Florida’s Waterford Golf Club

by Francis X. Gallagher

Jul 1, 2019
Golf

OVER THE EASTER HOLIDAY, we planned a tee time at Waterford Golf Club in Venice, Florida. As the day progressed, it looked like we’d have a washout; even the course reached out to warn us of possible cancellations as record rains headed toward the region. In the morning, we checked the forecast early and called to see if our tee time could be moved up so we could get in the round prior to the storm. Course PGA professional Jack McFaul told us to come on out and the team at Waterford would make sure we got out earlier, so off we went.

I was under the impression Waterford, located between Sarasota and Venice, would be an “old man’s” course — boy, was I wrong! The well-maintained course features narrow fairways and water that surprisingly comes into play. It is a challenging, shot-makers course where long drives can pay off or prove disastrous.

The club comprises three nine-hole courses: Gleneagles, Turnberry and Sawgrass. We teed off on Turnberry and then went on to Sawgrass for our 18; this combination kept us moving at a good clip, so fast we caught up to a group — but this allowed us a couple of enjoyable hole replays.

Ted McAnlis designed the three nines at Waterford. He started life as a NASA civil engineer then migrated to golf course design, specializing in courses in Florida such as St. Andrews in Boca Raton. His career ended abruptly when he was incarcerated for tax evasion. So if you feel some of these holes place you in jail, well, McAnlis understands. Aside from his personal issues, he was a great designer, creating some challenging but playable courses throughout the state.

I teed up with Paul Gosselin, who dared me to beat the storm and tame this “old man’s” course. The staff in the restaurant, pro shop and on the course added to the enjoyment of playing Waterford. I would consider a return visit.

HOLE 5 | 531 yards, par 5 – Turnberry
This is one of the holes we replayed as we flew though the course at great speed. There is no question a little course knowledge helped the second time through. From the tee box the fairway is fairly wide open, but on first try I took a more leftward trajectory, leaving me to contend with tree branches. I also did not realize water lurked on the left, and every ball landing within a few feet was deflected away and wet. Paul equally had issues; so when we finished with a set of double bogeys, we decided to go back to the tee and retry, as there was no one in sight behind us. We saw a vast improvement in scores; I carded a par, and Paul a bogey!

HOLE 6 | 208 yards, par 4 – Turnberry
With water on the right and screeching winds, I slammed a 3-wood to the left side of the green, nearly rolling into the water. Paul overshot the green, causing him issues returning, while I managed to chip up and two-putt for bogey. Playing the wind on a day like that is crucial at Waterford.

HOLE 9 | 378 yards, par 4 – Turnberry
As we wound down our first nine, the Turnberry closing hole did not disappoint. Just before we teed off, I had to take a phone call from a contractor working on my house. He seemed to have a complete memory loss about our agreement, so this had me worked up for my drive. In the layout of Hole 9, water sits on the left and wraps around the fairway, then crosses and splits the terrain between the green and your landing area. I mishit my drive, which turned out to be a benefit as the ball landed dead center and short of the water. Paul shot his ball, clubbing down but still dangerously short of the water. Up and down got us near the green but unable to secure par. We each walked away with a bogey — blame the contractor, I said! When driving between Turnberry and Sawgrass, check out the cool totem pole the locals constructed.

Hole 8 – Sawgrass

Hole 8 – Sawgrass © FRANCIS X. GALLAGHER

HOLE 1 | 390 yards, par 4 – Sawgrass
Not particularly long and not ranked top on the course, this hole certainly can present the ultimate challenge. The rangers drove by as we prepared to tee off, and we laughed at how narrow the entire course was, this hole particularly. “You lose a lot of balls here at Waterford,” one said. Remember, all the while we were playing rather fast to beat the pending tropical storm. As we had caught up to the group in front of us, we enjoyed a unique opportunity to play the hole twice — this kept us from playing on top of the foursome in front.

I teed up and sent my drive to the left side of the fairway, landing in a prime position. Paul also drove toward the left, passing me by some 40 yards but kicking into some high grass and branches. My second shot landed on the green, and I took an easy two-putt for par. Paul had to take a penalty and carded a decent bogey. We found it amusing our replay was not any better than the first time — tossing out the thought that course knowledge is king!

HOLE 6, |423 yards, par 4 – Sawgrass
Hole 6 showed its angry face: very narrow with trees and brush running the entire left side and a pond and marsh lining the right from the tee box nearly two-thirds of the way down to the hole. With trepidation we teed up and sent our bombs out with the best intentions, mine landing right center and Paul’s taking a precarious bounce near the edge of the pond but far out. After much searching, Paul discovered his ball rolled into the pond, causing him to drop a ball and take his second shot, which landed on the green. My second shot was less on target and landed right, nearly out of bounds among some palm trees. I fortunately had a nice line to the cup and sent my lob wedge over a trap and onto the green. Those wasted shots caused us each to score a bogey.

HOLE 8 | 346 yards, par 4 – Sawgrass
Hole 8 is interesting, as the design takes this dogleg around the right side of a pond at a sharp angle. Big hitters can take the ball over the corner of the pond, leaving a short chip to the green. The wind was blasting, so we made every effort to keep our drives in play. I shot forward, blowing through the fairway and nearly out of bounds to the houses on the other side of the cart path. This kept me far enough from the water where the course “pet” — Bessie, a 12-foot alligator — likes to sun herself. Paul cut off the corner a bit for an easier chip, but through a series of decent chips we both carded pars.

Waterford Golf Club

1454 Gleneagles Drive
Venice, FL 34292
tel 941 484 6621
golfinvenice.com

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Feature
Oct 20, 2019

PHL Receives Grant for SEPTA Improvement

Philadelphia International Airport received two grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for platform improvements at SEPTA’s Airport Regional Rail Line stops.

The Island of the Knights

Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.

Feature
Oct 20, 2019

Lyft Trials Car Rental Service

Lyft is looking to get into the car rental business. The ride-hailing company is testing the service in three California cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland.

News
Oct 20, 2019

Six Senses Opens on the Bosphorus Strait

Six Senses Kocataş Mansions opened late last month along the Bosphorus Strait. The property is housed within two restored, Ottoman-era mansions in Istanbul. The resort’s urban decor incorporates architectural features and artifacts from the mansions.

Thessaloniki: Culture, Good Food and Shopping

Thessaloniki is the second-largest city of Greece and the most important center of the area. Built near the sea, elegant and refined, the Greek “Lady of the North” is a modern, vivacious city that welcomes visitors eager to learn about its history and culture, and at the same time have fun, relax, go shopping or simply explore the cityscape by the sea.

Daily
Oct 20, 2019

New Cruise Line Docks in Tampa

MSC Cruises, the world’s fastest-growing and fourth-largest cruise line, launches cruises from Tampa Nov. 11, 2020. MSC Armonia will sail from Tampa to the Caribbean, Mexico and the Bahamas.

News
Oct 18, 2019

IHG Signs New InterContinental Property in Saudi Arabia

InterContinental Hotels Group expands its footprint in Saudi Arabia with plans for the new InterContinental Durrat Al Riyadh. The property opens in 2020, a short drive from King Khalid International Airport. The property is also near King Abdullah Financial District and many luxury shopping options.

Your Home Away From Home

Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.

Feature
Oct 18, 2019

Heathrow Project Would Turn Waste Into Furniture, Uniforms

Heathrow Airport is testing new technology that could help recycle all of its plastic waste into uniforms and furniture.