GOLF : The first golf ball was hit in America in 1886 by a Scotsman John Hamilton Gillespie on a 2-hole starter course he built on land that is now part of downtown Sarasota. Today, the Greater Sarasota area has 37 beautiful golf courses, many built by famous designers, of varying fees and levels of difficulty, and most have PGA professional instruction available.
For location of clubs, fees and tournaments, see: golfcoastmagazine.com, or MustDo.com.
BOATING / FISHING : For fishermen and boat lovers, the area of the Gulf Coast around Sarasota is the ultimate paradise. As a resource guide to help one navigate thru all the shore communities, see the following web sites: GulfCoastLivingOnline.com, or MustDo.com.
There are many boat marinas up and down the coast which offer day rentals, fishing charters with guides, the Freedom Boat Club in Sarasota and Venice #941-584-8338, the Key West Express from Ft. Myers Beach #239-463-5733; keywestexpress.us, the Myakka River State Park #941-365-0100 with the world’s largest covered airboat, the famous Tarpon Fishing Competition and Festival in May and June around Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande, the North and South Jetty fishing piers in Venice, Sharkey’s Fishing Pier. There are a large number of smaller boat ramps and fishing docks along both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway for some excellent fishing.
TENNIS : Most major hotels, beach resorts and country clubs have tennis courts, and there are free public courts in many of the Sarasota and Venice Parks, playable yearlong with leagues and tournaments. There are professional qualifying tournaments in April on Longboat Key Golf &CC for men, and the Oaks Golf &CC for women. The world-famous Nick Bollietteri IMG Academy is located in Bradenton, training most of the current world’s big tennis stars.
For more information, see : Sarasotatennis.com, and scgov.net.
KAYAK / CANOE TRIPS: There are many venues, up and down the gulf coast or the Intracoastal Waterway: Bird Key Park, South Lido Nature Park, South Lido Beach Park, Shell Road, Philippi Creek Trail, Turtle Beach, Vamo Road, Casey Key, Venice.
For more information, see :littoralsociety.org
BIKING / HIKING: Sarasota - Legacy Trail, 25 miles connecting with Venice Downtown, then with the Shamrock Park Intracoastal Waterway Trail, free trails and parking.
For more information, see :www.floridahikes.com/sarasota
ROWING: Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota.
Recently constructed world-class rowing facility, rated the best and safest on the US East Coast, has been chosen to host the World Rowing Championship in 2017.
For more information, see Sarasotarowing.com and sarasotascullers.org.
For the less mobile sport enthusiasts, there are Chess Clubs, Bridge Clubs, Sarasota Breakfast Club.com, Computer Clubs, or just soaking up the Gulf Coast tropical waterfront experience with great food and drink at the Casey Key Fish House in Osprey #941-966-1901, Sharkey’s on the Pier in Venice #941-488-1456, or the Siesta Key Oyster Bar in Sarasota #941-346-5443, or skob.com.
FOOTBALL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa: buccaneers.com
SOCCER: Tampa Bay Rowdies - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg:Tampabayrowdies.com.
BASEBALL: Tampa Bay Rays [Major League], Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg:Tampabayrays.com.
BASEBALL TEAMS SPRING TRAINING:
The spring training stadiums are much smaller than in the big cities, seating capacity of 10-15,000, with easier accessibility and much less expensive tickets for the games.
Baltimore Orioles - Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota: Baltimore orioles spring training.com
Boston Red Sox - JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Lee County, Ft. Myers: Boston red sox spring training.com
New York Yankees - George Steinbrenner Field, Tampa: NYYankees spring training.com.
See Yankees 2014 Grapefruit League Season.
There are also additional exciting world-class sporting events, such as
SWIMMING: Meets of national and international stature throughout the year
POLO: Matches on Sundays from mid-December through April at the Lakewood Ranch Polo Grounds: SarasotaPolo.com
SUNCOAST SUPER SPEEDBOAT GRAND PRIX: races during the first week of July on Sarasota Bay: suncoastoffshore.org. This is billed as the best and biggest summer party/festival in Sarasota.