Sara Bay Country Club happy for exposure brought by tournament

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MANATEE COUNTY - The Symetra tour makes its 2nd annual stop at Sara Bay Country Club for the Guardian Retirement Championship beginning Friday morning, and preparations are well under way.

The belle of the ball is being prettied up for the big event this week, as the LPGA feeder tour visits for a 2nd straight year.

The country club wants to put its best foot forward again. "You got some of the best players in the world playing golf in the area for the next five days. I think it’s great for the area. We have great golf fans in Sarasota and Bradenton and hopefully they will come out this weekend and watch," says Sara Bay GM Paul Barone.

The tour, nor the club, can do anything about the weather, as was the case last year during the final round when it was very windy. "This is my second year out here and I love the course. It treated me well last year. I got a good break last year; I was in the wave that didn't have bad weather. But the wind doesn't bother me. I was down here most of the winter, so it is fun coming here to Sarasota,” says tour player Calle Nielson.

The course is a Donald Ross original, so the reputation of the putting greens is well known to both returning and first-time players. "The greens are crazy. To work the greens, just study them today and putt from many different spots on the greens," says tour player Frances Bondad.

"(They are) very slopey and undulated, so if you know where to land on the greens, that is definitely an advantage," says tour player Caroline Westrup.

The players on the Symetra tour yearn to be a money leader so they can make the jump to the LPGA next season. The minor league tours are not all glitz and glamour. “The other morning I woke up…I am staying on Longboat Key, and I woke up and I slept so hard I was like, 'where am I?'," says Nielson.

Whereas the players may not remember what city or state they are waking up in, the clubs like Sara Bay that host the events hope that patrons keep the facility in the forefront of their minds. “It’s great exposure for Sara Bay. It gets people to see what a great club and golf course we have. It creates interest in the club. It is certainly a help, yeah," says Barone.