The concept and collaboration were sprouted more than 50 years ago, though at the time Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin hadn’t the slightest idea what their act of sportsmanship would produce. It was 1969: the moment the Golden Bear conceded the final putt of the Ryder Cup to Jacklin resulting in the first tie in the matches’ history—the concession heard round the world, and the genesis of a golf club some 37 years before it’s creation.
The Concession Golf Club opened in 2006 after Nicklaus and Jacklin used their Ryder Cup moment to team up on a gem of a golf course in Bradenton, Fla. That collaboration will be on display as the world’s top golfers visit the west coast of Florida for the WGC Workday Championship. A new event, and golf course, if only for a year.
The move to The Concession comes after the PGA Tour announced that it would be relocating the WGC Mexico Championship due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The plan is to return to Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City for 2022, but this year it’s The Concession hosting the event that will kick off a four-week swing through the Sunshine State.
It’s the first PGA Tour event to be played at the Nicklaus/Jacklin collaboration though it has hosted a few high-profile tournaments, including the 2015 NCAA Division I Golf Championships. Bryson DeChambeau was the individual National Champion that year while playing for Southern Methodist University, and while Bryson experienced success at The Concession, those that know the golf course best say it will provide the stiffest of tests to the world’s best players.
“I believe there will be a big gap between the winners and the guys that play it really poorly. It’s the kind of golf course that will eat your lunch,” said NBC golf analyst Paul Azinger, who spoke about the golf course at a recent press conference in Bradenton. A member at The Concession, Azinger said that despite being a golf course that can be enjoyed by all levels of players, Tour pros “will be tested” and might have their hands full.
At just under 7,500 yards with a slope of 155 The Concession has plenty of brawn, but the greatest test will be supplied by the tricky green complexes that Nicklaus and Jacklin co-designed. The greens demand accuracy on approach shots throughout the golf course and, as expected, that demand peaks at the golf course’s signature hole.
The Concession’s 8th hole is a 374-yard par four from the back tees—short by tour pro standards. Precision is rewarded from tee to green, as an accurate tee shot to the proper side of a sharp dogleg right will set up the ideal look into the heavily guarded green. A daunting water hazard snakes its way around the green guarding the right, front, and left sides of the green while large bunkers provide trouble long and left.
Precision and placement are the only way to solve this Nicklaus/Jacklin gem, where pure conditions and, of course, fine sportsmanship are expected to be on display at the WGC event.
Public courses to play near Bradenton:
While The Concession Golf Club is a private golf course, there’s an array of other golf options that are accessible in and around the Bradenton area. Here are a few of the best courses you can play.
Legacy Golf Club—Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
(7 miles southeast of The Concession)
The 1997 Arnold Palmer signature design is the definition of Florida fun in the sun. The course, set in the Lakewood Ranch area east of Bradenton, features gigantic fairways that invite drives from all skill levels. Like many Sunshine State layouts, Palmer used water and sand to challenge golfers though he took it to the extreme on the Legacy’s 2nd and 9th holes. Bright white bunkering surrounds and intertwines the fairways and greens with more sand per acre than any two holes in Florida.
Streamsong Resort—Bowling Green, Fla.
(50 miles northeast of The Concession)
Regarded as one of the top golf resorts in the country, Streamsong is home to 54 holes of golf set in a stunning central Florida landscape. The Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw Red course, Tom Doak Blue course, and Gil Hanse Black course offer golfers a wide variety of challenges as they navigate their way through the massive sand dunes and unique topography of this former phosphate mine. Certainly worth the short drive from the Bradenton area.
Longboat Key Golf Club—Longboat Key, Fla.
(26 miles west of The Concession)
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Technically not a public golf course, Longboat Key Golf Club is accessible to guests at the Longboat Key Resort, which on its own is worth a night’s stay. Combine a night with a round of golf, and you’ve hit the Florida lottery—45 holes of golf are spread out on two distinct courses. The Links of Longboat course runs along the Gulf of Mexico, while Harbourside Golf Course is made up of three separate 9-hole layouts that abut Sarasota Bay.
Have you played The Concession? What about any of the other courses near Bradenton? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.