Forest Lakes' New Look
There's a buzz around town, about Forest Lakes Golf Club getting a complete facelift. The renovation, already underway, includes redoing the course, building a new clubhouse, and constructing condos to be located on the lip of the new layout.
According to golf professional and partner Bill Friesing, who is affiliated with Nick Nichols, former nose guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a certified golf nut, there'll be lots of changes to the club, most notably new greens and tees, renovated sand bunkers, a new halfway house where golfers can stop for a food and drink break during the round, and an 8,000-square-foot, two-story clubhouse, inclusive of a well-stocked pro shop, new restaurant and lounge.
Ever since ending his football career, Nichols has been in the restaurant and entertainment business, so it's no surprise that he wants the club to host parties, banquets, and charity tournaments. And, of course, make the public golfer feel like a member for the day.
The course is already unique, with so many par four and five holes featuring unique Australian pines, along with rows of pretty oaks. Visually, it has never been your typical Florida golf course, flat with water everywhere. With the new green grass it will be even more pleasing to the eye and really make golfing a treat. The 75 two-story, Mediterranean-style condominiums will also add flavor and further enhance the aesthetics of the club.
My favorite front-nine holes on the course are the 442-yard par four sixth and the 510-yard par five ninth. On the back nine, I like the 223-yard par three 11th hole and the short 340-yard finishing hole. The course only plays to 6,024 yards from the white tees and 6,450 from the blue tees, but you will need your full bag of clubs. It's super-challenging, namely because the fairways are quite narrow and the greens small. The good news is if you hit the fairways off the tee and the greens on your approaches, you'll have a good chance at scoring birdie. The other good news: Whereas prior to the renovation you had to cross Beneva Road four times in a golf cart, shortly you will only need to cross twice. I look forward to playing the new Forest Lakes course and enjoying the golf experience with friends.
Forest Lakes Golf Club
2401 Beneva Road, Sarasota
Call the pro shop, 922-1312, for tee times, fees and course hours
Just in case you get paired with low-handicap golfers who speak the seemingly strange language of the links-golfspeak-here's what to expect to hear them say to each other about the swing and here's what they really mean.
Golfer: "I took it inside."
Translation: I swung the club back well inside the target line (imaginary line running from ball to target), on too flat or rounded a plane or angle.
Golfer: "I took it outside."
Translation: I pulled the club back well outside the target line, on too upright or steep a plane.
Golfer: "I didn't turn."
Translation: I failed to coil my shoulders and hips on the backswing, in a clockwise direction.
Golfer: "I came over the top."
Translation: I pulled the club down across the target line and the ball.
Golfer: "I didn't stay down."
Translation: I failed to maintain the flex in my knees on the downswing.
Golfer: "I had no flat spot."
Translation: I failed to keep the club moving low to the ground just before and just after impact.
Golfers around town just can't stop talking about the performance of 17-year-old amateur Aree Song, who finished fifth in the 2003 United States Women's Open championship contested over the very testy Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore.
The Bradenton resident, who takes lessons from David Leadbetter and has played most of her golf locally at El Conquistador Country Club, shot rounds of 70, 73, 68, and 74 to finish just two strokes behind winner Hilary Lunke. Should you ever have the opportunity to watch this teen-ager play golf, either on television or at an actual tournament, pay close attention to her putting stroke. One reason Song holes out so often from short and long range on the greens is because she swings the putter back with her arms and shoulders, while keeping her body perfectly still and her wrists locked. Too often amateurs hinge their wrists on the backswing and, as a result, lift the putter-head too high off the ground. The result: a faulty chop-action at impact and a weak, off-line putt.
Having become the youngest winner of the United States Girls' Junior championship in 1999, when she was 13, it was obvious Song was going to go far in golf. Now, because she beat so many professionals in the Open, it's obvious that she's destined to have a wonderful future in golf once she turns pro. But first, expect big things from her on the college golf front, since she's soon to attend the University of Florida on a golf scholarship.
Even today, in our casual world, golf is considered a very gentlemanly and ladylike sport, governed by certain rules of etiquette. Here are some rules you should abide by when playing the course.
Rule 1: When a fellow golfer is driving, give him the courtesy of using the full teeing area. Don't stand on the side of the tee he isn't using and put your tee into the ground. Wait until he finishes hitting and walks off the tee before you tee up the ball.
Rule 2: When a fellow golfer is hitting an iron shot from the fairway or rough, don't stand close to her and don't chatter. Give her plenty of room to swing and remain quiet so she can concentrate.
Rule 3: When a fellow player is putting, don't stand directly in his line, behind the hole, so you distract him. Understand that putting requires great concentration, in terms of judging the line of the putt, determining the speed of the putt, and putting a good stroke on the ball.
Rule 4: While waiting for another person to hit the ball, encourage fast play and a more fun round by working out your yardages and pre-shot procedures ahead of time. So when it's your turn, you're ready.
Rule 5: When it's your turn to play, try and limit your practice swings. One swing is enough to get the feel for the proper technique. Besides, you should have already worked on your swing on the practice tee. The course is not the place to practice. Be ready to play.
Rule 6: Maintain a constant walking pace during your round, without ever walking out too far ahead of your fellow golfers. A golfer who sees you, even out of the corner of his eye, is likely to be distracted and hit a wayward shot.
Many golf courses in Sarasota, such as Sara Bay, are of the old, traditional design style, and feature deep bunkers and small greens. Consequently, very often you'll face a short shot to a hole positioned just a few yards from the bunker's lip. Here's a tip from The Nicklaus Way, my newly released book that might help you play the shot like the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
"Go through a pre-swing checklist, making sure to set up open, choke down slightly on the handle of the sand wedge, position the ball off your left instep, and lay the clubface wide open so that it points at the hole. Also, before swinging, imagine cutting out an area of sand that starts two inches behind the ball and stops six inches ahead of it. One more thing that you must do at address is wriggle your feet down into the sand, so you establish a firm foundation for employing a balanced swing.
"Swing the club back to the halfway point on a fairly upright plane.
"On the downswing, concentrate on slapping the sand with the bounce of the club and turning your right hand under your left hand to keep the clubface open. This technique will allow you to blast the ball up high, so it carries the bunker's lip and lands softly near the hole.
If you find yourself struggling to explain what golf is to a non-golfer, maybe these charming quotable quips, from sportswriter Burt Sugar, well-known radio announcer Paul Harvey, former golfing great Jimmy Demaret, and some other even more famous people will help. These quotes were compiled by Bob Lonigan in The Golf Joke Book.
"Golf is a game that begins with a golf ball and ends with a high ball." -Burt Sugar
"Golf is a game in which you yell fore, shoot six, and write down five."-Paul Harvey
"Golf and sex are the only two things you can enjoy without being very good at it."-Jimmy Demaret
"Golf is a good walk spoiled."-Mark Twain
"Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for that purpose."-Winston Churchill
"Golf seems to be an arduous way to go for a walk. I prefer to take out the dogs."-Princess Anne
Sarasota's John Andrisani, the former senior editor of instruction at GOLF Magazine and the author of more than 25 books, including The Tiger Woods Way and Think Like Tiger, is a six-handicap player and former winner of the World Golf Writers' Championship. Most recently, Andrisani received the United States Teachers Federation Media Award for outstanding golf instructional writing in books and magazines.
Send questions and comments to John at [email protected]