BRADENTON, Fla. ― The workers on Jackson Edwards’ Bradenton Country Club golf course maintenance crew have watched television this week with amazed eyes.
After 100 years, the old gal they so carefully maintain has finally gotten her close-up.
“The guys are watching it on TV,” said Edwards, the BCC’s golf course superintendent, “and they can’t believe it.”
Not only have some of the world’s best female golfers been on display, competing in the LPGA Drive On Championship, but so, too, has the venue, Manatee County’s oldest golf course. A course so elderly, its original name, the Palma Sola Country Club, was changed after the city was renamed Bradenton from Bradentown.
That happened in 1924, after golf architect Donald Ross, saying the land was ideal for golf, was hired to be the course designer. But 20 years later, with many of the BCC’s members fighting in WWII, the city of Bradenton saved the club from possible extinction by agreeing to maintain the course during the war years “for the benefit of tourists and resident golfers.” A total of $35,000 had been raised by local citizens to buy the course and recondition the clubhouse.
LPGA Drive On: Photos
“A club that’s lasted 100 years,” said Edwards, hired as superintendent in February 2022, “has gone through at least two or three recessions in golf. The membership really appreciates this property. They take care of it, they’re passionate about it. The membership here is what pretty much drives this club. They do what it takes to protect it.”
Donald Ross may have seen the property as a future golf course, but Jackson Edwards didn’t see his future on a golf course. Born in Canton, Ohio, the 37-year-old enrolled at Kent State University for architecture, mechanical drawing, and design. Over his sophomore summer break, Edwards got a job at a golf course under construction. His architectural dreams began to fade away.
“At the end of the summer,” he said, “I was talking to my boss, the superintendent, and I said, ‘How do I get your job? I would rather do this.’ And I never looked back.”
The superintendent had attended Ohio State University, so Edwards transferred from Kent State, earning a degree at OSU in turf grass management and agronomy. He worked at a couple of courses, the last as assistant superintendent at the Floridian Golf Club in St. Lucie County, before taking the top position at the Bradenton Country Club.
Edwards arrived four years…