SARASOTA – Bobby Jones Golf Club Manager, Sue Martin, says just over the past few years, golfers there have declined by about 19%.
It’s an effect she hopes to reverse, but the power to do so could be in your hands.
What makes Bobby Jones Golf Club so special? Martin says it’s the history.
“Colonel Gillespie came here as the first mayor of Sarasota; he brought golf to the United States; we argue that it was here in Sarasota,” Martin said.
Since its opening in 1926, Bobby Jones has gone from 18 holes to 45, but Martin says the course is suffering from a lack of drainage and irrigation.
“Those go hand in hand, so you can’t really separate and say, ‘Let’s do just drainage or just irrigation,’” Martin said.
She says in wet season, which we’re in right now, the three courses flood easily.
“We could lose two or three days of golf just because the drainage is so poor, and over the years that happens,” Martin said. “You lose a lot of golf balls; you have mud up to your knees.”
Martin says the current irrigation system is so old, they can’t even get parts for it anymore.
In some spots the grass gets so flooded it cant grow back.
Now the city is looking to make a new, 45-hole, plan with community feedback.
“We wanna get it back from not only golfers, but we want it back from the citizens, even visitors if you’re in town,” Martin said.
She says as a municipal golf course, the future of Bobby Jones really will depend on taxpayers.
“It’s critical for the city commissioners to hear from the citizens,” Martin said. “Does the city put the finances into the golf course as needed?”
She’s hoping to preserve the 300-acre green space and wildlife, saying it’s crucial to keep the affordable golf opportunities alive in Sarasota.
“The golf course is a living, breathing element,” Martin said. “It’s just like your home, like your car. If you don’t maintain it, you’re not gonna have a home; you’re not gonna have a car. The same thing is gonna happen to the golf course. If we don’t get the capital influx, eventually it will basically close itself down.”
If you want to give input on the future of Bobby Jones, you can attend a meeting at Sarasota City Hall Thursday at 10 a.m. or 5:30 p.m.