Belleview Biltmore Resort and Spa
The Belleview Biltmore Resort and Spa sits on a 22-acre bluff overlooking the crystal clear waters of Clearwater Bay. The hotel was built in 1897 by railroad tycoon Henry Plant, and sits in a private waterside enclave in the quaint Florida community of Belleair. It is a full-service resort that includes the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club, the Belleview Biltmore Tennis Club, Belleview Biltmore Resort & Spa, and the Belleview Biltmore Beach Club on Sand Key. The property features 224 well appointed rooms, 40,000 sq. ft. of meeting space as well as swimming pools, a workout center and the Eclips Spa.
Historical tours are held daily and are open to the public. The original hotel is one of the last of the great American Victorian “Grand Dame” hotels. You had better hurry; the hotel will be closing on May 31st 2009 for three years to undergo an extensive restoration and renovation project.
The Belleview Biltmore Golf Club
The Belleview Biltmore Golf Club was built by Donald Ross and first opened in 1925. In 2002, this classic Ross design underwent an extensive restoration to return it to its original design.
Playing 6614 yards from the back tees, this par 71 course has a rating of 71.9 and a slope of 124. There are four sets of tees so that golfers of all skill levels will find it playable. This course has a reputation for its challenging design which harmonizes beautifully with the surrounding environment. Large water oaks and pines narrow a few of the fairways. At first glance, the yardage seems rather blasé; a closer look at the scorecard reveals that four of the par-4 holes exceed 440 yards.
Water hazards (water comes into play on 14 holes), strategically placed sand bunkers (75 bunkers in all), and true rolling TifEagle Bermuda putting surfaces add to the enjoyment of the Belleview Biltmore. Pin placement sheets are provided daily for the 6 rotating hole locations. Crowned greens, a Ross trademark, invite run-up shots but tend to eschew careless approaches. However one of the biggest deterrents to low scoring is the wind; much of the course is relatively flat and exposed to onshore Gulf breezes.
Number 7: Par 5, 500 yards. The preferred tee shot on this fairly sharp dogleg right is down the left hand side. This will give you an unobstructed shot to the green (if you are inclined to try and reach it in two). Trees block out any attempt to go for the green if you happen to go right off the tee. Bunkers in front of the green look closer to the green then they actually are. The average player will leave himself a chip shot of less than 100 yards to a fairly large green after a well played second shot.
Number 9: Par 4, 440 yards. I’ve played quite a few par 5s that were shorter than this! A successful tee shot on this hole is one that avoids the fairway bunkers on the left; the third bunker is about 270 yards off the tee; plan on carrying the 2nd bunker and leaving yourself in the fairway about 220 yards out. Water guards much of the right side of the fairway as well as the green. The green features some slight undulations and is fairly large; about 35 yards from front to back.
Number 11: Par 5, 480 yards. A relatively short par 5 that can be reached in two with a couple of well executed shots. To have any hope of getting on in two, a drive down the left side is necessary; anything right of the 150 yard marker will be blocked out by trees. Players planning on reaching in regulation will have to navigate a creek that is about 100 yards in front of the green. The putting surface is narrow and around 40 feet long from back to front.
Number 17: Par 4, 380 yards. Don’t let the length of this hole fool you; it may not be the longest par 4 on the course (by a long shot) but there is still a lot of trouble to be had. Water lines the left side of the fairway and bunkers that seemingly attract golf balls dot the right side. A good tee shot would be anything just short of either fairway bunker on the right which will leave an approach shot of 110 – 140 yards. The approach is a little bit uphill to a large green.
Number 18: Par 4, 438 yards. What could be better than finishing with the hardest hole on the course? A good tee shot is still going to leave a long to mid iron to a large green. Two large bunkers guard the left side of the green.
Final Word: Playing from the back tees can prove to be a pretty humbling experience for even the most seasoned golfer. If you find your game is in need of some fine tuning while in the area, a golf academy is on property. Practice facilities include a range, putting green and short game area with practice bunker.
For tee time reservations up to 7 days in advance, call the Pro Shop at (727) 581-5498 or visit www.belleviewbiltmore.com.