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Gasparilla Inn & Club, Boca Grande
THE HOLE Florida’s coastline—almost 2,300 miles of it counting tidal marshes and inlets—is the state’s most omnipresent and aesthetic asset. Perhaps no golf course gives you a greater sense of its scale than the Gasparilla Inn & Club’s (the-gasparilla-inn.com), situated on Charlotte Harbor between Sarasota and Fort Myers. After 14 relatively landlocked holes, the course bursts out into the open water with the stunning par-4 15th hole, one that tightropes between Pete Dye’s sensuous new architecture (he redesigned the course in 2006) and the harbor’s oceanlike sprawl on the left. The sheer magnitude and suddenness of the hole-water juxtaposition will convert even non-golfers to the game.
STAY Founded in 1913, the Gasparilla Inn is a haven of sophisticated respite in a sea of development. Stay in the cottages south of the inn overlooking the ninth hole. Other options range from single rooms to suites and villas.
EAT Order local first-course classics like the Gasparilla Caesar salad and the compressed watermelon and crab salad as you take in the elegance of the main dining room and chef Peter Timmins’ new seafood-oriented menu. Ask for table 73, an intimate spot for two, overlooking the links.