Summers aren't just for kids. We parents enjoy a break from work and the toils of every-day life as well. With summer fast approaching, my family talked about not letting too much grass grow under our feet. We would need to take a few long weekends away to relax.

To get ourselves in the proper frame of mind for this task, it became necessary to take one such trip a bit before summer arrives. We decided to head across the state to The Ritz Carlton Sarasota. When I think of taking a break from work, chores and so forth, I need to be pampered as much as possible. The Ritz Carlton certainly sets the bar for that.

We arrived early in the evening and were escorted to our seventh-floor room. Our accommodations were spacious with a beautiful view of the adjacent marina and Sarasota Bay.

Being on the Club Level allowed us to enjoy the privileges of the exclusive Club Lounge with complimentary beverages and a myriad of culinary delights throughout the day and evening. One warning however. An evening of cocktails and cordials will find you tossing any diet plan right out the window.

Another amenity is the shuttle service that takes guests to nearby St. Armand's Circle for shopping and dining and to the Members Beach Club on Lido Key. For expeditions to other places, there is chauffeured transportation available.

After settling into our room, some of the family headed off to explore and later provide me with a full report. My wife and I relaxed and checked our itinerary. She had a spa treatment scheduled for Saturday, our daughter would spend the day at the beach and I was all set for a great round of golf.

Saturday morning rolled around and after a great breakfast at the Club Lounge, my personal driver took me to the Members Golf Club for my round. On the way, we enjoyed a great conversation and he filled me in on the history of Sarasota.

When I arrived at the golf course, I was greeted by the staff. The two items at the very top of my list for a great golf experience are a lack of buildings on the course, and a trusty caddie at my side. With only a pro shop and clubhouse on the grounds, The Ritz delivered aces.

While I was enjoying the first few holes, my daughter was beginning her day at the beach on Lido Key. She spent the entire day frolicking on the beach, playing games, and enjoying the company of other kids from the Ritz, all under the watchful eye of the Ritz staff.

My wife began her pampering at the Members Spa back at the hotel. The Spa features 16 treatment rooms to provide facials, massage and treatments, ladies' and gentlemen's locker rooms including a relaxation area with sauna, steam room and whirlpool. When I saw her just after lunch, she looked completely relaxed and 10 years younger.

Meanwhile, my partners for the day, combined with a leisurely walk and our knowledgeable caddie, was making for a memorable round.

The Tom Fazio designed course highlights his best design traits. Not having to arrange holes around homes and such allowed him to do his best work, creating a golf club in the truest sense.

The Members Golf Club has six sets of tees, including one measuring in at 7,417 yards for those trying to emulate the touring pros. The course winds its way around 16 lakes with soft elevation changes in a wonderful natural setting, all framed by the Braden River.

The course is designed to allow the higher-handicapper room to play. There are few forced carries and it’s not overly penal from the forward tees.

The better players will want to challenge the course, bringing the lakes and wetlands more into play. The more aggressive you play, the more you are rewarded for solid shots. The fairways are wide and the greens large and rolling.

Variety is the name of the game as well. There are long and short par-3s. A couple of the par-5s are reachable in two and there is even a drivable par-4.

The finishing holes are not only tough but dramatic. Framed by the clubhouse, the 18th is a fantastic finishing hole. Playing as long as 473 yards from the tips, this par-4 requires a solid drive skirting the water down the right side and a long-iron approach to a well guarded green.

We completed our day at the Members Beach Club, relaxing as a family on the beach, watching the most gorgeous sunset imaginable.

To schedule your very own pampering this summer, contact The Ritz Carlton Sarasota at (941) 309-2000, or visit them on the web at www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/sarasota.

James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday Night Golf Show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at stammergolf@yahoo.com.

 

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