Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.
Issue link: http://gcmdigital.gcsaa.org/i/234582
A golf mecca in the Sunshine State Baseball icon Babe Ruth played here. Thomas Edison has been on the grounds. Golf legend Gene Sarazen had a cottage there for his winter home. Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush played golf on the property as did the Duke of Edinburgh. Sam Parks Jr., 1935 U.S. Open champion, was a club member. President Barack Obama, before he took offce, made a brief stop. Each one of these men has made history for different reasons. No question that this place they came to know is a historical landmark in its own right. There are hundreds of golf courses in Florida, site of next month's 2014 Golf Industry Show in Orlando. One course in the Sunshine State, though, claims it is unlike any of the others. You get the picture as soon as you drive up to it. The sign upon entrance to Belleair Country Club in Belleair, Fla., reads "Florida's First Golf Club." Although legendary golf course architect Geoffrey Cornish claimed that a nine-hole municipal course in Sarasota built in 1886 was the state's frst formal golf course, Belleair just might be Florida's oldest existing golf course (originally it was called Belleview Biltmore Country Club). In 1897, Belleair built six holes with elevated greens surfaced with crushed seashells to serve as a winter golf destination. "Everybody and their brother who was important came here," says Belleair's GCSAA Class A head superintendent Andy Neiswender (pictured), a 12-year member of the association, who oversees two 18-hole layouts that were designed by famed architect Donald Ross. The person who made it all possible at Belleair has a city named in his honor. Henry Bradley Plant (Plant City, Fla.) Photos by Chris Urso 20 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.14