Course Renovations Underway at Longboat Key Club and Resort

Construction is continuing on a remodel of the nine-hole “Blue” course at Longboat Key Club and Resort, Sarasota’s only AAA Four-Diamond beachfront resort. Created in 1987, the “Blue” was officially renamed “Blue Heron” during a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony with over 200 Longboat Key Club guests and members in attendance. Golf course architect Ron Garl of Lakeland, Fla., began the redesign this summer.

“This is just phase one in our future plans for a redesign of all of our golf courses,” said new general manager Michael Welly. During the daylong celebration, Welly said that Garl was selected because of his experience with environmental issues. “Ron is a widely recognized authority when it comes to preserving the natural surroundings on a golf course. He has proven that a great course must either enhance the natural site or create a new environmentally sound one that will coexist with Mother Nature. Garl was hired to add native plants that fit in with the beautiful Island ambiance and has also helped work with water management on this project.”

Harbourside offers a challenging 27-hole layout of three, nine-hole courses originally designed by Willard Byrd. The Blue Heron course is 3,386 yards. The Red course is 3,323 yards and the White course 3,426.

The Florida State Golf Association Rating Panel recently visited the new Blue Heron layout. Rating Team Captain for District 11 and Sarasota resident Jim Parr found the course to be “a real challenge.” He said the whole team found the Blue Heron course to be “lots of fun and in excellent condition with some great visual touches.”

Garl’s top goal is being sensitive to the environment and paying attention to details. “Longboat is a bird-lovers paradise. The wild life on this course is incredible,” he said. “We have found eagles, hawks, blue heron, egrets and swans, just to name a few.”

“We’ve totally redesigned the Blue golf course and brought the putting surfaces into the 21st century,” explained director of golf Gary Geiger, who has been with the Longboat Key Club for over 11 years. “All the green complexes were taken out and built to USGA specifications. We have all new bunkers and chipping areas around the greens, adding a little elevation, contour and excitement.”

According to Garl, some of the green locations have been changed. “The signature hole No. 5 was reconfigured to a horseshoe shape with the green on a peninsula. Our goal was to create an enjoyable and memorable golf experience.”

The redesign and renaming of the “Blue” course is the beginning of a total remodeling of all the courses over the next few years at The Longboat Key Club and Resort. The Harbourside courses play through stands of oaks, sabal palm, fig, palmetto, Washingtonian palm and southern pine.

For more information on the Longboat Key Club and Resort, call 800/237-8821 or 941-383-8821, or visit