Sunday, September 15, 2013

IMG Academies Golf and Country Club - A short review after a Sunday round of golf in September 2013


IMG Academies Golf and Country Club  - find some more photos all the way at the bottom of this article .

After a few weeks I was able to play the IMG Academies golf course again. After playing a lot of wet and not in so good shape golf courses, I was looking forward to play a course with good drainage.

I just wanted to have some dry fairways with good lies and some roll and some greens which are actually true and not soft. Further some sand traps which are not hard as concrete.

We had tee times beginning at 8 23 am. Early start. So I was not sure if I will get a chance to practice on their facility and warm up properly. I have played this course many times before and was never disappointed at all.

I go there in time and found about 25 cars on the lot. That was a great sign because it meant there were not too many players out there, which I like. It gives  you the opportunity to play golf and not rush through the course.

Since I parked , I did not have contact with the cart boy at the bag drop. But I did notice, that he did not say good morning although I walked by him and said just that.

The pro shop was empty. As a matter of fact, it was only a girl behind the counter and what seemed to be the assistant professional or professional. That came in handy to me as I wanted to go and warm up a little. I told them with what group I am . The girl was very friendly, confirmed and asked for my name. She then told me the price, which came too about 29 $. That is a good price including cart.

Went and picked up my cart and the cart guy was friendly as well. I drove to the water station to pick up some water and ice. I knew they have water stations, but not how many and if it was cold water. The machines is a little beat, but works fine.

Next of to the practice area of which I forgot to take a photo , but will try to add that later. The just redid the area and I was looking forward to see it.

It looks great. There is the mats which they had before and to the left there is grass tees from which you can chip on. Looks all very nice and well taken care of at this point.

There were plenty of range balls available which are  included in the green fee. So I warmed up a little bit. Also tried the bunker to see how the sand was and found it dry but very fluffy, which I was not used to.

From there I went on to the driving range. They put down new green there as well, which is artificial grass but very nice. It looks good and feels good. Still wondering why the entire range is kind of downhill. You now can hit all your clubs including your woods. That was not possible before because the range is limited of length. But with the range balls most amateurs have plenty of room here.

The starter was waiting for us already and we checked in. He was friendly.

We had to start from 10 today. That was also fine with me. It is a par 5 and so you can get going easily.

All tee boxes were in excellent shape. You find level spots so you can focus on a great tee shot instead of compensating for bumps and so on.

In the pro shop we were told to use the 90 degree rule as much as possible, but it was not mandatory. Right on the first hole I could see, that despite all the rain we got over the past weeks, the fairways were in great shape. Actually the fairways on all holes were good. On a few spots were muddy. But nothing significant. It was nice to get some roll and bounce on your drive.

That makes a round of golf much more enjoyable.  

3 shots found the bunkers. My first bunker shot was from a fairway bunker. This trap was dry, as all the once I saw, and the sand was not to fluffy. So it was not to difficult to put it on the green.

The two green side bunkers I was in were in great shape, but compared to the fairway trap very fluffy. Both off my balls very buried deep. I am not sure if that is the intend or not, but it sure makes for tough bunker shots for amateurs or beginners.

I was able to save one of the holes with tremendous skill.

The greens of this course are all looking great. Today they were not exactly fast, but had a true and good roll to it. This is nice and it shows you, that courses of this class simply have better drainage and care. Very enjoyable to play on those greens, even though I missed some fairly short putts.

So I am very pleased with the condition of the course and for that price, this was a great deal.

In terms of amenities there is room for improvement. Although there is water stations on the golf course, the water is warm and does not taste good. Even Manatee County has by far more and better water available.

There is a kiosk on the course where you can buy all kinds of things, get ice and water as well as use the restrooms. This is OK, but for a course of that quality it is pretty poor.

The girl waiting for customers was very nice and had a big smile to show. That is always nice and gives you a feeling of being welcome.

Using the restroom there was OK. Nothing too special, but clean. I used another one on the course , which looks old and could use a do over, but was also clean.

The speed of play was very good. Took us about 4 ½ hours to get done and we did not rush one time. Surely it helped that it was not very busy. That might chance in season though.

I did not go to the restaurant this time and am not sure if there was any changes from last time. So I will wait with any comments on that one.

I dropped of the car ( I need to mention here, that our cart barely made it to the clubhouse. The batteries were clearly not full when we got it, so make sure you ask) and took a peek into the pro shop. It was well stocked and looks inviting. Since I did not check any prices or merchandise, I will need to add to that later or write a separate article.

Overall , IMG Academies Golf and Country Club is a course worth playing, especially in off season when the price is as low as it was today.
Because the IMG schools bring their students out here and it is a championship course, this course is very well taken care of and in excellent playing condition. Surely the greens could be and will be faster in season and in tournaments. If you want to play a course which is in good shape even in rainy season, IMG Academies Golf course is a great choice. It is not too busy, has good service and a very good challenge. It is not an easy course and yet, there is plenty of room.

A nice feature to mention here is the GPS attached to every cart. So you know exactly front, middle and back from every point where you are at. I checked it with my laser device and it matches nicely. Both of them together help  you greatly.

So , if you get a chance to play, even for not the best deal, go and do it. This is a nice experience and you will see how much more enjoyable golf can be if played on a good golf course.

If you played there, share your experience if you like. I will certainly write updates after future visits.

Here are some  of the photos. Although this course is practically a city course, the landscape is pretty nice and offers trees, ponds and all kinds of plants.

General view

Birds eye view on greens 10 (front) and 17 of IMG Academies Golf and Country Club

View towards the gulf over the 10th fairway of IMG Academies Golf and Country Club

1 comment:

  1. Since the round I wrote about above plenty of time has passed. In between the greens were bad and the management has changed yet again. However, I did play another round last week, April 15th and I have to say that many things are similar to what I wrote before. The course was in good shape and the greens recovered from some bad times. The kiosk was closed this time (still not a good thing). Pro shop was the same in terms of product. The pro behind the counter was friendly. The starter was someone I have never seen before and he was a little strange. I booked my tee time after my friends and we wanted to play together and he tried to explain to us, that it is not possible. Although, the afternoon was wide open. His reasoning was, that once you book a time, you need to play that time. After all others could have booked the same time. But after a little talking he gracefully agreed to our suggestion and let us play. I would not play this course for more then 40 $. On a good note, you now can hit drivers on the range. I guess they finally realized that the flight restricted balls will not fly long enough to make the 300 yards to the other side. I would play again there for a good deal in summer time. It remains a challenging course with a very nice lay out.