New-look Links golf course at Longboat Key near Sarasota, Florida: Worth more than a second look

LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. -- As part of a muti-million dollar 2015 renovation that also included The Resort at Longboat Key Club's Harbourside Course, the Links at Longboat Key near Sarasota, Florida has been vastly improved.

Architect Ron Garl was in charge of the renovation, which included thinning out pine trees and replacing them with more appropriate palms as well as sparkling new white bunkers, advanced irrigation and most dramatically, new grass.

The new turf is Platinum Paspalum, which gives the golf course a eye-popping color and outstanding playing conditions. The thicker bladed grass means the ball sits up better for higher handicappers and good players alike, and it no longer sits down in the Bermuda rough, where golf balls not only found difficult lies but were also sometimes difficult to spot. And as a greens grass, it putts surprisingly true and quicker than you might expect.

As for the course, the par 71 plays 6,748 yards from the blue (back) tees and is 5,413 yards from the forward tees (the shortest of four sets). Water can be found on the majority of holes and while the Gulf of Mexico isn't in view, it's just a couple hundred yards away, so wind is almost always a factor.

The spa, fitness center and golf shop are all located at the Links Clubhouse, as well as healthy patio dining at the club's Spike 'N Tee Restaurant.

Mike Bailey is a former Golf Advisor senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. He has also been on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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New-look Links golf course at Longboat Key near Sarasota, Florida: Worth more than a second look