When course designer, Mark Alden, was charged with the Serenoa Golf Club project, he obviously set out to design a course unlike the typical Sarasota, Florida golf courses. His vision, combined with the existing wetlands and natural lay-of-the-land to create a masterpiece that Florida Golf News calls one of the top 100 courses in Florida and one of the top three in Sarasota!
What Alden did was to take the rubberstamp Florida golf course and throw it to the wind. He took the short, 6,270-yard layout and made it play more like 7,200 by bringing water into play on every single hole and creating a true shot-maker`s course! So forget the usual tee-shot between two bunkers to a slightly elevated green guarded by two bunkers of your typical Sarasota course and welcome the variety and stiff challenge of Serenoa Golf Club.
Serenoa sets itself apart immediately on number 10 by throwing a 440-yard (from the tips) monster at you. With water all the way down the right side of the relatively wide fairway and water along the right side of the green, number 10 at Serenoa just may be the most intimidating opening back nine hole in Sarasota.
And so it goes throughout Serenoa`s layout. You look at the card and you think it`s going to be a push over, but once you get into the game, Serenoa proves to be extremely challenging. The fairways are moderately wide and, after number 10, there isn`t a par 4 over 400-yards, but with all the water and some pretty healthy dog-legs, precision and courage are required if you plan to shoot a decent number here.
One of the greatest things about Serenoa`s layout is the way the course gently rolls through the native Florida wetlands and marshlands. Wildlife abounds and the fairways are bordered by some of the most beautiful of Florida`s natural inhabitants. With all the natural splendor, when it`s not challenging you with another forced carry, Serenoa can really take you on a tour of all of your senses!
Nowhere is this more evident than on the signature par 3, number 2. The view from the tee is enough to make the knees tremble, both because of the sheer beauty and the absolute horror of it. Playing 190-yards from the tips and bordered right and long by water and front left by a deep, pot bunker, the layout of the hole is enough to challenge the best golfer. Add the wind, and 2 can play as short as an 7-iron or as long as a 3-wood. It`s definitely a 5-club hole depending on the wind.
The trend of really great golf holes that demand precision of thought and skill is the trademark of Serenoa`s layout. Unlike other courses in the Sarasota area, Serenoa doesn`t create artificial challenges out there that could be seen as unfair or an unrealistic test of golf. You`ll never see a giant bunker in the middle of the landing area, or a giant oak guarding your approach from the middle of the fairway.
What you will see is water left and right, just the right amount of bunkering and some very established, undulating greens. You don`t need to be a long hitter to play Serenoa, but you better be straight off the tee and have a good head on your shoulders, or you could be doing a lot of reloading.
This need for accuracy off the tee and good course-management skills will carry you through especially when it comes to the finishing holes. Sixteen, like all the par fours after #10 isn`t very long, but a forced carry over water and a deep ditch about 260-yards out present a real, "How much should I bite off?" scenario.
Number 8 is another par four where the only major challenge is what to do off the tee. You have to drive the ball straight here, or risk an unplayable or lost ball in the quagmire that lines the fairway. Is it worth it to hit driver and risk an impossible approach? Hit the fairway on 8! Do that and birdie is within reach.
Nine is an entirely different story. What a great way to finish nine holes of golf. A 495-yard par 5 with a sweeping dog leg left and water all down the right. The question here isn`t "should I or shouldn`t I." It`s, "How much should I cut off and how hard can I swing?" This green is easily reachable in two and very receptive to a long iron approach. Eagle is definitely not out of the question! Eighteen can and should be a great way to end your day at Serenoa!