““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Florida's west coast has lots of real estate but few real golf clubs. Since 2006, however, it has had the Concession, a Jack Nicklaus- and Tony Jacklin-designed course that made its debut this year on Golfweek's Best Modern Courses list. Concession placed 45th on the list on the strength of its natural setting and its commitment to the game's enduring values.
The club's name derives from a legendary act of sportsmanship back in 1969, when Nicklaus conceded a three-foot putt on the 18th green that Jacklin needed for the British team to tie the Americans. Nicklaus' concession didn't stop the U.S. from retaining the cup (which it won in 1967), but the singular act resonated throughout the sports world as emblematic of golf's special status.
Four decades later, the two champions have collaborated on a 1,200-acre site that's midway between Bradenton and Sarasota and 16 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. There are only 236 home sites on the property, with the golf course set in its own spacious core of 536 acres. Golf here takes place in its own realm, unencumbered by home sites, with the holes weaving through pristine wetlands and stands of magnolias and oaks.
From the back tees, 7,470 yards (77.6 rating/155 slope), the par-72 Concession layout can be brutal because of the carries off the tee and the more pronounced angles. In fact, like a lot of work that Nicklaus is doing these days, the course was really designed to be played and enjoyed from the blue tees, 6,600 yards (72.7 slope/146 rating). The carries across fairway bunkers are in the 235-yard range. And the greens are also largely accessible via the ground, so that players have options here that aren't available on many Florida courses.
And if your game needs work, the place to hang out is Concession's 24-acre practice range, which offers lots of well-defined target areas and the expertise of veteran club pro Jimmy Wright.
For more information on The Concession Golf Club, visit its Web site at
www.theconcession.com or call (941) 322-1922.
Sarasota-Bradenton International (SRQ)
Longest runway: 9,500 ft
13 miles west of Concession
FBOs: Dolphin Aviation, (941) 355-7715; Rectrix Aerodrome Centers, (941) 358-9600; Volo Aviation Sarasota, (800) 945-6637
Brad Klein welcomes comments and suggestions at: