The Gasparilla Inn and Golf Club – Golfing in the Lap of Luxury


  Gasprilla3 The Inn
The Gasparilla Inn & Club is a classic old Florida resort. As a Historic Hotel of America Landmark Inn, it has been serving discriminating guests since 1913. The resort offers 142 luxurious accommodations and a host of fun and appealing activities for families, couples and groups that enjoy Florida as it was meant to be. The Gasparilla Inn & Club celebrated its centennial anniversary starting October 2013. The Inn has been a premier destination on Florida’s pristine Gulf Coast since 1913, offering a memorable resort and golf experience.

There is plenty to do apart from or after golf. The expansive Gasparilla Inn Beach Club is located right on the gulf and includes full dining and bar facilities. A fitness and exercise studio overlooking the gulf is second to none; you can watch the waves break as you sweat away the pounds. There is also a full service spa and salon on the premises.
Not a golfer? OK, are you into fishing, tennis or croquet? All are available in championship style on property. Shelling and shopping are also popular activities at the resort.

The Gasparilla Inn & Club also is recognized as an ideal destination for corporate and incentive group meetings, as well as being sought out for weddings, reunions and other special family occasions.

Today, The Inn consists of 137 rooms, 63 in the main Inn and 74 in the surrounding cottages. The Gasparilla Inn & Club continues to be known for its impeccable service and its unique historic old Florida feel and atmosphere today.

The resort employs more than 325 people on a seasonal basis and continues many of its original traditions, including afternoon tea during Social Season. The Inn is presently owned by the William Farish family. Mr. Farish is a former United States Ambassador to The Court of St. James, and his wife, Sarah, is the only daughter of the late Bayard Sharp.

The Pink Elephant Restaurant
The Pink Elephant Restaurant is located down the street from the main Inn, on the Boca Grande bayou.

The Golf Club
The 18-hole Gasparilla Inn & Club course plays 6,811 yards from the back tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 73.5 and the slope rating is 129. The Gasparilla Inn was designed by Pete Dye, and recently renovated in 2004. Five sets of tees make the course a challenge for players of all levels. The Gasparilla Golf Club is considered the crown jewel of this historic resort.

Being on a small island does present its challenges; especially when it comes to fresh water for irrigation. The course uses free effluent water produced at an island treatment plant for irrigation. This includes a built in extensive water recovery system, the sole source for the course’s irrigation. The Gasparilla Inn & Club also uses eco-friendly native Seashore Paspalum turf grass throughout the entire layout; a grass that stands up to the stern seaside climate.

Gasprilla1This ‘island within an island’ course, set in the natural splendor of Florida’s barrier islands, is as beautiful as it is unique. Holes 12 through 17 play directly along scenic Charlotte Harbor. In fact, Pete Dye, himself, favors the 15th, a par 4 dogleg to the left.

The Gasparilla Golf Club is available for play by members and guests of The Inn. There are no course tee times at The Gasparilla Golf Club; just show up at the pro shop and play. Complete practice facilities are available to all resort guests, as are lessons from the club’s PGA professionals.

Memorable Holes
Number 1: Par 5, 522 yards. Number one is a great starting hole and offers the opportunity to get your round off to a good start. It’s a medium length par 5 with a slight dogleg to the left. Whatever you do off the tee, don’t miss it left as you will have to deal with a small grove of trees and natural vegetation. Missing it right is no big deal; as long as you avoid the large fairway bunker you will easily be able to get back into play with your layup shot to a wide open fairway. The approach shot is to a lagre, receptive green that is guarded by sand on either side.

Number 5: Par 3, 175 yards. Cross over the bridge to play these challenging par 3s. Number 5 is the first of back-to-back par 3 holes, something you don’t see to often on a regulation length course. From what I’m told by local golfers, number 5 typically plays downwind in the morning so you may not need as much club as usual. From the back (gold) tees this hole is a formidable challenge at 240 yards; over a waterway at that! For us mere mortals, it’s a straight forward par 3 with no water. The bunkers between the tee and green should not come into play but do your best to avoid the trap that guards the left side of the green. Par is very achievable here.

Number 6: Par 3, 154 yards. As this plays adjacent to number 5, it’s back into the wind in the morning hours. Carry the water off the tee, avoid the three bunkers that surround this large green and you’ve got it made!
Number 9: Par 3, 299 yards. If you’ve been saving up that long drive off the tee, now is your chance to unleash it. At 299 yards and a good breeze, this green is reachable, provided you can hit it straight. Not a long ball hitter? Steer clear of the two fairway bunkers in the landing area and be sure to avoid the waste bunker and palm trees on the right side which can ruin an otherwise good front nine.

Gasprilla2Number 12, Par 4, 432 yards. This is the first of six holes that play along the scenic and serene Charlotte Harbor. It will take two of your best shots of the day to reach the green in regulation on this long, dogleg right par 4. It takes a decent tee shot to carry the water off the tee and then another well executed shot to hit this long, narrow green that is protected on the right with sand and water and a lot of natural Florida vegetation to the left. Par or better here is a real accomplishment.

Number 16: Par 5, 528 yards. How can you not like a hole where the only thing separating you from the ocean is a seawall? That said, anything left is wet; don’t even bother pulling out the ball retriever. Whether or not the fairway bunkers on either side come into play off the tee depends where you play from; the more forward you go, the more they come into play. Your layup shot needs to be accurate to avoid bunkers short and on either side of the green. Leaving your approach shot a manageable distance from the green can go a long way in scoring well on this hole
Last Word: The Gasparilla Golf Club is second to none. Is there anywhere else in Florida you can play a Pete Dye seaside course?

It’s not your typical deceptive Pete Dye course. What you have is a fairly straight forward – yet absolutely gorgeous golf experience set along the scenic Charlotte Harbor. Don’t get me wrong, the prevailing winds will make this course a challenge for even the most seasoned golfer.

Gasprilla4A number of holes on the back nine play right along the gulf and provide a very challenging and scenic golf experience. The Gasparilla Golf Club offers something not seen very often in the Sunshine State: the opportunity to walk the course. With no notable hills to speak of this is something that should be taken advantage of and makes the experience that much more enjoyable.

The staff at both the golf course and the inn are some of the most accommodating and attentive people I have ever met. They are always there to open every door for you and offer a warm greeting. The golf course staff headed up by PGA Professional Robert Dukes bend over backwards to cater to your every whim. They even offer suggestions and opinions on the best holes and how to play them.

The food at the snack bar is incredible; the staff can take the most mundane sandwich or hot dog and make it special. Not your typical “at the turn” menu!

David Theoret

David Theoret has been in the golf and golf travel industry for over 12 years, primarily selling online advertising. For the past seven years, he has also been a golf writer, reviewing golf courses, resorts, destinations, equipment, golf apparel, and training aids – the latter of which never seems to help. What started as a dream years ago, by God’s grace, became a reality in 2015 when The Golfin’ Guy editorial marketing company was founded. Working together with golf course designer Ron Garl; David’s articles and reviews have been posted on many golf travel, equipment, and apparel websites.

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