Foxfire Golf Club on 7200 Proctor Road is a very special public golf facility, comprised of three nine-hole courses- the Palm, Pine, and Oak-that are played in combination with one another.
What I find so golfer-friendly about all these "tracks" is they're long enough to be challenging, yet not so long that the par-three, par-four, and par-five holes require you to hit the ball super-powerfully and super-accurately to reach the greens. What a pleasure to play a round of golf at a club that takes pride in making the course playable, rather than hiring a designer to stretch out the yardage to such a degree that John Daly is about the only golfer who can have fun playing it, because he hits 300-yard drives. Hats off to the management.
The layout at Foxfire is so good, and the fairways and greens so nicely manicured that you'll have trouble picking out a signature hole. Each hole is pleasing to the eye; and although some holes require you to "thread the needle" off the tee and hit an exacting approach shot to hit the green and avoid trouble, you never feel that you're under pressure.
Whether you choose to play the Palm/Pine, Palm/Oak, or Oak/Pine 18-hole combination, you'll be virtually guaranteed of playing a relaxing round. I say this confidently, because the staff does a wonderful job of spacing out the tee times and getting golfers off on time, so there's rarely a backup on the tees or fairways. That's refreshing during the season, since no golfer wants to be out on the course for five hours. There are too many other great things to do in Sarasota.
You'll also find the golf experience relaxing at Foxfire because the holes are set among oaks and pines, instead of being bordered by homes. So each game you play at Foxfire promises to offer a true nature-walk escape.
Once you visit Foxfire, you'll understand why it's been voted Sarasota's No. 1 public course and ranked highly by Golf Digest Magazine. The amenities at this fine public course include a driving range and putting green, so you'll have no excuse for not being warmed up at the start of your round. There's also a restaurant and lounge, so you'll also lack an excuse for not ending your day right.
For further information, telephone (941) 921-7757.
Go around any Sarasota golf course and you'll hear experienced players speaking the language of the links: Golf-speak. Chances are, unless you also play to a single-digit handicap, you will not understand a word these hotshots are saying. Well, since none of us likes to feel uncomfortable, I'm afraid you have little choice but to take the quick study course below. That way, you'll be able to converse with golf experts about good and bad shots and at least act like you know what you're talking about.
Good Golfer: "I bombed one 300 on one."
Translation: "I hit a 300-yard drive on hole number one."
Good Golfer: "I smothered one o.b. on two, cost me double."
Translation: "I hit an exaggerated right-to-left shot out of bounds on hole number two, and ended up scoring double bogie."
Good Golfer: "I hit a knockdown into the three-par seventh, stiff, made bird."
Translation: "I hit a low flying shot into the par-three seventh hole and scored birdie."
Good Golfer: "I got up and down from the frog-hair."
Translation:" I hit a chip close to the cup from the fringe grass and knocked the putt into the hole."
Good Golfer: "I blasted it out of the pot on 10, stone-dead, for the tap-in."
Translation: "I hit a bunker shot out of the deep sand bunker on hole 10, so close to the hole I just tapped the putt into the cup."
Good Golfer: "I hit it through the break and three-jabbed it."
Translation: "I hit the putt so hard it didn't curve toward the hole, and ended up three-putting."
Good Golfer: "I hit a lob tight to the stick and rolled the knee-knocker in for par."
Translation: "I hit a 60-degree lob wedge shot close to the hole, then sunk a short pressure putt to save par."
I've had the opportunity to interview Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest golfer of all time and architect of what promises to be one of our city's premier golf clubs, The Concession.
I've studied Nicklaus's golf swing, too, and wrote the book The Nicklaus Way, in which I analyze this great champion's power secrets. Nicklaus, like the great Ben Hogan before him, believes that the straightest shot in golf is the toughest to hit. This is why, even today, he prefers to hit a powerfully controlled left-to-right fade shot off the tee.
To hit the power-fade drive, Nicklaus style, follow these simple instructions.
1. Aim your body to the left of your target, at the point in the fairway where you want the ball to start flying.
2. Aim the clubface at the spot in the fairway where you want the ball to land.
3. Swing the club back parallel to your bodyline and up to the top.
4. Slide your legs laterally toward the target at the start of the downswing.
5. Once weight shifts to your left foot and leg, swing down along your bodyline, holding onto the club more firmly with your left hand so that you hold the clubface open slightly at impact and impart left-to-right spin on the ball.
The shot you hit will fly fast off the clubface, start flying down the left side of the fairway, turn right in the air, and land in the center of the fairway.
Our world in Sarasota is more shorts and polo shirt than shirt and tie. However, where golf is concerned the codes are anything but casual. The rules of golf set down by the United States Golf Association must be followed to the letter, for reasons of etiquette, sportsmanship, and honor. So make sure you know what procedures to follow in this common course situation, involving hitting the wrong ball.
Situation: Player A and Player B, two opponents in a match play tournament, hit their tee shots about 230 yards. Both balls land in the fairway, 30 yards apart.
Common mistake: Player A is sure the farthest from the hole is his because he sliced the shot. Therefore, he doesn't even bother to check the logo and number imprinted on the ball. Instead, he quickly hits the shot onto the green. Soon after, Player B looks down at the ball remaining in the fairway and realizes that it's not his. Player A hit Player B's ball. This violation of Rule 15 costs Player A the hole. It would cost him a two-stroke penalty if they were competing in a stroke play event. In order for Player A to record and return a valid score in stroke play, he would have to play the hole out with the correct ball, from its original position. If he failed to follow that procedure and tees off the next hole, he'd be disqualified.
Note: There's no penalty for playing a wrong ball in a hazard. That's because you're not allowed to pick the ball up to identify it in a hazard.
Correct procedure: Get in the habit of using a pen to put a distinguishing personal mark on your ball, so you know it's yours. Also, don't hit a shot without first checking to see whether the ball you're addressing is yours.
Specialty of the Clubhouse
Walter Hagen, the legendary pro golfer who beat Bobby Jones in a 36-hole match played over our very own Sara Bay Country Club and the Bobby Jones Complex, is best known for driving a Rolls-Royce, chatting up beautiful women, and living by this philosophy: "I never wanted to be a millionaire, I just wanted to live like one." Hagen also liked to drink. In fact, years ago when talking to legendary golfer Gene Sarazen about his game and his contemporary, Hagen, he told me, "The Haig's favorite drink was a Palm Beach."
To prepare this drink, you'll need one ounce of gin, two ounces of grapefruit juice, champagne, and crushed ice. Mix gin, grapefruit juice and ice together in a tall glass. Top with champagne.
The next time you visit your country club bar or stop at Sam Snead's Tavern on Osprey, ask the bartender to mix you up one of these delicious libations, in memory of Walter Hagen, of course!
SARASOTA'S JOHN ANDRISANI recently received the United States Golf Teachers Federation Media Award for outstanding golf instructional writing. Send questions and comments to John at [email protected]