The crowd was buzzing Monday night in Sarasota as the line snaked around the sidewalk waiting to get into the preview party for PopStroke, the latest entertainment center by Tiger Woods. The golf superstar’s rapidly growing chain plans to expand into Tampa this fall.
“Everyone I know was angling to get a ticket to this tonight, so it feels like excitement is high,” said Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota. The Sarasota opening was written up last week by People magazine, CNN and several golf magazines because of Woods’ hand in the course design.
The new spot at the University Town Center officially opens to the public at noon Thursday. It features two 18-hole putting courses designed by TGR Design under the direction of Woods. It also has a restaurant, rooftop bar, an ice cream shop, outdoor games and a playground.
A similar venue is scheduled to open in October near the Cypress Creek Town Center in Lutz.
Avid golfers like Jack Haley, a retired manager for Sarasota County government and Virginia Haley’s husband, said he had been looking forward to this for a long time.
“There’s just no easy shot,” he said after taking a spin through both the Tiger Black and the harder Tiger Red courses.
There are no windmills like you’d see at an old-fashioned putting course. The holes are meant to create typical course challenges, with hills and roughs and white-carpeted “sand traps” that can make a pro sweat.
Woods’ partner in PopStroke, Wall Street veteran Greg Bartoli, was there. He said the company has ambitious expansion plans. Sarasota is its third location. An Orlando complex opens next month, and there are four others under construction. There are also plans to expand to Texas, Las Vegas and the Carolinas, as well as a possible second Tampa location.
“Putting is a part of golf that’s not intimidating, so there’s something here for everybody,” Bartoli said. “It’s the most important part of the game, so it’s a good way to introduce people to golf.”
On the entertainment side, the restaurant serves elevated pub grub, such as a hand-breaded chicken breast on a brioche bun ($13), street tacos with jerk chicken and Korean beef tenderloin ($15-$18 for three) and shareables like parmesan truffle fries ($6) and Reuben egg rolls ($12).
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Visitors are encouraged to download the PopStroke app, where you can record strokes and see if you end up on the huge electronic scoreboard that tracks the day’s best scores — similar to the leaderboard at a PGA tournament. The app also allows you to order on-course delivery of craft beer and cocktails.
Tiger Woods returned to competition at the Masters three weeks ago after sustaining serious leg injuries in a car crash in 2021. Bartoli said his schedule has gotten more hectic lately, but he expects to see Woods at PopStroke.
In a news release, Woods said he hoped to introduce a new generation to the game of golf with his courses “that can be enjoyed by all, regardless of age or skill level.”
If you go
PopStroke: The golf entertainment center co-owned by Tiger Woods and entrepreneur Greg Bartoli has two 18-hole putting courses, a restaurant, three bars, an ice cream shop, outdoor games and a playground.
Hours and location: Starting Friday it is open 9 a.m.-midnight daily. They do not take reservations for golf or the restaurant, so it’s first come, first served. 195 University Town Center Drive, Sarasota. 941-500-9495.
Prices: $25 all-day pass, $20 seniors and military, $18 age 6-12, $15 age 3-5. Weekly specials: Mondays, senior day $15; Tuesdays, kids get golf and ice cream for $16 and $2 kids meals; Wednesdays, college night $15.