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Saturday, Jul 26, 2014
Northwest News

Downs golf pro makes time to play game, too


Published:
TAMPA -

The biggest problem faced by most PGA professionals is that they spend most of their time teaching the game rather than playing it.

PGA professional Matt Mitchell says that is nonsense.

Mitchell, a well-known teaching pro at The Downs golf practice facility off Race Track Road, is a long-time teacher who made it to the big time when one of his students, LPGA star Brittany Lincicome, rose up the money list.

Lincicome still texts Mitchell for advice as she crosses the world, but Mitchell’s clientele is large. Despite all the time he spends teaching, Mitchell said any pro can find the time to play the game.

“I love this game too much to not be able to play,” Mitchell said. “I love teaching and I love the golf swing so much. It is great to teach, but you can always find time to play. I can’t play every day, but I am still competitive and I can do both.”

It might be tough, but Mitchell said he knows how to find time. He and his wife have two young children, so Mitchell, 55, has a lot on his plate. He’s been named one of the top 50 golf instructors in America by Golf Range Magazine, and he’s won several senior championships in Florida. He also plans to try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open this year.

So how does he find the balance between two young children, a thriving teaching business, and a playing hobby?

“I don’t know how to get it all done,” Mitchell said. “Things became different when we had our children, and they are more important to me than golf, but you still find the time.”

Mitchell started learning the game at a young age. Legendary golfer Ben Hogan wrote what is considered the ultimate instruction book, “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.” It’s practically required reading for anyone with aspirations at a successful golf career. Mitchell had devoured it by age 13 and has kept reading and tweaking people’s swings as well as his own ever since.

“People can get misinformed by trying to learn too much,” Mitchell said. “I teach to people’s strengths. I see what people do well and work from there. A lot of times I can see a person hit a ball well, even with an imperfect swing, but if they hit it well, I’m not going to change them. I work with what they do best.”

He encourages people not to expect too much when they sign up for a lesson, which he feels is just the start of a long process in learning a game that few ever master. Additionally, Mitchell feels that his teaching method is a little bit different.

“I take a holistic approach to teaching,” Mitchell said. “When you teach, you can’t always help people get rid of old habits, so you don’t try. You try to teach new habits that eventually overlap the old habits. It’s like a person who smokes cigarettes. They will always have the habit, but they can teach themselves to overlap that with new habits. It works.”

Golf is always going to be a passion for Mitchell who insists he can be a new dad, a teacher and a player all at the same time.

CHIP SHOTS

Tony Pasquine at The Downs golf practice facility is starting a high school golf summer series on June 6 at Belleaire Country Club (West Course). Other events will be played throughout the summer at Belleaire CC East Course, Dunedin Country Club, East Lake Woodlands, Westchase, Feather Sound, TPC Tampa Bay, Bardmoor and Emerald Greens. Call (727) 776-0450 …The Downs also is offering its 2013 junior golf summer camps starting June 10-13. There will be eight camps, all running from Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. The last day of camp will include nine holes at Silver Dollar. Call (813) 854-4946 …The Tampa-Sarasota sections of the Senior Amateur Tour will be hosting local events through Sept. 7. May and June events include Black Diamond Ranch (May 4), The Eagles (May 18), Streamsong Resort (June 8-9), and Grand Cypress (North and South, June 22). Call (863) 514-0176 … Paradise Golf is offering seven-month memberships at more than 65 Tampa Bay courses for $199. Members can receive more than 40 percent off regular rates. Call (800) 605-2582 … Doug LaCrosse of Tampa won the 52nd annual FSGA Senior Championship at Quail Ridge Golf Club. He drained a birdie putt in sudden death to defeat Rick Woulfe, a seven-time senior player of the year. LaCrosse also won the 2012 Senior Four-Ball Championship with partner Steve Earsley.  LaCrosse finished the tournament with a 2-under 214 (72-68-74) aggregate … Summer golf memberships are being offered by St. Petersburg Country Club from May 1 to Oct. 31. Membership includes unlimited golf with no greens fees, unlimited walking privileges and more. Call (727) 867-2111 … Black Diamond is featuring Stay & Play packages at its 45-hole resort, including a one-night Pure Golf Getaway featuring two rounds of golf on its Quarry, Ranch and Highlands courses. Call (352) 746-3446 … The Steinbrenner High School football team will be holding its fourth annual golf tournament May 11 at the Heritage Harbor Golf Club. There will be a 1:30 p.m. shotgun start with a silent auction to follow. Call (813) 504-7444 … Several Bradenton clubs have come together to form Partners Golf Card for the summer season. This new card will offer more benefits and value than have been available in the past and can be purchased in the Legacy Golf Club pro shop. It costs only $39. Participating clubs include: Legacy Golf Club, River Strand, River Wilderness, Misty Creek, Serenoa, Rolling Green, Bent Tree, Manatee and Buffalo Creek. Call (941) 907-7067 … The Claw at USF is offering specials including weekday tee times for $22 before 8 a.m. and $27 after 2 p.m. Weekend specials are $29 before 8 a.m. and $34 after 2 p.m. … The Abe Brown Ministry Foundation will host its second annual golf tournament May 31-June 1 at Innisbrook Golf Resort. There will be a four-person shotgun scramble and a banquet. Call (813) 247-3285 … The American Legion Post 152 will host its annual Boys State Golf Tournament at Heritage Harbor Golf Club on May 11 at 8 a.m. There will be long drive, closest to the pin and putting contests … The FSGA will be hosting one-day competitions throughout the Florida west coast in the coming weeks. Events include: May 2, Innisbrook South; May 7, Champions Gate International Course; May 8, Champions Gate National Course; May 18, Sara Bay; May 16, Vinoy; May 21, TPC Tampa Bay; May 23, Cypress Run. Check www.fsga.org for information on these and future events … The Golf Channel AM Tour, the largest amateur golf tour in the nation, is looking for new members. Call (877) 465-5094. Golfers of nearly any handicap are invited and play it is held at some of the top courses in the country, including many in Florida … The West Florida Golf Tour is about to announce its summer golf schedule. There will be 10 weeks of 54-hole events with no cut. Courses include The Founders Club, Laurel Oak, and several others. Call (941) 735-4428 … For re-gripping services, you can call Cindy Dzuro at Rocky Point Golf Course at (813) 673-4317 … Rocky Point Golf Course will host the annual charity tournament for the Knights of Columbus Incarnation Council 8612 on May 4. Cost is $65 per player with a four-person scramble and an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start. Putting contests will start at 7:30 a.m. Call (813) 541-7161 … Westchase Golf Club will host the 2013 “Charlie” Garren Memorial Golf Scholarship Golf Tournament on May 18 with a four-person scramble format. There will be net and gross prizes. Call (813) 854-2331 … Pebble Creek Golf Club is hosting private lessons for adults with a certified PGA instructor. Fees for a one-hour lesson start at $60. Juniors and seniors can get a half-hour lesson for $30, and semi-private lessons are also available. Also, Pebble Creek is offering adult group clinics on Saturdays at 10 a.m., and junior clinics every Saturday from 9-10 a.m. for ages 3 – 9, and 11 a.m.-noon for kids ages 10 – 18. For Pebble Creek lessons, call (813) 973-3870 … Westchase Golf Club will host the second annual Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation Second Annual Golf Tournament on May 19. Registration is at noon with a 1:30 p.m. shotgun start … Westchase Golf Club will also host the 1st Annual RVR Horse Rescue Charity Golf Event on May 11 with a 1:30 p.m. start. Check RVRHorseRescue.com for details … The Tides Golf Club in Seminole is offering memberships to its Loyalty Club. For a $10 membership fee, members can receive a dozen free golf balls after six visits and free weekly clinics for members and their families … The Morning Star School will present the 28th Annual Morning Star School Golf Classic at the TPC of Tampa Bay on Oct. 25. Call (813) 935-0202 … The Pinecrest Golf Club is looking for new members for its Women’s Golf Association. Tee time is every Wednesday at 9 a.m. Call (727) 584-6497 for information … The Rocky Point Men’s Golf Association is looking for players at all levels to compete on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It starts at 7:30 a.m. Call (813) 205-6828 for information … Lansbrook Golf Club will host Thursday clinics from 10–11 a.m. at its Shriver Golf Academy. Cost is only $15 … Rocky Point Golf Club has a Friday 3-hole course clinic from 5 to 6 p.m. and supervised practices on Saturdays from 10–11 a.m. coordinated by leading golf instructor Brianne Murphy, and Cindy Dzuro will teach a golf clinic at the range every Sunday from noon–12:45 p.m. … Rogers Park Golf Course, Babe Zaharias Golf Course and Rocky Point Golf Course are offering a group membership plan that includes all three courses. Golf costs $12 for 18 holes with a membership … Silver Dollar Golf Club is now offering a Thursday Ladies Day with half-off all rates. Players can walk or ride nine or 18 holes. Call (813) 920-3884.


To submit any golf news, coming events, holes-in-one, local tournament results, or anything related to local golf, send all information and a phone number to jeffberlinicke@gmail.com

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