Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 18th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 18th
For a true secluded, high-end member experience, stay at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota and play the Ritz-Carlton Member Club near Bradenton, Fla. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Images
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 1st
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 1st
The landing areas are certainly ample at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota as evidenced by the tee shot on the first hole. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 2nd
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 2nd
Perfect Tif-Eagle greens provide quick putting surfaces for golfers at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 4th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 4th
Water runs along the right side of the par-5 fifth hole at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota, near Bradenton, Florida. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 7th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 7th
Large bunkers protect the green of the par-3 seventh at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota near Bradenton, Fla. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 8th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 8th
Though there's water down the left side, it really shouldn't come into play on the par-4 eighth hole at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 9th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 9th
The front nine at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club ends with a difficult par 4 that plays at nearly 450 yards from the tips. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 11th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 11th
The 560-yard, par-5 11th is the no. 2 handicap hole at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota near Bradenton, Fla. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 13th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 13th
The easiest hole at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota is the par-3 13th. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 15th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 15th
Despite heavy bunkering, the shortest par 5 on the course, the 15th, represents the best birdie opportunity down the stretch at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 16th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 16th
The par-3 16th starts the difficult "Lion's Den" finishing stretch at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota near Bradenton, Fla. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 17th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 17th
A difficult tee shot awaits players on the 457-yard, par-4 17th at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 18th
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota golf course - 18th
The approach plays over water on the par-4 finishing hole at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota - practice facilities
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota - practice facilities
You'll want to arrive early to take advantage of the Ritz-Carlton Members Club's extensive practice facilities. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor

Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota in Bradenton, Florida: Tom Fazio design is a fabulous resort perk

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota is an exclusive high-end private club in most every respect except one: there is limited outside play.

Guests at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota 19 miles away can be a member for a day. It's a phrase that's certainly overused in the golf industry, and it means something entirely different depending on the club. But Ritz-Carlton guests who are avid golfers will want to take advantage of the opportunity.

First off, the 10-year-old course, which can play as long as 7,400 yards, is one of Tom Fazio's best and most playable designs. Conditioning is perfect and you won't get bored. The course ends with a stretch of holes called the "Lion's Den," where guests, if they can make par or better on the final three holes, can earn a free shirt in the color of the tees they played from. Let's just say the club doesn't expect to run out of those free shirts anytime soon.

Most importantly, the course is as fun as it is challenging. And the use of a forecaddie really does enhance the experience.

The other part of this member-for-the-day experience begins at the front gate, where the guard refers to you by name and so does everyone else you encounter on your way to the golf shop, locker room and first tee. In fact, you'll find a locker reserved for you in the clubhouse, and it has your name on it. And be sure to arrive early to take advantage of the club's extensive practice facilities. Dining in the clubhouse is also worthwhile.

And finally, don't expect to see many other players on the course. The members like to tee off early and they play fast -- like three hours fast. The club does just 20,000 rounds annually, which isn't much for a year-round facility. Most guests will feel like they have the golf course all to themselves, which is exactly how they're supposed to feel.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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Sarasota National Golf Club in Venice, Fla. has undergone several ownership changes since it opened in 2008, but it has never looked better. Originally planned as a private golf course, Sarasota National is currently operating as a daily fee, so get out there and enjoy it.
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Ritz-Carlton Members Club-Sarasota in Bradenton, Florida: Tom Fazio design is a fabulous resort perk
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