Concession in Lakewood Ranch to host back-to-back NCAA golf championships
LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The exclusive Concession Golf Club is preparing to make history.
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The club, designed by famed golfers Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, and named after the famed 1969 Ryder Cup "concession" match at Royal Birkdale involving the two men, has been selected as the site of the 2015 National Collegiate Aathletic Association Division 1 Men's and Women's golf championships, marking the first time in hsitory the same course will serve the respective tournaments on consecutive weeks.
The University of South Florida has been designated the host school for the championships, which will feature the nation's top collegiate teams and golfers, beginning with the Women's Golf Championship from May 22-27, followed by the Men's Championship during May 29-June 3.
The Golf Channel, in conjunction with NBC Sports, will air live broadcasts the final three days of each championship, which will showcase the Concession, voted by Golf Digest magazine as the Best New Private Course in the United States shortly before it opened in 2006.
The Lakewood Ranch club's 520 wooded acres at 7700 Lindrick Lane borders Bradenton and Sarasota counties.
"We take great pride in the quality and condition of our golf course, and now viewers from all the world will be able to see and appreciate the beauty and challenges of the course and the property, which we are very proud of," said Terry Kennelly, general manager of the Concession.
No stranger to collegiate tournaments, the Concession played host to the men's Callaway Collegiate Match Play in 2012 and the mens Big Ten Match Play Championships from 2012-2014. Last year, the University of Michigan, which came into the Big Ten Match Play as the eighth seed, excited the crowd with an unpredictable victory over second-seed Purdue on the 10th hole.Teams have not yet been identified for the NCAA Championships. Kennelly said they will be announced several weeks before the event begins.
"We'd love to have some Florida teams because more people will probably come to the matches," he said, adding the Concession anticipates 1,500 spectators a day. USF's men's team is ranked eighth by Golfweek and ninth by Golfstat.
Stroke and match play for men and women, respectively, will culminate in individual and team champions.
A push is on to recruit about 400 volunteers to work the championships as parking and ticketing attendants, scorers and standard bearers who can walk at least 18 holes.
"We are reaching out to as many venues as possible and trying to get the community involved. No age is too young or too old," said Mark Heise, assistant director of communications for USF Athletics. "This will be the biggest event in our area in a very long time. College golf has turned into a minor league for the (Professional Golfers Association), and you're sure to see some of the newest rising stars in the game."
Golf teams, their families and guests will stay at local hotels in and around Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter@MoschellaHerald.