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Friday, Dec 26, 2014
Northwest News

Leg injuries led Tampa Bay Golf pro from soccer to tees

BY JEFF BERLINICKE
Special Correspondent

Published:

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TAMPA – Tim Baker knows his limitations on the golf course.

“I’m a good golfer, not a great golfer,” said Baker, the golf professional at Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club. “I love this game but it was never my first choice.”

Baker, who grew up in the Tampa Bay area, had a love for golf, but a deep passion for soccer. He never thought of himself as a professional golfer, but he did think he had a chance to make a living in soccer.

Then he broke his leg. Then he broke it again. And again. After six broken legs and two broken ankles, he decided to give up the game that he loved for the game that he had grown to love.

Baker has always been an athlete and, for as long as he can remember, played golf. Of course, while a student at River Ridge High School in Pasco County, soccer was first and foremost. Golf was a hobby that actually paid him a few bucks every week, thanks to his job cleaning clubs and bags at Seven Springs Golf and Country Club in New Port Richey.

“Soccer was my passion and I tried my best to get better, but the leg kept breaking,” Baker said. “I wondered what I was going to do if I couldn’t play soccer.”

He decided that golf was his answer. First came his professional certification, which required a lot of book work and being able to get a certain score during a one-day, two-round outing. Today, he still plays as often as possible. Baker never made a shot for PGA Q-School, but he has played U.S. Open qualifiers.

He brings a refreshing take to the game. He understands his limitations and knows he’s good, just not quite good enough. He also hasn’t forgotten his passion for soccer and plays whenever he cane.

Baker says he has no regrets. The U.S. Open qualifier is a walking event and Baker said that is the only time he feels soreness in his legs. Otherwise, he said, it doesn’t affect his swing.

Being an instructor, he said, is what his golf game is really about today.

“I love teaching the game,” Baker said. “There’s nothing like seeing positive results. We have a responsibility to build the game of golf starting with young golfers. It’s about teaching and helping them get college scholarships. I like to work with people who have never played golf before. That’s what makes golf special, helping to build the game.”

Baker still has the same competitive fire that made him a star soccer player.

“I’m still as competitive as I have always been and I always have to win,” he said. “The way I see it, anybody can do anything they want to do if they do their best.”

CHIP SHOTS

Countryway Golf Club will host its annual day/night golf tournament to benefit Law Enforcement United Inc. The event starts at 4 p.m. with a dinner break after nine holes, after which players will play with glow-in-the-dark golf balls. The flags will be lit and there will the 100-yard markers. Cost is $65 with a best ball format ... Rocky Point will start hosting Golf Ready classes hosted by Brianne Murphy on Saturdays starting Jan. 18. The cost is $125 for five weeks ... That’s not all that’s going on at Rocky Point. There will be a two-hour class on Feb. 2 from 8 – 11 a.m. on hitting it close to the pin and dropping five strokes per round. The class is limited to five players. Also, on Feb. 9, Rocky Point will have a half-day school for $65 from 8 a.m. – noon. There will be only four players in the class, so RSVP. The day includes lunch, video analysis, and course play ... Legacy Golf Club is hosting a Couples Golf outing on Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. featuring food and prizes. Call (941) 907-7067 ... The Tides Golf Club in Seminole is offering memberships to its Loyalty Club. For a $10 fee, members can receive a dozen free golf balls after six visits and free weekly clinics for members and their families ... 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 ... Legacy Golf Club announces the return of the Sunday Couples weekly event. The matches are held at 3 p.m. with a shotgun start. The format is a nine-hole scramble. Everyone hits a tee shot and the best ball is taken. Public couples will pay $60. Prizes and snacks are included. Call (941) 907-7920 ... Silver Dollar Golf Club is offering regripping while you wait for just $5 ... Seminole Lake is offering annual memberships for as low as $110 per month. There are no initiation fees. Call (727) 391-3311 ... Golfers Grail is offering lessons with its PGA professionals and apprentices. Lessons are 30 or 60 minutes starting at $35. The simulators provide a detailed analysis of every swing so adjustments can be made immediately. Call (813) 969-2100 ... For regripping services, you can call Cindy Dzuro at Rocky Point Golf Course at (813) 673-4317 ... 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 ... The Edwin Watts Golf Shop on North Dale Mabry is closing in early February. All items are now 20 to 40 percent off ... The TPC Tampa Bay is offering a Vantage Membership where golfers can enjoy full use of all golf and clubhouse facilities and a $30 rate for tee times for a year. There are year-round practice privileges with complimentary practice balls and a complimentary subscription to Golf Digest. Call (813) 949-0090 for details ... The Downs golf instructor Joey DiPompo is teaching a junior golf clinic on Saturdays from 11 a.m. – noon and kids aged 6 – 14 are welcome to join. Call 854-4946 ... Countryway Golf Club will feature its annual VFW scramble on Jan. 19 ... Westchase Golf Club is offering a Season Six-Pack for $249 for Florida residents. It includes six unrestricted rounds through Sept. 30 ... Tarpon Woods Golf Club is offering discounted rates of $114.95 per round. Text 41513 and type Golf5 to take advantage ... Wentworth Golf Club is hosting a weekly skins game every Saturday at 9 a.m. Call (727) 942-4760 ... Northdale Golf Club is offering a Weekday Replay where guests can play a second round for $18 ... The Eagles will be hosting a junior golf clinic every Saturday from 9 – 10 a.m. at a cost of $15 per junior. The theme is “Instruction Through Competition.’’ Call (813) 920-6681 ... The Legacy Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch is offering 40 percent discounts on golf shoes. Call (941) 907-7067 ... Crescent Oaks Golf Club is offering a weekly Thursday shootout with nine holes and a 5:30 p.m. shotgun start. Cost is $15. (727) 937-4653 ... The Countryway Thursday Golf Club Women’s Association is hosting weekly events throughout the month ... Lansbrook Golf Club is busy every day of the week with different events. Monday is Blind Bogey Monday. Tuesday, it’s a gathering of the Insider Plus League with a quota point format. Shotgun time is 9 a.m. Wednesdays are an afternoon men’s and women’s outing at 11:30 a.m. Thursday’s is a doubleheader. At 9 a.m., there will be the morning women’s game and night golf starts at 5:30 p.m. with a $10 fee. Call the pro shop for details ... The TPC Tampa Bay is offering a Vantage Membership where golfers can enjoy full use of all golf and clubhouse facilities and a $30 rate for tee times for a year. There are year-round practice privileges with complimentary practice balls and a complimentary subscription to Golf Digest. Call (813) 949-0090 for details ... The Concession in Bradenton will host the 2014 Archie Griffin Celebrity Golf Classic to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County on March 4. Griffin, who won the Heisman Trophy twice at Ohio State will be bringing along plenty of other former Buckeyes as well as other celebrities ... The Landings Golf Club will host its Ladies Golf Clinic on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. Cost includes $20 and includes range balls and a glass of wine. The Landings will also host the Clearwater Hackers Golf League every Sunday at 9 a.m. for men, ladies, singles, and couples. Call (727) 447-5272 ... 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 Special Olympics is looking for a golf coach to work for two hours, one night a week. Call Sid Altner at (727) 944-4248 ... Tarpon Woods Golf Club is offering its Golf Plus card which costs $34.95 per month and offers unlimited golf ... Ace Golf is offering U.S. Kids Golf group sessions every Saturday at 3 p.m. for $20 per session at its Riverview location. All instruction will use U.S. Kids golf instructional materials and there will be monthly sessions where juniors can test for pins. Instructor Matt Primrose is the only U.S. Kids certified instructor in the Tampa Bay area. Call (813) 672-7750 ... Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club will be having several member events coming soon including the Gaiser Scramble on Mondays at 3:30 p.m., and the Happy Golfers 9-hole event on the Executive Course at 8 a.m. Wednesdays. Any ladies interested in playing nine or 18 holes on Saturday mornings should call (813) 588-2759 ... Northdale Golf Club is offering “Weekday Replays,’’ every day. A second round of golf only costs $18 and that includes a sandwich and a soda ... Wentworth Golf Club will be offering a First Responder program with greens fees of $30 on Mondays through Thursdays, and $35 all other times. Guests include retired military, law enforcement officers, EMT, and fire department employees ... Westchase Golf Club has started its After School Junior Golf Program on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. There are two age groups, 7 – 9, and 10 – 14. It is an 11-week program with 22 sessions with a cost of $250. Call (813) 854-2331 ... Prime Time is offering winter golf memberships where players can play more than 40 courses for six months for only $99. Junior golf memberships go for as low as $19. Corporate memberships are also available. Call 1-800-605-CLUB ... Countryway Golf Club is featuring a weekly men’s Tuesday morning scramble starting at 6:45 a.m. Cost is only $5 plus cart fees. Players 80-and-over will play the red tees on all par-4s plus the long par-3 17th. Players 75-and-over will play off four red tees, and players 70-and-over will play off of two red tees. Check www.tuesdaygolfers.com ... Quail Hollow Golf Club has a Friday evening scramble every week featuring two-man/two-women teams or one-man/one woman teams starting at 5:30 p.m. Cost is $15 per person with a $4 skins game. Call (813) 333-0033 ... Quail Hollow Golf Club is offering Civil Service Appreciation Mondays with $20 greens fees. Golfers must present ID cards ... Golfsmith on Dale Mabry is offering low minimums and quick turnarounds on golf ball logos, including more than 100 different designs. Check golfsmith.com/business ... Tampa Bay women can join Diva Golf, which has reduced cost to $99 per year. It includes “Nine and Wine’’ events and local clubs and there are no obligations. Call (813) 477-6224 ... Lansbrook Golf Club is offering its Insider Plus membership that includes 20 percent off golf at all times. It includes golf privileges at 41 local clubs and bonus rounds at private clubs. Call (727) 784-7333 ... Northdale Golf Club is offering a two-man “money game’’ on Mondays at 2 p.m. There is a two-man blind draw with a FedEx style point system. There will be a $2,500 grand prize. Call (813) 962-0428 ... 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 is held at some of the top courses in the country, including many in Florida ... Lansbrook Golf Club is offering its Player Development Program, featuring unlimited range balls and unlimited golf starting at 3 p.m. Juniors play for free and there is no long-term commitment. Call (727) 784-7333 ... The Continental Golf League takes place at Bloomingdale Golfers Club every Thursday with a 5:30 p.m. shotgun start. Groups will play alternate nines each week.

Call (813) 689-2985 ... 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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