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Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2019 3 weeks ago

Two legacies at the Longboat Key Club

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General Manager, Tennis Director say their goodbyes after years of service.
by: Matt Walsh Editor & CEO

The Earth shook last Friday on Longboat Key. It happened as word spread that two key leaders at the Longboat Key Club and Resort are leaving: General Manager Jeff Mayers and head tennis pro John Woods.

Mayers became general manager shortly after Ocean Properties Ltd. purchased the club and resort in 2012 from New York-based Loeb Partners Realty and Key Club Associates.

In his seven years, Mayers maintained the tradition of his predecessors of being a good steward of the club and resort and an involved leader on Longboat and in the region. We have heard golfers say the condition of the courses were at their historical best.

Beyond his leadership of the club and resort, Mayers can be credited with being the driving, persistent leader in the saving of the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce from folding or filing for bankruptcy.

In his first year on Longboat, Mayers joined the chamber board. The chamber’s condition was bleak. But Mayers stayed calm and showed the acumen of a turnaround executive, helping the board address its most urgent issues one by one.

Today, thanks in large part to his helping set a new course, the chamber is back to operating with a surplus and reserves.

Mayers brought that same focus and leadership to Visit Sarasota, where he has been serving as secretary/treasurer, and to the Longboat Key Foundation, of which he was one of the founding board members and is currently chairman.

Now headed to Palm Beach Gardens to serve as managing director of the PGA National Resort and Spa, Mayers told us: “[Of] all of the places that I have worked and lived, Longboat Key was my favorite. I was very fortunate to meet so many wonderful people over the years who have become friends.

“From day one, the community leaders embraced me and provided me the opportunity to participate. I will truly miss this area.”

Tennis pro John Woods is unquestionably a Hall of Famer in the history of Longboat Key tennis. After working early in his career with tennis legends Rod Laver and Roy Emerson creating tennis clinics around the country, Woods, a native Texan, became director of tennis at the Key Club in 1978. 

His 41 years at the same club is extraordinary in his profession. “The reason I stayed is it never got boring,” Woods told us. 

Tim Field, the general manager of the Key Club and Resort who hired Woods in 1978, said: “He’s a very adaptable person. There’s no challenge too great for him. I never had a complaint about him. The guy’s a wonder.”

During his tenure, Woods helped shape hundreds and hundreds of Longboaters’ tennis swings; served as host for three years of the Almedin Grand Masters, which featured Laver, Emerson, Ken Rosewall and Fred Stolle; hosted exhibitions with John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova; and with former General Manager Michael Welly developed the acclaimed Tennis Gardens, which hosted the Sarasota Open for several years and featured past and present tennis stars as James Blake, Sam Querrey, Kei Nishikori and Nick Kyrgios.

Now 72, Woods said: “I remember walking up to the pro shop for the first time and looking at the water. It was gorgeous. I said to myself: ‘If I can’t make this work …’”

With the departures of Mayers and Woods, the owners of Ocean Properties Hotels and Resorts surely know the importance of the legacies they must carry on with the Key Club’s next general manager and director of tennis.

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