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Not too hard, not too easy: Arnold Palmer's Legacy Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida is just right

Jeff BerlinickeBy Jeff Berlinicke,
Legacy Golf Club - 5th green
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No. 5 if the toughest hole at Legacy Golf Club. Being on the wrong side of the green can make for a tough three-putt. (Jeff Berlinicke/TravelGolf)

BRADENTON, Fla. – Do your homework before playing Legacy Golf Club.

It's a fine golf course, especially if you drive the ball straight. The greens aren't too demanding, and it's in great shape, except for one minor detail: It's hard to figure out where your next shot is supposed to be going.

The Legacy opened in 1997 and was designed by Arnold Palmer and managed by Troon Golf, and it offers a fair and enjoyable round.

It's a course that is close to the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and play runs at a leisurely pace, but it can get very confusing, which brings homework into the equation or a few bucks for a course book.

There are no illustrations of the holes on the scorecard, and that's not a major problem, except that most courses, especially upscale courses such as The Legacy, usually have at least a diagram at the tee boxes giving an indication as to where to aim your shots.

Legacy Golf Club: The course

The second hole, a short par 4, leaves you with no idea where to aim your second shot or even where the green might be. There are no indicators, and there are few yardage markers on the fairways throughout the course.

Since the carts offer no GPS system, it's a guessing game, which is too bad, because The Legacy deserves to be in anyone's must-see list for a golf trip to southwest Florida.

"We try to make it tough for everyone," said Legacy superintendent Jimmy Alibozek. "We do it, especially if the members ask for it. If we have a big event, we can make it as tough as possible."

Legacy Golf Club may not be the easiest golf course to maneuver around, but Alibozek said that anyone who wants to play will find the course in excellent shape. Indeed, during a typical, Florida sun-soaked day with no rain in the forecast, the course was in excellent shape with few brown spots on the greens and steady and consistent rolls on each hole.

The course is narrow but with few trees and not too much water, an errant tee shot here and there isn't going to ruin a round. The problem is knowing where the hazards are. On the first hole, there is water behind the green on the right off the 454-yard par 4. It is a hidden hazard and tough to negotiate for a first-timer at the course.

The second hole is also tricky, with a dogleg left off the tee and water down the left side and a bunker on the right. It's a long par 5, and there are bunkers surrounding the green, but, again, it takes local knowledge to know where to hit the drive if you have any fantasy about going for the green in two.

It's like that throughout the course. It is in excellent shape, and water comes into play quite often. The third hole is a short par 4 with water -- water everywhere. It's a great example of Florida target golf, but it is a hole that convinces you to keep the driver in the bag and go with a long iron. Keep it in the fairway and set up the approach. On the other hand, a real brute who can hit it 300 yards over water can cash in on a birdie.

The front nine is by far the toughest side. The golf course plays easier as the round goes longer. If you keep it steady on the first nine, the back nine is there for the killing -- less water, wider fairways, and it makes for a great way to end the round if you aren't demoralized by the front.

Legacy Golf Club: The verdict

The Legacy Golf Club is about 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico in a new town called Lakewood Ranch, which spans over parts of Manatee and Sarasota Counties. It's a popular destination for winter "Snowbirds" who come down to Florida to get away from the winter cold.

Jack Mellon and Troy Price were "snowbirds" visiting from Midland, Mich., who said they were just soaking up some sun while getting their summer game in shape.

"It's a nice course," Mellon said. "It was fun, and the service was great. In Florida they tend to cater to the tourists with easy hole locations, so we'll keep coming back. But they don't pander to you here."

Price said The Legacy might not make it onto his list of sites he'll play every year, but it made for a fun round.

"We had fun, that's why we come to Florida," Price said. "Target golf, fun golf, the weather is a lot better here in April than back home."

The Legacy offers a complete site map on its website, www.legacygolfclub.com, so doing some homework might help navigate your way around.

It's not too tough, not too easy. Keep your drives straight, and don't get discouraged after the front nine. Have some lunch and attack the back nine.

More photos

Legacy Golf Club - hole 18Legacy Golf Club - hole 14

Jeff Berlinicke is a golf writer based in Tampa, Fla. He writes for multiple publications including the Tampa Tribune, Golf Fitness Magazine, and the Associated Press. He has also received multiple honors from the Florida Press Association.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Legacy Golf Club

    Rick wrote on: Apr 30, 2011

    Can ask what Legacy you played? Your article mentions the Legacy in Bradenton, FL but your facts were so off it made it painful to read and your picture of number 5 was not a hole at this golf course, especially number five. Number 14 does not have a tight fairway, there is no charge for yardage books at this course. You write about the second hole being a short par 4 where you have no idea where to aim your second shot. The golfer new to Legacy might not know where to aim their tee shot but being a short par 4 you aim your second shot at the large green with a flag on it. Oh yea and that second hole you mention is actually the 11th. You'd think you know this since you mention the actual second hole later in the article which is a dogleg left par 5. While a seemingly good review all in all it may be the most poorly written I've ever seen about this course over the years.