Nathan Benderson Park Biking - Photo by Eddie Kirsch
Nathan Benderson Park Biking - Photo by Eddie Kirsch

Sarasota Sport Trifecta: Golf, Tennis, and Biking

You missed the British Open, Wimbledon, and the Tour de France by just a hair ... or maybe a mile. But you can still enjoy your favorite active sports while on vacation in Sarasota County!

As the summer abounds with worldwide events such as the British Open, Wimbledon, and the Tour de France, we all become inspired to mimic the athletic superstars we see on screen. Sarasota, this summer and every day of the year, features myriad options for golf, tennis, and biking. So, grab your gear and let’s go!

Golf

Get in the swing of things with a round at one of Sarasota’s many golf courses and clubs. Embody the British Open vibe with a visit to local establishment the British Open Pub in Venice for a post-game plate of fish and chips and a pint of ale. With over sixty golf courses and accommodating weather year-round, Sarasota is a swinger’s dream. If you’re hoping to sample a variety of courses, the Big Summer Golf Card is just the ticket. For one fee, card owners receive unlimited play at various local courses, including favorites Bobby Jones Golf Club and Tatum Ridge Golf Links.

Depending on how much time you’re planning on spending in our beachfront haven, your level of commitment varies, though your number of options remains the same.

For short-term visits, a stay at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota gives you exclusive access to their private golf course. The Boca Royale Golf & Country Club in Englewood offers daily rates for non-members, as well as access to their innovative golfboards, a cross between a motorized skateboard and a golf cart. North Port’s Heron Creek Golf & Country Club also extends daily tee access for out-of-towners hoping to beat their personal best score on an Arthur Hills-designed course. If you’re going for par in Sarasota, pop into The University Park Country Club for the day and hit 18 on the “#1 Course in Southwest Florida.”

If you’re not sure how long you’ll be here, GolfInVenice.com provides access to three courses in the area, each of which are included in their unlimited monthly, 3-month, seasonal, or annual membership deals.

For seasonal visitors, a summertime membership offers all country club amenities for just the perfect number of months. Really master the course at Palm Aire Country Club, The Meadows Country Club, or Sara Bay Country Club in Sarasota, or Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice.

‘Fore’ the snowbirds and full-time residents, a full membership at one of Sarasota’s elite courses only makes sense. Along with the access to pristine greens and unbeatable amenities, joining a club means friendships and events, the stuff of which memories are made. Take a tour of Laurel Oak Country Club, TPC Prestancia, and The Founders Club and see which one is the best fit for you and your future years to come.

Fairways and chip shots not 100% your thing? Practice your short game at Smuggler’s Cove or Evie’s Golf Center with their themed miniature golf (aka putt putt) courses. For further enticement, the former features baby alligators you can feed and the later serves ice cream and boasts a driving range on site. Golf-timid youngsters will also enjoy the summer program at Laurel Oaks Country Club.

Any and all golf-related questions can be answered at Play Golf Sarasota, where expertise on the sport abounds. Where to go, when to go, how to get there, golf concierge services, tours of courses, golf vacation planning, and more is the name of the game for these PGA Professionals.

Tennis

Can’t all be Serena Williams or Billie Jean King, Andre Agassi or John McEnroe, but watching Wimbledon sure makes you want to give it a try. Grab those rackets and a new tube of balls (if you’re anything like me, your current ones are mostly flat and best suited for the dog to fetch), a friend and some sneakers and get your swing on at one of Sarasota’s many tennis venues.

Longboat Key’s Cedars Tennis Resort features 10 courts with optional coaching and guaranteed Gulf breezes. Membership options vary from annual to monthly to daily clinics. Once you’re tired and sweaty, hop into the pool or Gulf for a post-game cool down.

Wimbledon may use grass courts, but the French Open (aka Roland Garros) plays on clay. Give it a try at Sarasota Surf & Racquet Club and start preparing yourself for your own personal Grand Slam.

If you’re just playing around or don’t need coaching, mosey on over to Payne Park or Siesta Key Beach, each of which maintain public courts for practicing that backhand. Keep in mind that playgrounds are nearby, so watch the language when you miss that game point (talking to you, McEnroe).

The Resort at Longboat Key Club earned the boasting rights to ‘#6 Top Tennis Resort in the World’ by Tennis Resorts Online. Play a match and see if it lives up to its hype.

Summer days can get toasty, but many clubs offer lit courts for evening play. Take advantage of the long days and cooler nights with seasonal memberships at Laurel Oak Country Club, Palm Aire Country Club, Heron Creek Golf & Country Club, Plantation Golf & Country Club, and University Park Country Club.

Biking

Watching the cyclists zip through the countryside at the Tour de France is awe inspiring enough to make everyone want to (a) go to France and (b) hop on those wheels and kick off for an adventure. We can’t all jaunt off to Europe, but it’s definitely doable to take your own Tour de Sarasota 365 days a year.

The best way to see a new area is with a local and using your own two legs. Sarasota Bike Tours make both possible with their various tours of our stunning city. Choose what interests you and get pedaling (with their supplied bikes, helmets, snacks) from downtown historic to nighttime tours, Lido Key to Siesta Key (optional kayak ride included) and so many more. Each will give you a new perspective, be it your first or four hundredth time in Sarasota.

Those with their own wheels will love a bike adventure through Myakka River State Park. Pedal seven miles of paved paths through canopy roads, amongst slash pines and palmettos, and beside deer and alligators. Treat yourself to a cool treat from the Pink Gator Café before biking back. (If this sounds amazing but you don’t have your own bike, refer back to Sarasota Bike Tours, who do a Myakka tour).

Venice, Florida, is rated a Silver-rate Bicycles Friendly Community by Bikeleague.org, and abounds with bike-friendly routes and parks. Local nature lovers frequent Shamrock Park and Caspersen Park. Sightseers opt for the Venice Island Bike Loop or Historic Downtown District. Mountain bikers aim their handlebars in the direction of Carlton Reserve for 100 miles of offroading. For a bit of all of the above, you can’t go wrong with the Legacy Trail, approximately 11 miles of paved path that was once a railroad track and now serves as the ultimate biking haven, smooth yet surrounded by native foliage and minimal noise. Benches, water stations, and restrooms allow for a comfortable day for all. Providential pedalers may spot wildlife crossing their path, so be prepared to break and gawk.

Finish the tour with a baguette at local favorite Parisian bakery C’est la Vie, where the ingredients, technique, and staff are pure Françaises. After a long morning ride, crepes or an omelet with a side of warm café from Paris Bistrot will be just the ticket (to ride). You’ll convince yourself you’re in the French countryside in no time. Ooh la la!

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