Ground design

Sarasota inaugurates Bobby Jones Golf Club restoration project

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Bobby Jones Golf Club has been a part of Sarasota history for nearly a century. It has struggled to turn a profit over the past decade, but plans to restore the property are underway.

The city broke ground on a multimillion-dollar restoration project on Friday, less than two months after commissioners voted to protect the 261-acre property from development in perpetuity.

The 45-hole golf club will be reduced to 27 holes, including Donald Ross’ original design. The rest of the property will be open to the public as a nature park for cyclists, walkers, joggers and birdwatchers. Plans for a playground are also underway.

Golf course architect Richard Mandell hopes the new mixed-use property will help grow the game of golf.

“This park is a window into golf for people who don’t know golf. My plan, not my hope, but my plan is for people to see the golf course from the park and say you know what, I want to try this game,” Mandell said.

In addition to restoring the natural park and golf course, the city is investing in improving water quality on the property that serves as a watershed.

“One of the most functional aspects of this project is improving water quality. It is a watershed that filters water from approximately 5,000 acres of Sarasota and Sarasota County through this property. Approximately 2.6 billion gallons of water flow through this property and enter Philippi Creek and Sarasota Bay. As a coastal community, it is so important that we ensure that only the cleanest water enters our bays and estuaries,” said Commissioner Hagen Brody.

As for the management of the municipal golf course, things will be different from the past.

“We use a private management company, which means we won’t lose so much money anymore. We’re going to make a big deal with a private company that does this for municipalities and we’ll split the revenue,” Mayor Erik Arroyo said. “It’s going to have a very minimal impact on taxpayers and we’re seeing the support is overwhelming at the state and federal level and we’ll find that the burden on taxpayers in terms of this obligation will be very, very minimal as well,” he continued. .

Residents hope the changes will help the golf course achieve success.

“With the management company, the city still owns the property and will still have control in terms of management and what happens on the course, but you will have a professional company that is very good at marketing and I think that it’s an important part of it all as we move forward,” said resident Norm Dumaine.

Dumaine and other neighbors tell 8 On Your Side they’re thrilled the large property has something for everyone.

“I think in the long run citizens are going to find it a much more useful property than before,” he continued.

In addition to the restoration of the Donald Ross course, a new adjustable 9-hole course will be built as well as a player development centre, large driving range, practice area for small games and a clubhouse with restaurant .

Donald Ross’ restored course is set to open to the public in November. The new adjustable 9-hole course is expected to be completed in January 2023, according to the city.