Case Studies

The Concession Residences

Nearly full, the development captures history and sportsmanship in golf

Almost 50 years ago, Jack Nicklaus, widely considered one of the best-ever golfers, conceded the final putt in the 1969 Ryder Cup, a biennial men’s golf competition between Europe and the United States, to British competitor Tony Jacklin.

The move, known as “the concession,” meant that Jacklin didn’t have to risk the final putt, which for Nicklaus’ was a gesture of respect for a game well played. The courtesy resulted in the first tie in Ryder Cup history and today still serves as the height of sportsmanship in golf. The act also marked the beginning of a long friendship between the two champion golfers.

The Concession Residences

In a sense, this friendship persists through a 1200-acre development named after this moment in sports history.

Just east of Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida, The Concession Residences development combines the world-class Concession Golf Club and its 18-hole, par 72 golf course designed by Nicklaus, in association with Jacklin, with 700 acres of expansive single-family custom home sites.

For the residential portion of the development, Kevin Daves, the developer and architect behind the project, decided early on he wanted residents to have plenty of land around their properties, which is why each home site is between a half-acre and an acre in size.

He also wanted to avoid what he calls the “cookie-cutter” model and engender a sense of community. So when residents purchase a home site, they choose from seven different custom builders that The Concession Real Estate office has already vetted for quality.

The result, Daves says, is that you can hardly tell you’re in Florida—think towering oak trees instead of swaying palms—and The Concession is filling up fast. At the end of 2016, 80 percent of the home sites were sold, with 25 to 30 new homes in construction.

Uniting two pros

The idea for the development started in early 2002, while Daves’ development firm, Core Development Inc., was finishing construction for the new Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Condominiums in Sarasota, Florida. During the project, Daves noticed a surprising lack of high-end golf courses in the area.

“I’ve had people come up to me and say, if you blindfolded me and dropped me in the middle of this development and asked what state I’m in, I would never have guessed Florida.”

An enthusiastic golfer, Daves saw an opportunity to combine a golf course with a development that felt more like a community than something contrived.

Through a mutual friend, he was put in touch with Tony Jacklin, whose golf course design, construction and maintenance company, Jacklin Design Group, is just north of Sarasota in Bradenton, Florida. As it turns out, Jacklin had been toying with the idea of designing a golf course around the 1969 Ryder Cup concession. Of course, to do so, he would need to reunite with his old friend, Jack Nicklaus, whose specialty company, Nicklaus Designs had designed over 290 golf courses in 41 countries.

Nicklaus agreed to partner up, and the two champions set about conceptualizing the course while Daves searched for the right piece of land.

‘Old Florida’

In 2004, Daves found the impossible—1200 acres of undeveloped land located 20 miles east of Sarasota.

“It literally felt like you were walking in a different world,” he says. The landscape, which reminded him of “old Florida,” was a rugged forest characterized by 200-year-old oaks, enormous pines, and natural wetlands and lakes, a departure from the palm trees usually associated with the state.

“It’s a phenomenal piece of ground, and we wanted to treat it right,” Daves says.

So when a few months later, Nicklaus Designs, in association with Tony Jacklin, started construction on the signature Nicklaus course, the pair decided to use the full 500-acres allotted for the 18 hole course, nearly four times the size of the average Florida golf course. They also designed the course to follow the natural flow of the land, weaving between preserved wetlands, pine forests and oak hammocks.

While designing The Concession Residences, Daves couldn’t bring himself to destroy any of the 200-year old oaks that make the property unique, so his design incorporated the native landscape into the home sites, and when it was necessary, he even moved some of the oaks on rollers to save the ancient trees.

In 2006, Nicklaus, Jacklin and Daves opened The Concession Golf Course, which was immediately named “Best New Private Course” by Golf Digest. That same year, The Concession Residences began selling home sites for 3,000- to 16,000-squares-foot homes, which, due to Daves’ design, are nearly impossible to see from the adjacent golf course.

“I’ve had people come up to me and say, if you blindfolded me and dropped me in the middle of this development and asked what state I’m in, I would never have guessed Florida,” says Daves, proudly.

The ‘Ferrari’ Clubhouse

Two years later, Daves set about designing the course’s clubhouse, just in time for the recession to hit in 2008.

At the time, Daves says many people cautioned him to build a small and simple clubhouse.

“But I couldn’t bring myself to do that,” he says. “We have a Ferrari golf course, and I wasn’t going to build a horse-and-wagon club house.”

The Clubhouse, opened in October 2009, is equipped with spacious meeting rooms, casual dining areas and The Concession Bistro, a members-only gourmet restaurant. The walls are lined with oil paintings of historically significant moments in golf, including a portrait of Nicklaus and Jacklin shaking hands at the 1969 Ryder Cup.

As he thinks about all that has been accomplished in the past 12 years, Daves agrees there is a lot to be proud of at The Concession, but one thing in particular sticks out in his mind.

With the development nearly full, the few remaining home sites represent a type of Florida living that may not be seen again, because so many national developers are buying up what little native land the state still has, and all for high-density communities, says Daves.

For him, The Concession is a last glimpse of the natural beauty Florida has to offer.

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