SARASOTA, Fla. — 91 years of golf on 300 acres in the city of Sarasota have seen better days.

“It can look like a lake,” said Sue Martin, general manager of the Bobby Jones Golf Course. “We flood we can lose 2-3 days of golf drainage is so poor.”

Ponds will easily overflow in summer rains.

“It goes all the way up over this into the ditch, across the ditch into the other fairway and behind. It literally makes the golf course unplayable,” described Christian Martin, head professional golfer and assistant manager.

It’s not just the drainage; the golf course irrigation system is 40 to 50 years old.

“We can’t even get parts anymore,” said Sue Martin.

The golf course played by the likes of Babe Ruth and Bobby Jones is quickly deteriorating, and so is the clientele putting the city-owned course in the red, said Martin. Attendance is down 19 percent, she said.

“When I first came here 10 years ago, 120,000 to 130,000 rounds were played. Last year, they played 80,000 rounds,” said Martin.

The course could be in danger of closure without help, she said.

“Eventually it would close itself in 3 to 4 years’ due to a lack of revenue. Golfers will not go off a golf course that is not in good condition,” she said.

“I have three generations of family come play golf here. My grandfather in the ’60s, my father in the ’70s and ’80s, and now we’re here. Love to see it keep going,” said golfer Eric Reed.

The city is getting community feedback on how to improve the course and may invest up to $20 million over the next few years.

“The hitting area here needs to be wider, more space,” said Reed. “I’d keep the course the way it is. It’s a beautifully designed course and fun to play, challenging yet easy enough. I love that the public can come. It’s a great place to come play golf.”

The city was to hold a meeting Wednesday and two more Thursday to get feedback from golfers and non-golfers. The architect who is designing the master plan also will be there to answer questions. The group hopes to have a presentation ready for city commissioners in 60 days.

Thursday’s meetings will be at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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© 2018 WTSP
Sarasota’s 91-year-old Bobby Jones Golf Course faces closure without improvement

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