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With Emerald Greens, Tampa Bay gets first "boutique" golf resort

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Tampa's newest boutique golf resort, Emerald Greens boasts 27 holes of Dan Maples-designed golf (and positively decadent air-conditioned golf carts!), plus luxury villas, a spa, restaurants, tennis and aquatic centers, and more.

Emerald Greens - Tampa
Emerald Greens is Tampa Bay's first "boutique" golf resort.
Emerald Greens - TampaEmerald Greens

TAMPA, Fla. - You may have heard of "boutique hotels."

Yeah, I don't know what that means, either.

In any case, you may not have heard of "boutique golf resorts." If you haven't, they have one in Tampa now, called Emerald Greens.

Emerald Greens has been around Tampa for well over three decades under different names, in the upscale Tampa neighborhood of Carrollwood. It was known for many years as the Carollwood Country Club and anchored this pleasant, green part of Tampa, near Dale Mabry Blvd.

Eventually, the owners let the course go to seed, and it changed ownership hands several years ago. The new owners had big plans, some of which didn't sit well with neighborhood residents, like the $10 million hotel. The fear was that such a big property would screw up the ambiance.

The project went through several changes, and eventually it was decided to make the resort smaller in scale, build a new clubhouse and renovate the golf course.

So, to make a long story longer, the Emerald Greens Golf and Country Club became the Emerald Greens Private Resort when it opened its new villas.

Now, everybody's happy.

Emerald Greens is a 27-hole facility, or will be when they open the "Pines" nine, scheduled for mid-November. The redesign was done by Dan Maples, a well-known architect who has oddly never ventured into Florida before now.

There are, or will be when all the construction is done, 50 luxury villas, with all the amenities. The people here are calling the project the first of its kind in Tampa.

Right now, there are only the Meadow and Cypress nines, which measure 6,940 yards from the back tees, with an easy-does-it slope rating of 126. Only members and those staying on the property are allowed to play.

The two nines are similar in some ways, different in others. They both have tree-lined fairways and little rough to speak of. Neither is particularly difficult.

Both have tree-lined fairways. The Cypress has cypress trees - thus, the name - and the greens are much bigger and much more undulating. The greens on both nines could stand a little maintenance; both have some bare patches.

Other than that, though, the course is in good shape, and Maples did a good job on the total re-design of the Cypress nine.

"It's a very enjoyable course," said Assistant Professional Mike McNeill. "You can go all the way back or move up to the shorter tees and it's not too penal. The greens, for Florida, are above average."

The verdict: Emerald Greens

The course is indeed enjoyable, though there is a bit of sameness to many of the holes. The opening of the Pines nine should help out the variety quite a bit, if it's as good as promised.

Those renting villas - already paying from $259 to $375 a night - pay $75-$100 for green fees, including carts. Too high, you say? Whoa! Consider this: The carts are air-conditioned! They're equipped with a cooling unit that has hoses that can be adjusted to provide a frigid breeze on the back of your neck. Even in mid-October, that was positively decadent.

Tampa resorts

The Emerald Greens Private Resort is 15 minutes from Tampa International Airport, and in addition to the villas, has restaurants, tennis and aquatic centers, and officials are building a luxury spa, the Oasis Day Spa.

The villas start at $380,000, and owners have the option of using them for themselves or renting them out. They have fully-equipped kitchens and all the modern amenities, including big-screen, flat-panel televisions.

The resort has been designated a "green" resort by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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Dates: November 16, 2017 - April 1, 2018
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