(11/8/16-Tampa,FL) The 821 families in the Plantation Palms subdivision wanted their club back. After the popular golf course and restaurant closed in 2014 and several failed suitors, the community partnered with local operator Ace Golf to restore and re-open the public golf course that winds through their community. The club re-opens to the public in stages this month as an expanded version of its former self.
Faced with 6-foot high weeds in their backyards and the possibility of permanent closure or conversion to another use as some area courses have succumbed to, the community mobilized with a “Bring Back Our Course” group led by now HOA-President Jim Hammond. They recruited Ace Golf, owner of several area courses, and agreed to purchase a social membership for every family in Plantation Palms for 5 years to support the club.
The renovation started in May. The weeds are gone. New greens and manicured fairways are back. The clubhouse has a new coat of paint. But, the club is not the same. To ensure the new club’s success and to make it more available to the general public, Ace Golf added an Irish pub, miniature golf, and a lighted driving range. A new banquet room will be added next year to host weddings and events.
The new “Mulligans Irish Pub” opened to the public last month with sweeping views of the golf club. It is modeled after Ace Golf’s two other pubs in New Tampa and Tarpon Springs. Where once a generic golf course restaurant existed, there is now an Irish-themed family pub with high, beamed ceilings, Irish murals, an expanded menu with salads, burgers, sandwiches, dinner items, and pub fare like fish n chips and shepherds pie.
According to owner Bill Place, “an Irish Pub is a natural fit for a community golf course and appeals to more than just golfers. We want this to be a neighborhood pub for everyone in the area.” The formula has worked at two of Place’s other clubs, Pebble Creek Golf Club in New Tampa, and the Wentworth Golf Club in Tarpon Springs.
The real first for Tampa Bay golf courses is the 18-hole miniature golf course that opens to the public this week at Plantation Palms. The course was built next to the clubhouse and features tropical landscaping, waterfalls, fountains, trick shots, and it is lighted for night play. Miniature Golf Solutions, a national miniature golf course builder, constructed the course.
“Some golf operators complain that fewer people are playing golf”, says Place, “but this does something about it. Lots of kids and families will come out to play miniature golf, see the big golf course, and maybe work their way up to it! Hopefully, people will play and then stop by Mulligans to eat.”
The main feature, Plantation Palms’ four-star Golf Digest course, will open on November 30th to members and on December 5th to the public. General Manager Kevin Dietsch says “Crews have worked the last 5 months growing new greens, restoring fairways and bunkers. The course will be playable, but it will take time to mature and get it back to the top condition it is known for. The layout remains one of the more challenging and well-loved with rolling hills, ponds, and sculpted terrain. Opening specials will be available at plantationpalms.net.
Another big improvement that opens November 30th is the newly expanded and lighted driving range, also open to the public. Very few golf courses, if any, have lighted practice ranges, so this will be another first for Tampa Bay.
Ace Golf is owned by Bill Place and Su Lee, a married couple. They started the Ace Golf Ranges (ace-golf.com) in Brandon and Riverview over 20 years ago. The company also owns and operates the Pebble Creek Golf Club (pebbblecreekclub.com), Wentworth Golf Club (wentworthgolfclub.org) and Crescent Oaks Country Club (crescentoaksgolf.com).
Mulligans Irish Pub and the new Miniature Golf Course at Plantation Palms (plantationpalms.net) are at 23253 Plantation Palms Blvd., 1.5 miles north of SR54 off of Collier Parkway. Hours are Monday to Thursday 11am to 9pm, Friday and Saturday 11am to 10pm, and Sunday 11am to 9pm. Both the restaurant and the miniature golf are open to the public. Phone (813) 996-4653.
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