Since the game originated in Scotland, it is not surprising that the developer of a Scottish colony is responsible for bringing golf to southwestern Florida. John Hamilton Gillespie, who managed the development company, built one of the country’s first courses, a modest two-hole affair, in 1885. Drawn by the area’s mild winters, other country clubs quickly appeared. Today, the area offers so many choices that selecting four fabulous Sarasota golf communities is challenging.
Those who wish to live on a course can choose from moderately priced family developments to million-dollar estates in gated communities. While some developments have rentals available for vacationers, others only offer privately owned homes. Standard amenities typically include a clubhouse, swimming pool, and tennis courts.
The Meadows is a 1,650-acre planned community with approximately 3,400 homes. Choices in residences range from condominiums to villas and from single-family to garden homes. The natural setting has 80 waterways and lakes, trails for biking or walking, and nature preserves. Central to the community is a shopping village with a bank, restaurants, stores, boutiques, dentist and a travel agency. Three courses range between par 65 and par 72. There are also 16 tennis courts, a fitness center, and a pool.
Lakewood Ranch encompasses around 8,500 acres, with homes that run the gamut from townhomes to million-dollar estates. Three 18-hole courses, 9 polo fields and tennis courts offer residents a variety of choices. There are also shopping, dining, and health care facilities.
Heritage Oaks can provide vacation rentals as well as privately owned homes. Residents can choose from condos, villas, single-family dwellings, or luxury duplexes. There is a single, 18-hole course with a snack shop on the tenth hole. Tennis courts, heated pools, and scenic trails offer alternative recreational activities. The clubhouse serves a Sunday buffet and daily lunch and dinner menus.
The Bent Tree planned community features single-family dwellings and condos, with estates available in the gated community inside Bent Tree, Woodlands. Membership in the country club is not required, but if chosen, it provides access to the club facilities. The Bent Tree Country Club has a par 72, 18-hole course that was remodeled in 2010.
Golfers are typically able to play year-round, thanks to the region’s mild climate. The city is on the Gulf Coast, between Tampa and Fort Myers, in southwestern Florida. Sarasota includes several keys, or islands, in the gulf. Siesta Key and Lido Key are popular for their beaches. Bird Key is considered to be among the most prestigious residential areas on Florida’s west coast, boasting numerous celebrity residents.