Market snapshot: Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice


When Plantation was developed in 1980, it was a mammoth undertaking unlike any other seen in Sarasota County until then.

Located “in the wilderness” in east Venice, between Center Road and U.S. 41., its 1,300 acres required massive clearing for fairways, lakes and building sites. Altogether, more than a million yards of dirt and soil were moved.


When the area was platted in 1973, it was called Granada. Six years later, the Ramar Group, led by Robert Morris, purchased the property for development. Morris had vacationed in Bermuda, and he designed the new community to reflect that island’s lush foliage and pastel-colored architecture.

golfygolfAs a result, the in-house team that designed all of the residential and clubhouse buildings carried the Bermuda theme through the community, giving it its unique, luxurious look.

Over the next 15 years, Plantation was developed in four phases on both sides of Rockley Boulevard, the main north-south artery. Being “far from civilization,” it also had to be self-sufficient, with its own water and sewer treatment plants and cable TV facilities. The latter were eventually purchased by Time Warner, and the utility plants were sold to Sarasota County in 1991.

Today, Plantation has 20 subdivisions within it that include about 2,600 condo duplexes, villas and houses. Some neighborhoods are gated. Each has its own HOA. A master association for the whole community takes care of lakes and overall landscaping.

The last undeveloped area, a section of the St. Andrews subdivision by Center Road, is being built out now. When it is finished, it will add another 200 homes to the community.

The two 18-hole championship golf courses at the heart of Plantation were designed in different styles by the renowned links architect Ron Garl. The Bobcat, created in 1981, is more open and physically challenging. The Panther, built later, is shorter and has more water and turns, requiring a more tactical approach.

Plantation Golf and Country Club became a full equity club in 1991. It includes a 2,300-square-foot fitness center, a library, a large swimming pool, 13 Har-Tru tennis courts and several bocce courts.

For 25 years it has hosted one of the LPGA qualifying tournaments for the women’s professional golf tour. The main clubhouse can accommodate 600 for banquets and is a popular venue for weddings.

Although The Plantation is surrounded by other golf communities, it has one of a few unbundled golf clubs in the area — you don’t have to be a member to live there, and you can join without having a home in the community. About 25 percent of the 1,100 members are non-residents.

One of them, Gerald Gruber, who lives on Manasota Key, has belonged to the club since 2005. He plays golf two to three times a week, but he and his wife take advantage of other opportunities as well.

“Country clubs are a lifestyle, and this has become the center of our social lives,” he said. “Our friends are here, and it’s so much more than golf. It’s what’s going on tonight and tomorrow night.”

Activities include men’s and women’s clubs, specialty nights, trivia games, interactive dinners, a variety of card games, mah-jongg and wine tastings.

“There’s something going on every minute of every day,” said Scott Johnston, a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Co., which has a satellite office in Plantation.

Johnston has lived in Plantation for 10 years and loves it there. “When you drive through the different neighborhoods, you can’t help notice the attractive streets and beautiful landscaping.”

He mentions with pride the Plantation Community Foundation, the first of its kind in Florida, which has given more than $2 million to local charities since its inception 25 years ago. “It was started by residents who said, ‘We are blessed here. What can we do to give some back?’ ”

According to Johnston, Plantation’s population is mostly retirees and professionals thinking of retiring. A good half of them are snowbirds, many from other countries.

“We have lots of Swedes and Brits and a large Canadian contingent,” he said.

Because many paid cash for their homes, Plantation was not as seriously affected by the housing boom and bust as other communities.

Another sign of stability is the fact that the country club is undergoing major renovations, with additions to the existing clubhouse and new stand-alone facilities, to the tune of $3.7 million plus, without having to raise membership fees.

Sales have been steady. So far in 2013, 149 property transactions have been completed, well ahead of the pace of 151 homes sold in all of 2012.

The MLS has 86 listings, including condos and villas ranging from $94,000 to $349,000; and houses priced from $225,000 to $699,000.


Last modified: October 27, 2013
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