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Sarasota, Florida: Home Of The Oldest Golf Course in America

Bobby Jones Sarasota 1Several communities across America have claimed they were first to provide a golfing facility. The most popular of these claims comes from Yonkers, New York , where two gentlemen from Dunfermline, Scotland, Robert Lockhart and John Reid, constructed a three hole golfing ground in 1888. However, many Sarasotans disagree with the Yonkers claim and local historical records support their position.

In December 1885, John Hamilton Gillespie arrived in the southwest Florida fishing village of Sarasota. Gillespie brought his hickory golf sticks with him from Scotland and by May 1886 he had constructed a two hole golfing ground between what is now Main Street and Ringling Boulevard. By 1888 the number of golf holes increased to four and a practice range was added to the mix. This course increased to 9 holes and a clubhouse by 1901 and by 1906 a full 18 hole course was in operation two years before the Yonkers.

Today, Bobby Jones Golf Club is a 45 hole municipal facility named for the legendary Robert Tyre Jones, Jr., who personally dedicated the course on Sunday, February 13, 1927.

The original 18 holes were designed in 1926 by the famed course architect Donald Ross. Nine additional holes were constructed in 1952 and another nine were added in 1967. The John H. Gillespie Executive Course was completed in 1977.

In 1930, Bobby Jones accomplished one of the most amazing feats in sports history, the Grand Slam of Golf. In honor of these championships the British Course front nine is named for his British Amateur victory at St. Andrews and the back nine for his British Open success at Hoylake. The American Course honors Jones’ championships in the U.S. Amateur at Merion and the U.S. Open at Interlachen. Jones is the only golfer to have won all of these major championships in the same year.

During its eighty three years Bobby Jones courses have challenged such immortals as Walter Hagen, Tommy Armour, Gene Sarazen and even the “Babe”, George Herman Ruth.
Past LPGA greats including Patty Berg, Babe Dedrickson Zaharias and Louise Suggs made Bobby Jones a regular tour stop in the mid 1950’s. The current British Course record is 62 set by Sarasotan, Paul Azinger, in 1980.

Sarasota’s Bobby Jones Golf Complex attracts visitors from around the world who come to play the fairways and greens steeped in golfing history.

Learn more at
and if you plan to visit the area.

About the Author

In 2000, following a long and successful career as head of his own public relations agency, Jim became a freelance travel writer. In 2003 he was named travel editor at New York Trend. Jim travels widely in North America and Europe and has also visited in Asia, Africa, and Central America. He enjoys writing stories that bring alive his travel experience and entice the reader to visit new destinations. Jim is a member of the International Association of Black Travel Writers.