Babe Zaharias Golf Course’s story begins in 1926 when the course was first opened in northwest Tampa as the Forest Hills Golf and Country Club. The original course had riding stables on the south property and was only surrounded by 10 homes. It also had a magnificent two-story clubhouse that included a ballroom.
In 1949, Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias purchased the golf course. While managing the course, she spent most of her days either playing on her own or with the Men’s Club; she also hosted clinics and exhibitions for local golfers. It has also been said that Babe actually lived on the second floor of the clubhouse for a period of time. In September of 1956, Babe died of cancer. Following her death, the golf course closed down and the clubhouse was abandoned. The course became overgrown and a haven for motorcycle riders, while the clubhouse became a hangout for neighborhood teenagers. In 1962, the clubhouse mysteriously burned down.
Taking over the property and keeping Babe’s name, the City of Tampa re-opened the golf course in 1974 and put it under the management of the Tampa Sports Authority – a special district that was created in 1965 by Governor Hayden Burns for the purpose of planning, developing and maintaining a comprehensive complex of sports and recreational facilities for the Tampa Bay area. The Tampa Sports Authority still manages Babe Zaharias Golf Course today along with Rocky Point Golf Course, Rogers Park Golf Course and Raymond James Stadium.