaine.
DECEMBER 18, 2014
PAUL CARAGIULO, CITY OF SARASOTA
City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo sits down with Shawn Pierson, the President of Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club to discuss the past, present and future of our very own municipal golf course.
Sarasota City Commissioners Identify Top Legislative Priorities
November 4, 2014
BY CLAIRE ARONSON
SARASOTA - On Monday, the city commissioners also approved the formation of an ad hoc committee to address improvements to the Bobby Jones Golf Course, 1000 Circus Blvd., Sarasota, to remedy deterioration. The Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee would be made up of at least five citizen volunteers. Appointments to the committee will be made at the commissioner's first meeting in January and applications to be on the committee be accepted later this month
At the meeting, Commissioner Suzanne Atwell asked that the committee's members be residents of the City of Sarasota and if there are not qualified people within the city, then could look outside the city into Sarasota and Manatee counties. The other commissioners approved the clarification.
"I think everyone is in agreement that the city is to retain control of the operation," Commissioner Paul Caragiulo said.
Sarasota resident Millie Small told the commissioners on Monday, "Let's keep it simple and do what needs to be done."
Sarasota resident Norman Dumaine said an ad hoc committee should be formed.
"I want it to become the best municipal golf course that it can be," Dumaine said. "We are all invested in the success of Bobby Jones (Golf Course)."
Sarasota may form committee for Bobby Jones golf course
Saturday, November 1, 2014
By Ian Cummings
SARASOTA – A committee for improvements at the Bobby Jones Golf Club may be appointed next month, if the City Commission creates it on Monday.
The Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Committee would be asked to look into, among other things, reports of deteriorating conditions at the public golf course. Advocates have long pushed for more investment in the golf club, and a consultant’s report recently caused a stir at City Hall by calling the the practice facilities “substandard.”
The City Commission responded by drawing up plans for a golf course committee, but shied away from giving the group power to create a master plan. The group would have wide latitude to make recommendations on capital improvements, fees, and management, but city commissioners made clear in October that they wanted advice on fixing bridges and irrigation systems.
City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo, once a competitive golfer, played at Bobby Jones in his youth and still does occasionally. It is obvious to him, he said, that the course is in decline
“It’s not what it was,” Caragiulo said.
Everyone agrees Bobby Jones needs work, but exactly what should be done, and at what cost, is less clear. “I hear all kinds of different things. Different people want different things,” he said.
The city has considered improvements at Bobby Jones before. It hired National Golf Foundation Consulting in 2008, and again in 2014, to study the golf club, built in 1926 off the northeast corner of Fruitville and Beneva roads in Sarasota. Meanwhile, the club has continued to do a higher volume of business than other courses in the area, averaging 135,286 rounds of golf per year. Fees to play an 18-hole round there range from $18 to $49, depending on the season.
Some advocates for the golf course pushed for a master plan to overhaul the golf club. But Vice Mayor Susan Chapman and Mayor Willie Shaw, concerned about talk of “best use” real estate studies and potential threats to the public nature of the golf club, insisted that the committee be narrowly mandated.
The Bobby Jones Study Committee would be composed of five members appointed by the City Commission. They would have to be residents of Sarasota or Manatee counties, though commissioners said they would give preference to city residents.
Shawn Pierson, the president of the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf, urged city commissioners to include people with golf course expertise.
Prospective members could begin submitting applications on Nov. 10, and the committee would be appointed on Nov. 17. The committee would hold public meetings and then present its recommendations to the City Commission in April.
Better Ball Open Signals Revival
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2014
by tom Balog
SARASOTA – Erica Fitzpatrick-Kathy Westlund shot an even-par 72 to take the first-round lead in the low gross category of the Women's Better Ball Open at Bobby Jones Golf Club.
Joyce Gunby-Cynthia Cordova are the low net leaders in the first flight going into Sunday's final round.
Abby Vanderwood-Vicki Dehaai are the low gross leaders in the second flight and they are also tied for low net with Colleen C. Keeler-Ida Remmers.
The tournament, staged by the Bobby Jones Women's Golf Association, replaced the City of Sarasota Women's Championship, which was cancelled after last year due to only 12 players participating.
Keith Miller, the president of the Bobby Jones Women's Golf Association which staged the event, and Christian Martin, the head golf pro at Bobby Jones, the host site, were both happy with the field of 36 golfers.
"It's a small turnout, but considering where we were a year ago, it's very successful," Miller said. "I know that Sue (Martin, Bobby Jones general manager) and Christian and Daniel (Bailey, assistant pro at Bobby Jones) worked really hard with us to get the word out and get everything done."
"Our goal was 40 and we accomplished it," Christian Martin said. "One lady had a detached retina and had to drop out. Somebody had a medical emergency. We had an odd number of teams so we had to cut back. I think we'll easily hit 60 players next year."
Miller said that the event tripled the entry list of the 2013 City Women's Championship despite a conflict with a Greater Sarasota Women's Golf Association event that was also played Saturday, and an Area Council Women's Golf event scheduled for Monday at Plantation Golf & Country Club, that had been rescheduled from last Monday.
"We're all competing for the same players," Miller said. "I think we need to coordinate our tournaments better so we can all support women's golf. I think it's sad when women don't support other women's golf events. We put out a 'save the date' in May for this weekend."
Martin said women like team tournaments better.
"I talked to several ladies throughout the area and it seems to me they all would prefer a team event over an individual event," Martin said. "Because they don't have to carry the burden that way. You got a partner that can pick you up when you're down. To have an individual championship you need a lot of ladies that are single-digit handicappers. Although there are some very good ladies in the area, it's hard to get them all together at the same time with everybody's busy schedule. So a team event works much, much better for the ladies."
Half of the proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Florida Suncoast affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
"The good thing is the money stays here in the area, which we think is important," Miller said. "We have a lot of (breast cancer) survivors in our association. Right now we have a member that is up north battling breast cancer. So tomorrow we're going to all try to wear pink, so we can send her a picture."
Commissioners hash out details of Bobby Jones committee
October 7, 2014
By David Conway
Although the future look of Bobby Jones Golf Club is still in question, the Sarasota City Commission affirmed its interest in maintaining the course as an affordable municipal attraction for residents at a meeting Monday.
The commission worked on defining the scope and parameters of an ad-hoc advisory committee that will help guide the future of Bobby Jones. Commissioners unanimously voted to create the ad-hoc committee following a September workshop and commission meeting, but there was some tension between the resolution presented by City Attorney Robert Fournier and the vision that some commissioners had.
Rather than simply tasking that group with developing a request for proposals for upgrades at Bobby Jones, commissioners expressed a desire to make the ad-hoc committee a forum by which the community at large could express its vision for the future of the golf club. Vice Mayor Susan Chapman said she was worried the committee could be overpowered by voices interested in a particular vision for the golf club — such as the Friends of Bobby Jones [Golf Club] who advocate restoring the club's historic Donald Ross course.
“We need to make sure that, whatever we do, there are public meetings and an opportunity to bring clear public input without skewing the outcome,” Chapman said.
In addition to the scope of the work, commissioners discussed the selection process for members of the Bobby Jones committee. The commission ultimately indicated an interest in fielding applications and favoring city residents in the selection process, although expertise in the field was a leading priority for some commissioners.
The ad-hoc committee will be tasked with outlining the possible options for maintaining or upgrading the facility to the commission, making recommendations for the future growth and management of the golf club. The commission will continue its discussion regarding the makeup and purview of the committee at its next meeting.
City wants tighter focus on golf course review
October 7, 2014
By IAN CUMMINGS
SARASOTA – A committee for improvements at the Bobby Jones Golf Club may be created with a sharply limited mandate, according to the wishes of city commissioners on Monday.
The City Commission, after determining last month to act on reports of deteriorating facilities at the public golf course, shied away from a resolution calling for a Bobby Jones Golf Club Master Plan Committee. The committee would have been tasked with a broad review of the golf club's operations, and could have been charged with making a contract for a sweeping master plan.
Instead, the commissioners discussed creating an ad hoc board of citizens and golf experts to consider golf course improvements such as irrigation fixes and bridge repairs. A consultant recently caused a stir at City Hall by reporting that the club's practice facility was substandard, the practice range was too short, and that the golf club needed a long-term strategy.
But on Monday, Vice Mayor Susan Chapman and other commissioners said tentative outlines for a Master Plan Committee, drawn up by city staff, went too far. A draft resolution called for the committee to review “best use” real estate studies, changes to club management, and a market analysis.
“These are things that start to have a wiggle room that is sort of scary,” Chapman said. She said such a broad mandate could threaten the public nature of the golf club, and the city's priority should be maintaining reasonable fees, accessibility for the public, and preserving green space.
Mayor Willie Shaw even worried about somehow losing the golf course. “I'd hate, one day, to see some great hotel have it's own private golf course here at the expense of taxpayers,” Shaw said.
The city has considered improvements at Bobby Jones before. The city hired National Golf Foundation Consulting in 2008, and again in 2014, to study the golf club, built in 1926 off the northeast corner of Fruitville and Beneva roads in Sarasota. Meanwhile, the club has continued to do a higher volume of business than other courses in the area, averaging 135,286 rounds of golf per year. Fees to play an 18-hole round there range from $18 to $49, depending on the season.
On Monday, commissioners had difficulty articulating what they wanted to see happen at Bobby Jones. Shawn Pierson, the president of the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf [Club], urged city commissioners to include people with golf course expertise in whatever committee they create.
City commissioners asked city staff to return at a later meeting with plans for an ad hoc group that could begin recommending some improvements to the golf course and answer basic questions. “How much is this going to cost us?” asked Commissioner Shannon Snyder. “It should not be that difficult. Other communities have done this.”
If the City Commission votes to create the ad hoc group, members of the public may apply to serve on it. City commissioners said they will likely give priority to city residents.
GOLF CLUB IS TEED UP FOR CITY
October 6, 2014
BOBBY JONES: City Attorney has prepared options for the board’s consideration
By IAN CUMMINGS
SARASOTA – A committee responsible for the future of the Bobby Jones Golf Club may begin to take shape today with a vote by the City Commission.
The ad hoc group, the Bobby Jones Golf Club Master Plan Committee, will be tasked with charting a course for the maintenance and development of the golf course, including improvements some club members have been seeking for years.
Commissioners decided to form the committee last month, after hearing a report from the National Golf Foundation that said the practice facility at Bobby Jones was substandard, the practice range is too short, and that the club needed a long-term strategy. Local golfer Paul Azinger, a former pro and 1987 PGA Player of the Year, told commissioners that he’s heard the course dismissed as a “goat ranch,” because of its disrepair.
The commissioners will likely discuss how to select people for the master plan committee. City Attorney Bob Fournier said the resolution he will give to the commissioners will not be final but will include alternatives that must be narrowed down.
“This is an opportunity for the commissioners to be more specific about what they want,” Fournier said. “Sometime’s it’s easier to have a discussion if you have options in front of you.”
The commissioners could require members of the committee to be city residents, or accept residents of Sarasota and Manatee counties. The commissioners may also set a deadline for a plan.
The committee will be asked to review the club’s finances and market position, and consider the golf course’s design and possible changes to the club’s management and fee structure.
The committee will first be asked to create a request for proposals to solicit contracts for a master plan, but also might later be charged with selecting a contract for a master plan.
The committee will be required to operate according to the Sunshine Law, Fournier said, and members of the committee would be disqualified from bidding on contracts.
The meeting will not be the first time the city has considered improvements at Bobby Jones. For years, the city-owned golf course, built in 1926 off the northeast corner of Fruitville and Beneva roads, has been the subject of studies and criticism. Nevertheless, the club has continued to do a high volume of business, averaging 135,286 rounds of golf per yea for the last 19 years.
That is more, club staff said, than any other course in the area. Fees to play an 18-hole round at Bobby Jones are relatively economical, ranging from a high of $49 in the winter months to $18 in the summer.
In recent years, annual figures have declined from a high of 143,066 rounds in 2007 to 102,283 rounds in 2013. Financially, the course broke even in 2013, according to city staff.
Teeing off at Bobby Jones
Private sector could help restore public course
Friday, September 19, 2014
After years of criticism, complaints and consultations, the Sarasota City Commission took an important step toward renovating historic Bobby Jones Golf Club.
At the urging of Paul Azinger, a Sarasota native and 12-time winner on the PGA tour, the commission on Monday unanimously agreed to appoint a committee to create a long-term plan for the city-owned course.
The main objective for the committee will be to determine what the golf club needs to, as Azinger put it, “bring it up to standards.” What those needs will cost and how to pay for them will the next questions.
The club's flaws - from a dilapidated clubhouse to a course worn by time and the traffic of more than 100,000 players a year - have been cited for years by players and consultants. Needed improvements have been placed on hold to see what the City Commission would do.
Monday's action starts the ball rolling.
The commission's decision follows a recommendation in January by National Golf Foundation consultants for a “comprehensive master plan” to “help establish how municipal golf fits into the City's overall recreation.” The plan, they said, should include proposed improvements to Bobby Jones' facilities, operations and marketing.
The big picture
“We have to figure out what the whole big picture is, what we need to do, what should we do and how can we do it?” said Commissioner Paul Caragiulo, the chief proponent of the master plan.
“The bigger question,” he added, “is whether the city should be in the golf business and in what capacity?”
The city has been in the golf business since 1925, when the original 18-hole course was designed by famed course architect Donald Ross. The club was named for legendary golfer Bobby Jones, who personally dedicated the facility in 1927. Nine more holes were added in 1952 and another nine in 1967. A nine-hole "executive course" was completed in 1977.
Bobby Jones' courses have been played by such golf stars as Walter Hagen, Tommy Armour, Gene Sarazen and Babe Didrikson Zaharias as well as baseball legend Babe Ruth. Azinger played there as a boy, and in 1980 shot a 62 to set the club's British Course record (there's an American Course, too).
Besides its rich history, the Bobby Jones club has been a successful business. It's self-supporting despite a fee structure that is among the lowest in the region, and hasn't needed a subsidy from the city in decades.
Christian Martin, assistant manager and head golf professional, told the Herald-Tribune's Tom Balog that Bobby Jones is the busiest public or private course in the area.
But all that traffic takes a toll. Like any business, Bobby Jones Golf Club needs periodic renovations not only to revitalize course and other facilities but to adapt to today's golfing market.
While the costs have yet to be determined, restoring or replacing the clubhouse alone would run into the millions of dollars.
That's too much for the club to afford through fees and other revenues, even with reasonable increases.
The city - already struggling to fund basic services plus pension costs - might not be able to shoulder all of the added expense either, though some money for clubhouse renovation was raised through county's added "penny tax."
A friend in need
Consequently, the private sector - current players, former patrons of the club, and anyone who sees the value in a municipal course accessible at reasonable costs to young and old alike - will probably need to chip in.
A local group, the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, that has pushed for the commission to take action, is a likely resource for private fundraising.
Azinger appears ready to help. "I'm 100 percent behind whatever it takes,” he told the City Commission. “I put my hat in the ring now, to see that this facility has a legacy that will last forever.”
That's the type of support - from the golfing community and the city - that will help keep Bobby Jones Golf Club part of Sarasota's history for years to come.
Commission moves toward Bobby Jones master plan
September 16, 2014
By David Conway
The Sarasota City Commission, capitalizing on the presence of a local golf icon, committed itself to developing a new plan to guide the future of Bobby Jones Golf Club at a meeting Monday.
Still, the bold vision endorsed by several individuals in attendance was tempered with pragmatic concerns, most notably questions surrounding the cost of revitalizing the aging facility.
The commission unanimously directed staff to draft a resolution that would create an ad-hoc committee regarding a master plan for Bobby Jones. The precise details of the committee are still to be finalized, but commissioners indicated that the citizen board would help determine the scope of such a document, which would then be written by an outside agency.
The board took up the topic following a Sept. 3 workshop about the Bobby Jones Golf Club. A 2014 study by the National Golf Foundation said the city is in need of a comprehensive plan for managing the future of the course, and the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club has created a four-part vision to improve the facility and grow the game locally.
One of those initiatives is named after Paul Azinger, a Sarasota High School graduate who played at Bobby Jones before going on to success as a professional golfer. Azinger appeared at Monday’s meeting, urging commissioners to capitalize on the chance to improve the facility.
Azinger said that, although the current state of the golf club is suboptimal, it has the potential to become a serious draw. He pointed to Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, which like Bobby Jones features a course designed by Donald Ross, and which hosted this year’s U.S. Open tournament following a 2011 renovation.
Were the city willing to address some of the problems that plague the course — drainage issues, aging infrastructure — several speakers said Bobby Jones could become a significant attraction.
“Every golf course gets old, not unlike cars or houses,” Azinger said. “There comes a time when you just have to have a facelift.”
Although the commission moved toward the creation of a citizen committee to help guide the master planning process, some commissioners encouraged a more cautious approach when considering the possible improvements. Commissioners Shannon Snyder and Susan Chapman both emphasized that cost would be an issue for the city, with Chapman expressing concern that pro-golf interests could take the master plan in a direction the city could not afford.
“I'm really reluctant to go to the ad-hoc committee point of view, because we do have such strong passionate interest groups for whom it seems cost is no object,” Chapman said. “For us, cost is an object, and we're going to have a financing plan for whatever we do.”
Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown said the eventual master plan would offer a variety of options for commissioners to pick and chose from depending on budgetary constraints and the will of the board.
Shawn Pierson, president of Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, said he was encouraged by the commission’s action, and that he hoped that the eventual master planning process would allow for broad citizen input.
“What it does is it allows for the widest possible community input,” Pierson said about the potential ad-hoc committee. “They’ll all be able to come and offer their experience and vision.”
City hears plea to restore Bobby Jones Golf Course
Monday, September 15, 2014
By Tom Balog
After Paul Azinger told the Sarasota City Commission that a friend told him the deteriorating Bobby Jones Golf Club is becoming as a “goat ranch,” commissioners unanimously agreed to appoint an ad hoc committee to develop a long-term plan for the historic course.
Commissioner Paul Caragiulo, who made the motion Monday night for a resolution charging the committee with crafting a course plan, said he would like to see it in place by July 2015.
Azinger, who played the course as a teenager at Sarasota High School, went on to become a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour. The 1987 PGA Player of the Year said he welcomes the opportunity to have input into the process.
“My hope is that Bobby Jones will get the facelift that it needs,” said Azinger, who lives in Bradenton. “It's truly a 'diamond in the rough' for us. I'm 100 percent behind whatever it takes. I put my hat in the ring now, to see that this facility has a legacy that will last forever. There is so much potential for it to be a destination location. We can draw people from all over the world to play this facility — if it's up to standards.”
Azinger told the commissioners that some of America's most famous courses, such as Augusta National and Pinehurst, in North Carolina, routinely require facelifts.
“It just has to happen,” Azinger said. “It's time for this facility to raise its bar a little bit.”
He told the commission that hearing his friend, Rich Kyllonen, refer to it as a “goat ranch” is “such a shame.”
He said he would favor tearing down and rebuilding the clubhouse.
“If that's what they decide, then I'm behind it,” Azinger said. “I'm going to lobby for a re-do of the clubhouse and everything.”
There are skeptics that have seen, as Commissioner Suzanne Atwell noted, the topic of restoring Bobby Jones being kicked down the road all too often.
“I'm hesitantly optimistic,” said Kerry Kirschner, a former city commissioner who spoke to the commission about the need for updating the facility.
But money will be the issue. Commissioners Susan Chapman and Shannon Snyder acknowledged that the commission will wrestle with how much it can afford to spend on Bobby Jones.
Twice over the past six years, the city hired National Golf Foundation Consulting — in 2008 and again in 2014 — to conduct a thorough review of the Bobby Jones Golf Club, built in 1926 off the northeast corner of Fruitville and Beneva roads in Sarasota.
The review came back with a report of a dire need for upgrades after examining the operations, management, marketing and physical condition of the Bobby Jones Golf Complex, which includes 36 championship holes, 18 named the British course and 18 holes the American course, along with a smaller, nine-hole executive length (par 30) course.
The National Golf Foundation determined in 2008 that the aging clubhouse has “poor curb appeal” and “a number of design issues that contribute to operational inefficiencies as well as lost revenue opportunities.”
The parking lot also is not appealing, and the locker rooms are not well-utilized, the report said.
In 2014, NGF said the golf operation had improved considerably, but that the city needs to formulate a “comprehensive master plan” to “help establish how municipal golf fits into the City's overall recreation offering,” including “prioritizing capital needs . . . improving some of the operational technology and marketing at the facility.”
Befitting an aging structure, earlier this year the city spent $80,199 to repair plumbing in the clubhouse and rent temporary restrooms for a four-month period, starting from December, during the peak of the tourist season.
Funding has been approved to replace a bridge on the 15th hole of the American course.
But those were just “Band-Aids” that don't address the long-range future for the complex.
“The facility is in desperate need of some type of master long-term plan,” said Caragiulo. “We have to figure out what the whole big picture is, what we need to do, what should we do and how can we do it? The bigger question is whether the city should be in the golf business and in what capacity?”
The city budget for the coming fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
“This timing is perfect to make this assessment,” Caragiulo said.
The National Golf Foundation report also stated that the practice facility was substandard, the lowest quality in the area and the practice range is too short.
Nonetheless, Bobby Jones does a substantial amount of business, especially in the winter months.
Christian Martin, assistant manager and head golf professional at Bobby Jones for four and half years, said the course is the busiest public or private course in the area, mainly because of its economical fee structure, which ranges from a high of $49.00 for an 18-hole round in the winter months to $18 in the summer.
Bobby Jones has averaged 135,286 rounds of golf per year for the last 19 years.
“We do significantly more rounds than the Meadows, which has three 18-hole courses, and Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club, which also had three 18-hole courses, just to name a couple,” Martin said. “We try to be something for everybody. That's the role of a municipal golf course.”
But the annual figures have declined from a high of 143,066 rounds in 2007 to 102,283 rounds in 2013.
With two weeks left in the 2014 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, Bobby Jones has totaled 101,095 rounds of golf.
Martin said that in the high season months of January, February and March, the course operated at capacity during the week, with 550 rounds played per day.
In those three months, Bobby Jones took in $298,708, $450,326 and $436,773. In 2013, those three months totaled $330,000, $389,551 and $395,309. In 2012, the figures were $329,168, $435,872; and $278,062.
Operating revenue at Bobby Jones was $2,382,372 in 2013, $2,701,294 in 2012, $2,663,769 in 2011 and $2,628,088 in 2010, according to the city's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
However, the course broke even in 2013, according to Sue Martin, the general manager of Bobby Jones.
The city did make a cost-saving move by contracting with an outside maintenance company to care for the course, at $1.4 million per year.
BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB: $25 MILLION CASH COW
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2014
BY TOM BALOG
City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo stated that Bobby Jones Golf Club has brought in more than $25 million in revenue to the City of Sarasota over the last 10 years, estimating there might have been one million rounds of golf played there.
“You're talking about a place - $25 million going through there - it's a busy facility,” Caragiulo said. “But revenue almost always equals expenses.”
Its maintenance contract costs $1.4 million a year, meaning that $1.1 million per year from Bobby Jones is funneled to the city coffers, after expenses, each year. Except when emergencies arise.
“We had a fund balance, but administrative costs (at Bobby Jones) deplete funds out of there,” Caragiulo said.
That's because the course's infrastructure is antiquated and repairs have cut into that profit figure recently.
“The facility is in desperate need of some type of master long-term plan,” Caragiulo said. “We have to figure out what the whole big picture is, what we need to do, what should we do and how can we do it? The bigger question is whether the city should be in the golf business and in what capacity?”
The city budget for the coming fiscal year starts Oct.1.
“This timing is perfect to make this assessment,” Caragiulo said.
Azinger to address City Commission
Saturday, September 13, 2014
By Tom Balog
Paul Azinger will address the City of Sarasota Commission meeting on Monday night in support of the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, a non-profit organization with initiatives that it hopes the city will ultimately adopt to address the future of the historic municipal course.
Azinger, who grew up playing at Bobby Jones where he once won the City Men's championship, has taken an active role in the push for improvements there since being approached by Shawn Pierson, the president of the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, a year and a half ago.
Pierson said Monday is the night that Azinger, for whom the street leading into Bobby Jones, Azinger Way, has been named after, chose to make himself available to speak to the City Commission. “He doesn't have any script from us,” Pierson said. “We want the City Commission to be introduced to Paul Azinger in a more formal way.”
The Friends of Bobby Jones hope that Azinger, a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour who was the captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2008, will have some influence on how the City Commission prioritizes the facility.
“I haven't talked to Paul about what he wants to say,” Pierson said. “He has a pretty clear idea of what he thinks Bobby Jones is to him, its place in his development and his career. His is one of those stories of a kid who wasn't introduced to golf through membership in a country club, but through public high school education and a municipal course."
“The course he played is not the course it is today.”
Pierson said the city was forced to spend nearly $100,000 last winter to construct temporary outdoor restrooms while repairs were being made to plumbing in the clubhouse at Bobby Jones Golf Club.
“That's one example of money spent on a way you wish you didn't have to,” Pierson said. “We're being forced into a corner of management by crisis and it's time to turn that around and manage in accordance with a plan. We 're spending money on a facility (clubhouse) we've already determined we want to demolish.”
He also pointed out that bridges on the course need replaced.
“We have bridges that are starting to fall apart that cross waterways on the golf course,” Pierson said.
Pierson said the city first hired the National Golf Foundation in 2008 and again in 2014 to make recommendations to upgrade Bobby Jones Golf Club, but no action has been taken by the city to develop a comprehensive master plan to move forward.
He also pointed out that the Bobby Jones Advisory Board has been disbanded due to budget constraints.
“There hasn't been very much opportunity for the City Commission to have a discussion among themselves about the future of Bobby Jones Golf Club and about what all their experts and consultants agree is a requirement for reinvestment in the infrastructure,” Pierson said. “They are all in agreement it needs attention and that kind of attention can only come at the commission level.”
Friends of Bobby Jones draws its vision from the club’s past
April 3, 2014
By David Conway
To Shawn Pierson, the first hole of Bobby Jones Golf Club represents both the untapped potential and the improper management of the course.
Photographs from the 1920s capture legends such as Babe Ruth and Bobby Jones hitting off the tee box of that first hole. Pierson, founder of the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, wants the city to build on that historic legacy to attract more people to the course.
Today, however, the land where that first tee box sat is in front of the clubhouse, right next to a rack where golfers can leave their bags. Nearby, the cart shack sits atop a segment of the original first fairway.
Pierson views these additions as missteps that could have been avoided if there were an overarching vision for the future of the course.
“We’re negating our city culture when we’re building new facilities needlessly on top of historic facilities,” Pierson said. “Coming from a career in historic preservation, that is a historic preservation don’t.”
The Friends of Bobby Jones [Golf Club], formed last March on Jones’ birthday, is placing a priority on creating that sort of a vision for the club. More than a year into the group’s efforts — with more than 40 supporters of the golf club on board — it has developed a four-part strategy for the future of the facility. Pierson believes the group already has made an impact on the way the city runs the golf club, but that there’s room for even more improvement.
Pierson’s work began more than two years ago, when he joined the city’s Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection Board as the “Bobby Jones seat.” That position was the consolidation of the nine-member Bobby Jones Golf Course Advisory Board, which folded in 2011 due to budgetary issues.
As a result of the decreased advisory focus on Bobby Jones, Pierson believes, there was a communication breakdown between the golf course staff and city administration. Pierson asked Bobby Jones employees why they had not yet gone to the city to ask for changes recommended in a 2008 study, and they’d tell him it was because the city hadn’t asked them about it. When he went to city commissioners to ask why they hadn’t gone forward with those changes, he received a similar response.
“They’d say, ‘Well, because our staff isn’t recommending this,’” Pierson said. “There was a missing conversation.”
Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club is focused on filling the gaps in that conversation. Already, the city has begun to move in the direction envisioned by Friends of Bobby Jones [Golf Club]. Public Works Director Doug Jeffcoat, who Pierson said only visited the course a couple of times a year before 2013, has established a more regular presence at Bobby Jones, meeting with golfers and hosting a public forum to discuss the development of a long-term strategic plan.
Bobby Jones Golf Club Manager Sue Martin said the club has already implemented some recommendations from the Friends of Bobby Jones, such as tying the history of the course to discounts offered to golfers. The long-term goals of Friends of Bobby Jones [Golf Club] are playing into the city’s work toward a master plan for the course, too.
“Many of the recommendations have long-range impacts and are being considered as part of the strategic plan process currently underway,” Martin said.
Although the long-range planning is still in its preliminary stages, funding will be an issue as the group’s plans move from conception to reality. Pierson is confident the city will be dedicated to enhancing the course.
The club has taken in just about as much revenue as it costs to operate over the past three years. Pierson believes smartly upgrading the facilities can produce both decreased maintenance costs and increased revenues; he’d like the city to reduce the overall amount of green space while improving the more essential elements of the course.
Certain upgrades — a new clubhouse, new greens and a new irrigation and drainage system — are necessary to keep the course functioning, Pierson said. Above all, Friends of Bobby Jones [Golf Club] sets out to guide the city as it implements those improvements so that — unlike in the past — more thoughtful consideration is given to the overall final product.
“We have this wonderful history of relevance and national import in golf, and we sort of let that go,” Pierson said.
COURSE WORK Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club has developed four initiatives designed to guide the future of the municipal facility.
• The Jones Initiative — Named after Bobby Jones; designed to create a master plan and strategic vision for the park.
• The Ross Initiative — Named after course designer Donald Ross; designed to preserve the historic aspects of the park.
• The Azinger Initiative — Named after professional golfer and Sarasota High School graduate Paul Azinger; designed to create a more challenging course out of the 18 holes added in 1952 and 1967.
• The Gillespie Initiative — Named after John Hamilton Gillespie, Sarasota’s first mayor; designed to grow the game, add training facilities and promote youth participation.
Overhaul proposed for Bobby Jones GC
January 29, 2014
By Mark Cardon
A promising strategic plan was discussed at the public meeting at the Bobby Jones Golf Club Tuesday night but many golfers in attendance had immediate issues.
A presentation by Shawn Pierson, President of Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, Inc., outlined an impressive plan for a new and improved complex, including a learning center and driving range where the Gillespie Executive Course is located and renovation and renaming of the British and American championship courses that sit on a 291-acre site near Fruitville and Beneva Roads in Sarasota.
If the City of Sarasota approves the massive overhaul, the two current courses will be renovated and renamed the Donald Ross Course, in honor of the legendary original designer, and the Paul Azinger course, in honor of 2008 Ryder Cup Captain and 12-time winner on the PGA Tour.
Azinger, who now lives in Bradenton, was raised in Sarasota and graduated from Sarasota High School. Years ago, Azinger Way, the entrance to Bobby Jones, was named in his honor.
There hasn’t been a renovation of this magnitude at Bobby Jones since Andy Anderson redesigned the complex in 1967.
General manager Sue Martin said the City of Sarasota would have to approve the project and timeline could be as long as five years.
Sarasota public works director Doug Jeffcoat opened the meeting and told the room full of interested golfers and friends of Bobby Jones that none of the proposals had been presented to the City of Sarasota Commissioners - officially. He said the purpose of the meeting was to get the input from the community.
Pierson believes the City of Sarasota needs to make the improvements if it expects Bobby Jones to survive. In the past decade, many semi-private clubs in the area have closed their doors for economic reasons.
However, some of the concerns of the golfers in attendance centered on the on-going plumbing problems of the men’s clubhouse rest room and the archaic irrigation system on the courses.
According to Martin, those problems rank the highest on her agenda.
For complete information on the proposals by the Friends of Bobby Jones, visit www.FriendsofBobbyJonesGolfClub.org.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Dunlap qualifies
Saturday, November 23, 2013
By Mark Cardon
Scott Dunlap has found yet another tour to play on in 2014.
The former Sarasotan, who started playing golf 42 years ago, qualified for the 2014 Champions Tour Saturday.
He won one of the final two fully-exempt spots in a Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament playoff at TPC Scottsdale, Ariz.
Five exemptions were available at the start of the four-day tournament and three were decided Friday. But Dunlap bogeyed the last hole Friday and found himself in a five-way playoff for the final two positions.
The last two fully-exempt spots, as well as several conditionally-exempt positions, were decided in playoffs on Saturday morning. Dunlap, who now lives in Duluth, Ga., and Jeff Hart (Solona Beach, Calif.), secured the fourth and fifth positions after both made pars on the first playoff hole.
Dunlap, who played most of his junior golf at Bobby Jones Golf Club, graduated from Sarasota High School and was an All-American at the University of Florida.
He turned pro in 1985, has won tournaments in six countries and has played on the PGA Tour and the Web.com Tour.
Greg Bruckner (Phoenix, Ariz.) earned the sixth position with a par on the third extra hole while Willie Wood (Edmond, Okla.) secured the seventh spot after making a bogey on the third playoff hole.
Doug Garwood (Stevenson Ranch, Calif.), who three-putted the final green on Friday to make bogey and drop back into the five-way playoff, ended up eighth after hitting his drive out of bounds and making double-bogey on the second playoff hole.
Several other conditional spots were decided on the first playoff hole when Mark Mouland (Kenilworth, England) made a par for the ninth position, Ben Bates (Pensacola, Fla.) made a bogey for the 10th spot and Jeff Coston (Blaine, Wash.) got the 11th position after making a double-bogey when his drive landed out of bounds.
Anders Forsbrand (Ponte Vedra Beach) did not participate in the playoff as a result of a partial exemption in 2014 from finishing 44th on the 2013 money list.
The remaining players who finished among the top 30 this week will be eligible to compete for spots in open qualifiers at all co-sponsored events on the Champions Tour in 2014.
Golfer Bobby Jones was Sarasota's star
September 22, 2013
By JEFF LaHURD Correspondent
SARASOTA - The Roaring 20s was a singular era, freewheeling in so many ways — from Jazz music, to the Charleston dance, to bootleg whiskey, to a skyrocketing stock market and the frenetic Florida land boom.
In addition to that unbridled merriment, the 1920s is also considered the Golden Age of Sport.
Jack Dempsey, the menacing Manassa Mauler, was fearsome in the boxing ring. The mighty Babe Ruth (the Bambino) redefined baseball with his tape-measure home runs. The elusive Red Grange (the Galloping Ghost) was running riot on the football field. Graceful Bill Tilden was master of tennis.
And a handsome young gentleman named Robert Tyre Jones II was the amateur king of the links.
“Bobby” to his legion of fans, was the undisputed amateur golf champion. His 13 major championship victories rank him still, over 80 years after he retired from the sport in 1930, as one of the greatest golfers of all time. He capped his stellar career by winning all four major golfing championships in a single year, earning the Sullivan Gold Medal as the country's outstanding amateur athlete.
He was 25 when he returned to Sarasota in 1927 to dedicate the municipal golf course which would bear his name.
Jones and Sarasota were a natural match. The community took pride in claiming to be the birthplace of golf in America, although it turned out that they were not, although in 1886 John Hamilton Gillespie may have smacked the first ball in America here. And the importance of golf to the city's future had been recognized in the Sarasota Times, which declared “a golf-less tourist resort in Florida is in much the same class as a production of Hamlet with the star character left out.”
For his part, Jones was the quintessential sportsman; self-effacing and polite, his temper a thing of the past. He was known to penalize himself for a foul whether it was seen by others or not. The Sarasota Herald proclaimed: “After 10 years he has placed his name among the immortals of American sports as one of the finest, cleanest and most attractive figures this country has produced.”
The paper reminded that as an amateur he “derives nothing but joy of the sport.”
Match of the Century
Sarasota's claim to Bobby was deeper than his connection to the new golf course bearing his name, and indeed, the city did stake a claim, conferring on him the equivalent of hometown status and giving the city, however tenuous, bragging rights to him as one of its own. Jones sold property for the Atlanta-based Adair Realty Company in Whitfield Estates and played regularly on the Donald Ross-designed Whitfield Estates golf course. He was “Sarasota's star.”
Although as an amateur Jones could not accept cash, for his appearance at the Bobby Jones Golf Course dedication he was presented with a new Pierce Arrow, one of the finest cars of the day. Affixed to the front grill in large silver script was written “Sarasota.”
His play that windy February day netted him a 38 out and a 35 in with the Herald reporting that he “played his prettiest golf on the short thirteen. He was on in one and with his putter, Calamity Jane, sank a 20-foot putt for a birdie two.”
While Jones dedication of the Bobby Jones Golf Course is fairly well remembered here, it was his match against professional star “Sir Walter” Hagen, the best match player of his day, that was more important to the sporting world — the best amateur pitted against the best professional.
The 1926 contest was tagged the “Match of the Century,” a 72-hole event with 36 to be played at the Whitfield Country Club course and the remainder at the Pasadena course in St. Petersburg. Both matches were well attended and nationally reported, ending with Jones being trounced by Hagen, “the greatest money player that walks a golf course.”
Even though Jones “putter possessed it's magic” and some of his “tee shots were splendid” the irons let him down and he lost. It was this loss that may have altered history, for if Jones had won, it has been conjectured he might have turned pro.
According to Shawn Pierson, President of the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, “Had Jones prevailed against Hagen and decided to turn pro, Jones would never have gone on to win the 1930 Grand Slam, a feat that required winning the United States Amateur and British Amateur along with the countries' two Open championships in the same year.”
When Sarasota's adopted son retired from the sport he dominated, it was headline news in the Sarasota Herald: BOBBY JONES QUITS GOLF WAR, adding “Jones, having no more worlds to conquer in the royal and ancient sport, made known his decision...” He was only 28 years old and as the Herald colorfully put it “stands astride the golf world like the Colossus of Rhoades.”
He signed a contract with Warner Brothers motion picture company to make a dozen one-reel films “purely educational in character,” demonstrating all facets of golf. They can be viewed today on YouTube.
Jones went on to practice law in Atlanta and helped establish the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament there. In 1948, he contracted syringomyelia, a brutally painful disease that destroys sensory and motor nerves, leaving him in constant pain for the remainder of his life.
In a 1958 Saturday Evening Post interview he remarked rather heroically, “I will tell you privately it's not going to get better, it's going to get worse all the time, but don't fret. Remember 'we play the ball where it lies'. And now let's not talk about this ever again.”
He died on Dec. 18, 1971.
Susan Martin has been promoted to Manager of Bobby Jones Golf Course, replacing Ray Grady
JULY 10, 2008
Sarasota, FL: Susan Martin has been promoted to Manager of Bobby Jones Golf Course, replacing Ray Grady who resigned this week. “I’m excited and looking forward to getting to know the golfers here at Bobby Jones,” said Sue Martin, Bobby Jones Golf Course Manager. “It’s a wonderful facility. I look forward to working with the employees and moving the golf course forward.” Martin has been employed by the City of Sarasota since 2005 as the Manager of Recreation and Sports. Her duties have focused on the smooth operation of Ed Smith Stadium and the Skate Park.
Bobby Jones is the 45-hole municipal facility operated by the City of Sarasota. The course opened with 36 holes in 1927, and another nine hole course was added in 1977. Bobby Jones Golf Club has received 1st place Readers Choice Awards from the Herald Tribune for Best Public/Semi-Private Golf Course eleven times in the past twelve years.
Sarasota Golf Complex Work Under Fire
April 22, 1992
By SALLY B. KESTIN Staff Writer
The city of Sarasota wasted $1.8 million on a botched renovation of the municipal Bobby Jones Golf Complex, according to three of the city commissioners.
"We just got taken to the cleaners," Commissioner Nora Patterson said Tuesday of the renovation of the American Course, completed in 1988. She said the project was "badly done" and a waste of money.
Mayor Jack Gurney said the greens and tees on the course still need work.
“The layout is basically screwy,” he said. “You’ve got fairways crossing fairways. It was not a successful renovation.”
Commissioner David Merrill called the project “a total financial disaster.”
The commission voted 3-1 Monday, with Merrill dissenting, to look at alternatives for operating the golf complex, which has lost money since the renovation.
Deputy City Manager Peter Schneider said Tuesday that the city learned after the project was finished that greens and irrigation system hadn’t been properly constructed.
Schneider said he did not know how the problems occurred.
Schneider, whose duties include overseeing the golf complex, said he arrived in March 1988 after most of the work had been completed. At the time, “there was no reason for me to believe there was anything wrong,” he said.
The city attorney looked into whether a claim could be filed against Prince Contracting, the private contractor that did the job, but “concluded we did not have a basis to proceed with a claim,” Schneider said. “There was not sufficient evidence to go after them.”
No one from Prince Contracting could be reached Tuesday evening.
Legends Had Tee Times at Bobby Jones GC
July 4, 1990
BOBBY JONES GC
Tee Times For Legends, Even Jones
By CHRIS ANDERSON Staff Writer
In 1926, golf course architect Donald Ross had a field of dreams.
If you build it, they will come.
Far-fetched? Maybe not. With a vision from Ross, the Bobby Jones Golf Course was built on city property in Sarasota. And they came in droves. From Walter Hagen to Babe Ruth, from Tommy Armour to Dizzy Dean, celebrities and golfing enthusiasts alike lined up to play the Augusta National of its time.
And yes, the course’s namesake - Bobby Jones – played there too.
Very few people who play at the Bobby Jones Golf Complex today are aware that Jones stalked the same fairways some 60 years ago. Even the general manager of the complex, Ray Grady, wasn’t so sure himself. But a call from ABC Sports producer Frank Hannigan before this year’s Chrysler Cup tournament prompted an inquiry.
“They called about three weeks before,” Grady said. “He (Hannigan) said, ‘I understand there’s a lot of heritage connected with your course.’ Verbally, I heard Jones had played out here, but I’d never seen it in fact. I said I’d check up on it.”
Then came a long shot stroke of luck. It turned out Grady’s wife, Sue, works with the former Melody Johnston (now Melodoy Pulikowski). Upon her husband’s insistence, Sue Grady asked Pulikowski if she was any relation to Everett Johnston. Pulikowski said yes and that Everett Johnston was her grandfather.
Everett Johnston had been general manager at the old Bobby Jones course, a job he started in 1926, even before the course was completed. Through the years, Johnston had kept a scrapbook detailing the events of the course. The book was passed to his son, Francis (who, at 18, legally changed his name to Everett) Johnston of Sarasota, Melody’s father.
“My mom passed it down to me and told me to take care of it,” Everett Johnston said.
Grady asked to see the memoirs. What he saw astonished him.
“I called (ABC) back and told them I’ve substantiated Bobby Jones was here,” Grady said, “A lot of people didn’t know for sure.”
ABC later ran a brief feature on Bobby Jones and the course during this year’s Chrysler Cup.
One of the articles in the scrapbook was from the Sarasota Herald, dated Feb. 13, 1927. The account was as follows:
“Sarasota’s Bobby Jones Golf Course was officially dedicated Sunday afternoon when Bobby himself cut the strands of red, white and blue ribbons that barred the first tee and amid the cheers led by Jules Brazil drive the first ball of the day straight and true down the first fairway.”
There are now 36 holes at the Bobby Jones golf course: 18 on the American course and 18 on the British course. Each nine is named after the golf courses where Jones won golf’s Grand Slam in 1930. The American has Merion (front) and Interlachen (back) and the British has St. Andrews (front) and Hoylake (back).
The original 18 were made up of the Hoylake and Interlachen nines. St. Andrews was added in 1952 and Merion in 1967.
On the day before the course’s dedication in 1927, however, it was rumored that the course was still without a name. Some felt it should be named in honor of Col. J. Hamilton Gillespie, Sarasota’s first mayor.
(It has been documented that Gillespie may have been the first person to play golf in the United States. Gillespie arrived in Sarasota from Scotland in 1885. It is said one of the first things he did upon arrival was play golf.
Gillespie, who died playing the game on Sept. 7, 1923, is credited with introducing golf to Florida. Gillespie originally built a few golf holes in 1886 in downtown Sarasota, not far from where the present main Post Office building sits.
The USGA recognizes St. Andrews in Yonkers, N.Y., as the birthplace of golf in the United States. The St. Andrews club was built in 1888. But even noted columnist of his day, Joe Williams of the New York World Telegram, supported Sarasota’s claim to having the first golf course in the U.S.
“The Sarasota Golf Club preceded the Yonkers by two years,” wrote Williams on March 21, 1935.)
The executive layout at the Bobby Jones complex today, which was opened in 1977, is named in Gillespie’s honor.
At a party on the eve of the course’s opening in 1927, it was suggested and agreed that Bobby Jones would be the namesake. Jones’ name was alluring and after all, he was the opening guest of honor. Jones was in the midst of an eight-year reign as golf’s premier player, in which he would win 13 of the 21 major championships from 1923 through 1930.
For participating in the course’s opening, Jones – an amateur throughout his career – was presented a Pierce Arrow automobile. Jones partook in a stroke-play match with Louis Lancaster as his partner. Watts Gunn and Jim Senter were the opponents.
Gunn placed second in the National Amateur in 1926, a tournament won by Jones. Lancaster was the President of the West Coast Golf League, and Senter was the low man on the Sarasota city league team.
A crowd of 1,500 attended the match, watching its competitors play in high winds. Jones and Lancaster won the match by eight shots. Jones shot 73 (38-35) for the round and Gunn came in with a 75 (38-37).
From that day, the course’s reputation spread high, far and wide. “Your municipal golf course is without a doubt one of the finest in the United States,” J.H. Wier, appointed by President Calvin Coolidge to make a survey of the country’s municipalities, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The greens fees at the course, which has always been owned and operated by the city, was 75 cents when it opened. They are now $6 in the summer and $11 in the winter.
Many of golf’s great names have played the course. So have a host of baseball players. Even some that have plaques in Cooperstown.
In 1931, Bob Burke, Lloyd Brown and Roy Spencer of the Washington Senators played every during the winter. Ted McGraw, a National League umpire, was also a member. In 1932, Donie Bush, manager of the Chicago White Sox in 1930-31, joined.
The best-rated amateur of the club in ’32 was E.G. Braxton, who played for the Milwaukee Amateur Baseball Club.
In 1933, the club held a baseball players’ tournament. Among the participants were Dusty Rhodes of the Boston Red Sox and Dizzy Dean and Jimmy Wilson of the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 1935, Don Newburn won the City Championship at the course, beating Paul Waner of the Pirates and Wes Farrell of the Red Sox.
Even Babe Ruth himself played the course. Johnston said at one time he had a photo of the Bambino in his collection.
Ruth also was a friend of Jones. Ruth appeared in a Warner Brothers instructional golf tape with Jones in 1930-31 as part of a series. The critically acclaimed tapes were recently released.
Golfing greats flocked as well. In 1934, George R. Jacobus (then president of the PGA) was named pro at Bobby Jones. From the Sarasota Herald, “Mr. Jacobus is the czar of golf as Judge Landis is to baseball.”
Golfing immortals Tommy Armour, Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen also played the course. Helen Hicks, a Women’s National Open champion, played as well.
There were also several interesting (if not strange) games that were played in the early days.
In 1928, the area caught a glimpse of “Indian golf” in which a team of archers played a team of golfers. For the archers, targets were set up in the middle of the green. They were shot at until the bull’s eye was hit. Low score won the hole.
In 1930, there was an event called a “tombstone tourney.” Each golfer was looted a certain number of strokes. When a player ran out of the allotment of shots, a tombstone was placed on the very spot.
The player that expired the farthest on the course was declared the winner.
Thanks to Donald Ross and Bobby Jones, everyone’s game has improved. If only a little.
Florida State Junior Golf Championship
August 12, 1971
The Evening Independent
SARASOTA– Bobby Jones Golf Club British Course
Last July, Bobby Jones hosted the state junior golf tournament. Only Gary Koch, a Temple Terrace golfer who has played the course frequently, broke par. He had a 213 on a par 216 for 54 holes.
Florida Boys Junior Golf Championship
1970 Bobby Jones Golf Club
Age 16-18 Gary Koch, Sarasota 69-72-72-213
Age 13-15 Bob Prindle III, Lake Park 75-80-77-232
Age 16-18 Gary Koch, Sarasota
Age 13-15 Jim Peeples, Tampa
Age 16-18 Gary Koch, Sarasota
Age 13-15 Bob Dyke, Eau Gallie
Age 16-18 Mike Killian, St. Petersburg
Age 13-15 Gary Koch, Sarasota
“Bogey Man” A Buddy
July 10, 1970
The Evening Independent
SARASOTA– For most of Thursday’s second round in the Florida Junior Golf Championship, St. Petersburg’s Buddy Alexander was in second place. At the end, though, he was deadlocked for the top spot with Gary Koch, the defending champion from Tampa.
Tampa’s Koch bogeyed each of the final two holes on the Bobby Jones Golf Club course and settled for a 69-72-171 total. Alexander’s figures are identical.
Close behind the co-leaders are St. Petersburg’s Pete Wells, whose 71 left him at 142 and John Duggan of Fort Lauderdale. Duggan carded a 72 for the same total.
Struggling home in 75 was first-round leader Jay Rickles of Miami Beach. Rickle’s opening 68 placed him fifth at 143. He’s tied with Miami’s Gene Rucker.
ELMER W. HARBERT, 80, DIES
JUNE 25, 1968
BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER
E. W. HARBERT
Elmer W. “Harb” Harbert, 80, well-known former local golf professional at the Battle Creek and Marywood Country Clubs, died today in Cordele, Ga., from multiple injuries suffered there June 18 in an automobile accident. Harbert and his wife, Gloia, married 62 years, resided in Sarasota, Fla., where he also was former pro at the Bobby Jones Golf Course.
Mrs. Harbert was seriously injured in the accident and a daughter, Mrs. Mercedes Berger of Sarasota, suffered minor injuries. Mr. Harbert was the father of former professional golfer Melvin R. “Chick” Harbert, former local pro who is now vice president of the General Development Corp. of Florida, a real estate firm. “Chick” Harbert, in his active playing days, was a Professional Golf Association (PGA) champion and a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Mr. Harbert was born April 15, 1888, in Union, Ohio, the son of John B. and Lillian Harbert. His initial contact with golf was on his first job with the Dayton Last Works, a firm which manufactured golf shoes, bowling alleys and golf equipment. Mr. Harbert, who started as messenger, worked his way to become a special club maker, earning the reputation being one of the best-known craftsmen in the golf equipment industry. When married in 1906, he was with the Crawford, Mac-Gregor & Camby Golf Co. in Dayton, Ohio. His years in the equipment end of the sport evolved into his becoming an expert in golf course architecture and then as a professional player. He took his first job as a pro 1917 at the Sharon, Pa., Country Club. In 1918, he took over a three-club combination Marion, Huntington and Wabash, Ind. This post he held until 1921 when he and his wife became the pro-manager at the Richmond, Ind., club, positions they held until they came here in 1926.
The elder Mr. Harbert first came to Battle Creek in 1926 to become pro at the Battle Creek Country Club. He stayed there 10 years and then became the pro at Marywood Country Club when his son “Chick” became the pro at the Battle Creek CC. In 1941 “Chick” went into the service and his father returned as the pro at the Bound Over on top of at Herbert, Battle Creek CC a post he held until 1947 when he and his wife moved to Hamilton, Ohio, take over the management the Elks Country Club. They retired in 1948 and moved to Sarasota where they had built a winter home in 1940.
Mr. Harbert had been honored with a life membership in the PGA. He served in several official capacities with the national organization and the Indiana and Michigan PGA groups. Mrs. Harbert was to accompany her husband's body in a flight to Sarasota today by private aircraft. The injured daughter also is accompanying her mother. Son “Chick” flew from Miami to assist in the arrangements. Also surviving is another son, Virgil, of Sarasota. Funeral Services are incomplete pending transfer of the body to Florida.
Gillespie Tournament Deadline Drawing Near
July 12, 1964
Sarasota’s second annual Gillespie invitational golf tournament promises to be oversold well ahead of Tuesday night’s deadline for registration, it was announced by Pat Hall, golf pro at Bobby Jones.
Contestant spots are set up for 432 golfers in the two-day meet at Bobby Jones next weekend. As of Friday morning, only 18 of these places were left.
Publicity chairman Gil Waters reported that the affair is being received with great interest by the national golf press and will be covered by area television. U.S. Golfers and Golf Life have already requested stories on the two-day men’s open.
The tourney gets underway Saturday morning with a simultaneous shotgun start. Pairings will be announced later this week. Golfers will play either Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.
Sunday afternoon is being reserved should a playoff be required.
Scoring will be by the Calloway system. Prizes are being awarded by W. T. Robarts, tournament sponsor, who annually sets up the event in honor of J. Hamilton Gillespie, who brought modern golf to America when he established the first two-hole course here in Sarasota in 1896.
In addition to the 13 trophies, Marble Head Corporation, in cooperation with Hall, is setting up five additional prizes. A set of their marble insert Rocknocker drivers will go to the low gross winner in the championship flight and four Marblehead putters will go to other flight winners.
Registration forms are available at Maas Brother, Robarts Funeral Home and Bobby Jones.
Gillespie Golf Gets 300 Entries
July 9, 1964
St. Petersburg Times
Some 300 entries have been received for the second annual Gillespie Golf Tournament July 18-19, according to pro Pat Hall of the host Bobby Jones Golf Club.
Only 420 entries will be accepted through the beginning of next week, Hall said.
PAIRING forms are in the pro shop at Bobby Jones, Maas Brothers, and Robarts Funeral Home.
Thirteen trophies will be presented by sponsor W.T. (Willie) Robarts.
Hall announced that low gross winner in the championship flight will take home a set of Sarasota-made Marblehead woods, while four Marblehead putters will go to the top man in each flight.
THERE WILL BE a shotgun start, with scoring by Callaway system. Registration fee is $1 and there is no green fee.
A SARASOTA glimpse at bob jones
Negroes Play Golf At Bobby Jones Course
February 12, 1959
Four Negroes - Robert Thomas, Colbert Davis, Eddie Rainey, Sr., and Eddie Lewis - played golf at city-owned Bobby Jones Golf Club Wednesday afternoon.
Rainey said after they completed play - 16 holes - that "we couldn't have been treated better."
Thomas contacted City Manager Ken Thompson about playing at Bobby Jones on Tuesday. Thompson told Thomas:
"The City has no right to deny your playing."
Thompson reported Thomas said that his group “didn’t want to cause any trouble; would be unobstrusive; didn’t care to use clubhouse facilities, wasn’t trying to strike a blow for integration – we just would like to play golf.”
Thomas said that he and the others all had “grown up in Sarasota as caddies at Bobby Jones. They used to let us play then. In order for us to play golf now we must drive to Tampa. The course there isn’t in good condition and the expense of the trip makes it difficult.”
Thomas and Rainey indicated that they hoped to play when it was convenient. All said they planned to take advantage of the reduced rates which are in effect each day after 3:30 p.m.
Club Manager Harry Schaefer was notified by Thompson that the Negroes might appear at the course Wednesday and Schaefer met the golfers and outlined rules and regulations of the Club.
Pleasant weather helped bring our more than 300 players for the day and no incidents were reported. Mrs. Gladys Haenggi, for many years hostess at the municipal club, said that Negroes tried to play at Bobby Jones soon after World War II – “1946 or ’47 and I ran them off.”
Prior to World War II caddies were given permission to play on certain afternoons after most of the golfers had left the course, Mrs. Haenggi recalled.
Negroes are known to be permitted to play on public courses in Florida at Pensacola and Miami.
Negro Golfers Play Sarasota City Course
February 12, 1959
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
SARASOTA– Four Newtown Negroes played golf at city-owned Bobby Jones Golf Course yesterday afternoon. There were no incidents.
The event came as no surprise to city officials since the four had announced their intentions to City Manager Kenneth Thompson Tuesday.
The four who played were Eddie Lewis, Colbert Davis, Robert Rainey Sr. and Robert Thomas, all of Sarasota. Thomas said he was 32. The others did not give their ages.
They appeared about 3:30 p.m., registered at the pro shop and played the course quietly among several parties of white men and women.
Club manager Harry Schaefer had been informed of their intentions, and Thompson said Schaefer had been under instructions for about six months to admit Negroes if they appeared.
Thompson said, “They told me they wanted to play golf and they were told the city has no right to deny them the right. They said this was not an integration move.”
Thompson quoted the Negroes as saying they would make no disturbance and would not attempt to use the clubhouse. The City Manager said as former caddies, they had become accustomed to playing in the late afternoon.
Thompson said the Negroes indicated they would like to continue to play.
Thompson said he believes the Negroes “exercised wisdom” in talking to him.
They told a reporter they had all caddied at the course when they were young, and that they often were allowed to play a few holes in the afternoon when the fairways weren’t crowded.
“We aren’t trying to drive an integration wedge here,” Thomas said. “All we want to do is play golf.”
Thomas said the closet Negro course is in Tampa, 40 miles north. He added it isn’t in very good condition.
The four said they probably would play again when they found time off from their jobs. One is a barber, another works in a grocery store and another in a filling station. Occupation of the fourth man was not learned.
E. W. HARBERT TO CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY
JULY 1, 1956
BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER
COUPLE MARRIED 50 YEARS
MR. AND MRS. E. W. HARBERTS TO CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY
THE GOLDEN WEDDING anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Harbert, whose careers as golf pro and club manager for years.
The Harberts were married on July 3, 1906, in Dayton, Ohio, with the Rev. Earl Yingling officiating. The bride was the daughter of Napoleon and Tina Kidwell. She was born July 27, 1888, in Pendleton County, Ky., and when she was 12 years old moved to Dayton with her parents. Mr. Harbert was born April 15, 1888, in Ohio, the son of John B. and Lillian Harbert.
Mr. Harbert first went to work in the Dayton Last Works, manufacturers of shoe lasts, bowling alleys and golf equipment. He was a messenger runner and worked up to be an “expert,” then a “special” club maker, earning the reputation of being one of the best-known craftsmen in the golf equipment industry. At the time of the marriage 50 years ago, Mr. Harbert was with the Crawford, MacGregor & Camby Golf Co. in Dayton. The years spent in the golf equipment field led eventually to his becoming an expert in golf architecture and then a professional, taking his first position as a pro in 1917 with the country club at Sharon, Pa. The next year he took over as pro in a three-club combination in Ind., continuing there until 1921.
It was during that period that Mrs. Harbert took up her career as a golf manager, a career which she carried on for 27 years. The manager at the Marion Country Club disappeared from the job and she was called on to pinch-hit. It was exactly her dish, and so she kept up the work, moving in 1921 to Richmond, Ind., where the couple were taken on for the first time as a team, pro and manager.
Then in 1926 came the move to Battle Creek. They came on March 12 of that year to be pro and manager of the Battle Creek Country Club, under the sponsorship of A. L. Miller and other members including the late Fred Sterling, Louis R. Greusel and Dr. Bobo. The Herberts remained there for 10 years and then went to Marywood Country Club while their younger son, Melvin R. (Chick) Harbert, now of national golf fame, took over at the Battle Creek club.
The couple were at Marywood until Chick went into service in 1941 and then they returned to Battle Creek Country Club, staying until 1947. That year they left to take over at the Elks club in Hamilton, Ohio, and in 1948 they retired. Mr. and Mrs. Harbert went to Sarasota, Fla., to reside in the house they had built there in 1940. It continues as their home, but they come to Battle Creek every summer for a lengthy visit with the Colemans and to renew.
Two weeks ago Mr. Harbert was honored with a life membership in the Professional Golfers' Assn. He served on the first board of that organization, and also was the national chairman of the PGA merchandising committee. He was president of the Indiana Professional Golfers’ Assn. He served on the first board of that organization, and also was the national chairman of the PGA merchandising committee. He was president of the Indiana Professional Golfers; Assn. and during his residence in Michigan he was a member of the Michigan PGA and a delegate from it to the national convention. He also was chairman during the war of the Michigan PGA's rehabilitation committees.
Besides their daughter, Mercedes Coleman, and their son, Chick, the Harberts have another son, Virgil, the oldest in the family. There also are five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Virgil Harbert and his wife, Dorothy, live in Sarasota and they have two sons, both married; Elmer, an engineer living in Louisville, Ky., and Gene, an electronics expert in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Jacksonville, Fla.
Chick and his wife, the former Jean Fagan, are the parents of three girls, Dedra, who is 10, Kathy, nine, and Sarah, two.
The great-grandchildren are Sherry, who is Gene's daughter, and Timothy, who is Elmer's son. Chick is now the pro at the Meadowbrook Country Club at Northville. He his playing in the Michigan State Open Golf Tournament at Lake Orion, and his parents were there on Friday to watch him.
Rawls Winner By Stroke Over Dodd in Sarasota Open
February 27, 1956
St. Petersburg Times
SARASOTA (Special) - Betsy Rawls blew most of her lead but managed to survive a blistering late rally by Betty Dodd and win the Babe Zaharias Cancer Fund Golf Tournament here yesterday. Her 291 for four rounds over the Bobby Jones course here was only one stroke better than the effort of Miss Dodd.
Miss Rawls had a six-stroke lead over Louise Suggs and Miss Dodd as the final round got under way. The leader shot a 77, two over par for the 6,395-yard course but Miss Dodd, shooting some of the best golf of her career, finished with a 72, just one stroke off the final pace.
A 76 by Miss Suggs pushed her into a third place tie with Fay Crocker of Montevideo, Uruguay. The latter turned in a final round 72.
The money spread had the winner. Miss Rawls, Spartanburg, S.C. collecting $900. Playing out of San Antonio, Miss Dodd won $630 whole $495 each went to Miss Suggs, Sea Island, Ga., and Miss Crocker.
Other money winners were: Mickey Wright, San Diego, who shot a 298 total and won $392.50; Joyce Ziske, Waterford, Wis., and Marlene Hagge, Asheville, N.C., both with 298s and winners of $297 apiece.
Low amateur in the Suncoast golf attraction was Wiffi Smith of St. Clair, Mich., with a 298.
The sub-par golf of Miss Rawls started to come apart on the very first hole when her second shot went into a ditch and she had to settle for a double bogey. She also had bogies on the second and third holes.
The challenge started to come from Miss Dodd, who was hitting her shots long and straight ahead of a hot putter. At the 14th hole Miss Dodd went ahead by a stroke.
Miss Rawls, her putting goof all day despite troubles in other departments of her game, dropped a 15-footer for a birdie on the 16th that put her in the lead. She parred the 17th while her nearest opponent was taking a bogey. She also parred the final hole and had just enough of a margin to win as Miss Dodd shot a final birdie.
Mrs. Zaharias, the great champion now recovering at her home in Tampa from illness, was driven down here for the final round and following ceremonies.
She was presented a deed to 20 acres of land in a real estate development here and said she hoped some day to see a cancer hospital or clinic there.
Tears came to Mrs. Zaharias’ eyes when as elderly Negro Charlie Carter, who has caddied for her and many top golfers, came forward with a rumpled paper bag full of dimes, nickels and pennies – contributions of the caddies to the cancer fund.
The low scorers:
Betsy Rawls, Spartanburg, S.C., 73-70-71-77-291 ($900)
Betty Dodd, San Antonio, Texas, 73-75-72-72-292 ($630)
Louise Suggs, Sea Island, Ga., 70-75-75-76-296 ($495)
Fay Crocker, Montevideo, Uruguay, 70-74-80-72-296 ($495)
Mickey Wright, San Diego, Calif., 72-73-76-75-297 ($382.50)
Joyce Ziske, Waterford, Wis., 73-74-77-74-298 ($297)
Marlene Hagge, Asheville, N.C., 72-76-77-73-298 ($297)
x- Wiffi Smith, St, Clair, Wis., 75-74-76-73-298
Mary Lena Faulk, Thomasville, Ga., 74-78-76-73-299 ($225)
Patty Berg, Chicago, 75-73-78-74-300 ($168.75)
Betty Jameson, San Antonio, Texas, 73-76-77-74-300 ($168.75)
Vonnie Colby, Hollywood, Fla., 73-76-78-74-301 ($135)
x- Ruth Jessen, Seattle, Wash., 74-74-73-77-304
Beverly Hanson, Apple Valley, Calif., 71-77-80-77-305 ($112.50)
x- Anne Quast, Marysville, Wash., 75-77-77-77-305
Gloria Fecht, Los Angeles, 76-79-76-77-308 ($103.50)
Alice Bauer, SARASOTA, 75-76-78-79-308 ($90)
Bonnie Randolph, Columbus, Ohio, 74-78-80-73-310
Peggy Kirk, Southern Pines, N.C., 75-76-78-81-310
Betty Bush, West Palm Beach, 76-77-76-79-310
Paul Waner Captures Pageant Golf Tourney
March 3, 1955
Paul Waner captured the Sara de Sota pageant golf tournament at Bobby Jones yesterday when he fired a low gross of 74. Mrs. H. S. Aakree won the women’s division with a low net of 63.
A total of 190 men and 35 women players took part in the event, which pro Lee Pounders said was the biggest entry list for a tourney at the course.
Twenty-eight men and three women won merchandise awards from Pounder’s golf store and will received their awards today by calling at the pro shop at Bobby Jones.
Following is a complete entry list with the scores reported:
H. Moser-74, Jerry Paddock-79, S. M. Veale-73, Leighton Leigh-74, Sy. Mannierre-76, Don Johnson-74, R. A. Wormer-78, George Banks-74, Ernie Cane-76, Bill Rossi-79, Milhe Harris-79, Eddie Hoag-77, Wilhard Nixon-74, Sid Hidson-72, Clara Kershner-74, Arch Venable-78, Carl Smith-76, Don Libby-74, Roy Johnson-75, McDermott-76.
Mrs. Mary Eggler-76, John Gildes-75, Pat Proctor-74, Ray Hubbard-74, W. Puttman-77, E. Price-73, F. Rothe-76, Gordon Meyer-77, Don Grieve-No Card, Paul Waner-71, Mac Henderson-74, T. V. Devine-No Card, J. L. Wentz-No Card, Mrs. Wenty-No Card, Mike Higgins-No Card.
Walt Harrison-73, R. F. LaCombe-70, G. F. Pierce-79, R. C. Cowan-77, Mrs. H. R. Allen-79, H. R. Allen-75, W. Sunday-No Card, Harry Mathews-Non Card, Harry Walker-No Card, L. E. Fetter-75, H. L. Brown-77, Ben Glaser-78, W. I. Pendelton-76, Mark Evenson-No Card, Jim Hayward-75, Bud Lynch-72, Sam B. Fitzsimmons-79, C. W. Rittenberg-76, Mrs. H. C. Aakre-63, H. C. Aakre-75.
M. E. McMurray-75, Tom Murphy-73, J. J. Fee-77, E. S. Pfent-74, Arthur Corbo-77, Herman Arold-No Card, A. L. Brown-No Card, George Mann-No Card, Mickey Mann-No Card, C. J. Heggan-No Card, T. Sullivan-75, Tim Ryan-72, J. Walsh-75, C. Dunlap-76, D. Sullivan-75.
H. Schlegel-74, Pat Carney-76, Bill Price-73, A. L. Lawton-74, Bill Pelzer-76, Dr. J. C. Mercer-No Card, David Mercer-74, Leo Blackloe-78, Dannie Blackloe-76, Clara Blackloe-79, Sharloe-77, E. C. Scott-80, C. C. Patrick-73, G. W. Wade-75, F. W. Tanner-75, Mrs. J. Feirstein-75.
Carl Lemch-75, Lenny Dee-73, Helen Rappaport-76, A. A. Freda-No Card, Frank Lambie-76, Ray Hudson-75, H. J. Carlson-75, Phillip Simpson-74, Bill Tannis-74, P. Perry-76, L. Morey-75, M. D. Kiefer-No Card, M. J. Teekell-No Card, C. Rasmussen-No Card, Irv. Kershner-No Card.
D. E. Wheeler-No Card, J. B. Wise-75, Cam Wilson-75, Luke Grubbs-73, E. V. Catoe-74, W. Dingwell-75, Al. Miller-76, Milt. Cole-73, M. M. Cooper-76, Duke Richardson-75, R. B. Holmes-74, Joe Pace-74, Bill Garrison-74, Stuffy McGinnis-78, Roy Moredock-74, W. Hanson-84.
T. J. Cuddy-80, Nelson Dewey-73, Joe Lynch-70, C. R. Doyle-70, John F. Dempsey-79, Art Hibbard-76, B. F. McCareary-76, H. S. Walters-77, Rusty Harris-71, H. H. Hookway-77, W. F. Cleary-77, Dr. F. C. Bandy-74, Jerry Hern-No Card, H. Rouse-71, Frank McDonald-74, F. O. Rice-73.
H. Basse-77, Mrs. H. Basse-80, Jim Keeben-75, C. J. Brooks-74, L. R. A. Kibbe-75, Glenn Fegley-79, Ray Horton-75, Doc Patton-75, H. Barnes-85, Mrs. Mike Higgens-No Card, Howard Friend-75, Mrs. Howard Friend-75, Morey Chase-No Card, H. I. Hardy-No Card, J. C. Hardy-No Card, Mrs. J. C. Hardy-No Card, George Fosler-71, Buddy Lewis-73.
Fritz Von Grossman-77, John Greerer-76, D. H. Tilson-75, H. E. Underwood-77, C. B. Shafer-73, John Schmitt-77, Mrs. J. V. Esposito-78, Mr. J. V. Esposito-78, Ross Gardner-73, Irene Gardner-78, R. C. Rice-76, H. C. Dishman-77, J. H. Matthews-76, Mrs. J. I. Kelley-77, Mrs. J. I. Kelley-76, Roy Oak-81, Cam Oak-78.
E. McNair-74, Doris McNair-80, Margaret Wise-77, E. H. Wise-77, Mary Jane Jerkins-74, Frances Hoffman-74, Duane Roberts-76, C. Levison-75, H. Greendorger-76, J. M. Flavelle-79, J. H. Owen-77, F. L. Day-77, V. Hosie-73, F. E. Wilson-73.
F. J. Bowers-75, A. P. Beckloft-74, Fred Kroma-77, Kay Pallenberg-75, Suzane Walker-79, J. H. Kruizenga-77, P. H. Kruizenge-80, Dr. W. M. Hale-78, H. B. Babcock-77, J. S. Vanneman-75, C. W. Fuller-78, T. W. Penman-No Card, Bob Kohlmeyer-No Card, Mrs. Harry Simmons-No Card, W. B. Wallett-77.
H. K. Carroll-74, W. Schofield-73, E. T. Blanchard-77, J. Barniker-74, Mrs. J. Barniker-74, A. Schwartz-78, R. Schwartz-84, M. J. Russell-76, Mrs. R. O’Conner-79, L. M. Gerhardt-79, W. D. Angell-77, Al Luggano-78, M. F. Haralson-75, C. C. Williams-74, M. Dawson, Carl Welsh-74.
Paul Morrealle-76, Mrs. Justine Morrealle-74, Paul Poserfo-75, Phillis Poserfo-77, Micke George-75, Mrs. Alma George-75, Bill Palmer-75, Pat DeMichele-73.
NEW TOURNEY RECORD; SUGGS SECOND
February 28, 1955
St. Petersburg Times
Betty Jameson’s 285 Wins Sarasota Open
SARASOTA (AP) – Betty Jameson of San Antonio, Texas, mixed spectacular chipping and steady putting to shoot a 72 yesterday for a total of 285 in winning the 72-hole Sarasota Women’s Open golf tournament by two strokes.
Her 285 is a new women’s tournament record for a men’s par 72 course. Louise Suggs of Sea Island, Ga., holds the record for a par 70 course at 284.
Runner up in the tournament on the 5,282-yard Bobby Jones course, where women’s par is 74, was Miss Suggs. She shot a nifty 70 to close fast and with little more luck on her putting might have caught and passed Miss Jameson.
In third place at 288 was Jackie Pung, playing out of Cincinnati. Her putting gave her trouble, missing three almost sure ones under four feet.
Betty Dodd of San Antonio, Tex., shot a 67 for the day’s best round. It was the best score she ever had for 18 holes of tournament play.
“Isn’t this thrilling?” was Miss Jameson’s shout. She hasn’t won a medal play tournament since the 1953 Miami Beach Open.
Her win yesterday netted her $1000. Miss Suggs got $700 and Mrs. Pung $600.
Miss Jameson played her worst golf on No. 18. She bounded into the rough and had to shoot through some trees to get back into play. Then she muffed a chip – her only bad one of the day – but recovered to stave off Miss. Suggs’ threat.
Betty Jameson, San Antonio, Texas, 71-70-71-73-285 ($1000)
Louise Suggs, Sea Island, Ga., 67-73-75-70-287 ($700)
Jackie Pung, Cincinnati, 71-73-69-75-288 ($600)
Marlene Bauer, SARASOTA, 73-73-73-73-291 ($500)
Betty Hicks, Palm Springs, Calif., 70-74-73-75-292 ($425)
Patty Berg, Chicago, 72-75-72-74-293 ($350)
Joyce Ziske, Waterford, Wis., 73-68-75-79-295 ($310)
Mickey Wright, San Diego, Calif., 73-70-79-73-297 ($250)
x- Pat Lesser, Seattle, 73-72-71-82-297
Mary Lena Faulk, Thomasville, Ga., 74-79-72-73-298 ($187.50)
Betsy Rawls, Spartanburg, S.C., 76-75-72-75-298 ($187.50)
Betty Dodd, San Antonio, Texas, 74-80-79-67-300 ($127.50)
Beverly Hanson, Indio, Calif., 75-78-71-76-300 ($127.50)
Fay Crocker, Montevideo, Uruguay, 75-76-74-76-301 ($71.67)
Marilyn Smith, Wichita, Kan., 72-74-75-80-301 ($71.67)
Betty MacKinnon, Savannah, Ga., 74-77-76-74-301 ($71.67)
Carol Bowman, Oakland, Calif., 71-76-74-81-302
Alice Bauer Hagge, SARASOTA, 76-74-77-75-302
Bettye Danoff, DeMas, Texas, 77-72-73-81-303
Betty Bush, West Palm Beach, 72-80-74-77
Babe Zaharias, Tampa, 79-WD
Wiffi Smith, LeCanada, Calif., 39-40-79-306
Mary Pat Janssen, Charlottesville, Va., 41-39-80-306
Glory Armstrong, Oakland, Calif., 36-39-77-306
Ellen Gery, Reading, Pa., 30-38-78-311
Virginia Denneny, Lake Forest, Ill., 40-42-82-316
Marge Burns, Greensboro, N.C., 45-40-85-325
Wonda Sanchez, Baton Rouge, La., 41-39-80-326
Jenn Hopkins, Cleveland, Ohio, 39-40-79-326
Tippy Roney, Newton Center, Mass., 39-40-79-326
Mrs. Mark McGarry, St. Petersburg, 41-39-80-326
Polly Stone, Greenville, S.C., 44-41-85-326
Maureen Riley, Parkstown Center, Pa., 44-41-85-327
Mrs. Arthur Harrison, Clearwater, 42-40-82-328
Norma Labisky, Columbus, Onio, 46-43-89-330
Mary McCutcheon, Jasper, Ala., 44-45-89-334
Other area players –
Shirley Nelson, SARASOTA, 47-43-90-336
Mickey Gerhardt, SARASOTA, 42-43-85-344
Suggs Shoots Brilliant 67 To Lead Sarasota Tourney
February 25, 1955
Zaharias Quits On Advice Of Doctor
By NICK ROBERTSON
Herald-Tribune Sports Editor
Frankly noting that she “didn’t miss a shot,” Louise Suggs, Sea Island, Ga., gave golf fans plenty to talk about and her fellow competitors something to marvel at and envy yesterday as she toured Bobby Jones Golf Club’s somewhat modified acres in 67 strokes, seven shots better than women’s par.
Rivaling Miss Suggs’ good fortune was the disappointing news that defending champion Babe Zaharias withdrew upon the advice of her doctor.
The fabled Babe – who showed this same Miss Suggs her heels at Sarasota Bay for the past two years in a row – presented a brave, wise-cracking front, but her appearance was rather haggard and worn – something unique for the vigorous athlete who has been in the sporting headlines for almost 25 years. She posted a 79, 12 strokes off the pace.
Miss Suggs, establishing a course record for women at the municipal layout where men’s par for the 6,282 yards is 72, needed 29 putts and on at least three holes she came very close to cutting down this figure.
Runnerup after the first round of activity in the 72-hole fourth annual Sarasota Women’s Open is LPGA Tourney Director Betty Hicks, Palm Springs, Calif. This pert performer recorded her 35-35-70, 10 threesomes ahead of Miss Suggs who was playing in the final group.
Miss Suggs began her round by holing a 10-foot putt for an eagle three on the 410-yard, par five first hole. She backed this up with a 40-foot green tap for a birdie four on the 530-yard, par five second.
Another nudge in one-putt birdie four followed on No. 3, 430 yards, par five. Then came a string of nine straight pars.
At No. 13, part three, 150 yards, Miss Suggs canned an eight-foot putt for a deuce. A par four came on No. 14 with a chip shot missed by less than six inches on the lengthened (by 65 yards) 455-yard 15th and Louise had to settle for a birdie four.
Another deuce resulted in a 10-foot stroke after a four-wood drive o the 190-yard 16th. Two-putt par 4s closed out the 34-33 round as the gallery, estimated at about 1,200 persons, ringed the final greens.
Four shots behind at 71 came pros Carol Bowman, Oakland, Calif.; Betty Jameson, San Antonio, Texas, and Jackie Pung, current leading money winner.
Another bunch is found at 72 including amateur star Pat Lesser, Seattle, who maintained that she “played poorly,” Betty Bush, former Sarasota champion, West Palm Beach; Patty Berg, St. Andrews, Ill., and the personality-plus Kansan, Marilynn Smith from Wichita.
Marlene Has 73
Sarasota’s Marlene Bauer heads a quartet of swingers with 73s. Others are long-hitting Mickey Wright, San Diego; Waterford, Wisconsin’s Joyce Ziske, and amateur Mary Pat Jannsen, Charlottesville, Va.
Four girls are locked at par 74 – amateur Gloria Armstrong, Oakland, and pros Betty Dodd, San Antonio; Betty MacKinnon, Savannah, and Mary Lena Faulk, Thomasville, Ga.
Miss Suggs won a $50 prize donated by Montgomery-Roberts. Low pro round today will win the shooter a like sum from the Sarasota Bank and trust Co.
Tournament Chairman Harry Schaefer announced last night that the low gross shooter in both amateur divisions would also receive special daily $25 gift certificate.
Miss Lesser leads the low handicap amateurs while Sarasota’s own Shirley Nelson shares the upper bracket simon-pure leadership with Kathleen Newton, Euclid, O. Both scored 82s.
George Zaharias, Babe’s husband – a former top-flight heavyweight wrestler, issued the following statement about his wife’s withdrawal:
“Due to complete exhaustion and illness she has been advised by her doctor to withdraw from further tournament play.”
Mrs. Zaharias observed that she was “very sorry to withdraw. I tried my best to compete, I have enjoyed previous good fortune in Sarasota but the ‘doc’ says ‘don’t play.’”
Miss Suggs’ once posted a 65 on a none-hole course while she was an amateur.
Clouds helped keep the sun from making it too hot for the women and the conditions for play were excellent – a reason why the scores were so good.
The Babe Really Plays Golf
By STAN WINDHORN
When Mrs. Babe Zaharias goes out to play golf her deportment becomes more like a noisy shortstop on a baseball diamond than a grim and surly fairway pill chaser.
The Babe operates on the healthy and refreshing theory that the customers come out to be entertained rather than snarled at and she conducts herself accordingly even on such days as yesterday when she was all stove up with the miseries and shooting pretty bum golf.
An Old Pro from way back, Mrs. Zaharias was harboring enough flu germs to flatten a musk ox when she teed off in the Sarasota Women’s Open Tournament.
Although she complained mightily of her interior disorder, the Babe maintained her wit and humor. “Ah’m runnin’ both and cold,” she wailed to the gallery. “Man am I sick.” Her good-humored complaints drew more laughs than sympathy, but at least they attracted the crowds.
The Babe is far and away the easiest figure to spot on the golf course. All the spectator need to do to find her is head for the largest gallery. And once she is found the remainder of the tour is good for a full cargo of laughs as well as an exhibition in flailing a golf ball.
Her maiden voyage around the fairways consisted chiefly of a monologue on the horrors of a full blown flu attack. “Ah’m just so sick ah cain’t move.” She complained after sinking a six foot putt and fetching herself to the sidelines.
“Ah hit that ball with all I got, but it don’t go nowhere,” she complained a few minutes later after lathering a 250 yard drive up a fairway.
Teeing off on No. 6 the Babe put forth her worst effort of the day and laid out a scraggly drive that was both short and well night into the grandstand on the first bas side of the field.
Miss Pippy Rooney, a talented amateur, found that the Babe’s bad example was contagious and she promptly cast her ball into the rough along the left field foul line.
Party In The Rough
“What you got, a bottle of scotch hid over there?” the Babe inquired. “Probably they’re opening a new green over there and they’re going to throw a party.”
The third member of this safari, Pat O’Sullivan, a professional out of Orange, Conn., attached her wood to a ball that went far and true down the center of the fairway.
The Babe looked upon Miss O’Sullivan in good natured disgust. “Yep,” she shouted, “there’s always one in every crowd. Here us girls is just out having fun and somebody has to butt in and louse things up.”
Brief minutes later Miss O’Sullivan would have cheerfully settled for something less phenomenal in the way of a drive. For her approach shot landed in the watery ditch that yawns near the lip of the green.
Mrs. Zaharias joined in lending vocal and physical support to members of the gallery who exerted vain efforts to find the ball. When the search was abandoned the Babe joined in a lusty discussion of the ground rules, as it turned out, the studied opinion rendered by the Babe and Betty Dodd – who approached from another threesome – was dead wrong.
After suitable amends had been made the leg work resumed with Babe complaining of her putting as well as her state of ill health. “That doggoned ball just keeps nibblin’ at that cup,” she moaned. “Man, ah do feel awful.”
She also had harsh things to say about the slowness of the greens. “Just like tryin’ to play on a mattress,” was her observation.
12 Foot Putt
When she dropped a 12-foot putt for a par on the ninth green she emitted a whoop that was closely identified with the authentic rebel war yell. This being for the benefit of the large gallery as much as an expression of exuberance at touring the front round in something less than first feared.
The score for the first nine was 39 – this bring a bit heavy for the Babe. “But,” she shrugged while screaming for a caddy, “it’s better than ah figured to do the way ah feel. Man, but ah do feel awful.”
As the Babe hied herself toward the back nine another female golfer approached and asked – a bit cattily, we thought – “How’d old publicity do?”
“Who?” we asked.
“Old publicity,” she repeated. “I mean the Babe.”
Now it is apparently an accepted fact that the publicity given the Babe causes a mite of green-eyed envy among the lassies of the touring flock, but the girls ought to quit blaming her for attracting all the prose.
The answer to Babe’s popularity is simply Babe. Whereas too many of the ladies give the impression that they bite if approached too closely, the Babe readily babbles cheerfully with all who will listen and even some who won’t.
And besides, she plays golf.
4th Annual Sarasota Women’s Open Gets Underway Today
February 24, 1955
Babe Zaharias May Be Unable To Take Part
One of the finest fields of women golfers ever assembled in the United States will start action today in the fourth annual Sarasota Women’s Open at Bobby Jones Golf Club.
Although unable to receive the key to the city yesterday during a gala street parade honoring the gal linksters, LPGA President Babe Zaharias, winner here for the last two years, is favored to annex the 72-hole test.
Mrs. Zaharias was in bed yesterday with a virus infection but hopes to compete. She won this year’s Tampa Open.
Among the other prime favorites are Fay Crocker, Montevideo, Uruguay, who won at Miami Beach last week; Patty Berg, St. Andrews, Ill., who won at St. Petersburg; Mrs. Jackie Pung, Honolulu, Sea Island, Ga., victor, and Louise Suggs, Atlanta, Ga., who won the first event of the year at Los Angeles.
All these players are members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. There are 24 pros entered in the event.
Leading amateurs due to take part include Pat Lesser, Seattle, Wash.; Ellen Gery, Reading, Pa.; Pippy Rooney, Newton Center, Mass.; Virginia Dennehy, Chicago, Ill.; Marge Burns, Greensboro, N.C.; Jean Hopkins, Cleveland; Greta Leone, Chicago; Wiffi Smith, La Canada, Calif. A total of 34 amateurs are slated to play.
Miss Berg received the key to the city from Mayor Ben Hopkins to kick off the car parade which was led by the Sarasota High School band. The pros and amateurs waved to hundreds of people who lined Main Street from City Hall to the Court House at Washington Blvd. and Ringling Blvd.
They rode in open cars which were donated by Sarasota automobile dealers. The Sarasota Junior High School band was another marching unit in the parade along with a National Guard color guard.
Clinic Shows “How”
Yesterday afternoon the women entertained about 500 persons at Bobby Jones with their informative clinic in which many of the pros demonstrate the right and wrong of golf with different clubs.
Contestants, officials, guests and season ticket holders enjoyed a dinner last night.
Special $50 awards have been donated for low gross score each day and if any professional records a hole in one she will receive $100.
Persons who buy season or daily tickets can play the front nine at Bobby Jones. Parking for the general public will be in a lot provide by the Ringling Bros. circus, west of Bobby Jones.
The BJ parking area is reserved for contestants, tourney officials, press and radio and patrons.
Two Florida girls are making their second start as professionals in this event – Carol Gallagher, West Palm Beach, and Vonnie Colby, Hollywood.
Other new pros sure to draw good galleries are Joyce Ziske, Waterford, Wis., and Mary Lena Faulk, Thomasville, Ga. Miss Faulk, former national amateur champion, scored a hole in one during last year’s tourney at Sarasota Bay which had been the site for the first three Sarasota Opens.
Local interest will be centered in the pros Marlene Bauer and her sister, Alice Bauer Hagge, along with current city champion, Mrs. Mickey Gerhardt and young Shirley Nelson.
Golf for Sarasota, Inc., has provided the backing for the tournament although committees from the BJ Men’s and Women’s Golf Associations have done all the preliminary and current work.
Any profit realized from the event will be given to Happiness House, area school for handicapped children.
THREE OF THE CURRENT PACESETTERS in the women’s professional golfing ranks are shown here with Miss Jean McKelvey, left, who has been in charge of entries and billeting for the fourth annual Sarasota Women’s Open which starts at Bobby Jones Golf Club today. The others are, left to right, Fay Crocker, who won the Miami Beach Open; Patty Berg, St. Petersburg victor, and Mrs. Jackie Pung, Sea Island, Ga., winner.
1st Round Parings, Starting Times
10:06 a.m. – Kay Gessley, Washington, D.C.; Hildred Long, Flint, Mich.; Lee Patterson, St. Petersburg.
10:14 – Helen Benitoa, Uniontown, Pa.; Wanda Sanches, Baton Rouge, La.; Kathleen Newton, Euclid, O.
10:22 – Alice Tuttle, Palm Beach; Mary McCutcheon, Jasper, Ala.; Norma Shook, Morganton, N.C.
10:30 – Mrs. Arthur Harrison, Clearwater; Norma Labisky, Columbus, O.; Greta Leone, Chicago, Ill.
10:38 – Mickey Gerhardt, Sarasota; Pearl Van Eschion, Ackley, Iowa; Ann White, Uniontown, Pa.
10:46 – Shirley Nelson, Sarasota; Carol Bienbrink, Stony Brook, N.Y.; Mrs. Leo Caruthers, Coatsville, Pa.
11:16 – Kathy Cornelius, Lake Worth; Shelia Moss, San Bernadino, Calif.; Hazel Ross, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
11:24 – Betty Danoff, Dallas, Texas; Mrs. Mark McGarry, St. Petersburg; Mrs. D. M. Anneaux, La Grange, Ill.
11:32 – Betsy Rawls, Spartanburg, S.C.; Betty Hicks, Palm Springs, Calif.; Jean Hopkins, Cleveland, O.
11:40 – Carol Bowman, Oakland, Calif.; Wiffi Smith, La-Canada, Calif.
11:48 – Bonnie Randolph, Columbus, O.; Marilyn Smith, Wichita, Kan.; Jo Anne Goodwin, Plymouth, Mass.
11:56 – Betty Bush, Hammond, Ind.; Betty McKinnon, Savannah, Ga.; Pat Lesser, Seattle, Wash.
12:04 – Betty Jameson, San Antonio; Marlene Bauer, Sarasota; Maureen Riley, Parkstown Corner, Pa.
12:12 – Alice Bauer Hagge, Sarasota; Mickey Wright, San Diego, Calif.; Polly Stone, Greenville, S. C.
12:20 – Fay Crocker, Montivideo, Uruguay; Vonnie Colby, Hollywood; Ellen Gery, Reading, Pa.
12:28 – Beverly Hansen, Indo, Calif.; Joyce Ziske, Waterford, Wis.; Marge Burns, Greensboro, N. C.
12:46 – Patty Berg, St. Andrews, Ill.; Carol Gallagher, West Palm Beach; Gloria Armstrong, Oakland, Calif.
12:54 – Babe Zaharias, Tampa; Pat O’Sullivan, Orange, Conn.; Pippy Rooney, Newton Center, Mass.
1:02 – Jackie Pung, Honolulu, Hawaii; Betty Dodd, San Antonio; Mary Patton Janssen, Charlottesville, Va.
1:10 – Louise Suggs, Sea Island, Ga.; Mary Lena Faulk, Thomasville, Ga.; Virginia Dennehy, Lake Forest, Ill.
Parade of Pros, Clinic Today Tee Off $5000 Sarasota Open
February 23, 1955
St. Petersburg Times
The Sarasota Women’s Open Golf Tournament gets underway today with a parade of pros at noon and a clinic in the afternoon at the Bobby Jones Golf Club.
The parade will stop by City Hall long enough for Mayor Ben Hopkins Jr., to present the key to the city to Babe Zaharias, president of the LPGA. Afterwards, the parade will continue up Main Street to the Sarasota Terrace Hotel.
The clinic is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. with Patty Berg conducting.
The Sarasota tournament will solve a problem that has been on the mind of the spectator for many years. This is the age-old question of how to identify the players. Beginning with this tourney all professional players will wear numbers in their backs much in the same manner as baseball and basketball players. This will be a permanent feature of the women pros.
In practice rounds yesterday, all players did not turn scores but Betsy Rawls shot a five under par 70.
William J. (Bill) Menghini, local golf enthusiast, will give a $100 cash prize to any golfer who scores a hole-in-one.
Mrs. Zaharias is the sentimental favorite in the 72-hole event because she will be gunning for her third straight championship here.
Hearn Retains 2-Stroke Lead in Wynn Tourney
February 23, 1955
St. Petersburg Times
SARASOTA – Big Jim Hearn, the Atlanta Cracker who pitches for the New York Giants, pitched and putted well enough here yesterday for a two-over-par 74 and a two-stroke lead after 36 holes of the annual Early Wynn Invitational Golf Tournament. Proceeds to crippled children’s home at Umatilla. Sponsored by Wynn and by Elks of Sarasota and Venice.
Major League Baseball
Early Wynn Pitcher, Cleveland Indians
Big Jim Hearn Pitcher, New York Giants
Johnny Gray Pitcher, Kansas City Athletics
Fred Hutchinson Manager, St. Louis Cardinals
Al Lopez Manager, Cleveland Indians
Billy Goodman 2nd Base, Boston Red Sox
Paul “Little Poison” Warner Pittsburg Pirates
Wes Ferrell American League
Rudy Laskowski Oklahoma City
Earl Torgeson Detroit Tigers
Dick Cole Pittsburg Pirates
Herb Score Cleveland Indians
Ray Boone Detroit Tigers
Ted McGrew Boston Red Sox
Hank Foiles Cleveland Indians
Bob Buhl Milwaukee Braves
Baba Gringas Manchester NH
Carl Rohman Troy NY
Francis Brown Sarasota FL
Burt Montressor Sarasota FL
Don Sitch Sarasota FL
Bill Wright Fort Wayne IN
George Lane Methuen MA
Joe Blanton Akron OH
Pop Harbert Sarasota FL
Jim Duncan Venice FL
Chick Harbert Sarasota FL (1942)
Mrs. Z. H. Patterson was club champion of Sarasota Bay, Bradenton CC and Bobby Jones in 1951.
MERCER WINS CITY GOLF TITLE
FINALLY WARDS OFF DARE DAVIS' JINX; ONLY ONE OVER PAR
APRIL 10, 1954
Dr. J. C. Mercer, 50-year-old optometrist from Worcester, Mass., who polishes lenses during the late spring, summer and fall, and puts a bright shine on his golf game while he vacations here each winter, completed a local links “little slam” yesterday as he won the City Championship, 8 and 7, from City Commissioner Dare Davis.
Bespectacled, naturally, Dr. Mercer won the Sarasota Bay Club titles before replacing Heinie Manush as the Sarasota swing king over Bobby Jones’ testing (6,405 yards) “long” course where par is 72.
Manush didn’t compete in the year’s city meet and defaulted to Dr. Mercer for the Sarasota bay bauble. In 1953 Davis trimmed Dr. Mercer for the Sarasota Bay prize after the latter had won two years in a row.
Here’s The Score Card
Par In 443 554 434 - 36
Mercer In 553 554 433 - 37
Davis In 444 555 534 - 39
Par Out 454 345 434 - 36 - 72
Mercer Out 454 454 435 - 37 - 74
Davis Out 555 445 535 - 41 - 80
Mercer In 443 543 434 - 34
Davis In 553 553 435 - 38
Mercer Out 55 Davis Out 45
Davis, a building contractor and co-owner of a local golf course, as well as being one of the city’s “official fathers”, reached the championship final once before – in 1951 – when he defeated Dr. Mercer.
Davis Took Lead
Dare jumped in front with a part of par fours while Dr. Mercer had bogey fives but it was all even after No. 6 and the eye expert was 1-up after a par four on No. 7 and the margin was two following a 30-foot birdie three putt at No. 9.
Davis was able to win but one hole on the back (new) nine while Dr. Mercer annexed four – with three pars and a birdie to lead 5-up at lunchtime, besting Davis by six shots n model play, 74 to 80.
After the rest period, Davis bogeyed the first two holes while Dr. Mercer had four parts and turn about seemed to be fair play. A birdie four at No. 23 (5) and a par four at No. 27 (9) left the match dormie – Davis was nine down with none to play.
The commissioner whittled the edge to 8 and 8 by bagging a one-putt par four at No. 28 (10) to the doctor’s bogey five. Both men had par fives at No. 29 and the match was over.
Didn’t Have the Touch
Davis was playing fairly well from tee to green but his usual deft putting touch wasn’t around except for the 24th hole (No. 6) where he canned a 21-footer but was matched by a Dr. Mercer 18-footer.
The latter played from No. 3 through No. 13 in par figures – figuring in a birdie and a bogey. His second round in nine was two under regulation numbers as he putted well and wedged like an eye doctor should – right on line for the cup.
For the 29 holes played Dr. Mercer was just one shot over par.
After reaching the clubhouse he called 1954 his “greatest” year in golf. In addition to his two local wins he was runner-up in the Florida Seniors tourney and he shot a hole-in-one at the recent Florida State Amateur.
To reach the last round Dr. Mercer trimmed Orv McVay, Walt Myers and John Sendral. Davis’ victims were Wes Ferrell, A. C. (Doc) Davis and Willie Purcell.
Dr. Mercer has his eyes set on his club championship “back home”. He’s reached the finals five times and been the runner-up on every occasion. Perhaps this’ll be the year.
…Quoth the ‘Doc’; “This has been my year!”
State Women Bow to Par at Sarasota
April 20, 1953
St. Petersburg Times
SARASOTA (AP) – Kathy McKinnon, Lake Worth, and Vonnie Colby, Dania, shot the low gross score of 167 yesterday in a four-ball warm-up for today’s opening of the Florida Women’s Amateur [Match Play] Golf Tournament.
High wind and intermittent rain bothered the golfers and scores were so high the tournament committee decided to release only those of the prize winners.
Carroll Gallagher, West Palm Beach, turned in the day’s lowest individual score of 81. Miss McKinnon shot 82, Miss Colby, 85.
A total of 195 women competed in yesterday’s play on the Sarasota Bay and Bobby Jones courses. In today’s qualifying round, there will be 253 competitors shooting for 32 places in the championship flight.
Those not making the championship flight will be shuffled into 15 other flights. Match play will start Tuesday and continue through Saturday.
Lowest scores in the four-ball play, with handicaps figured, was 163 by Mrs. George Wilcox and Mrs. Jack Trippe, Miami. Second were Miss Gallagher and Mrs. H.O. Leuscher, Sarasota, with 165.
Mrs. R.E. Wilson and Mrs. Wayne Reichelderfer, St. Petersburg, turned in a net score of 167 to tie Mrs. Georgie Miller, Miami, and Mrs. Norvin S. Veal, Jacksonville, for third place.
Mrs. Wilson tied Miss McKinnon for second place in individual scores with 82.
Plans For Golf Addition Okehed
May 30, 1952
A preliminary layout for a new nine-hole addition to the Bobby Jones Municipal golf course was approved yesterday by the City Commission. Golf architect Robert Bruce Harris of Chicago was instructed to proceed with detailed plans.
Harris said he probably could have the first of detailed maps sent down from Chicago by the end of next week so that the city can start work on grading and filling.
It is hoped that the new course will be completed and ready for play by the opening of the next winter season.
Meeting with the commission, members of the golf advisory committee and representatives of the men and women’s associations of Bobby Jones, Harris presented four alternate layouts, discussed each one and answered questions of the group.
The layout selected met the unanimous approval of officials attending the meeting. It was the one recommended by Harris in view of local conditions.
Harris will be paid $2,750 for preparing the detailed plans and an additional $750 for his services as a consultant. He will receive $700 a year for a five-year period.
The chosen layout, Harris explained, provides more acreage per hole than the other plans and will be more spacious than the present courses. It includes an artificial lake on the No. 9 hole. The No. 4 hole, he pointed out, is the first par three, giving players time to spread out before coming to a short hole where he said congestion usually occurs.
The new addition is par 36. Total distance from the short tees is 6,310 yards, 6,490 yards from the middle tees and 6,670 yards for the championship course.
During the discussion the subject of what to name the new course came up. One suggestion was that it be called the Gillespie Addition in honor of John Hamilton Gillespie, pioneer Sarasota resident who is believed to have built the first practice course in the nation here in May, 1886.
Prelim Work On New Course Opens
May 21, 1952
Preliminary work toward laying out the city’s new 18-hole golf course to be constructed adjoining the present municipal Bobby Jones Golf Club was started yesterday by Robert Bruce Harris, Chicago golf course architect and engineer.
Harris visited the site of the new course with city officials and Bonny Graham, club professional, and E. T. Hall, greenskeeper, and said he would have drawings of the new layout within 10 days.
The new course will be situated immediately south of the present 9th green. The city recently acquired the tract for the new course at a cost of about $40,000.
Par Will Be 72
Harris said his plans call for a 6,400 yard course with a par of 72 After going over the site, he said the natural advantages of the new layout are excellent, from both a soil and drainage standpoint, as well as the topography of the land and its natural adaptability for an interesting golf layout.
Actual construction work on the new project will get underway when Harris returns in about 10 days with the necessary drawings. Clearing of the land already has been started.
It is hoped to have the first nine holes completed and playable by next January, with the second nine within a year.
Bauer Sisters, Snead And Harbert In Pageant Match
Sunday, February 26, 1950
GOLFING SCOOP – The Bobby Jones Golf Club and the Jaycee Pageant Committee came up today with the two biggest attractions of the year when they lured the Bauer sisters, Marlene and Alice, into Sarasota for the special Pageant golf match here this afternoon. Above, Alice (left) and Marline are shown in practice with a closeup of Marlene, 16-year-old stylist, at the right. The match begins at 2 p.m. preceded by a clinic at 1 p.m.
RECORD CROWD FORSEEN FOR CLASSIC TEST
The famed Bauer sisters of Midland, Tex., hottest thing in golf this season, will appear at the Bobby Jones Golf Club this afternoon in a special match with Sammy Snead, the PGA’s top golfer of the year, and Chick Harbert, the PGA stylist and golf’s heaviest hitter.
Marlene Bauer, the 16-year-old charmer who was named the outstanding woman athlete of 1919, will team with Harbert against Snead and sister Alice, teeing off at 2 p.m. Bert Montressor will referee.
Dare Davis, president of the Bobby Jones Men’s Golf Association and representing the Jaycees’ Sara de Sota Pageant committee, journeyed to Orlando to arrange the selection of the two top women golfers for the special match which will come as the sports climax of Pageant Week here.
The Bauer sisters were playing in the International Mixed Two-Ball tourney at the Dubsdread Country Club in Orlando and agreed to come to Sarasota today for the special pageant match.
The Bauer girls gave been the sensation of the winter golf circuit in Florida, winning medalist or championship honors in virtually every event they have entered.
It will be their first appearance in a special match on the Florida west coast.
The Bauer girls along with Snead, the outstanding men’s professional golfer, and Harbert, whose dad is Pop Harbert, the Bobby Jones professional, are expected to attract the largest crowd that ever witnessed a golf event in Sarasota.
Because the match is a feature of the Jaycees’ Pageant Week, the golf course will be under the supervision of the pageant committee this afternoon and all persons, whether members of the club or not, will be required to obtain tickets, Davis announced.
Prior to the match , a team low total match, the four top shotmakers will engage in a golf clinic, demonstrating the proper methods of hitting the various strokes in their repertoire of golf shots.
Marlene was named the woman athlete of 1919 in the annual Associated Press poll of sports writers. She was voted the woman golfer of the year by the Women’s Association of the PGA and holds the women’s world scoring record for 54 holes of golf.
She and her sister have dominated Southern California’s women’s tournaments for the past five years.
But nearly as remarkable as their accomplishments on the links is their ability to captivate the gallery. If they don’t win the tournament, they at least win the hearts of spectators. A bad shot by either causes real anguish among the gallery.
What gets the crowd is their complete candor – not naïve, but unsophisticated and natural.
Marlene is a little girl and looks it. She generally wears a big bow in her hair and very little makeup. Alice has more poise and is a little less shy than her younger sister.
Both are feminine as a lace hanky, Marlene is five feet, two and a half inches tall and weighs 120 pounds. Alice is an inch shorter and weighs 108 pounds. They generally wear shorts and a sweater and have the figures for it. Marlene has light brown wavy hair. Alice is neither a brunette nor a blond – just between.
Father Dave Bauer is their tutor and severest critic. A professional golfer himself, it was Bauer who taught them all they know of golf. He insists they practice until they become champions.
It is not unusual to see Papa Bauer give one of his daughters a sizzling tongue-lashing during a tournament.
Alice is the one Father Bauer wanted to become a champion golfer. But it took Marlene to interest Alice. The elder sister wasn’t impressed with silver loving cups won on a golf course, so Marlene used her for bait.
Father Bauer cut the handles off a driver and putter when Marlene was three and a half years old, and Marlene began divoting the front lawn of the Bauer home in Eureka, N. D., where both girls were born.
Within two months Alice, then 10, had swallowed the bait and begged for a set of golf clubs. The family moved to Aberdeen, N. D., where Papa was pro at the Hyde Park Golf Course.
By the time Alice was 14 she had won the North Dakota state women’s crown and had been runner-up the previous year. Marlene, then 8, had qualified in the championship flight but was defeated in the first round.
They moved to California; five years at Long Beach, one in Los Angeles. They came, they played, and they conquered.
The Bauer sisters won the Long Beach city women’s title five consecutive years. Alice won it four times, Marlene once.
Marlene won the Los Angeles women’s crown in 1947 with Alice runner-up. Alice won it in 1947 with Marlene runner-up and Marlene recaptured the crown in 1949.
Marlene broke the world record f0r 54 holes of women’s golf at the Indio Invitational tournament in Palm Springs two years ago with a remarkable 69, 70 and 71 for an aggregate of 210.
Marlene won the Palm Springs championship in 1947. Alice won it in 1948 and Marlene repossessed the crown in 1949.
Alice won the San Catalina tourney in 1947 and 1948. In the final year she set a new women’s record for the tournament with rounds of 70 and 68.
Father Bauer scoffs when people say his daughters use an unorthodox swing. He contends it differs from the conventional swing only that the timing and rhythm are stressed more than the power. The looping backswing and bend of the knees look different, he says, but the result is the same – only better.
The girls follow the winter circuit and return to their new home in Midland, Tex., in the spring. Then school for Marlene and more golf. Then the circuit again.
It’s a long road to travel, but they have already arrived.
294 SETS NEW HIGH MARK AT BOBBY JONES
February 9, 1950
Golf Courses Draw Record Crowds
An all-time record crowd of golfers swarmed over Bobby Jones Golf Club and Sarasota Bay Country Club Wednesday as ideal weather lured home folks and winter visitors alike to the city’s two golf courses.
At Bobby Jones, 294 golfers registered with E.W. (Pop) Harbert, club professional, to set a new high mark for one day’s play over the popular municipally-owned layout. “This surpassed the previous high mark of 288 established in 1947, and compares with last year’s peak of 260 and 204 in 1948.
“Golfers thronged the course virtually from dawn to dusk,” Harbert said in reporting the record day’s play. “We have gone well over 200 every day now for weeks, and only two days ago set a new record for the season at 253,” Harbert explained.
A combination of ideal weather and heavy tourist business this season was credited with setting up the new record at Bobby Jones.
At Sarasota Bay, qualifying rounds for the men’s club championship and play in the women’s tournament joined to bring out a record field at this privately operated club, Pro Clyde Kelly announced, though exact figures were not available.
Heinie Manush, who won the men’s championship at Bobby Jones earlier in the season, led the qualifiers at Sarasota Bay, Kelly reported, turning in a two over par 74 to take the qualifying medal. Dare Davis was runner up with a 76.
Drawings for match play in the club championship and other flights will be announced later, Kelly reported.
The regular monthly meeting of the Bobby Jones Men’s Golf Association was held at the club last night, with Kenneth Thompson, new city manager, as a special guest. Thompson assured the men’s group he would support their plans for a women’s open tournament here next season and any other practical proposals for further development of the sport here. Babe Zaharias, who was to have attended the meeting, was delayed in Palm Beach, where a women’s open tournament is in progress.
Pro-Am Slated at Bobby Jones
Wednesday, February 8, 1950
Tampa Bay Times
Sunday’s West Coast Pro-Amateur Golf Association tournament will be played at the Bobby Jones course in Sarasota, according to Billy Watts head of the association.
Watts announced that Bobby Jones officials have scheduled a drawing of amateur partners for the tournament. Each pro will play with three amateurs, to be drawn by lot, to form three best-ball teams. Amateurs will be allowed half handicaps.
An entry deadline of 11 a.m. Saturday has been set, Watts said, The draw will be made at 11 a.m. Sunday and play will follow but entries must be in 24 hours ahead of the draw.
E. W. HARBERT IS PRO AT SARASOTA GOLF CLUB
DECEMBER 2, 1949
BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER
Local golfers who are fortunate enough to continue their summer pastime down Florida way will be able to renew acquaintances with E.W. Pop Harbert who formerly served as professional at Battle Creek and Marywood Country clubs here. “Harb” who has 45 years of golfing behind him, was selected as professional at the Bobby Jones course in Sarasota, Fla. The former Battle Creek pro has wintered in Sarasota for many years and played the Bobby Jones course there but never served in the capacity of the course’s professional. Although Harbert is overshadowed by his top pupil, son Chick, who is professional at Meadowbrook Country club at Northville, Mich., and one of the top 10 golfers in the country today. “Pop” is well-known locally and remembered from his 20 years of professional service at local clubs. The Bobby Jones course has ling been a mecca for many of the top major league baseball stars and numerous northern pro golfers. Herb is well acquainted in Sarasota where he had always hoped to settle down in a year-around.
‘Chick’ Harbert, Keiser Tied For Lead In Masters
April 5, 1946
By Chick Hosch
AUGUSTA, Ga., April 5 – (AP) –
Ailing Chick Harbert of Detroit and Sarasota, Fla., and Herman Keiser of Akron, Ohio, went out today for the second round of the 72-hole Masters tournament nursing a two-stroke lead over the nation’s finest collection of golf stars.
The two ex-service men each had a three-under par 69 yesterday in the tenth renewal of the $10,000 event, not held since 1942, to pace 49 other competitors, only three of whom shot sub-par rounds.
Harbert, who got out of the army two months ago after more than three years service, is suffering with an infected cyst in the underside of his left knee, which has him limping around the rolling, 6,800-yard national golf course layout. He had a 34-35 card compared to Keiser’s 32-37. Par on both sides is 36.
Vic Ghezzi of Knoxville, Tenn.; Fred Haas of New Orleans, and Toney Penna of Cincinnati, were the others to break par yesterday as a brisk wind hampered play and sent the scores of many of the top player soaring. Keiser, an ex-sailor, had the day’s best none-hole score.
Byron Nelson of Toledo, the defending champion, who was paired with the famous Bobby Jones of Atlanta, turned in rounds of 35-37 for an even par of 72. One of the days largest galleries followed the noted pair, curious to see what Jones, the former king of the wooden-shafted clubs, could do against the game’s current star.
Ben Hogan of Hershey, Pa., favored to win the $2,500 first prize, has a pair of 37’s for a 74 and a 12th place tie with eight others, including Sam Snead of Hot Springs, Va., another able contender.
MAKING THE SWING
THE GOLF WORLD'S NEWS IN BRIEF
OCTOBER 3, 1944
BY HERB GRAFFIS
GOLF IN THE SERVICE
DREW Field, Tampa, Fla. military personnel are getting their golf instruction from Pro. E. W. Harbert, pro at the Bobby Jones course, Sarasota, and father of the famous Pvt. Melvin ‘Chick’ Harbert, who has been assigned to a WAC recruiting tour by the Lincoln, Nebr. AAF.
THE RECORD STILL STANDS
AUGUST 1, 1943
BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER
As an amateur in 1938, “Chick” was low man in the Masters Tournament at Augusta, Ga., and from then on he became a dangerous man for any tournament. His biggest year was 1941-42. At Los Angeles he finished second to Ben Hogan, though beaten in the semi finals by the experienced Harry Cooper. But at Beaumont, Texas, he won the Open by seven strokes, netting $1,000.
Then came that famous playoff with Hogan at San Antonio, when “Chick” won, netting another $1,000 plus his share the gate receipts on the playoff match. At New Orleans he won the long distance driving contest, referred to as a "world" affair. His shot carried 300 yards and then went through a fence. The distance to the fence, discounting what may have happened afterward, was sufficient to beat the nearest competitor (Hogan again) by 27 yards.
At St. Petersburg, Fla., he tied for second, after setting a new course record of 68, and at St. Augustine he and Marvin Stahl of Lansing reached the finals in the Four-Ball Championship. “Chick” won the St. Paul Open last fall, in a playoff with “Dutch” Harrison of Little Rock, Ark., again hitting a 66 for the course record for 18 holes.
He faced another brilliant winter season, but he felt the call to serve his country. He had had considerable experience as a civilian pilot, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and was sent to Hope college, Holland, for his primary training. That being finished, he was ordered to report today at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., as a cadet.
His last tournament experience was at Tam O’Shanter, Chicago, last week, where he was but one stroke behind the best score for 72 holes, though he had to share in a tie for second. He has been invited again play with the American Ryder Cup team, composed of leading American golf stars, but chances are that he cannot accept it, now that he's in the Army.
E. W. Harbert, his wife and two older children, were living in Dayton when it had its famous flood in 1913 and they lost everything they owned. Their home was on South Williams street and when time came to evacuate it they had to move fast as fast as a horse-drawn dray could move. When they returned to their home more than week after that never-to-be-forgotten March morning, they found everything ruined. Mud was deep on the floors and everything; clothing, carpets and the like was so rotted by the flood that it fell apart at the touch. “Harb” remembers starting to move a sofa that looked all right, only to have the whole top come off at his touch.
His father had even worse experiences. He was rooming in a house nearer the river than “Harb’s” and was caught in the rushing waters at 6 in the morning. With him were the landlady and her two little girls. They were forced up stairs and then into the attic, where they had to cut a hole in the roof, for air. All they had to eat for days was one apple, salvaged as they ran. Eventually they were taken out through the roof by rescuers in rowboats. “Harb” saw three women drown in this flood, when their rowboat, manned by a city fireman, over turned. The fireman kept his balance and saved his own life, and the fifth member of the boatload, an elderly man, was thrown over a fence onto higher ground and, though rendered unconscious, was easily rescued.
For a week the Harberts stood in the breadline at a nearby fire station and received whatever food was available. Later they were given furniture by the Relief Association, which raised funds from industries, business places and private donors. The house had to be redecorated and re-carpeted, but the furniture furnished by the Relief Association was a big help.
All the Harberts had left after the flood was a small savings account in a town bank. Of course, “Harb” still had his job. None of the Harberts was sorry to move away from Dayton, but the flood has never been repeated. It was due to a cloud burst which broke the levee. Later a city reservoir gave way and added to the demolition already being accomplished by the swollen Miami and Stillwater streams.
At Richmond, Ind., life proved more pleasant for the Harberts. “Harb” even found time to go through the Masonic orders up to and including the Knights Templar. He had previously belonged to the Elks at Greenville, O., where he helped build a clubhouse for them and laid out a golf course. In recent years “Harb” has had no fraternal attachments.
The Harbert home is really in Sarasota, Fla. at 408 Cherokee Street. This is where the family spends the winter months. They also have an apartment house next door, which they rent to winter visitors.
In Florida “Harb” finds time for some relaxation aside from golf. He goes in for deep-sea fishing and for fresh-water fishing in the inland lakes and rivers, taste for bass. He also hunts not only doves, quail, ducks, squirrels, and rabbits, but deer and bear. “Harb” says his northern friends seem surprised to hear that there is deer hunting in Florida, but there is. Each county has its own “open” and “closed” season, instead of being affected by a state “open” and “closed” season.
“Harb” also finds time to do community service at Sarasota. He is an Aircraft Warning Service observer and does his trick at plane spotting every Sunday night from 6 to 11. He is also active in the Florida Peace Officers' association. In fact, even in Battle Creek he has the credentials of a special deputy sheriff under Sheriff Fred Hollingsworth. When in Dayton “Harb” was second duty sergeant in Co. H., Ohio National Guard, and won the honors of a sharpshooter at Camp Perry, Sandusky. He served with the militia in the Springfield race riots, which resulted from two Negroes shooting at a white railroad brakeman, but he says it was pretty tame alongside what recently happened in Detroit.
In Battle Creek Elmer W. Harbert’s life is pretty much tied up with golf. It is his profession and his diversion. But he admits that he'd like to do a lot of things including going to church (his uncle was a Presbyterian minister) if his week didn't have seven full days, with Sunday the busiest of them all.
Few residents of this community have had more publicity than Melvin (Chick) Harbert, who has become a top-notcher among American golfers but this column is not a part of “Chick’s” publicity. It deals with another Harbert, Elmer Washington by name, who happens to be “Chick’s” dad, but who has himself had a life-time of experiences. And as a matter of fact, “Harb” was quite a man even before “Chick” entered the picture, and he doesn’t have to bask in reflected glory.
Lest the writer be misunderstood he will say that nobody gets a, bigger kick out of “Chick” Harbert’s golf victories than his dad. He never goes around boasting that he taught the remarkable young man the game of golf (which, of course, he did) and he never makes a fuss about it when he accompanies “Chick” to a tournament and forms a part of the “gallery” that follows him around the course. But he is very proud of “Chick” and extremely reluctant to talk about himself. That's why we have dragged E.W. Harbert’s story out of him. It is interesting and shows he is something besides “‘Chick’ Harbert’s old man.”
Elmer W. Harbert is a native of Ohio. He was born at Union, April 15, 1883, to John B. and Lillian Snyder Harbert. His father was at that time section foreman for the Cincinnati, Dayton & Union railroad for Union City, Ind., a terminal, rather than for Union, O., where he lived. “Harb’s” mother died when he was only four years old and he went to live with his grandparents, the George Snyders, in Dayton. When John Harbert married again he moved to Dayton and took Master Elmer into his new household. He also entered into a different line of work, as coffee roaster and blender for the famous firm of Canby, Ach & Canby. He became an expert at sorting the coffee that came into the warehouses of this concern in bulk and working out blends that would appeal to the public.
Elmer Harbert went to school in Dayton, but quit before reaching high school to take a job with Crawford, MacGregor & Canby Co. of Dayton, a double-headed industry, making golf clubs and shoe lasts. In fact, the concern also had another department, the making of bowling alleys and equipment, under the title, the 20th Century Bowling Alleys. Eventually this department was sold to the well-known Balke-Brunswick Co.
“Harb’s” first job was as office boy but he finally grabbed an opportunity to work in the factory of the Crawford, MacGregor & Canby Co. and became an expert at turning out golf club shafts from hickory. His inventive mind eventually led him to develop a machine to replace much of the handwork on these shafts and it was used for years in the plant. Then came the steel shaft, which has practically eliminated the good old hickory.
During his days as a club maker, “Harb” studied greensmaking and course designing and when he tried a job as “Pro” for a nine-hole course it proved the stepping stone to assignments to lay out new courses for several small towns, including Lebanon and Bellefontaine. He also helped build the MacGregor golf course at Dayton, which proved quite a job, as stumps had to be removed by dynamite and many other obstacles were encountered.
But this led to an invitation from Richmond, Ind., where “Harb” laid out three golf courses, Glen Miller park, Earlham college, and a private course sponsored by a wealthy farmer.
By 1917 “Harb” was ready for bigger things. So he signed up with Sharon, Penn., as “pro” of an 18-hole course. Then followed similar jobs at Marion, Huntington, and Wabash. Ind., and finally a job at Richmond, where he stayed for five straight years. During that time he helped construct the Forest Hills course, and he was greenskeeper as well as “pro.”
In 1926 Harbert came here to act as “pro” for the Battle Creek Country club. The system here was a little different. Dr. Walter T. Bobo was chairman of the greens committee and as such directed the greenskeeping, though he called in the new “pro” for conference and advice. “Harb” remained on the job until 1932 and his wife had charge of the clubhouse.
His former employers, the MacGregor concern, had wanted Harbert to act as representative for Michigan, Northern Indiana and Western Pennsylvania, and in 1932 he accepted this job, though eliminating Pennsylvania from his territory. His job was not only to sell MacGregor clubs and golf equipment, but to play on various courses and demonstrate the superiority of the product he was selling. For two years he did this work, but he then decided it wasn’t exactly the life he wanted to lead.
Arthur Kennett had meanwhile succeeded him as “pro” at the Battle Creek Country club, but “Harb” came back to this community and lined up with the Marywood club, as “pro,” greenskeeper, and, in-shop manager. Mrs. Harbert ran the clubhouse for three of the six years “Harb” stayed on this job and then Mercedes Coleman, their daughter, took it over.
In 1940 “Harb” had the pleasure of seeing his son “Chick” selected as “pro” to succeed Arthur Kennett at his old stamping grounds. When “Chick” felt the call of his country and decided to enlist in the army air corps. “Harb” was called back to the Battle Creek Country club, where he now holds forth.
“Harb” never had much opportunity for tournaments, as he had to work for a living. But he did tie for second place in the Western Open at Olympia Fields, Chicago, in 1927. He couldn't make the brilliant finish so characteristic of young “Chick” today. Elmer Harbert made his best score at Richmond, Ind., when he shot one nine in 29 and the next one in 30. This 59 set a course record that has never been broken. “Harb” has not only made a hole-in-one, but a pair of them. The first was at Sarasota, Fla., during the first baseball players’ tournament. He was playing an exhibition game with Paul Waner, of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Al Nelson, the “pro” from Yardley, Pa., and Bert Montresser, Decatur. It was the 16th hole and Harbert’s shot with a No. 2 iron covered the 191 yards and trickled into the cup. The second hole-in-one was made at Marywood, in 1940, on the fifth green when he holed out a tee shot of 157 yards.
Incidentally, E. W. Harbert has been spending his winters at Sarasota for 20 years, as a golf professional. He was with the Bobby Jones Golf club at first and then with the Old Whitfield Estates, changed in later years to the Sarasota Bay club (now closed). Last winter “Harb” was at the Bobby Jones course and he is likely to return there for the coming winter. Sarasota is the home of something besides the Ringling Bros, circus.
Around 80 professional baseball players make it their winter abode and “Harb” has played golf there with Paul Derringer, Joe Cronin, Jimmy Foxx, Al Lopez, Tommy Bridges, Elden Auker, and others to say nothing of such famous golf stars as Walter Hagen, Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, Tommy Armour, Denny Shute, Horton Smith, José Jurado from the Argentine and Miamoto of the touring Japanese team of pre-war days.
While the ball players have golfed with “Harb,” “Harb” has worked out with them particularly with the Boston Red Sox. Before a big league team assembles all its men and starts whipping them into an organization for the summer season, ball players indiscriminately work out with the first arrivals. “Harb” has the honor of having played third base and also coached at third in one exhibition game in which the other players were professional baseball men.
In his younger days “Harb” played baseball, as an amateur and as a semi-professional. He pitched, caught and was utility man for the Dayton Last Works (a part of the industry in which he was employed) and he pitched for the Dayton Shilohs in the Sunday league, which team won at least one city championship. “Harb,” who threw a wicked curve, altogether had eight years of baseball in Dayton. When Dayton was in the Central league, he always worked out with the team, which never went south for spring training.
In Dayton, too, E. W. Harbert ranked among the top-notch figure skaters of the community. The skating was done on the frozen Miami river and “Harb” knew all the fancy work. It was at Dayton that Harbert met, wooed and married Miss Gloia Kidwell, who had come up from Cynthiana, Ky., with her father, who opened a grocery store in the Ohio city. (The spelling of "Gloia is correct. It's unique in the field of names. Even Mrs. Harbert has never heard of another woman owning it).
The wedding date was July 3, 1904, and to this union were born four children, one of whom died at birth, owing to an accident experienced by Mrs. Harbert, an unfortunate slip on an icy back porch.
Virgil, the oldest of the Harbert progeny, is well known here, having spent some time at the Battle Creek Country club as assistant to his father. Later he became the first “pro” Maple Hills, Kalamazoo ever hired. He is now with the Delco Co. at Dayton, supervising from 300 to 400 men in the electric welding and motor department. Virgil has two children.
Mercedes is the wife of Kenneth Coleman, now with the Clark Equipment Co. She has charge of the dining room at the Athelstan club, after doing a swell job in the same capacity at Marywood.
The “baby” of the family is Melvin, better known as “Chick” and probably most people would like to know where he acquired that name. It’s quite a story. When Melvin was under five years old, a party of 24 well-known golfers, including George Ade, Pete Dailey. Chick Evans and others, came to Richmond, Ind., to play their “blathering” game. They called themselves the “Soap Factory Gang"” and they attained a lot of fun out of playing golf while their opponents and the “gallery” yelled things at them, threw balls in front of their tee shots, and did all sorts of things.
Young Melvin Harbert was playing around the first tee with an old driver which his father had sawed off to fit his height, when Chick Evans asked him if he could hit a golf ball with it. Papa Harbert said that would be too easy for the youngster, but if Evans would pick out an object, not too far away from the tee, Melvin would shoot for it. Chick Evans picked an old apple tree down the fairway. Melvin hit five balls and the one that landed farthest from the tree was within five feet of it. Later Melvin shot a 2 on a 3-par hole, both shots with the sawed off driver, as that was his only club. Of course, the second shot was lucky; the ball landed on the green and rolled to the cup. The caddies dubbed him “Chick” after Chick Evans and the name has stuck ever since. “Chick” Harbert never had a golf lesson until he was 14 years old and this was at the Battle Creek Country club. As “Chick” developed he won about everything there was to win in Michigan tournaments high school, college (for Michigan State his school) and the Western Michigan. In the Michigan Open, as an amateur, he set a world's record 263 for 72 holes.
HARBERT ASKED TO PLAY WITH HAGEN’S SQUAD
June 6, 1942
Chick Harbert of Sarasota, sensation of the winter golf spring, is one of a dozen top pros and amateurs asked by Walter Hagen to join his squad to play against the Ryder Cup team.
Sir Walter also plans to ask Capt. Bobby Jones of the army air corps to be on his side. Last year Jones led the challengers to victory over Hagen’s Ryder cuppers.
Others invited by Hagen include Lawson Little, Henry Picard, Sam Byrd, Ed Dudley, Harry Cooper, Jimmy Thompson, Al Watrous, Chandler Harper and Corporals Jim Turnesa and Ed (Porky) Oliver.
The Ryder Cup team has five newcomers – Open champion Craig Wood, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Lloyd Mangrum and Jimmy Demaret. Holdover cuppers are Corp. Vic Ghezzi, Jug McSpaden, Byron Nelson, Horton Smith and P.G.A. Champion Sammy Snead.
Chick Harbert Signed Up At Bobby Jones
December 30, 1941
Chick Harbert, winner of the $5,000 Beaumont Open in Beaumont, Tex., Sunday, became a member of the staff at Bobby Jones golf course the first of December, Clyde Kelly, Bobby Jones pro said today.
Harbert was joined at the Bobby Jones by his father, E.W. Harbert, who was a member of the staff at Sarasota Bay Country Club last season.
The young golfer made a sensational play in the Beaumont Open to upset such stellar veterans as Paul Runyan and Ben Hogan. He is expected to arrive here sometime next month. The elder Harbert is in Sarasota.
HARBERTS JOIN GOLFING STAFF AT BOBBY JONES
November 7, 1941
The golfing Harberts – Elmer W. (Harb) and his son, Chick – have joined the pro staff at the Bobby Jones Golf Club for the 1941-42 season, it was announced last night by Managing Professional Clyde V. Kelly.
During the summer season the elder Harbert is located at the Marywood Country Club in Battle Creek, Mich., where he serves the dual capacity of manager and professional. A member in good standing of the National Professional Golfers Association, he was instrumental in bringing the Seniors National P.G.A. tourney and attending publicity to Sarasota from Augusta, Ga.
Chick Harbert is one of the most promising young professionals in the country. Chick is the present holder of the Bobby Jones course record of 62 which he established last November. One of Chick’s outstanding accomplishments is firing the world’s lowest 72 hole score in a major championship tournament. His score of 268, 20 under par, was made in the Michigan Open championship at Jackson in 1937.
Following the winter circuit last year young Harbert led the field in the qualifying round in the National Open Match play championship in San Francisco. During this event he eliminated Jimmy Demaret, the defending champion, and continued to the quarter finals where Harry Cooper beat him, one up, on the 18th hole by virtue of a 35 foot putt. In the St. Petersburg open he tied with Ben Hogan and Jug McSpaden for second place with a seven under par 72 hole score of 281, two strokes behind Sam Snead, the winner at 279.
The Harbert family has been in golf for a long time. For the past 35 years Harb has been engaged in the professional golf business. Previous to that he started his golf career when he was 14 years old, at that time being employed as a club maker but the MacGregor company in Dayton, Ohio.
This year will be Harb’s 16th winter season in Florida. Fourteen of the past 15 years have been spent in Sarasota.
WALTER HAGEN ‘ON TIME’ FOR 1942 GOLF MEET
January 3, 1941
The Spartanburg Herald
Sarasota, Fla., Jan. 2 (AP)
Walter Hagen, golf’s old master with a penchant for showing up late, reversed himself today.
The “Haig” entered the 1942 PGA Senior golf tournament one year in advance. George R. Jacobus, honorary president of the Professional Golfers association, said Hagen’s telegraphed entry contained “a frank admission” that the golfer would reach the fifty year age minimum for the seniors event by January, 1942.
The 1941 tournament will be played over the Sarasota Bay Country club and the Bobby Jones courses here January 10-12.
Sarasota’s Golf Outlook
July 9, 1940
Since the day J. Hamilton Gillespie staked out in Sarasota the first golf course in America, destiny has pointed to this city as a leader in the ancient and honorable game. Before J. Hamilton Gillespie departed this life, two of America’s outstanding golfers were settled in Sarasota, Tommy Armour, as a professional at the Whitfield Country Club, and Bobby Jones, as a counselor for the Adair Company, in promoting the Whitfield development. About this time, the present municipal golf course was laid out by that master golf architect, Donald Ross, who superintended the construction of three courses in this vicinity. Golf certainly has not been overlooked as a factor in the development of this city.
Some seven years ago the additional prominence was given golf in Sarasota by the employment of George R. Jacobus as pro-manager of the Bobby Jones municipal course, a course dedicated to Bobby Jones and named after him in the late twenties. The wide acquaintance of Mr. Jacobus with the golfers of America made it possible for him to bring to this city nearly every golfer of any renown. Year after year, there were held, under his direction, exhibition matches on the Bobby Jones course in which participated men whose names had become familiar in the golfing world. It was under the guidance of Mr. Jacobus that there were organized here an annual golf tournament of baseball players, an achievement made possible by the fact that Sarasota had become the winter home of more baseball players than any other city in America.
Still another chapter opens in the history of golf in Sarasota with the selection of Jock Hutchison as associated pro at the Bobby Jones course. Jock Hutchison is a household name wherever golf is played. For thirty years he has been before the American public and has distinguished himself as one of the country’s top notch professional golfers. His presence here will give great prestige to golf in this city and be instrumental in attracting here many lovers of the sport. With two distinguished golfers such as George R. Jacobus, as director manager of the Sarasota Bay Country Club, (the former Whitfield Country Club,) and Jock Hutchison, as associate pro at the Bobby Jones municipal course. Sarasota surely will occupy a place in the sun of the golfing world next winter. As the center of golf activities, Sarasota is certainly up and coming.
HUTCHISON NAMED FOR GOLF JOB HERE
NEW BOBBY JONES ASSOCIATE PROS
SUNDAY, JULY 7, 1940
FAMOUS GOLFER, SON WILL SERVE AT BOBBY JONES
FORMER BRITISH OPEN, P.G.A. CHAMPION TO ARRIVE ABOUT DEC. 1
Jock Hutchison, sr., one of America’s most popular golf professionals, and his son, Jock, jr., have been named associate professionals at the Bobby Jones course here for the 1940-41 winter season it was announced yesterday by Charles Dempsey, chairman of the municipal golf committee.
Hutchison, former British open and P.G.A. champion, and his son will report here on or about December 1 and will remain until May 1. They will work in closed cooperation with C. V. Kelley, managing professional who is now on duty at the club.
The two Hutchisons are no strangers to Sarasota. They spent part of last winter here, and it was the elder Hutchison wo engaged in a golf marathon with Otto Hackbarth of Cincinnati for the P. G. A. Seniors tournament on the Bobby Jones and Sarasota Bay country club courses.
At the end of the regular 36-hole tournament, Hutchison and Hackbarth were tied. They were still even at the end of an 18-hole playoff the next day, and a second playoff was necessary before Hackbarth took the title by a one stroke margin. Hutchison won the seniors’ crown in 1937 at Augusta, Ga.
The elder Hutchison has been prominently identified with golf for more than 30 years, and at present is head professional at Glenn View club at Golf, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, where her has been located for 24 years. He has been winter pro at Nassau for the past several years, and is known wherever golf is played.
He has won every major golf crown with the exception of the National Open. Here are some of the major events he has won: 1916, Pennsylvania open; 1917, Victory open (which replaced National Open in the war year); 1918, West Coast Open; 1920, Professional Golfers association; 1921, British open, North and South open, Western open; 1922, Northern California open; and 1937, P. G. A. seniors championship. Other titles include Illinois open, Illinois P.G.A., Western Pennsylvania open, five times; and the Florida open.
The annual Seniors’ tournament, a colorful event which attracts most of the veteran golfing stars of the nation, will be played here again next January, and Hutchison is expected to play a prominent part in the festivities. The 1940 meet attracted the largest number of entries in its history.
In announcing the appointments of the winter pros, Dempsey said:
“Jock Hutchison is one of the most popular golf personalities in the world, and also one of the most proficient teachers. It is not unusual for him to teach from 10 to 12 hours a day during the season.
“Jock Hutchison, jr., is one of the younger popular professionals coming up. He qualified for the P.G.A. tournament in 1938, and finished twenty-third in the National open at Cleveland last month.
“After completing college, Jack, jr., was offered a choice of professions by his father, but the lure of golf was too strong. So Hutchison, sr., set about to develop his successor. Both father and son are members of the Professional Golfers association.
“The golf committee has devoted a lot of time in selecting professionals for the winter season, and after investigating numerous applicants for the place, decided on the Hutchisons. We believe this combination, working during the winter with C. V. Kelly, the managing professional, will prove highly popular and beneficial to Sarasota golf and golfers.”
The appointment of the elder Hutchison means that Sarasota will have two of the most famous figures in the game here this winter. George R. Jacobus, for seven years president of the P.G.A., will be managing director of the Sarasota Bay club, after six years as the winter manager at the Bobby Jones club.
WHITMAN WINS IN GOLF TOURNEY
Homer Whitman scored a net 71 to win the blind handicap tournament played yesterday on the Bobby Jones course under the direction of C. V. Kelley, managing professional.
Charles Dempsey and Verman Kimbrough tied for second place with net 75’s, and Charles G. Strohmeyer was third with a net 72.
Other entrants and their net scores: Dr. Joe C. Landess 76, R. M. Whitelaw 78, Francis C. Bart 78, Cosmo L. Williams 78, Miss Betty Robertson 76, Miss Mary Lemont 78, Miss Mildred Emmelhainz 76, Benton W. Powell 79, H. H. Moore 76, J. Addison 66, R. E. Deacon 64 and Luke Grubbs 73.
GOLFERS TO HONOR JACOBUS AT BOBBY JONES SATURDAY
MARCH 14, 1940
The mixed foursomes tournament scheduled for Bobby Jones golf club next Saturday, March 16, has taken on added importance and significance since a group of the club members, both men and women, have dedicated the event to George R. Jacobus, the club manager and professional for the past six winters, and are calling the tournament the “George Jacobus mixed foursomes tournament.” This committee is anxious to make this event the most successful mixed foursomes event ever played at the Bobby Jones club and as many successful tournaments of this kind have been held there in the past, the committee had a big job to make this one the greatest.
The players feel, in honoring Mr. Jacobus with this specially dedicated tournament, that he has been responsible for featuring the mixed foursome tournament at the Bobby Jones club which have been so popular and have been enjoyed by so many players on every occasion. The tournament will also serve as a farewell party to Mr. Jacobus, who will transfer his affiliations to the North Shore club after this present winter season. Many Bobby Jones’ players will soon be leaving for their homes in the north and they are taking this opportunity before they leave of honoring the man who has contributed so much to the success of the club and to the promotion of golf in Sarasota.
Sarasota merchants are liberally contributing prizes for this tournament as their part in this farewell celebration. Many valuable and very beautiful prizes are already on display at the club and others are being received almost hourly by the committee. Those merchants who have already contributed prizes are:
Peerless Clothes Shop, men’s scarf and hose set; Palm cafeteria (Lee Rhodes), dinner for two; The Betty Shop, novelty pin; Harmon’s Men’s Shop, sport shirt; Tropical Garden, one quart scotch; Mike Roth, box of candy; Tucker’s Sporting Goods, canvas back rest; B. H. Mooney (Sarasota hotel), 2 rain shirts, 6 golf balls; Golf Club Grill, one bottle champagne; Hathcock’s Service Station, 5 quarts motor oil; Baccud Liquor Store, one quart scotch; E. W. Harbert, one quart Burgundy; Bert Montressor, 6 golf balls; The Sport Shop, white leather handbag; Mary Marsden Candy Shoppe, large basket candy; Permanent Waving Shop, Revlon nail polish and lipstick; Bert’s, Inc., bronze lamp; Jack & Jill Shop, 3 pairs ladies’ socks; Walgreen Agency, one fountain brush lipstick; Sears Hardware Company, 2 golf balls; Helen Roth’s Beauty Bar, basket of cosmetics; Sarasota Bowladrome, golf lid cigarette box; Liggett’s Drug Store, jar of tobacco; Silver Coffee Cup, chest of soap; John Ringling hotel, dinners for two.
There will be many other prizes as many other merchants have promised to take part in this gala party.
Almost fifty players have entered the tournament to date and indications are that there will be nearly double that number when play gets under way on Saturday. Play will start about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and will be on a handicap basis. All golfers living or visiting Sarasota are invited to play.
The players and the committee have kept the special purpose of this tournament a secret from George Jacobus. Up until the time that this notice appear, George will have known nothing about the nature of this tournament. He only knows that there will be a mixed foursomes tournament, which he is helping to arrange, but he does not know that it is being played in his honor as a farewell gesture by the Bobby Jones club members and guests.
HACKBARTH WINS SENIORS' GOLF CROWN
January 17, 1940
JOCK HUTCHISON FINALLY BEATEN AT NORTH SHORE
Cincinnati Player Overcomes TwO-Stroke Lead on 17th Hole
Otto Hackbarth, lanky white-haired 54-year-old golfer who refused to be beaten, was en route to his Cincinnati home today with the Alfred Bourne trophy, emblematic of the National P.G.A. Seniors’ golf championship.
Hackbarth won the third annual seniors’ tournament yesterday by defeating Jock Hutchison of Chicago, former British open and P.G.A. champion, by one stroke in the second 18-hole playoff round on the North Shore Country Club course.
The new champion toured the par 72 North Shore layout in 74 strokes, while Hutchison needed 75. The match was actually decided on the 18th hole, however, when Hutchison shanked his second shot off to the right of the green and took a five, while Hackbarth holed out in a birdie four.
Hackbarth displayed his courage and determination when he erased Hutchison’s two-stroke lead on the 17th hole. On the 16th, Hackbarth dumped his second shot in a creek and wound up with a seven, Hutchison taking a par five. On the next hole, Hackbarth drove the green and holed out in a birdie two, while Hutchison overhsot the green and needed a four.
The veteran Cincinnati player held a one-stroke lead as they started the second none holes, having toured the first nine in 37. A birdie two on the 13th added another stroke, but he proceeded to lose both strokes on the next two holes. Then came the fatal 16th, and Otto was trailing by a pair of strokes. He got them back on the 17th and went on to win on the 18th.
The two players tied at 146 in the regular 36-hole tournament, and both shot 74’s on the first playoff round on the Bobby Jones layout Monday. Hackbarth completed 72 holes of play with an aggregate 294 to Hutchison’s 295.
Besides taking possession of the Bourne trophy, Hackbarth also was awarded a solid golf medal. Hutchison also was awarded a medal, and both players will receive P.G.A. checks for undisclosed amounts.
Hackbarth said the trophy will rest for the next year at the Cincinnati Country club, where he has been professional for 24 years. He will bring it back to Sarasota and defend the title in the fourth annual tournament next year.
With the tournament over, many of the seniors plan to remain in Sarasota for some time. That they were well=please is shown from the fact that they voted unanimously to come back.
Out 444 344 355 – 36
In 444 344 535 – 36 – 72
Out 643 344 355 – 37
In 544 254 724 – 37 – 74
Out 445 345 355 – 38
In 544 343 545 – 37 – 75
Hutchison won the inaugural tournament at Augusta, Ga., two years ago. Last year’s winner was Freddie McLeod, Washington, D.C., who tied for fifth position in this year’s event.
average goLFER Tries to learn too fast
January 17, 1940
(This is another in a series written for the Associated Press by the nation’s sports leaders, in which they review outstanding events and trends of 1939 and indicate likely developments in 1940.)
By TOM WALSH
(President, Professional Golfers’ Association of America)
Golf, which enjoyed a great year in 1939, is the great game that it is because it cannot be mastered in 24 hours – a fact which Mr. Average Golfer, whose average score is 108 for 18 holes, sometimes does not realize.
Here is the average golfer’s idea of being a keen student of the game:
Phone the club for a lesson, rush out, grab a ham on rye, run to the lesson tee and spend a full half hour, learn three quarters of the Vardon grip, race to the first tee and double the bets with the other three members of the wrecking, toss his handkerchief into the air to test the wind, yell a question to his caddy about his eyesight, and then grab his driver with just one thought in mind” “How far can I sock this thing?”
Of course, if he fails to sock it with the degree of perfection he thinks he deserves, the professional is a poor teacher.
If Mr. Golfer would approach the game in the way women players approach it, the average score would probably drop. Mrs. Golfer does not have the idea she can learn a difficult subject in 30 minutes flat. Teaching golf is a tough job, yet when a professional does succeed in helping the struggling player get more fun from the game, the pro is rewarded with real satisfaction.
During the past year, 39 tournaments were conducted under the guidance of the P.G.A. The purses totaled $184,000.
The P.G.A. Hole-In-One club, organized by Past President George R. Jacobus, proved very popular, with 2,245 hole-in-one emblems being presented golfers by the association.
The third annual P.G.A. Senior’ championship, completed yesterday when Otto Hackbarth defeated Jock Hutchison in the second playoff round, proved an especially interesting event.
The P.G.A. now is making plans to celebrate its silver anniversary in 1941 – an anniversary which will pay tribute to scores of professionals who contributed much time and effort toward the steady advancement and growth of the P.G.A. Among them are Charles Hall, George Jacobus, J. B. Mackie, Alex Pirie and George Sargent, five past presidents who have been named to participate in the anniversary as a special honorary committee.
A letter to walter hagen
FROM Bobby Jones Golf Club Pro GEORGE JACOBUS
don NEWBuRN wins ninth time, retires
february 14, 1938
THE PALM BEACH POST
SARASOTA, Fla., Feb. 13. (U.P.)
TWO GOLFERS TIE FOR FIRST PLACE IN SENIOR EVENT
Friday, December 9, 1938
AUGUSTA, Ga., Dec. 9 – (AP) –
Otto Hackbarth of Cincinnati and Fred McLeod of Chevy Chase, Md., met in an 18-hole playoff today for first place honors in the second annual seniors’ golf tournament over the Augusta national course.
The two veteran professionals ended in a deadlock with cards of 154 yesterday.
Jock Hutchison of Golf, Ill., winner of last year’s inaugural tourney, and McLeod, national open champ of 1908, led the seniors into the final round yesterday, but Hutchison faltered on the last 18 and came in with a 158.
Seniors’ score included:
Class C (50 to 54 years old) E. W. Harbert, Sarasota, 80-79-159.
Baseball Men to Play Golf For Trophy on January 20
January 11, 1938
THE EVENING NEWS – Tonawanda – North Tonawanda
Field is Expected to Exceed 30 with Paul Waner Likely to Be the Favorite – Sarasota, Florida, Will Be Scene of Action Next Thursday
SARASOTA, Fla., (U.P.) – Five major and five minor league baseball players will rank as favorites when the field of more than 30 tee off in the third annual National Baseball Players’ Golf tournament Jan. 20-23, according to pre-tournament performances on the Bobby Jones course here where competition will take place.
No repetition of last year’s event which Sammy Byrd, former New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds outfielder, won hands down, is anticipated this year.
Byrd topped the field of 30 entrants by 14 strokes and finished the 72 holes in even par figures. Since then, however, Byrd has turned professional golfer and no longer is eligible to compete in the baseball tournament.
Wesley Farrell, Washington Senators pitcher, and winner of the first tournament in 1936, will be back to try again this time but is expected to meet stiff competition from at least four other players whose games have shown marked improvement since Ferrell beat them out in the opening tournament.
Paul Waner in Fine Form
Paul Waner, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder and winner of the southpaw championship at Miami last year, is one of the favorites, principally because he is on top of his game and has been since the baseball season ended.
Garland Braxton, who once was a screwball pitcher in the majors and now hurls for the Indianapolis Indians, finished second to Byrd last year and is favored to be close to the top this time.
Lloyd Brown, Cleveland Indians pitcher and Paul Derringer, Cincinnati Red pitcher, are others who must be counted in. Braxton Brown, Waner, Derringer and Ferrell finished in that order after Byrd last year, and only seven strokes separated Braxton at 298 from Ferrell at 305. All of them will compete this year.
Others who will add color as well as golfing ability to the tournament include Dizzy and Paul Dean, Cardinal pitchers; Lloyd Waner, Pittsburgh outfielder; John Cooney, Cardinal outfielder; Heinie Manush and Roy Spencer, Dodgers; Bill Swift, Pittsburgh pitcher; Gerald Walker, Chicago White Sox; Billy Sullivan, Cleveland Indian catcher.
Mickey Cochrane Entered
Also Jimmy Wilson, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies; Johnny Moore, Los Angeles; Mickey Cochrane, manager of the Tigers; Jimmy Foxx, Boston Red Sox; Rick Ferrell, Senator catcher; Nick Altrock, famous old coach and clown and several others.
The prize will be a silver trophy offered by Powell Crosley, Jr., owner of the Cincinnati Reds and Sarasota winter resident. A gold medal also had been donated by George R. Jacobus, president of the Professional Golfers Association and manager of the Bobby Jones club.
A committee composed of Brown, Paul Waner, Braxton and Derringer has been named to draw up rules for the four-day affair which is open only to bona fide baseball players, managers, coaches and trainers.
The tournament is free to the public and spectators come from miles around to see their favorite players in action. Newsreel cameras grind away and autograph seekers enjoy a field day at the tournament.
DIZZY'S STILL DIZZY!
JANuary 3, 1938
The Pittsburgh Press
By The United Press
SARASOTA, Fla., Jan. 3 – Two golf balls, driven from tees 470 yards apart, collided in mid-air here yesterday during an exhibition match and fell within 10 feet of each other on the fairway. Dizzy Dean, Cardinal pitcher, hit one of them from No. 5 tee, hooking it slightly. Al Nelson, assistant pro at the Bobby Jones club, hit the other while playing the No. 6 hole. The balls met about 20 feet above the fairway and fell to the ground near Mrs. Edward Brophy and Don B. Newburn, Sarasota city champion, who vouched for the authenticity of the unusual incident. Dean was playing with Paul Waner, Pirate outfielder, in an exhibition against Lloyd Brown, Indian hurler, and Paul Derringer, Reds moundsman. Dean and Waner won, 1 up. Waner had a 75, four over par; Dean and Brown 76s, and Derringer 79.
JOCK HUTCHINSON WINS INAUGURAL SENIOR TOURNEY
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1937
AUGUSTA, Ga. Dec. 2 (AP) – Jock Hutchison, 54-year-old former British open champion, captured the professional golfers’ inaugural $2,000 seniors’ tournament today, carding the only par round of the event to finish with a 54-hole total of 233.
The Golf, Ill. Shot-maker, added a 72 to his first two rounds of 76 and 75 to finish eight strokes in front of George Gordon of Rumsford, R. I., who posted a final 73 to turn in a 231 total.
JACOBUS DUE TODAY
George R. Jacobus, president of the P. G. A., who has been in Augusta attending the national seniors’ golf championship, is expected to arrive in Sarasota today to assume his duties as professional at the Bobby Jones golf course. The remainder of the staff has already arrived.
P.G.A. Head tries to ease ryder row
July 24, 1937
Chicago Daily Tribune
The six members of the American Ryder cup squad who are competing in the $10,000 Chicago open golf tournament at Medinah yesterday received a telegram from George R. Jacobus, president of the P.G.A., asking from each an expression of regret for the verbal backfire following their recent journey to England.
Several members of the Ryder cup team were reported to have been bitter in their criticism of the conduct of the galleries at the British open, which Henry Cotton of England won after the American delegation had appeared so strong in advance that it was favored to win five of the first six places.
The general reaction of the six Ryder cup stars to Jacobus’ wire was that their comments on their overseas invasion had been considerably magnified. Horton Smith, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Ralph Guldhahl, Henry Picard, and Johnny Revolta all praised the treatment they had received from the British P. G. A.
Guldhahl, as one of the leading speakers on the subject of gallery behavior at the British open, still maintained his opinion that the fans at Carnoustie had not extended themselves in their attitude toward the American players. Revolta and Snead, both making their first European journey, were particularly high in their praise of their receptions and treatment.
Smith pointed out that a gallery of 25,000, such as followed the British open, could not be expected to be perfect in deportment. Sarazen, who was making his tenth trip across, said that the American players had received their share of the breaks stressing the fact that his ball had struck a women spectator and had rolled on the green.
JACOBuS ENDS THIRD SEASON HERE TUESDAY
Saturday, March 27, 1937
Following his third successful winter season as manager and resident professional at the Bobby Jones course here, George R. Jacobus, president of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, will leave Tuesday for Augusta where he will attend the Augusta national golf tournament, it was learned yesterday.
Folloing the Augusta tourney, Mr. Jacobus will return to Ridgewood, N. J., where he has been connected with the Ridgewood Country club for more than 20 years. He will return to Sarasota on December 1.
Al Nelson, assistant pro at the local course, and Mrs. Nelson, city women’s champion who has aided in the many activities at the course this season, also will leave Tuesday for Hopewell where the couple are locating during the summer months.
Jules Edwards, caddy-master and starter, already has returned to Ridgewood, but Ray Jamieson, another member of Mr. Jacobus’ staff, will remain in Sarasota throughout the summer. Mrs. Gladys Johnston will also continue as hostess at the club.
The city council recently unanimously re-employed Jacobus for the 1937-1938 season. He already has announced that Nelson will again be his assistant next season.
WALTER HAGEN IS NAMED RYDER CUP CAPTAIN
Monday, March 9, 1937
NEW YORK, March 7 (AP)
Walter Hagen, veteran professional, has been appointed captain of the 1937 United States Ryder Cup golf team, George R. Jacobus, president of the Professional Golfers’ Association, announced today from his winter headquarters at Sarasota, Fla. The matches will be played June 29 and 30 at the Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club, Southport, England.
Selection of the playing members of the team will be made later, Jacobus said.
BIG LEAGUER LOSES
February 2, 1937
The STANFORD DAIL
SARASOTA, Fla., Feb. 23 (U.R.)– Don B. Newman of Sarasota, seven times city golf champion, yesterday regained his title as he defeated Paul Warner, National League batting champ, in the finals of the city tournament, 4 and 3.
Paul Waner Bows In Sarasota Golf Final
February 23, 1937
The Pittsburgh Press
By The United Press
SARASOTA, Fla., Feb. 23 – Don B. Newman of Sarasota held his eighth city championship today after his 4 and 3 defeat of Paul Waner, Pittsburgh outfielder, in finals of the city golf tournament.
Waner was two down Sunday when rain halted the 36-hole match at the end of the first 18. He was five down after the first nine yesterday and Newburn ended the match on the 15th.
Byrd Leads in Ball Players’ Golf Tourney
January 23, 1937
Chicago Daily Tribune
SARASOTA, Fla., Jan. 22 – (AP) Placing a 74 beside the par shattering 70 he shot yesterday, Sammy Byrd, Rochester outfielder, led the field by five strokes when the national baseball player golf tournament reached the halfway mark today.
In a four way tie for second place were Lloyd Brown, Cleveland pitcher; Paul Derringer, Cincinnati pitcher; Paul Waner, Pittsburgh outfielder, and Garland Braxton, Milwaukee pitcher. Each had a 36 hole score of 149.
Brown and P. Waner carded 73s to take low scoring honors for the day. Brown was three under par when her approached the 17th tee, but he suffered a stroke penalty there and needed six for the par four 18th hole.
Dizzy Dean Gets 75.
Byrd had a one-under par 35 at the turn, but ran into plenty of trouble on the second none and took a 40, four over par.
Braxron, runner-up yesterday with a 71, took a 78 today. Derringler posted a 75 along with his 74 of yesterday.
Mrs. Dizzy Dean followed her husband around the course today and the St. Louis Cardinal pitcher carded a 75 to tie for seventh place with a 36 hole score of 153. He shot a 78 yesterday.
Ferrell Takes 79.
Tied with Dean was Wesley Ferrell, the defending champion, who required a 79. Ferrell appeared to be practically out of the running for the championship he won last year.
A BASEBALL STORY OF BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB
“Many of my fellow players lived in Florida in the winter, and we often got together to play golf in various leagues and tournaments. Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean, Heinie Manush, Lloyd Brown, Mickey Cochrane, and a number of others played. Even if we were enemies on the baseball diamond, we were friends on the golf course.
“Nobody was more entertaining to watch on a golf course than Wes Ferrell, the big right-hander for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and Washington Senators. Ferrell was a nice fellow who was unfortunately burdened with one of the world’s worst tempers.
“Ferrell and Paul Waner, an outfielder and left-handed hitter with Pittsburgh, challenged Gerald Walker and me to a $50 Nassau match. We accepted the challenge, although those were very high stakes at that time. Walker came from Ole Miss and was a real competitor. He had about a 5 handicap, while mine was about a 3.
“When Waner golfed, he carried a pint of whiskey in his bag and would sip from it all the way around the course. One story that made the rounds about him was that, after leading the league in hitting one year, the owner called him in and told him he didn’t appreciate that he had been drinking throughout the season. The owner said ne wanted Waner to sign a contract that forbade him from drinking, for which he would get a bonus. He signed the contract. When the new season started, Waner couldn’t buy a hit for the first two or three weeks, so the owner called him back in and told him to forget about that clause. He started drinking again, and the hits soon followed.
“Walker and I went down to Sarasota to play Ferrell and Waner in a match at Bobby Jones Country Club; we beat them for $200. We beat them on the front side, we beat them on the back side, and we beat them on the press.
“Ferrell had to borrow my driver to tee off on hole No. 9 because he had broken all four of his woods in his fits of rage. “Have a new set of woods for me and meet me on No. 10,” he told his caddy. When we got to the 10th hole, the caddy was waiting with the new set of woods. We had a fore caddy with us that day as well, and he was standing out near the brook that ran across No. 10. It would have been very hard, almost impossible, to reach that brook, because you had to hit the doggone thing almost 300 yards to get there. Even for Ferrell, who could really hit the ball, that was a tremendous poke.
“Ferrell stepped up to the tee with his brand-new wood and hit it right on the screws. We stood there and watched it, and told him, ‘That ball’s in the water.’
“’In the water?’ he replied. Pretty soon, the fore caddy took his finger and pointed it down, to signal that the ball had indeed gone in the water. Ferrell picked up that brand new club. He had only hit one ball with it, and had hit that ball perfectly. But he slammed that wood against the cast-iron arrow they had at all the tees. The head of the brand-new club popped right off.”
- ELDEN AUKER in his book “SLEEPER CARS AND FLANNEL UNIFORMS: A Lifetime of Memories From Striking Out the Babe to Teeing It Up With the President”
THE FOURSOME THAT DAY
Elden LeRoy “Submarine” Auker (1910-2006), a three-sport nine-varsity-letter athlete, has been called “the greatest all-around athlete in Kansas State history.” Recruited by Bronko Nagurski, he turned down a $6,000 offer to quarterback the Chicago Bears, and signed for $450 as a right-handed pitcher with the MLB American League Tigers. In his 1933-1942 Major League Baseball career, he compiled a 130-101 record with Detroit, the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Browns. The first batter Auker faced was Babe Ruth, striking him out in four pitches, and eventually became the last living pitcher to have faced Ruth. Auker pitched in consecutive World Series in 1934 and 1935, leading the league in winning percentage in ’35. In the Tigers’ winning 1935 championship Series, he was interviewed by young Cubs radio broadcaster Ronald Reagan, who called the interview “my first big break.” Auker pitched the first illuminated Major League night game, and appeared at the last gam played in Tiger Stadium. “About a three” handicap, Auker regularly “golfed his age” in retirement in Vero Beach, Florida
Wesley Cheek “Wes” Ferrell (1908-1976) played Major League Baseball as starting right-handed pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators, New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Braves from 1927 to 1941. His 37 home runs as a batter remain a Major League Baseball career record for pitchers, and, included in the 1981 book “The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time”, he is considered the best-hitting pitcher of all time. He is the only pitcher since 1900 to win 20 games in his first four full Major League seasons, and led the League in wins in 1935. Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, twice an All-Star and a member of both Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox Halls of Fame, Ferrell died at 68 in Sarasota, Florida.
Gerald Holmes “Gee” Walker (1908-1981) was a Major League Baseball outfielder from Gulfport, Mississippi, playing for the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds from 1931 to 1945. Walker was both an All-Star (1937) and a World Series champion (1935) for the Tigers, and was among perennial leaders in stolen bases. He batted .300 or better in five of his first seven seasons, and .353 in 1936. Walker is the only player in Major League history to hit for the cycle on Opening Day, and did so in his own inimitable reverse-order style; home run, triple, double, single; termed an “unnatural cycle”. “The Madman from Mississippi” fan favorite is a member of both the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame.
Paul Glee “Big Poison” Waner (1903-1965), of Harrah, Oklahoma, played right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves and New York Yankees of Major League Baseball, winning three NL batting titles, accumulating 3,152 hits, with a 20-year .334 career batting average, leading the league in RBIs in 1927, earning the NL Most Valuable Player Award and as a four-time All-Star in his 1926-1945 Hall of Fame career. Ranked #62 on The Sporting News list of 100 Greatest Baseball Players in 1999, his #11 uniform number was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007. Paul and his younger brother Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner hold the Major League record for total combined career fraternal hits, above the three Alou brothers and the three DiMaggios. Waner died at age 62 in Sarasota, Florida.
GOLF STARS TO PLAY IN EXHIBITION HERE TODAY
Sunday, February 23, 1936
Bobby Jones Cracks Par in Match Here
GOLF STARS IN ACTION HERE
RECORD GALLERY OF 2,000 SEES EXHIBITION GOLF
Georgian Teams With Newburn to Defeat Walsh and Jacobus
By R. BOYNTON ROGERS, JR.
Before the largest gallery ever to witness a golf match over the Bobby Jones golf course – estimated at approximately 2000 fans – Bobby Jones himself, the immortal golfer after whom the local course was named, turned in the sparkling score of two under par as he rounded the links in top form.
Playing in a best ball exhibition latch with Don Newburn, local businessman and recently defeated city champion, as his partner against Frank Walsh, Chicago professional, and George Jacobus, president of the PGA and manager of the local course, the Atlanta lawyer tallied a 34 and 35 for a total 69.
The Chicago golf professional registered a score of 36-35 for a 71, even par, while Newburn and Jacobus carded 74’s, with 37-37 and 38-36, respectively. The Jones-Newburn team defeated the Jacobus-Walsh team on the seventeenth green, 2 and 1.
The colorful gallery, comparable with that of larger Florida cities, displayed a great deal of enthusiasm and interest. Many of the spectacular shots drew applause. On several occasions enthusiasm carried the crowd and interfered with the playing.
The match was opened by an address by Mayor E. A. Smith as he introduced the players on the first tee. This was really a rededication of the local links. Mayor Smith said, and “Sarasota is proud and happy, to have the famous golfer with us again after ten years.”
Jones, who is usually noted for his brassie shots, displayed the most spectacular golf on his short game. His approaches were “dead” to the pin and many of his putts dropped from 12 and 15 feet.
Walsh, on the other hand, starred on his long drives which soared down the fairways, averaging approximately 250 to 270 yards on each hole. Jacobus, who has played little during the past few months, and Newburn played steady, even golf.
The match was all even until the players reached the 470-yard, par five, fourth holes, which was copped by Walsh when he registered a birdie to the other three pars. Nevertheless, the match was evened on the sixth, as Jones and Newburn each took fours to their opponents’ fives.
Jones continued on the seventh, a 315-yard go, as he placed his team one up when he made a birdie three. The eighth hole was halved, but the ninth also went to Jones.
For the first three holes of the second nine, all four contestants registered identical scores, and on the short thirteenth Jones and Walsh tied with pars. The next hole was also tied when the Atlanta golfer and Jacobus halved with par fours.
To close the match, the sixteenth hole was completed with four threes and seventeenth, the deciding hole, was also halved as all but Jacobus tallied birdie threes.
Jones 443 544 334- 34
Newburn 443 554 434- 37
Jacobus 543 545 435- 38
Walsh 443 445 435- 36
Jones 454 354 334 - 35 - 69
Newburn 454 445 335- 37 - 74
Jacobus 454 444 344- 36 - 74
Walsh 454 345 334- 35 - 71
Revolta And Picard Paired Against Sarazen, Thompson
Another great golfing show is scheduled at the Bobby Jones course this afternoon when four of the world’s greatest professionals will appear in an 18-hole exhibition match that will get under way at 2 o’clock.
Johnny Revolta, youthful P.G.A. champion who won the Sarasota Open event here last December, will be paired with Henry Picard, big money-winner from Hershey, Pa., against Gene Sarazen, former American and British Open champion, and Jimmy Thompson, of Ridgewood, N.J., famous as the longest driver in the game.
These famous stars are coming here from St. Petersburg, where they played in a tournament last week. All but Sarazen participated in the first annual Sarasota Open, and Revolta equaled the course record when he toured the course in 65 strokes on the final day.
Revolta, Picard, Thompson and Sarazen are being brought here at no expense to city, but it is hoped that a large gallery will be on hand and add interest to the affair. The admission price is $1.10.
Revolta, a former caddy of Menominee, Mich., has risen from the ranks to the No. 1 position of the professional golfers within the short space of three years. He is now pro at the famous Miami Biltmore course in Miami, and is located at a club in Milwaukee during the summer.
Sarazen’s name is synonymous with golf. He has bee a top-ranking player for may years and has won most of the major tournaments. Picard is another youngster who has shown great promise in the past two years, while Thompson was runner-up to Sam Parks, Jr., in the National Open at Pittsburgh last summer.
MIXED FOURSOME PLAY TOMORROW
That long-delayed mixed foursome tournament will be played at the Bobby Jones course tomorrow afternoon and Manager George Jacobus said yesterday that much interest has been manifest in the event.
Handsome prizes for the leading man and woman have been donated for the event by Mrs. Honore Palmer. Participants are urged to register as soon as possible.
Feminine golfers are urged to record their scores at the club house, as Mrs. Wentworth, of Chicago, has donated a set of Helen Hicks irons to be awarded to the woman turning in the lowest score before March 31.
Spilling the Dope Home-Town Sports Slants
Friday, February 21, 1936
By W.P. Dozier, Jr. Herald Sports Editor
During the next few days, if weather permits, Sarasota will be treated to a round of golfing activities worthy of a city many times its size. Many of the outstanding players of the game are scheduled to appear on the Bobby Jones course, brought here through the efforts of George Jacobus, P.G.A. president and manager of the course. These big shots of the pasture pool game are being brought here at no expense to the city and it is hoped that the citizens will show their appreciation by visiting the course and witnessing the matches.
First, there is the Bobby Jones match slated for tomorrow afternoon. Bobby, now a leading Atlanta lawyer, was the greatest golfer of them all, and he has always has been pretty close to Sarasota. He spent considerable time here in 1925 and 1926, which was before he made his major triumphs on the links. He dedicated the local course, which bears his name. His game is on edge right now, as is evidenced by three par-shattering scores recorded in east coast cities.
Sunday afternoon, four more big-timers will appear here. If you scanned the ranks of professional golfers the world over you couldn’t find four bigger names than Johnny Revolta, Jimmy Thomson, Gene Sarazen and Henry Picard. All are outstanding. Revolta is co-owner of the Bobby Jones course record. He won the Sarasota Open here last summer, the Thomasville, Ga. Open last week, the P.G.A. title last fall, in addition to numerous other smaller events. He carded a 69 in that tourney at St. Petersburg yesterday.
There is also the possibility that Babe Didrikson, probably the outstanding girl athlete of all time, will appear here in a golf exhibition soon. Miss Didrikson excels at most anything she takes up in the way of athletics. She never played golf until after she startled the world with her Olympic triumphs in 1924, but now she is regarded as one of the most promising female prospects. All that is need now for these golf attractions is a little favorable weather and large galleries.
GEORGIAN WILL PLAY IN MATCH SATURDAY
Friday, February 21, 1936
Bobby Jones To Arrive In City Late Today
Exhibition Slated to Start at 1:30 P.M.; No Admission Charge
Bobby Jones, Atlanta lawyer and former king of the golfing world, for whom the local course is named, is expected to arrive in Sarasota late today for an exhibition match which will get under way at the local course tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 o’clock.
Jones and his partner, Milt Reach, with whom he will be paired against Babe Ruth and George Jacobus, will the guests of honor at an informal dinner to be staged at the Sara Sota hotel tonight by Elliott C. Mitchell, publisher of the Paducah, Ky., Sun-Democrat, who is wintering here.
Although the rainfall of early today left the first nine holes of the course in poor condition for play, Mr. Jacobus, manager of the course, said the match will be staged even if only the back nine is playable. The exhibition is free to the public.
Jones is no stranger to Sarasota. He spent considerable time here in 1925 and 1926 and part of his famous match with Walter Hagen was played over the old Whitfield course. He dedicated the municipal course in 1927, and once was given an expensive automobile by a group of admiring Sarasotans.
The Atlanta golfer, who scored the only “grand slam” in history in 1930 when he captured the America and British Open and amateur tournaments, comes here direct from the east coast, where he has shot three consecutive par-shattering rounds.
Meanwhile, consideration interest is being manifest in the exhibition slated for the Bobby Jones course Sunday afternoon when Jimmy Thompson and Gene Sarazen will be paired in a foursome against Johnny Revolta and Henry Picard.
Sunday’s foursome will see in action four of the great professionals stars in the game. Each of the players has captured a number of major championships during the past few years, and Revolta copped the first annual Sarasota Open event held here last December.
Tickets for this exhibition are on sale at leading hotels, Roth’s Cigar store, Badger pharmacy, Tucker’s Sporting goods store and at the golf club.
Entries are being received for the mixed foursome tourney to be staged at the course Monday afternoon, Mr. Jacobus said. Attractive and valuable prizes for this event have been donated by Mrs. Honore Palmer.
Wes Ferrell Wins In Baseball Players' Golf
Tuesday, February 4, 1936
The Fresno Bee The Republican
SARASOTA (Fla.), - Wes Ferrell, Boston Red Sox pitcher, today holds the baseball players' golf championship after rounding the Bobby Jones course for a seventy-two-hole card of 312. Ferrell was awarded a cup, donated by Powell Crosley, Jr., owner of the Cincinnati Reds, and a gold medal. Willis Hudlin, Cleveland pitcher; Mickey Cochrane of the Detroit Tigers and Garland Braxton, Milwaukee pitcher, all tied for second honors with cards of 310. On a toss-up Cochrane won with Braxton taking third money; Hudlin, fourth. Paul Waner, Pittsburgh outfielder, an early leader, finished fifth.
February 3, 1936
The New York Times
February 2, 1936. - SARASOTA, Fla., (AP) – Willis Hudlin, Cleveland Pitcher, took the lead in the first Florida baseball players’ golf tournament today as he carded 76 in his second round for a total of 151.
Yesterday’s pace setter, Jack Russell of Washington, dropped to a tie for fourth, adding an 83 to the 74 he shot in the first round. Wesley Farrell, the Red Sox hurler, climbed to second place with a 74, for a total of 153 A 73 gave Paul Waner of Pittsburgh 156 and third place.
Babe Ruth needed an 87. His 36-hole score was 166, which gave him an even 10-stroke lead in his personal feud with Dizzy Dean, Cardinal ace.
Other scores included:
Mickey Cochrane, Detroit – 80-78 – 158
Gerald Walker, Detroit – 82-79 – 161
Paul Derringer, Cinc. – 82-80 – 162
Garland Braxton, Milw. – 81-81 – 162
Nick Altrock, Wash. – 84-82 – 166
Elden Auker, Detroit – 88-86 – 174
Bob Burke, Albany – 86-89 – 175
Roy Spencer, Baltmore – 88-90 – 178
Johnny Moore, Phil. – 89-91 – 180
John Cooney, Brooklyn – 96-92 – 188
Heinie Manush, Bost. – 97-93 - 190
The Tillinghast Letter
REVOLTA IS VICTOR IN SARASOTA OPEN
December 12, 1935
The Free Lance-Star
SARASOTA, Fla., Dec. 12. (AP)
Johnny Revolta, curly-headed professional golfers association champion from Milwaukee, had a flying start today for the title of biggest money winner for the annual tout of resort fairways.
Slashing par by six strokes in the final round yesterday, he carded a 272 for the $2,000 Sarasota Open and pocketed $500 first money. His 65 on the stretch went into the books as a new course record and his 72-hole score was 10 below par.
The $500 was added to the $350 he won at Orlando last week in the opening event of the winter tour. He tied Bobby Cruickshank of Richmond, Va., for first place at Orlando, but lost in a playoff.
Sarasota Open P.G.A. Champ Snatches First Money With Blazing Finish
December 12, 1935
The Scranton Republican
SARASOTA, Fla., Dec. 11. (AP)
Johnny Revolta, the P. G. A. title-holder, blazed down the stretch In a champion's finish today to break the Bobby Jones Club course record with a 65 and snatch first money in the Sarasota open golf tournament. Five strokes behind Alvin Krueger, Beloit, Wis., the 54-hole leader, Revolta swept past the field in a late finish and scored a 274. Victor Ghezzi, Deal, N. J., came home second with 76.
The victory was worth $500 to Revolta, who started the winter tour at Orlando last week with a tie for first place and then lost top money to Bobby Cruickshank, Richmond, Va., in a playoff.
Faltering on the last two rounds after showing his heels throughout the early stages, Krueger finally carded a 279 and had nothing better than a tie for fifth money. Paul Runyan, the dependable White Plains, N. Y., stylist, was third at 277 and Jimmy Hines, Garden City, L. I., tied for fourth, a stroke back of Runyan, with Bill Mehlhorn, Louisville, Ky.
The sensational final round of Revolta was one stroke better than Krueger's performance yesterday when he hung up the official course record at 66. Low amateur score was posted by Morton McCarthy, Norfolk, Va. He clipped three strokes from par in the final round with a 68 and had an aggregate of 284.
KRUEGER LEADS SARASOTA GOLF
December 11, 1935
CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE
SHOOTS A 66, FIVE UNDER PAR, FOR 133 TOTAL
SARASOTA,FLA. Dec. 10 (AP)
Streaking over the Bobby Jones Links in a rare exhibition, Alvin (Butch) Krueger of Beloit, Wis., today trimmed par by five strokes and took a commanding lead at the half way point of the $2,000 Sarasota open golf tournament.
Krueger carded a 66, five under par, for a 36 hole total of 133. A 67 for the first round gave him a slight edge, but a string of birdies today left him five strokes up on the band of touring pros, who found the going tougher today.
Comes Back in 32.
Out in 34, two below par, the Beloit professional came home in 32.
Far in his wake, Craig Wood of New York and Victor Ghezzi of Deal, N.J. fought it out for second place and came up with a tie at 138. Ghezzi eased up slightly and took a 70 to add to his 68 for the first round, while Wood has two 69s.
Herman Keiser of Springfield, Mo. and Johnny Revolta of Milkwaukee, P.G.A. champion, pressed closed behind with 139s.
Walsh, Mehlhorn Tie.
Two pros, tied at 140, retained an outside chance to overhaul Kreuger in the 36 hole final tomorrow. They were Bill Mehlhorn of Louisville and Frank Walsh of Morton Grove, Ill.
Scores for 36 holes:
[World golf hall of fame members in bold,1935 U.S. Ryder cup team members in ITALIC ALL CAPS, GREAT BRITAIN RYDER CUP TEAMS MEMBERS IN Italics]
Alvin Krueger, Beloit, Wis. 67 66 133 [8-time Wisconsin PGA Champion, 1935 - 1952]
CRAIG WOOD, New York, N. Y. 69 69 138 [1941 US Open Champion]
Victor Ghezzi, Deal, N. J. 68 70 138 [1941 PGA Champion]
Herman Keiser, Springfield, Mo. 69 70 139 [1946 Masters Champion]
Johnny Revolta, Milwaukee, Wis. 68 71 139 [1935 PGA Champion]
Jimmy Hines, Garden City, L. I. 72 68 140
Frank Walsh, Morton Grove, Ill. 70 70 140 [2nd place, 1932 PGA Championship]
Bill Mehlhorn, Louisville, Ky. 69 71 140 [2nd place, 1925 PGA Championship]
PAUL RUNYAN, White Plains, NY 71 69 140 [1934, 1938 PGA Champion]
Bert Montressor, Decatur, Mi. 70 71 141
Jack Toomer, Asheville, N. C. 69 72 141
Tony Manero, Sedgefield, N. C. 71 70 141 [1936 US Open Champion]
Zeli Eaton, Oklahoma City, Okla. 68 73 141
BYRON NELSON, Ridgewood, NJ 74 68 142 [1937, 1942 Masters, 1939 US Open, 1940 and 1945 PGA Champion]
John Watson, South Bend, Ind. 71 71 142
HORTON SMITH, Oak Park, Ill. 70 72 142 [1934, 1936 Masters Champion]
John Bulla, Lockport, Ill. 68 74 142 [14 Arizona Open titles, 1945-1959]
Roland Mackenzie, Washington 74 69 143
Gene Kunes, Philadelphia, Pa. 72 71 143 [1935 Canadian Open Champion]
KY LAFFOON, Chicago 71 72 143
Jim Thomson, Ridgewood, N. J. 70 73 143 [2nd place, 1935 US Open and 36 PGA Championship]
Leonard Dodson, Pembrine Wis. 75 68 143
Dick Metz, Chicago, Ill. 72 72 144 [2nd place, 1938 US Open]
Errie Ball, Spring Hill, Ala. 71 73 144 [PGA Hall of Fame]
Tom Creavy, Albany, N. Y. 71 73 144 [1931 PGA Champion]
Ray Raynor, Woodbury, N. J. 70 74 144
Willie MacFarlane, Tuckahoe NY 71 73 144 [1925 US Open Champion]
M. D. Stahl, Grand Rapids, Mich. 73 71 144
Vincent Eldred, Pittsburgh 74 71 145
Bobby Cruickshank, Richmond 73 72 145 [2nd place, 1923 and 1932 US Open]
Al Sargent, Toledo, O. 74 71 145
John Kinder, Asbury Park, N. J. 70 73 145
Bill Kaiser, Louisville, Ky. 71 74 145
R. Hutchinson, Bethlehem, Pa. 72 73 145
W. Goldbeck, Mount Kisco, N. Y. 73 72 145
Al Nelson, Hopewell, N. J. 71 75 146
Clarence Clark, Bloomfield, N. J. 76 70 146
Ted Luther, Girard, O. 73 73 146
C. Ehrenman, Englemere, Pa. 73 74 147
H. Stonehouse, Noblesville, Ind. 70 77 147
SAM PARKS, JR., Pittsburgh 73 74 147 [1935 US Open Champion]
Bruce Coltart, Wheelhouse, N. J. 71 76 147
Lou Walper, Bethesda, Md. 75 72 147
Felix Serafin, Clark Summit, Pa. 75 73 148
A. Hambrick, French Lick, Ind. 72 76 148
Angelo Paul, Valley Forge, Pa. 75 74 149
Jack Mackie, Inwood, N. Y. 77 72 149
Wiffy Cox, Bethesda, Md. 75 74 149
Joe Ezar, Louisville, Ky. 75 74 149
*C. G. Eberhart, New York, NY73 76 149
Art Straub, Bay Head, N. J. 78 72 150
George Low Jr., Abington, Pa. 78 72 150 [Putter designer, "Greatest Putter of All Time"]
James Martucci, Westwood, N. J. 74 76 150
Tony Midri, Merchantsville, N. J. 75 76 151
Jack Forrester, Oradell, N. J. 78 73 151
Dave Tosh, Winnetka, Ill. 78 73 151
Herb Johnson, Hinesdale, Ill. 79 72 151
J. E. Sprouli, Warren, O. 81 74 155
Lauri Puroli, Cleveland, O. 79 76 155
*F. Smyrock, Minneapolis, Minn. 80 76 156
Frank Moore, St. Louis, Mo. 79 78 157
Arnold Minkley, Philadelphia, Pa. 76 81 157
Joe Laffy, Louisville, Ky. 81 77 158
Frank P. MacDonald, Chicago 81 77 158
*John Griffen, St. Louis 83 84 167
GOLFING CARAVAN IN SARASOTA FOR OPEN LINKS PLAY
December 9, 1935
THE EVENING INDEPENDENT
CRUICKSHANK HEADS PARADE OF STARS AS FAVORITE AFTER WINNING IN ORLANDO MEET
SARASOTA, Dec. 9. (AP)
Additional stars joined the winter golfing cavalcade today as an expert field teed off in the $2,000 Sarasota open tournament.
Fresh from a 72-hole grind at Orlando last wee, most of the professionals and amateurs hardly had time for a practice swing over the Bobby Jones club course.
Little Bobby Cruickshank, Richmond, winner of the Orlando open, was established among the favorites. Johnny Revolta, Milwaukee, whom Crickshank defeated by two strokes in a playoff for first place at Orlando yesterday, was regarded as dangerous.
Several top-notches who did not compete last week started today for a final tryout before the opening Saturday of the $10,000 Miami Biltmore open, golfdom’s richest event.
They were Craig Wood, New York; Victor Ghezzi, Deal, N.J.; Ed Dudley, Augusta, Ga.; Johnny Kinder, Boundbrook, N.j.; and Denny Shute, Chicago.
The amateur list was augmented by seven major league baseball players in Sarasota for the winter. These include Paul Waner, Pittsburg Pirates; Heinie Mnush, Washington Senators; Paul Derringer, Cincinnati Reds; Bill Jurges, Chicago Cubs; Johnny Moore, Philadelphia Nationals, and Lloyd Brown and Willis Hudlin of the Cleveland Indians.
Sam Parks, Jr., Pittsburgh, national open champion, was shooting for a comeback after finishing far back at Orlando.
Other Orlando money-winners who played today, in addition to Cruickshank and Revolta, were Ky Laffoon, Chicago; Paul Runyan, White Plains, N.Y.; Gene Kunes, Philadelphia; Zell Eaton, Oklahoma City; Willie MacFarlane, Tuckahoe, N.Y.; Horton Smith, Joplin, Mo.; Harry Cooper, Chicago; Wiffy Cox, Washington; Tony Manero, Greensboro, N.C.; Dick Metz, Chicago; Frank Walsh, Chicago, and Orville White, St. Louis.
Eighteen holes were scheduled today, with 18 more to be played tomorrow and the 36-hole final Wednesday.
Lloyd Gullikson and Bob Shave will represent Pasadena and Ed Kerby will represent Lakewood as St. Petersburg’s professional representation in the Sarasota open.
SARASOTA OPEN STARTS MONDAY
December 6, 1935
St. Petersburg Times
Obscure Golfer Will Get Chance in Tournament
SARASOTA, Dec. 6. – When more than 100 golfers, including the greatest stars of the links game in this country, begin their pursuit of the $2,000 pie in the Sarasota open here on Monday, there will be two fights to the finish on progress.
The second flight will be back in the welter of unknowns where one seldom looks for fireworks, and it will be, in a sense, an even more important fight than that which will concern the Armours, the Revoltas, the Parkses, the Coopers, the Runyans and the Mehlhorns.
For it will be a fight for a job, one of the best jobs in golf, in fact. It will be a battle for a spot on the all-star professional staff at the Miami Biltmore Country Club in Miami along with Open Champion Sam Parks Jr. and P.G.A. Champion John Revolta.
It will be, too, Col. Henry L. Doherty’s method of showing the little fellows of golf that they are not, after all, forgotten men. The president of the Florida Year-Round clubs will give one of them this job – provided he finishes all 72 holes of the Orlando open, now being played, the Sarasota open, the Miami Biltmore $10,000 open to be played Dec. 14-17 and the British Colonial open, to be played Dec. 20-22 in Nassau, Bahamas.
The obscure golfer will be selected from among those golfers who did not quality for the national P.G.A. championships at Oklahoma City last fall and those who were not among the 60 golfers, with ties, to compete in the final 36 holes of the national open championship at Oakmont. Pittsburgh, last July.
Inasmuch as this fight for the job, a regular winter teaching assignment similar to the jobs held by Parks and Revolta, extends throughout the Sarasota tournament, their will be no lessening of striving, even among those who are back in the ruck. Every stroke will count in deadly earnest, no matter what the player’s total, because he has 288 holes in which to make up of lose ground.
The spectacle of this cat and dog fight among the unknowns, plus the thrill of the golf of the twin champions, Parks and Revolta, plus, too, the pursuit of this regal pair by such stars as Tommy Armour, Harry Cooper, Paul Runyan, Billy Burke, etc., should provide Florida west coast fans with endless excitement through Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 1935
Two more baseball players who like to golf and fish came to Sarasota yesterday for the winter season. They are Paul Waner, Pittsburg outfielder, and Garland Braxton, Milwaukee pitcher. The latter resided in Bradenton last winter but plans to remain in Sarasota this time, provided he can locate a suitable home. Both men are good golfers and shoot in the low seventies. Braxton has gone to the finals of the annual city golf tournament for two years in succession, losing to Don Newburn on both occasions. Both men are accompanied by their families and Sarasota welcome this type of winter visitor.
WALTER HAGEN HERE MONDAY
February 27, 1935
Walter Hagen, the grand old man of golfdom, who won the Gasparilla open tournament at Tampa, will be in Sarasota Monday and will play an informal match at the Bobby Jones course, it was announced today by George Jacobus, professional at the local course.
Hagen will be paired with Mr. Jacobus against two of the leading local amateurs, who will be announced tomorrow. The match will start at 2 o’clock and the public is invited to witness it. There will be no charge.
Hagen and Jacobus will play an exhibition match at the Venice Country Club course Tuesday afternoon.
SARASOTA GOLF TOURNEY MATCH GOES 25 HOLES
THURSDAY, February 9, 1933
Dr. F. E. Fair and Otis Prescott, both of Bradenton, provided the thrills in the championship flight of the city championship golf tournament at the Bobby Jones Golf course Wednesday, when they played 25 holes before Fair won the match, one up. The two golfers were tied at the completion of 18 holes of play, and the last few holes were played in the driving rain which fell later in the afternoon.
Don Newburn, defending city title holder, went into today’s quarter-finals when his scheduled opponent, W. J. Boardman, of New York, who scored an upset to down Dr. David Kennedy in the first day’s play, failed to show up for the match. Will Foulds, Sarasota winter-resident, and Earl Clark, Hamilton, O., also won their matches by default of their opponents, G. A. Goodbread and C. E. Smith, both of Bradenton, also failed to show up.
In other tournament matches, Frank Boyce, Sarasota, defeated George M. Coale, Kenilworth, Ill., three and two; the Rev. George White, Bradenton, defeated Roy Spencer, Cleveland, three and one; Garland Braxton, Milwaukee, defeated Arthur Goldberg, New York, one up; and Paul Derringer, St. Louis, came back to win from Charlie Dempsey, Sarasota, two up after being two down at the thirteenth hole.
Today’s quarterfinal matches in the championship flight are as follows: Newburn vs. Derringer; Fair vs. Foulds; Boyce vs. White; and Clark vs. Braxton.
Results of Wednesday’s matches in the Bobby Jones flight: Mike Roth defeated Dr. David Kennedy, one up; Dr. L. G. Ennis won by default; the Rev. N. P. Coleman defeated W. J. Brodie, one up; H. H. “Butch” Moore defeated W. B. Towles, six and five; Bill Burwell defeated Richard Wolfe, six and five; A. P. Kaye defeated Dr. W. F. Burrows by default; Verman Kimbrough defeated George Toplitz, nine and eight; and Fred Elder drew a bye. Today’s matches in the flight are: Roth vs. Ennis; Coleman vs. Moore; Burwell vs. Elder; Kaye vs. Kimbrough.
Play scheduled for today in the Bobby Jones consolation flight, which comprises the losers in yesterday’s rounds is Towles vs. Brodie. Kennedy, Wolfer and Toplitz drew byes. In the championship consolation rounds today Coale will meet Spencer. Dempsey, Prescott and Goldberg drew byes.
Everett Johnston, manager of the course announced today that a tournament for the golfers over 55 years of age who lost in the early rounds would start immediately after the completion of the city tournament, which ends Saturday. This will be called the “veterans” flight.
HAGEN TO PLAY IN “FOURSOME” HERE TOMORROW
February 5, 1933
Sarasota golfing devotees who remember the one-sided drubbing Walter Hagen, famed golfer, gave Bobby Jones, greatest of them all and one-time Sarasota winter resident, over the Whitfield Country club course back in the “good ole boom days,” will have an opportunity to see just how much of that golfing prowess Hagen has retained when he plays tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock over the Bobby Jones municipal course.
Hagen will be paired with E.W. Harbert, Battle Creek, Mich., professional, who is wintering in Sarasota, against Einar “Andy” Anderson, pro at the Bobby Jones course here, and Harley Greenamyre, youngster who started his golfing here in Sarasota but is now professional at a country club near Chicago during the summer. The match will be an 18 hole best-ball exhibition foursome.
Playing with Greenamyre against Anderson and Vincent Eldrid, Pittsburgh pro, over the Bradenton Country Club course last Wednesday, “The Haig” demonstrated that he is still one of the world’s greatest golfers by breaking the course record with a 68, four under par. He and Greenamyre won the match, two up.
Hagen, whose golfing prowess has furnished many a thrill in competition, both in the United States and abroad, has captured the British open title no less than three times, was American open champion twice, copped the Professional Golfers’ association title five times, and was holder of the Canadian open title for one year. He is the present holder of the Western open championship.
In addition to the major championships, Hagen has won innumerable local, state and sectional titles. This will be his first appearance in Sarasota since the Jones match back in ’25, or early ’26.
Local golfers have been practicing daily for the match and it is expected that it will be a close and interesting battle.
While here, “The Haig” and his party will be the guests of the Sarasota Terrace hotel, through the courtesy of Manager H. P. Dye.
WOMAN’S CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY STARTED TODAY
April 2, 1931
Old Sol smiled down from the sky today and enabled the qualifying rounds of the woman’s championship to get under way at the Bobby Jones course, after being held up for two days.
Qualifying rounds will be played all this week, Manager Everett Johnston announced today. Match play will begin Monday morning.
Originally scheduled for Tuesday, play was postponed until yesterday. However, the rain-soaked greens and fairways made play impossible it was reported by the management.
A number of the city’s foremost lady golfers have entered the tournament. Play is for the Bacon and Tomlin trophy and a number of prizes contributed by local merchants.
SULLIVAN GOLD MEDAL AWARDED TO BOBBY JONES
December 17, 1930
NEW YORK, Dec. 17. (AP) – Bobby Jones’ last and greatest campaign has won for him the Sullivan Memorial award as this country’s outstanding amateur athlete during 1930.
Jones, who accomplished the unprecedented feat of winning all four major golfing championships in a single year, won out by an overwhelming margin over nine other candidates for the award, given for the first time in memory of James E. Sullivan, pioneer worker in the A.A.U.
The golf medal goes “to the athlete who by his performance and by his example and influence as an amateur and a man, had done most during the year to advance the cause of sportsmanship.”
BOBBY JONES WINS PRAISE FOR MANLINESS OF ACTION IN QUITTING GOLF KINGDOM
November 18, 1930
[Bobby Jones, upon his retirement,] “with dignity, quits the memorable scene upon which he nothing common did nor mean.” – The New York Times
SARASOTA GOLF COURSES OFFER SPORT WHEN SNOW COVERS LINKS IN NORTH
October 5, 1930
Bobby Jones Fairways and Greens Beckon Welcome to Visitor Here
EVERETT L. JOHNSTON MANAGES COURSE
When the golf courses of the north are heaped with snow by the chill winds of winter golf enthusiasts pack their favorite clubs and come to Sarasota where they find two of the sportiest and most beautiful courses in the south. In fact after playing over the links, many notables of the golfing world have declared them to be equal to any course in the country.
The Bobby Jones course, owned and operated municipally, is located just east of the winter quarters of the “Greatest Show on Earth.” Since its construction, the course has been under the management of Everett L. Johnston. Under his efficient direction, a crew of men keep the greens and fairways in excellent condition.
Mr. Johnston first came to Sarasota in 1920 from Manchester Conn. His first position here was the operation of the old Sarasota Golf Club under the late Col. Gillespie. Following the death of Col. Gillespie, he managed the links for the late C. N. Payne and Charles Ringling. On completion of the municipal course, Johnston assumed management, and the old course was abandoned.
The Bobby Jones course was constructed during the years 1925 and 1926, with Donald Ross, noted golf architect, designer and builder. The first nine holes were opened for play in July, 1926, and at once became very popular. An idea of its immediate popularity can be had from the record of November of the same year, when 1,13 golfers teed off.
Although opened for pay In 1926, its formal opening did not take place until Feb. 12, 1927. At that time Bobby Jones, the czar of golfdom, cut the ribbons at the first tee and played in a foursome with Watts Gunn, Jim Senter and Louis Lancaster. A gallery of approximately 1,500 followed the match.
The total yardage of the course is 6,290, for which the men’s par is 71 and the ladies 81. The longest hole is No. 4 which is 511 yards and the shortest is No. 13 with 149 yards. Although the course is not severely trapped, very few golfers have broken par.
Quite a few improvements have been made this summer on the course in preparation for the winter season, including the building of several new greens. Besides the various minor events scheduled, a number of tournaments are being planned by Mr. Johnston for the winter. Activity, however, is not confined to the season alone as numerous tournaments are staged during the summer. A recent flag tournament attracted golfers from all over the West Coast.
Rivaling the municipal course is that of the Whitfield Estates Country club which is reputed to be one of the five best in the entire country. Although not in play this summer, numerous improvements are planned by the committee in charge and it is hoped that the course will be opened again this winter.
The course, which was built and designed by the famed architect, Donald Ross, occupies a 125 acre tract of high, rolling ground in Whitfield Estates, north of the city. Boles Creek, running through the course, affords perfect drainage facilities. It also provides sportive water hazards, being crossed no fewer than nine times in the course of playing eighteen holes. The championship length of the course is 6.671 yards, with a par of 71.
Since its opening, the Whitfield course has been a mecca for famous golfers of the world. Such players as Johnny Farrell, Jim Barnes, Timmy Armour, Leo Diegel, Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen and the pride of Georgia, Bobby Jones have tried their prowess along its fairways. Two matches were played in 1926 by Compston and Massey, champions of England and France.
In building the club house, the designing architect took advantage of a high plot of land which permitted a view of a large part of the course from the side porches. From the other side is an almost uninterrupted view of Sarasota bay. Adjoining the clubhouse is the swimming pool.
Besides serving as the club for the Whitfield golf course, the clubhouse is the scene of numerous social events during the season. The calendar includes the usual tea and dinner dances, as well as privately arranged parties.
City's BOBBY JONES GOLF COURSE HAS FINEST TURF IN ALL OF SOUTH
October 6, 1929
Was Designed and Laid Out by Famous Donald Ross, Expert Architect
VIEWS OF MUNICIPAL GOLF LINKS
The Bobby Jones golf course, owned and operated municipally, gives Sarasota an 18-hole links with the finest turf in the south. Golfers from the north heap praise on the condition of the course each winter when they play over it. Golfers of nearby cities often come to Sarasota for their round of golf, preferring the local course to the ones at home.
Condition of the fairways of the Bobby Jones course is as fine as the greens of many courses.
The Bobby Jones course was constructed during the years 1925 and 1926. Donald Ross, the noted golf architect, designed and built the course. The first nine holes were opened for play July 1, 1926, and at once became very popular, attracting golfers from all over the state. An idea of its popularity can be has from the record of November, 1926, when 1,137 golfers played the course.
Formal Opening of Course
Although opened for play in 1926, the formal opening did not take place until Sunday, February 12, 1927. At that time the one and only Bobby Jones, golfer of all golfers, after whom the course was named, cut the ribbons at the first tee and played over the course in a foursome with Watts Gunn, Jim Senter and Louis L. Lancaster. A gallery of 1,500 followed the match.
The Bobby Jones course has a total of 6,290 yards. The men’s par is 71 and the ladies’ par is 81. Although the course is not severely trapped, the fairways wide and the rough not bad, very few have had the honor to break par. The longest hole is No. 4 which is 511 yards and the shortest is No. 13 with 149 yards.
The first record of the coure was won by Bill Hartshorn in 1927, who shot a 68 for 18 holes. The same year Harley Greenameyre tied Hartshorn for honors with a 68. The following year Hartshorn broke his own record shooting a 66. Lloyd Greenameyre went one better in breaking the record set by Hartshorn by shooting a 65. This feat was accomplished on Sunday, February 5, 1929. He still retains this honor and will for some time to come. Lloyd is professional at the course during the winter season and is engaged at the Christiana Tavern Country Club of Edwardsburg, Mich.
Miss Cornelia Curtis holds the ladies’ record of the course with an 82. The was Miss Curtis’ qualifying score in the ladies’ city championship in 1927, for the Bacon-Tomlin Cup. Miss Curtis came through as the winner in the city championship. Mrs. Fred Woolley is the present ladies’ champion having won the title in 1928 and 1929.
The Bobby Jones course has been the scene of the Sarasota golf championship matches since its opening. Don Newburn was the first winner of this title and today holds the beautiful Charles Ringling trophy which he won three years in succession, 1926-27-28. The champion today is Harley Greenameyre who won the Vanderkloot trophy for 1929, and took the crown from the former contender, Newburn.
Since the opening of the course many tournaments have been held. Some of the important events and their winners are as follows: The first tournament held the opening season was an invitation tournament with 127 entrants. Louis Lancaster was the winner. The ladies’ gold putter tourney was won by Mrs. Nelson. The ladies’ city championship and the men’s championship was played off and the high school boys held their tourney, Louis Wood winning the Lancaster trophy. Many other tournaments have been staged at the Bobby Jones course.
Since 1927 Sarasota has been represented by a team in the West Coast Golf League. This team consists of the best golf talent in Sarasota. Friendly matches are played with teams representing cities on the west coast to promote a better golfing spirit.
The Bobby Jones course since its construction or from the time it was laid out has been under the management of Everett Johnston. Johnston has observed every blade of grass, every shrub and every new tree with watchful eyes.
Mr. Johnston first came to Sarasota in 1920, from Manchester, Conn. Like a great many other golf promoters he started his career as a caddie. His first position at Sarasota was the operation of the old Sarasota Golf Club under the direction of the late Col. Gillespie. After the death of Col. Gillespie, Mr. Johnston operated the course for the late C. N. Payne, who had been interested in the course with Col. Gillespie In 1925 Mr. Payne sold his holdings to the later Charles Ringling. Mr. Johnston operated the course for the Charles Ringling Company until the Bobby Jones course was completed and after that the Charles Ringling course was abandoned.
Mr. Johnston has been an ardent worker and in taking over the Bobby Jones course assumed a great responsibility. After three and a half years of hard work he has built up a wonderful reputation for himself and the Bobby Jones golf course. Mrs. Everett Johnston is in charge of the club house and has proven to be a very pleasing hostess. Both she and Mr. Johnston are very much in love with their work and make tourists and residents always welcome.
At the club house Mr. Johnson has a book in which is written testimonials praising the course and its management.
Events This Season
The coming winter season is expected to be a banner one for the Bobby Jones course. Besides the various minor tournaments scheduled for the winter months, the ladies’ city championship and the men’s city championship will be played over the course. It is expected to have some golf exhibition matches arranged with leading golf champions. Lloyd Greenameyre, professional, will again be on hand to teach the fine points of the game.
Thus year quite a few improvements have been made on the course. A beautification program has been carried out. A large addition is under construction at the club house which will greatly improve the men’s locker rooms and club house.
In all the Bobby Jones course will prove a rendezvous for the golfer this winter.
WEST COAST GOLF LEAGUE PLAY OPENS TODAY
SARASOTA TEAM PLAYS HERE IN INITIAL MATCH
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1927
Palmetto-Bradenton Club Will Oppose Locals Over Course at Whitfield
The West Coast golf league opens today with all of the 10 citiesperforming in their initial matches and with Sarasota’s entry opposing the team from Palmetto-Bradenton at the Whitfield course. The match here is scheduled to get under way at 2 o’clock.
Six of the 10 members of the Sarasota team will be seen in action against the opposition this afternoon, Louis Lancaster and Captain Jim Senter in number one section, Harry Newburn and Mike Roth in number 2 and William Van Dame and Pearson Conrad, Jr. in number 3.
Other matches to be played around the circuit this afternoon re, Winter Haven at Bartow, Sebring at Lake Wales, in the ridge section; Clearwater at St. Petersburh, Tarpons Springs at Venice and the local match in the Gulf section. Louis Lancaster, president of the league, says that everything points to a successful season and states that there is a great deal of interest being shown in the league.
It is expected that a large crowd will be present this afternoon to see the Sarasota team attempt to get off on the correct side by grabbing a victory over the visiting Palmetto-Bradenton outfit of golfers.
SARASOTA GOLFERS ARE INVITED IN TOURNAMENT
Sarasota’s team in the West Coast golf league may enter the Jungle club tourney at St. Petersburg this winter, Louis Lancaster announced yesterday. He stated that he has received an invitation to enter the team in the meet there.
COUNTY GOLF TOURNEY OPENS THIS MORNING
THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 1927
Qualifying Rounds Held Yesterday But Actual Play Begins at Whitfield Toda
Although the first round of the Sarasota County Golf Tournament was held yesterday the real matches will not start until today. Qualifying rounds were held Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and Harley Greenamyer again led the field with a fine 76 that was almost perfect golf for the sporty Whitfield Estates Course.
In yesterday’s match Randolph Pipes defeated James Oliver eight and six. On the only other two scheduled Major George Day defeated Charles Jordan by default and Pierson Conrad, Jr. Clyde Ingalls in the same manner.
Today’s matches will prove very interesting. Perhaps the closest match pf the day and the one many will watch is that between Louis Lancaster and Jim Senter. This pair has teamed up very successfully all year in the West Coast Golf League and each is claiming that it is through his efforts that the team has won so many matches. Today’s play will show who has been the real “load”.
The pairing for today are Harvey Greenamyer vs. Pierson Conrad, Jr., Louis Lancaster vs Jim Senter, Louis Lancaster vs Randolph Pipes and Major Day vs J. M. Boggs.
The winner of the tournament will have his name engraved and will win one leg on the mammoth Gillespie trophy on display at Mike Roth’s on Main street. Prizes will be given the low qualifier, Greenmyer, also the runner up in the tournament.
The members of the Sarasota City golf team in the West Coast Golf league have been announced for the next four weeks as follows: Don Newburn, Harvey Greenamyer, Jim Senter, Louis Lancaster, William Foulds, William Van Dame, J. M. Boggs, Mike Roth, Randolph Pipes and Major Day. The next match is with the league-leading Clearwater team at Whitfield, and every energy will be put forth to make up for the defeat administered by this team when the local team journeyed to Clearwater a few weeks ago.
The Bobby Jones Day
January 18, 1927
Louis Lancaster, chairman of the entertainment committee, said that Bobby Jones would arrive in the city on February 12, would be met by a band and that a parade would be staged followed by an elaborate dinner at the Hotel Mira Mar and that on the following day a match contest between Jones and Watts Gunn would be played on the Municipal Course here to formally dedicate that course. Much publicity is expected to result to the city by reason of the scheduling of this match.
FIRST WEST COAST GOLF LEAGUE MATCH PLAYED IN FLORIDA
NOVEMBER 5, 1926
TAMPA, Fla., Nov. B.M The first round Of the 1926-27 season of the West Coast Golf League was played yesterday in matches at Palmetto, St. Petersburg, Lakeland and Bradentown. Winterhaven won over Lakeland, two matches to one, while Sarasota defeated Bradentown by the same count. Tampa and Palmetto fought to a tie when the third and deciding foursome of the match was halted on the 20th hole by darkness. Clearwater, led by John F. Dailey, state champion, and including Dailey’s runner-up, Harry K. B. Davis, won over St. Petersburg in all three contests. The league schedule calls for 14 matches to be played at two-week intervals. League standings, similar to baseball percentage tables, will be maintained throughout the season and the winning team will be presented with a trophy placed at stake by Louis Lancaster, president of the league.
TEN RANKING GOLFERS NAMED HERE
NOVEMBER 3, 1926
The ten ranking golfers for the Sarasota golfing team as announced yesterday through the offices of the department of public recreation follow:
J. C. Senter, Harley Greenameyer, Don Newburn, Louis Lancaster, J. M. Boggs, Z. F. Lewis, Russell Gray, George Van Dame, Dot Fulghum and Jack Beasley.
According to Supt. D. B. Wright the ratings given in order above are subject to change each golfer in the list having the privilege to challenge the person next above him on the list. It is also permissible for any person in Sarasota to enter the list at any time, and work his way up through the open challenge-play method, provided he first hands in a qualifying round of 36 holes.
The first team match will be played Thursday at 1:30 p.m. over the [Donald Ross designed] Bradenton Country Club course. Another round will be held this afternoon at [Donald Ross designed] Whitfield Estates.
The scores for 72 holes were:
Jim Senter 333, H. Greenameyer 334, Don Newburn 344, Lewis Lancaster 345, J. M. Boggs 352, Z. F. Lewis 352, Russell Gray 359, W. W. Johnson 361, Mike Roth 368, Dot Fulghum 371, Rand Pipes 380, Jack Beasley 381.
NOTED AMATEUR MAY LEAD CITY GOLFERS’ TEAM
October 29, 1926
The Evening Independent
CHICK EVANS PROBABLY WILL CAPTAIN LOCAL ENTRY IN COAST LEAGUE
Everything points to the West coast of Florida as the center of amateur golf interest this fall and winter. While the professionals, lured by the siren that makes them pros, are trekking to California for the winter season, famous amateurs will disport on the fairways and greens of Florida. The West Coast Golf league is coming in for a big play from these well-know niblick wielders. Chick Evans, who has taken more important golf titles, perhaps, than any other amateur of his age in the world, will probably lead in the Sunshine City team in the West Coast circuit.
Bobby Jones, world’s golf champion, who calls Sarasota his home a part of the time, may be called upon to aid that city in the league championship battle which will begin with the opening matches on November 4. Jones has been mentioned as a leader of his team and many have to swing into competition in order to keep his city in the running.
SARASOTA WILL WELCOME HOME GOLF CHAMPION
THURSDAY, July 22, 1926
Bobby Jones to Get Elaborate Reception on Return to Winter Home
TAMPA BAY Times
SARASOTA, July 21 – (AP) – All is in readiness for Sarasota’s big welcome home to Bobby Jones, golf champion and winter resident of this city. At the last moment an effort to detain Jones on his way to this city in another Florida town was learned of and this effort has been circumvented by the appointment of a huge body guard which will meet him north of Tampa.
Immediately upon his arrival here a public reception and welcome will be held in McAnsh Park. Mayor Bacon will deliver an address of welcome and the champion will respond briefly. Other civic leaders will also make brief talks. The afternoon is to be given over to the champion in which to plan his own program of entertainment, this having been his expressed wish that he might renew friendships here.
In the evening a banquet will be served at the Sarasota Terrace Hotel and at 9:30 o’clock a dance and reception will be held at the Whitfield Estates Country Club, where Jones last winter played and of which he is a member.
Business houses will close at noon tomorrow to permit their employees to attend the welcome. Scores of reservations were reported at local hotels tonight from out of town guests for tomorrow and it is expected that thousands of visitors will attend the celebration in honor of the golf champion.
bobby jones to visit tampa thursday
July 18, 1926
TAMPA SUNDAY TRIBUNE
KING OF LINKS TO BE MET HERE BY PARTY OF SRARSOTA FRIENDS
British and American Open Champion To Be Feted With Celebration at Winter Home; To Play Match With Leading Professional of Section While on West Coast
Bobby Jones, whose victories in golf’s two major event – the British and American Open tournaments – have stamped him as king of the links, will make a triumphant return to Florida this week.
Thursday, Bobby will be in Tampa for a short while, enroute to Sarasota for a big celebration and home-coming being arranged for him there.
Press notices yesterday were to the effect that a delegation from Sarasota will meet Bobby as he steps from the train here Thursday. After a short stay-over here, he will be carried on to Sarasota to visit again the links of the Whitfield Estates, with which he was associated last winter.
The homeward journey of the British and American golf champion has bene one of glory, in which the Atlanta boy had been greeted and acclaimed all along the route. In Florida, where he is known as on the greatest of the state’s winter golfers, Bobby is expected to meet an even warmer reception.
Plays Exhibition Matches
Bobby will visit Florida – including Tampa – after playing a series of exhibition matches in Kentucky and after visiting with his parents in Atlanta.
He will leave the train at Tampa, press notices last night said, to make the remainder of the trip to Sarasota by automobile.
He will be met by the Sarasota delegation here. Although no arrangements had been completed last night, Bobby’s friends in Tampa expect to fete him during his brief stay here.
Sarasota Plans Party
SARASOTA, JUL 17. – (Tribune News Service.) – Arrangements are practically complete for the celebration to be held here July 22 in honor of Bobby Jones, winner of the National open golf championship. The golfer will be met in Tampa by a delegation of Sarasotans and brought to the city by auto. Arriving shortly after noon, the champion will be taken to the Mira Mar Park, where the public exercise will be held, followed by a public reception. Three decorated automobiles will meet the car bearing the golf king at Palmetto and accompany him to Sarasota as an escort of honor. It is expected here that the attendance at the ceremonies will be large because of the popularity of the winter resident in this city. The address of welcome will be delivered by Mayor E. J. Bacon.
To Play Match
Louis Lancaster, ardent follower of the game, will make a short talk on the achievements of Jones, while Jules Brazil will be in charge of the entertainment features. During the afternoon Jones will be entertained privately by his friends. In the evening there will be the banquet to be held at the Sarasota Terrace hotel and the dance at the Whitfield Estates Country club, of which Jones is a member.
Jones will play a match game while here with one of the leading professionals of this region on the Whitfield golf course and it is expected that thousands from every part of Florida will come to witness this match. The day has been officially designated by the mayor as “Bobby Jones Day” and the entire city will be turned over to him.
SARASOTA WILL GIVE JONES BIG RECEPTION
July 13, 1926
St. Petersburg Times
SARASOTA, July 12 – (AP) – Plans were completed here today for a mammoth reception to be given here for Bobby Jones, national and British golf champion, who will arrive July 22. Jones is a winter resident of Sarasota and during last winter several matches here with Walter Hagen, Archie Compston, Tommy Armour, Chick Evans and other noted golfers. The reception here will include the entire west coast of Florida and invitations will be sent to all nearby towns to participate.
OLD GOLF COURSE TO BE ABANDONED FOR HOME SITES
Friday, May 28, 1926
Fort Lauderdale News
(BY ASSOCIATED PRESS)
SARASOTA, MAY 28. – The old Sarasota municipal golf course, founded in 1881 by Colonel J. Hamilton Gillespie, and said to be the oldest golf course in America, will close with appropriate ceremonies Saturday.
The old course has become a part of the city proper and will be subdivided into lots by Charles Ringling of circus fame.
Last summer the first nine holes were abandoned and where once the first tee stood the Sarasota terrace hotel, 10 stories high, now rises. The new municipal course which will supplant the old is being built east of the city and will be opened within the next several days.
GOLF CHAMPION HERE TO SPEND ENTIRE WINTER
Tuesday, November 10, 1925
Bobby Jones Not To Play In California Tournament
Will Golf and Real Estate Right Here in Sarasota, Bobby Jones Declares
R. T. Jones, Jr., known to the golfing world as Bobby Jones. American amateur champion and rated as one of the greatest golfers of all time, is in Sarasota to spend the winter. He is connected with Whitfield estates as assistant sales manager and while here will shoot a little golf now and then.
Bobby was asked last night to state whether he intended visiting the Pacific coast this winter and taking part in some of the big tournaments being planned. For the past few weeks California press agents have been announcing that the ace of American golfers would probably tear himself away from Florida long enough to seek additional honors out in the Golden West.
“Nothing to it – just say for me that I am in Sarasota for the winter,” said the golf champ last night. He was told of the repeated reports, or rumors, from the far west concerning a visit there, but he merely repeated that he was in Sarasota for the winter for the purpose of selling real estate.
The arrival of Jones means Sarasota is taking its place of prominence in the sporting world. Tommy Armour, pro at Whitfield estates course, is due shortly and in Jones and Armour Sarasota can offer as crack a golfing team as any point in the state – and that means the golfing world, for each city has secured the best links talent available as the state’s great attractions for the winter.
Followers of the great links game have every reason to be enthused over the prospects of seeing some of the best golf shot on local courses this season that has been played in Florida.
Sarasota golf plans maintain city's early tradition and history
Sunday, October 4, 1925
Lovers of the fairway need have no fears as regards to ample room to develop their talents this winter. House shortages may come and go but golfers will soon find Sarasota to be always ready with three of the finest courses of the country.
Founded, the tradition goes, as a place to play golf, the first golf course in American was laid out in 1885 by Col. J. Hamilton Gillespie, youngest son of Sir John Gillespie of Moffatt, Dumfrieshire, England.
For Practice Only.
“Two holes for practice, and it can be extended later,” the colonel is said to have remarked the day after he had pitched his tent, golf clubs and all, on what is now the present site of the main street of Sarasota.
Col. Gillespie’s prophecy was not long in being fulfilled. Within a few years he was playing on a nine-hole course. He lived to establish courses for his favorite game at Belleair, Winter Park, Jacksonville, Tampa, Kissimmee and Havana, Cuba. Col. Gillespie died two years ago. A pioneer in America’s golfing history, had he lived until the fall of 1925 he could have been the season opener of three splendid courses in his home city.
The opening of the Ringling Causeway will also mark the opening of the 18-hole Longboat Key golf course. This, together with the beautiful course of the Whitfield Estates, will have none superior to it on the west coast. At present the old Ringling course near the Atlantic Coast Line station is operating nine holes, the other nine now being in line for repairs.
The course at Palmetto has proved rather popular for Sarasota golfers this summer, especially for those who enjoy coupling a short motor ride together with their round of the links.
Siesta Beach, only a short ride from the city, will also have her 18 holes within a year. While professionals have not been hired for any of these courses, they will undoubtedly be on hand when the season opens on all of them. The local clubs are taking more than the usual interest to boost their respective organizations with the result that Sarasota as a veritable golfers’ paradise is fast becoming more and more widely known.
EXCERPT FROM A LETTER FROM A SARASOTA (FLA.) SUBSCRIBER
THE AMERICAN GOLFER
“The group shows mid-December golfers, male, female, human and canine, but they are all beginners except the old man in the back row whom you may recognize. I look like Rockefeller, and resemble him in being the owner of my own golf course and Clubhouse.
“If a man, or woman, can play golf on my course, they can play anywhere, the variety of bad lies encountered being endless, and the holes long. We have no connection with any R. R. hotel scheme for inducing golfers to come here, but I am proud and glad to welcome all golfers who do not expect too much. The course is certainly as good as most courses were in the days of my youth (B. C. something or other) and much better than what you encountered at the Tampa Bay some years ago.
“As all the golfing magazines are giving pointers to golfers intending to winter in the South, there can be no impropriety in letting them know that, after playing at Bellair, they can find another course yet unconquered by Bogey, on the West Coast, where they may find a game interesting with the only extant relic in Florida of old time golfers, who believe in stymies and swear by foursomes.” – J. H. G. [John Hamilton Gillespie]
“We have a good hotel on the beach.”
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