LAKEWOOD RANCH — Already free to whack a wiffle ball across pickelball courts, drift in a kayak and canoe from a launch and use a resistance pool for exercise, residents of Esplanade in Lakewood Ranch will soon have their own 18-hole golf course.
Taylor Morrison Home Builders officially opened the second phase of the newly named Esplanade Golf and Country Club April 17, and with it the promise to build 800 homes centered on a 6,700-yard-long championship golf course.
Esplanade originally opened in January 2011, with 400 units and 200 acres north of State Road 70 near Pope Road.
Those initial homes sold out quickly.
In November 2012, Taylor Morrison bought 400 acres east of its existing community from Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch after the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners approved an expansion of the original plan.
The community got its new name this January, when, soon after, amenities such as a 6,000-square-foot fitness center, fenced dog park, an adventure playground and bocce ball courts opened.
Still, uncompleted amenities by the golf course include a 12,000-square-foot clubhouse with a restaurant and bar, full-service catering kitchen, library and billiards room.
With the expansion, the community will encompass more than 600 acres and will consist of 1,250 home sites.
Opening sales for new “social” homes associated with the golf course will come later this year, while the golf course, which Chris Wilczynski, who worked with companies that built the golf courses at River Strand and Stoneybrook in Heritage Harbour, designed, will open in 2014.
Wilczynski plans to design Esplanade’s course shorter than typical championship courses that range from 7,200 to 7,300 yards, he said.
“We’re not catering to the pro type of golfer,” Wilczynski said. “But you can’t dumb it down so much that it’s not fun.”
The course will also be different from other residential courses by not feeling so residential.
Hole 16, a par four, will have no homes at all near it — just oak trees.
Seven holes are already shaped into the land’s natural terrain, outlined in dirt with bunkers and tees laid out.
Built for playability and aesthetics, the course has large putting greens.
Membership to the club is added into the cost of the home, though members will pay an undetermined annual fee.
The new homes will range from 1,600 square feet to 3,100 square feet, and cost anywhere from $320,000 to $389,000.
“We’ve had a lot of success last year,” said Steve Kempton, president of the West Florida division of Taylor Morrison. “We’re excited.”
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].