With the Guardian Retirement Championship prepared to begin Friday, here's a Herald primer on the second annual LPGA Symetra Tour stop at Sara Bay Country Club:
Seeking that elusive autograph from a future LPGA Tour star? You can do that here, but you have to wait until after a player's round is finished. Once the player completes the round and departs the scoring area, she is available for an autograph. Just ask nicely.
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The Whitfield Presbyterian Church is the spot for parking for the second straight year. Spectators can find the grass lot behind the church at 7045 North Tamiami Trail. Sara Bay members may park on the lower grass area on the corner of Whitfield Avenue and Willow Street.
Look for advance tickets at any Walgreens in Manatee and Sarasota counties at half price. Daily tickets are $10; a three-day pass costs $25. Proceeds are donated to the All Faiths Food Bank. Children ages 17 and younger will be admitted free.
There are two spots to grab grub and a cold beverage at the course. The main concession area is on the lawn area between the clubhouse and the practice putting green. There you'll taste some scrumptious food, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken breast sandwiches and pulled pork sandwiches. Each of those items includes chips and range between $4 and $6. A sausage, egg and cheese biscuit -- new this year -- costs $3 and is served until 11 a.m. An array of 16-ounce beer runs $5 with 20-ounce soft drinks ($3) and water ($2) available, too.
Best spot to watch
There are a few spots for patrons to catch top-notch golf without having to move around. Out on the course, spectators can set up shop and watch the action unfold at the greens of holes No. 2, 11 and 16 while also catching players teeing off the 17th hole. Another area where fans can get a glimpse of what Sara Bay general manager Paul Barone called "players that are inches away from the LPGA Tour" is near the tee box on No. 8, which also gives the view of the fourth and seventh greens.
For those not inclined to walk the historic course, setting up near the clubhouse isn't a bad bet. You can watch players tee off the first and 10th holes, while seeing players finish up on Nos. 9 and 18. Plus, the main concession stand is right there.
Cell phones are permitted on the premises, but must be turned off. Cameras and coolers are not allowed. Spectators may bring folding chairs.
-- Jason Dill, Herald sports writer