The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 32 - April 29, 2009


Catch some fun at The Fish Hole

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LOUISE BOLGER Dana Snell and Jake Spooner
offer affordable family entertainment.

I’ve heard it said a lot during the years I’ve lived in Florida those who fish don’t golf and vice versa. Well there’s a place in Bradenton Beach where you can take that theory and literally putt it out of the water. The Fish Hole on Bridge Street goes way beyond traditional miniature golf calling itself adventure golf with a little local history and fishing education mixed in.

For years, visiting families who shopped at Jake Spooner and Dana Snell’s two Island shops, Island Bazaar in Holmes Beach and Bridge Street Bazaar in Bradenton Beach asked, “What is there to do on the Island after the beach?” They now have an answer to that question. The Fish Hole Adventure Golf opened in April of last year, providing a place for affordable family activity.

Spooner and Snell hired Anna Maria architect Mike McCaleb to design The Fish Hole, and if there was a prize for creative, cute and just plain fun, he would win it hands down. The concept was to bring an old Florida fishing village feel to the golf course by incorporating historic reproductions and fish facts.

The ice house and water tower, complete with running water are based on actual buildings which once existed in the historic Cortez fishing village, and the old wooden bridge represents the original bridge from Cortez to Anna Maria. They are continually gathering historical information about Anna Maria and Cortez to be placed around the beautifully landscaped grounds.

Each of the 18 holes is named after a different fish – the black tip shark, the grouper, the barracuda and the tarpon are some examples. But what makes the 18 holes even more interesting is the degree of difficulty of a particular hole is directly tied to the degree of difficulty in catching the fish the hole is named for. A lesson in fishing and golf rolled into one. At night, The Fish Hole’s park-like setting become even more magical when the "village" twinkles.

A round of golf is only $7.50 per person for both adults and kids, and there are $1 off coupons available. They have clubs for all heights from children to tall adults, and if you need a break, you can rest in one of their colorful rocking chairs. They also have party packages that are great for birthday celebrations and family get togethers.

In October, Spooner and Snell sponsored their first golf tournament at The Fish Hole as part of the Bridging The Gap festivities and plan on making it an annual event. They want to thank everyone who visited The Fish Hole this year for helping them to have a very successful first year.

I guess if you’ve been friends since you’re six years old, like Jake Spooner and Dana Snell, you never really lose that childlike ability to have fun. What they’ve created at The Fish Hole is affordable family entertainment wrapped up in lot of old Florida charm. Like they say at The Fish Hole, you’ll "Git Hooked." Who says fishing and golf don’t mix?

The Fish Hole
115 Bridge Street
Bradenton Beach
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Stock market declines of the past

Investment Corner

A client of mine dropped by the other day with a copy of the USA Today business section from Oct. 20, 1987. For those who may not remember that time, the stock market dropped over 22 percent in one day on Oct. 19, 1987, with that day becoming branded "Black Monday." It was the worst single day decline ever, and almost as bad as the 23 percent total two day drop on Oct. 28 and 29 of 1929.

I started my career as a stock broker in September 1987, so my experience in the business started in a very hot frying pan. Little did I suspect at that time that I and my clients, would endure two more major market declines in the next 21 years. The next was when the technology and bubble burst in 2000 to 2002 and the NASDAQ Composite Index dropped about 80 percent, followed by the recent nastiness from late 2007 until early 2009, which lopped about 50 percent off most major stock market averages.

What is striking about reading old new stories is how similar they are to today’s. In fact, if it wasn’t for the date on the paper and an advertisement for a clunky (by today’s standards) AT&T telephone system, you might mistake some of the comments and opinions as being written a few weeks ago as our stock market was breaking to new 52 week lows.

Back in 1987, the crash in the stock market was going to cause a recession of major proportions – of this everyone was certain. The problem was that they all assumed the Great Depression of the 1930s was caused by the stock market crash in 1929. There were many other factors contributing to the development of the Great Depression, and these other issues were far more important than the deflating stock values from very speculative levels.

The market decline in 1987 was also a deflation of overvalued stock prices caused by rising interest rates as the Federal Reserve battled building inflation pressures. A relatively new concept of program trading, which at the time had no limits or regulation (sound familiar?), exacerbated the sharp decline. But the real cause of the 1987 crash was the fact that you could earn 10 percent on a 10-year U.S. Treasury Bond and stocks were overvalued and yielding less than 3 percent. Ultimately, money flows where it will earn the highest return.

Particularly striking in reading the comments in the USA Today article from ’87 was the rendering of opinions by various prognosticators. Susan Grossman was quoted as a "well respected broker," saying "the market is going to 800." The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 1738 on Oct. 19 and she was predicting more than a 50 percent decline from that point. Of course, we now know that the market bounced around the 1700 level for a few months, but effectively the bottom was made on the day of the crash. So much for Grossman’s opinion.

Gold prices had been rising for about three years before the crash of ’87, and predictions galore had gold destined to move well above $500 an ounce in the uncertain climate. Gold did rise a little into 1988, but never exceeded $500 and then began a 12 year decline, falling to about $275 in 2000. Of course, gold was a great buy at $275, but who was running out to buy it? Investors were all too busy buying technology stocks.

I share these stories because we, as investors, need to fight the urge to react to events that have already unfolded, on the assumption they will continue for a very long time. I didn’t keep count, but I can tell you there were a lot of people who, upon hearing that I was a stockbroker and asking them to take advantage of the buying opportunity resulting from the 1987 market debacle, simply hung up the phone. Of course, we now know that was a great opportunity, probably similar to what we have today. Time will give us the answers, but part of being a successful investor is being willing to stay in a disciplined plan through the tougher times and perhaps even take a little more risk when it is most uncomfortable.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.

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