Course Review and Comments
Within the gates of University Park Country Club in Sarasota FL sits 27 holes of championship golf that will test even the best of players. Each layout was designed by Ron Garl and can be played in 3 different combinations, offering members a wide variety of golf holes.
University Park opened in 1996 and has been rated 4-stars by Golf Digest in their Places to Play. This semi-private facility offers both memberships and daily fee rates, so it is accessible to anyone who wants to accept the challenge.
A community that was once referred to by the Association of Home Builders as the "Best Community Design in America" deserves a great golf course and Garl certainly delivers. Garl used whatever the topography of the land gave him and carved a beautiful golf course from the woodlands and natural habitat. Many of the holes feature fairways lined with trees and natural Florida vegetation and only a couple do not offer wide, ample landing areas off the tee. Although water is visible on a number of holes, it really only comes into play on 12 or so. Some holes require an easy forced carry over water or wetlands that shouldn’t pose a problem to any golfer – provided you’re playing the right set of tees.
Rather than having catchy or symbolic names, the holes are simply numbered 1–9, 10-18 and 19-27. Each nine presents its own unique set of challenges.
From the back (Diamond) tees, Holes 1-9 play 3,548 yards. Most golfers will be amply challenged from the Platinum tees (3,023 yards), while the ladies’ yardage is 2,394 yards. Number 2 is a par 5 that will be reachable in two for many players and can help get a good round off to a quick start. It requires a precise approach shot to a narrow green protected on the left by water, and with the green set on an angle, you may need one extra club to reach a back pin placement.
It’s not often that bogey can be considered a good score, but it is on Number 3, the layout’s #1 handicapped hole. It’s a dogleg right that slopes to the right, so unless you know you have the length, cutting the dogleg is not a good idea; that is unless you enjoy hunting for golf balls. A good line off the tee is the fairway bunker on the left with a little bit of a fade. Almost 93% of the players out here do not hit number 2 green on their second shot, so be prepared to go for an up and down to save par.
The par 3, number 5 is University Park’s signature hole and at only 140 yards from the Platinum tees, it provides many with a fitting challenge. You may want to consider hitting one extra club off the tee in an effort to clear the front bunker that sees a lot of play. Long is better than short!
Holes 10-18 are roughly the same length as 1-9 (3,456 from the Diamond, 3,072 from the Platinum and 2,481 for then ladies), with water factoring into the equation on all but two holes (13 and 14). This side starts out with a somewhat short par 4 - 342 yards from the Platinum tees – but don’t let that fool you. Although the fairway opens up to the right just past the trees, there’s a pond lurking over there. If you can favor the left side off the tee, you’ll be left with a medium to short iron into a wide green. With the green sloping form back to front, try to keep your approach shot below the pin to have the best shot at birdie.
The two finishing holes on this side really set this nine apart. Number 17 is the #1 handicapped hole and, at only 359 yards from the Platinum tees, requires an extremely accurate tee shot to a very narrow landing area with water on the right. An extra club might be the right call on your approach shot; it plays slightly uphill and is fronted by a beautiful – yet treacherous – bunker.
Number 18 (379 yards, Platinum Tees) has always been one of my favorites out here and I have yet to master it. There’s water on the right side off the tee and trust me, it is reachable. Shorter right off the tee and you’re in the fairway bunker. From here you’ll need to carry not only the water but also navigate around or over a couple of trees, all from the sand. Good luck! The left side is no bargain either as a cluster of bunkers await errantly hit shots. Find the fairway off the tee and your chances to score well here increase dramatically. There’s a large trap that guards the right side of the green, which is open in the front left. A word of warning on your approach shot: long and left Is death!
More user reviews for 1 & 10 at University Park Country Club - Semi-Private
January 20th, 2009 12:41
Very tight on front nine, but begins to open up the rest of the way. Third nine much more spacious, but not much easier, if at all. You can't muscle this course. Nice practice range and putting greens
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