FX Excursions

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

The Resort at Longboat Key Club

by Francis X. Gallagher

Sep 1, 2019

White Egret Hole 7 © FRANCIS X.
GALLAGHER

Golf

RANKED CONSISTENTLY AS A BEST place to play by Golf Digest, The Resort at Longboat Key Club offers 45 holes of golf, including the Links on Longboat and the Harbourside Course, the latter featuring a multitude of trees as it snakes along Sarasota Bay. You can enjoy a decent golf trip with the ability to play both courses.

Harbourside consists of three nine-hole courses: the White Egret, the Red Hawk and the Blue Heron. Unfortunately, the Blue Heron was closed to play the day we teed up. The pro and starter were disappointed we would not experience what the club’s website calls “our famous ‘Blue Heron.’” But the White Egret (measuring 3,342 yards) and the Red Hawk (measuring 3,314 yards) did not disappoint. Between the water, the trees and the wind that blew at 30 mph at times, there is little margin for error.

Willard Byrd designed the course in 1982. Byrd designed and remodeled a multitude of U.S. golf courses, among them Atlanta Country Club; The Country Club of North Carolina, Pinehurst; Heather Glen Golf Links, Myrtle Beach (see GT October 2015); Wild Wing Plantation, Myrtle Beach; and Willow Creek Golf Club, High Point, North Carolina. Byrd served aboard a U.S. Navy minesweeper in World War II and returned to create a successful golf course architecture firm. Architect Ron Garl redesigned the Red Hawk course in 2005, with the entire nine recently resodded with Platinum Paspalum grass. White Egret features Bermuda grass fairways.

I teed up with Paul Gosselin for a fun afternoon of competitive golf and dinner at Portofino Restaurant. The course is available for guest play only — what a grand excuse to stay at the resort and enjoy all its amenities, including six restaurants, a spa, tennis and spectacular beaches.

RED HAWK

HOLE 1 | 372 yards, par 4
A great starting hole, and we were ready for action. Both Paul and I made near-perfect drives, Paul’s passing mine by about 30 yards. The only concern off the tee is a small pond with trees on the right and a sand trap on the left ready to catch any decent drive on that side. I landed dead center but still had a long way to the green and over-clubbed my shot, landing past the cart path behind the green. A decent wedge got me back in the game, much to Paul’s shock, for a gimme for par. Paul did catch that trap and came out like a champ, landing on the green. Unfortunately, the dreaded three-putt forced a bogey.

Red Hawk Hole 1

Red Hawk Hole 1 © FRANCIS X. GALLAGHER

HOLE 4 | 516 yards, par 5
This hole forever will be named “Paulie Coconuts,” as Paul’s drive off the tee, strong and powerful, veered right and bounded into the palm trees lining the fairway. The ball rolled to the right of the trees and returned back left, stopping inside the trunk of a palm. Of course, I thought this was hilarious; even though my drive was far shorter, it was in play. Paul took an unplayable penalty and shot the ball back into the fairway, no easy feat. My drive stayed center, and I just had to keep the ball in play with my 3-wood to have a decent shot onto the green. With both of us within striking distance, we landed on the green and both two-putted — resulting in a par for me and a bogey for “Paulie Coconuts.” A nice recovery for a difficult situation and, of course, a new nickname for life.

HOLE 7 | 392 yards, par 4
As the course turned back toward the clubhouse, the gusting wind totally changed the level of play. We stopped at the tee box for a selfie as we had caught up to the group ahead. Cigar lit and in the process of taking the picture, my hat flew off and my cigar went airborne, nearly burning Paul in the process. We were ready for the tee shots as the wind pushed us and affected the flight of our drives. My ball landed dangerously right and kept bounding, nearly rolling in the water lining the right side of the fairway. This seems to be a common result at Longboat: Good drives bound beyond expectations, often landing in hazards or among coconuts. Paul killed a drive going left and long and in play, affording him a decent shot to the green for a par. I, on the other hand, could not keep my ball in play, my second shot bounding into the drink.

WHITE EGRET

HOLE 4 | 386 yards, par 4
As we approached the fourth hole, we were on top of the group ahead of us which was playing slowly. We teed up and shot down the narrow fairway featuring a small grove of trees and a waste area on the right (adjacent to a pond) and a house and more trees on the left. I ended up in the waste area, and Paul hit a monster drive, landing close to the group in front. One of the players was waving his arms in the air, and I thought he was upset about our close proximity. We played out, each carding a bogey, and I went to the group to apologize. On the contrary, they were trying to tell us about the crow that took their ball and flew away. (After the game, at the Tavern & Whiskey Bar, this became a topic of conversation with visitors from the U.K. who frequently witness the famous ball-stealing crows at Harbourside.) The foursome kindly let us play through after we enjoyed their crow story.

HOLE 7 | 178 yards, par 3
Hole 7 requires a little mental play, as this fairly long par 3 features trees right and left and a narrow opening. It should not affect the flight of your ball, but I clipped a branch on the left side, landing in a forward bunker. Paul overshot right, landing beyond the green. I was able to pull out a shot to the green from the bunker, and Paul did the same from his right-side position. What should have been par putts ended in a pair of bogeys.

HOLE 9 | 350 yards, par 4
Our closing hole did not disappoint. Although we did not display our best play, we had a great time as we struggled through the strong winds. The fairway for 9 is wide open, so I decided to take full advantage, hitting my ball left, landing on the slope of a bunker nearly in the other hole’s fairway. Paul went right, and we split up to take our respective clubs and shots. I was close enough to nail the green, but the uneven lie sent my ball higher and right, under some trees and among some hardpan soil that made my chip more difficult. Paul also had issues, and we landed on the green, walking away with a bogey for Paul and double bogey for yours truly. It was time to hit the showers and have a Guinness at the tavern while chatting with locals and visitors about our day playing the Red Hawk and White Egret and, of course, the crows and coconuts!

The Resort at Longboat Key Club

Harbourside Golf Course
220 Sands Point Road
Longboat Key, FL 34228
tel 941-387-1632
longboatkeyclub.com

Introducing

FX Excursions

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

Feature
Feb 19, 2020

New ‘Smart’ Economy Seats from Universal Movement May Help Passengers Sleep

Falling asleep in economy class can be a test of flexibility and patience, often depending on how tired you are. No matter how many ways your body contorts to sleep sitting upright, it’s hard to avoid the dreaded head drop, from little to no head support, that can easily jerk you (and your neighbor) awake.

A Lighter Footprint

United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.

Feature
Feb 19, 2020

London Heathrow Airport Builds Anti-Drone System

Heathrow Airport built a “bespoke set of anti-drone systems” around its airfield. The system, created by U.K.-based firm Operational Solutions, detects and tracks drones in surrounding airspace. The “new and innovative” system can also locate drone pilots and show their location.

News
Feb 19, 2020

New Marriott International Hotel Choices at Frankfurt Airport

New upgrades at Frankfurt Airport include renovations at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel & Conference Center, as well as the addition of a new hotel, Frankfurt Airport Marriott. To make room for the new property, the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel was reduced to 779 guestrooms from its previous 1,008 guestrooms, allowing for 233 guestrooms at Frankfurt Airport Marriott. All Sheraton guestrooms are now refurbished.

Earn and Redeem with oneworld

oneworld is an alliance of 13 world-leading airlines committed to providing the highest level of service and connecting you to more than 1,100 destinations around the world.

eFlyer Reviews
Feb 19, 2020

WaterColor Inn and Resort Review

Escape the winter cold with a beach retreat at WaterColor Inn and Resort overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Northwest Florida. The 60-room boutique hotel has a private beach and sits beside a coastal dune lake and a longleaf pine forest.

eFlyer Lead
Feb 19, 2020

Marriott International Announces Record Growth in 2019

Marriott International had a record 2019, marking seven straight years of record-breaking organic growth.

Adventure of a Lifetime with Volvo

Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.

Daily
Feb 19, 2020

Historic Grand Hotel Birmingham Restored to Former Glory, Reopening Summer 2020

A historic U.K., hotel, The Grand Hotel Birmingham is expected to open this summer after extensive renovations. One of the city’s most iconic buildings, The Grand Hotel Birmingham was originally constructed in the 1870s.