Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Florida is not only a great place to play golf, it’s also a great place to call home. It’s one of Venice’s premier country club communities and sits on more than 1300 acres with about 2,600 residences. Home styles include maintenance-free villas, patio homes, condominiums and single-family homes.
Plantation Golf & Country Club is owned by Concert Golf Partners, one of the fastest-growing private club ownership companies in the US. Concert currently has over 30 properties in its portfolio, spanning 16 states from Massachusetts to Texas. As a member of one club, you basically become a member at all of them, so you can play a round of golf or tennis, swim, or dine at another Concert Golf property during your travels.
The centerpiece of the community is the two 18-hole championship golf courses. Both the Bobcat and Panther golf courses were designed by Lakeland, Florida-based golf course architect Ron Garl. Each year since 1988, Plantation Golf & Country Club has played host to the LPGA Tour Qualifier event and the club’s reputation continues to grow in stature.
In September 2022, Hurricane Ian did a number on the west coast of Florida, and Plantation Country Club did not make it unscathed. As a result, the golf courses now have a different look and feel than when I played them in 2019. Between the two courses, Plantation lost between 450 – 500 trees. The main clubhouse and fitness buildings received a complete remodel, several pickleball and bocce courts needed to be replaced, and the tennis courts were redone with a Har-Tru surface.
The Bobcat Course is consistently ranked among Florida’s top 50 courses by Golfweek Magazine and is considered by many to be one of the finest and most challenging 18-hole courses in the area. According to Garl, more earth was moved to create the rolling hills on the Bobcat Course than any other course in Florida. With seven sets of tees, Bobcat can be played anywhere from 6,813 to 4,551 yards.
For me, the most memorable holes on Bobcat are Numbers 5 and 18. Five is a 392-yard, par 4 dogleg right and the course’s #1 handicap hole for men. Members refer to Number 5 as “Big Foot” because of the large foot-shaped bunker at the corner of the dogleg. Should you encounter Big Foot off the tee, par is a lot tougher. Your approach shot plays to a large, well-undulated green that is protected by a long, narrow bunker front left. A retaining wall frames the entire left side of the putting green and adds to the overall beauty of the hole.
Number 18 is considered by local golfers, members, and LPGA Tour players to be one of the finest finishing holes anywhere! From the White Tees, it plays 374 yards and can be a tricky driving hole with two fairway bunkers on the left, one on the right, and water beyond that. A tee shot over the bunkers on the left tee that finds the fairway will leave a short pitch shot into a triangular green with bunkers in front and behind, with water guarding the entire right side. From the fairway, you’ll have a stunning view of the entire greens complex, stone retaining wall, and the clubhouse.
The Panther Course is the perfect complement to the Bobcat. Although it is considerably shorter than Bobcat it typically plays a little tougher. The original Garl design offered a distinctly different look with several fairway pot bunkers and several sharp dogleg holes. A renovation by architect Stephen Kay in 1999 included enlarging the greens complexes and incorporating more undulation into them. The greens were regrassed with TifEagle Bermuda grass and the greenside bunkering was made more dramatic.
The stretch of holes from 12 – 15 is referred to by members as the “Panther’s Claw.” Number 12 is a 308-yard par 4 that epitomizes target golf. Most golfers will hit something less than a driver off the tee over an environmentally protected area with water on the left. From there you’ll be left with a short pitch shot over another protected area to the green. Don’t let this hole fool you; it takes two well-executed shots to reach the green in regulation.
Number 13 is a 443-yard par 5 where your second shot is the most demanding. A good tee shot leaves a decision to go for the well-undulated, island green in two or layup and leave a 60-yard plus carry over water. This hole is as picturesque as it is challenging!
The 356-yard 14th hole is a slight dogleg right with no water hazards and a single greenside bunker, giving players the idea that it’s an easy par, but the tree-lined fairway tells another story. The narrow fairway that slopes to the left and the small green make it a challenge.
The par 3, 15th hole is pure Ron Garl; he’s the master of the island green! The hole plays 141 yards with sand surrounding the green. Although it’s one of the largest putting surfaces on the course, the water and sand tend to take their mental toll on golfers. Remember, sand is better than water!
It’s often said that “practice makes perfect,” and The Learning Center helps members get the most out of their golf game. They use the FlightScope Launch Monitor and various club-fitting systems to help you take your game to the next level. Practice facilities include a multi-sided driving range, 2 practice putting greens, and 3 short game areas for chipping. They also have major equipment manufacturers come in for “Demo Days” where you can try all the latest and greatest golf gear. Private and group lessons are available from the professional golf staff as are one-on-one club-fitting sessions.
If golf’s not your thing, there’s still plenty to do at The Club. For racquet sports players, Plantation features 13 Har-Tru tennis courts, 5 of which are lit for night play, and 6 pickleball courts. Another popular activity at Plantation Golf & Country Club is bocce ball. There are 4 courts located behind the Tennis Pro Shop and instruction and tips are available.
Plantation’s Fitness Center is stocked with weight machines, stationary bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, and free weights. There’s also a full fitness calendar that includes classes such as Zumba, Yoga, Balance and Tone, TRX, and Arms & Abs. You’ll find that getting healthy has never been easier or more fun!
For swimmers, Plantation’s heated Junior Olympic-size pool is a popular place to swim a few laps. There’s also a heated Jacuzzi spa that seats 10 and food and beverage service is available poolside. It’s the perfect place to relax while enjoying some Florida sunshine.
Dining is an important aspect of any private club. Plantation Golf & Country Club offers several dining venues creating a wide variety of food options. The Club’s Executive Chef and team of culinary artists put together weekly specials using locally sourced foods to create a wide selection of dishes that will tease your palate. Festive parties and events are held throughout the year for members and their guests.
Plantation offers several membership categories to meet the needs of just about anyone. A Full Membership gives you access to everything the club has to offer – golf, tennis, fitness center, Aquatic Center, and all of the activities in and around the Clubhouse. A Sports and Fitness Membership includes everything, but golf is limited. As a Social Member, you’ll have unlimited access to the Clubhouse and all social activities, the Fitness and Aquatic Centers, bocce, and pickleball courts with limited golf and tennis opportunities.
Plantation Golf & Country Club is located near Venice on Florida’s southwest coast. It’s just minutes away from nearby Sarasota and the Gulf beaches and has much to offer. To inquire about membership or to arrange a personal tour, give them a call at (941) 497-1494 or visit them online at www.plantationgcc.com.