THE FOUNDER’S INSPIRATION
In the fall of 1994, Outback Steakhouse founders Chris Sullivan, Bob Basham and Bob Merritt decided to move ahead with their dream of building a private, national golf club in their hometown of Tampa, FL. As friends and business partners, the Outback trio had traveled extensively, playing many of the great courses of Australia, the British Isles and the U.S. They enjoyed the way the game was played on the seaside links of Scotland and the sandbelt courses of Australia and the U.S. On such fabled courses as the Old Course at St. Andrews, Alister MacKenzie’s Royal Melbourne and Donald Ross’ Pinehurst No. 2, the ball bounces and rolls on the firm turf and shots must be created to suit the terrain of the course and day’s playing conditions. Along the way, the triumvirate also gained a true appreciation for the rich history and time-honored traditions of the game. As their passion for golf grew, so did their vision for a traditional golf club that would embrace and exemplify all that is good about the game.
Thus, in 1994, their dream became a plan and the plan turned into action. First, they secured a 312-acre sandy site just 15-minutes from the Tampa International Airport, and critically acclaimed architect Steve Smyers was contracted to design and build the golf course. A champion of classical design, Smyers was noted for his traditional, strategic style of architecture and his firm playing surfaces – a perfect fit for the vision of the Old Memorial founders. With the key elements in place, the construction of the course began in August of 1996.
Named after a nearby highway that was once the only route to the bay area of Tampa, Old Memorial Golf Club opened for play in November 1997, and its well-conceived clubhouse was completed the following February. The vision for the development of a world-class golf course with facilities to match was taking shape.
Old Memorial Golf Club is a pure, undisturbed sanctuary of golf where Members and Guests can get away from the hectic pace of life to enjoy friendly competition, the camaraderie of golfers from diverse backgrounds and the free exchange of ideas.
THE ARCHITECT’S PHILOSOPHY
“The great golf courses of the world share a common ingredient. They are strategically sound, but more than that, they are alive. They move you to alternating highs and lows. They excite you, thrill you and even frighten you. They challenge you, and bring out the very best in you. That is what golf is all about.”
-Steve Smyers, Old Memorial Golf Club Course Architect