TARPON SPRINGS - When Tom McKown signed on as general manager and golf professional at Tarpon Woods Golf Club, he knew what he was getting into.
Tarpon Woods - at one time, Booker Creek Golf Club - had fallen into serious disrepair. And, in the golfing community, reputations spread quickly.
But things started looking up when Jacksonville-based Hampton Golf bought the club. The Lane Marshall-designed course is renamed and on its way back to prominence. It's a long road and McKown admits that the changes made are only the beginning, but it's a challenge he wanted to take on.
McKown spent most of his career in Florida at the Tampa Bay Golf & Country Club, and Hernando Oaks, two prominent Tampa Bay courses. He welcomed the opportunity to restore the club to its once-proud status.
"I was looking for a new challenge and this was it," McKown said. "I wanted to be a general manager instead of just a club pro. I enjoy the responsibility of trying to make this one of the top facilities in the area."
McKown got his start in golf at age 12, learning from his father and grandfather while growing up in Connecticut. After his senior year in high school, he decided he couldn't hone his game in a state where golf isn't a year-round sport. He headed south, playing college golf at Belmont Abbey College in Charlotte, N.C., but he wanted a family, so Q-School was never a serious option. His children, Tommy, 11, and Abigail, 10, already play the game.
He moved through the ranks of golf pros, and is now president of the West Central chapter of the North Florida PGA of America. He runs competitions all over the region and still finds the time to teach. He teaches at least a lesson a day and said he never tries to change anyone's swing. Adapting his lessons to the player's swing, he said, is his key to teaching.
He also offers no quick fixes.
"If I took piano lessons, I can't learn tomorrow," McKown said. "I don't even know where the keys are. It has to be simple. It takes a lot of lessons if you want to break 80 in golf."
The key thing when it comes to teaching kids, McKown said, is to keep it simple.
"It has to be fun for them," McKown said. "Most kids just want to go out and hit the ball. They don't want to sit or stand around a putting green all day, but that's where it is all about."
McKown also realized that there is more to golf than just being on the course. He wanted to get involved in the business side of the game and that's what brought him to Tarpon Woods. There have been noticeable changes since Hampton Golf purchased the club, and they have put a significant amount of money into making it an elite club once again. The changes are going to take time, McKown said, but they have started and people are starting to notice. Having a Beef 'O' Brady's, the popular Tampa Bay restaurant chain, on the property next to the pro shop, is just one of the changes in the making.
"If you love the game, just give us a try," McKown said. "You'll see the difference."
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.Countryway Golf Club will host the 4th annual Fun(d) Raiser to support missions and ministry of the Lutheran Church of Our Savior. It will be a four-man scramble costing $200 per team.Countryside Golf Club will host the second annual Oldsmar Soccer Club Golf Tournament on July 7 with a 1 p.m. shotgun start. Call volunteers are needed register at oldsmarsoccer.com.Tarpon Woods Golf Club is offering its Golf Plus card which costs $34.95 per month and offers unlimited golf.The TPC Tampa Bay will start its second season of match play tournaments starting Sept. 9 and running until Nov. 17. Cost is $60 per player with a $1,600 purse based on a 32-player field. Jonathan Shapiro is the defending champion.TPC Tampa Bay is also starting its Thursday night Member Summer Shootout Series. Different formats will be held each week ending on Aug. 22. Points are awarded and the point total reflects the best eight weeks of points over the 12 week series.The Cross Bay Club is offering limited golfing privileges at four of its tennis/athletic membership clubs. Golf clubs include East Lake Woodlands, Hunters Green, Tampa Palms, and Countryside. Initiation fee is $50 with a 12-month agreement. Call (727) 784-8576.The Tampa-Sarasota Senior Amateur will continue through the summer. The format is 18-hole stroke play using only gross score and conforming to USGA rules. Golfers will be placed into a flight according to handicap and remain there until their flight warrants a move. Coming events include TPC of Tampa Bay (July 6), and TPC Prestancia (July 27). Call (863) 514-0176.East Lake Woodlands is offering complimentary golf and tennis clinics each Saturday. Call (727) 784-8576.Golf professional Tony Pasquine will be hosting his High School Summer Series at East Lake Woodlands South (June 26). Call (727) 776-0450...Ace Golf is offering free buckets of range balls to kids 15 and under at its driving range locations in Brandon and Riverview as well as Crescent Oaks, Pebble Creek, and Wentworth Golf Clubs.Seminole Lake Golf Club is offering its Member for the Day program where players can golf for $42. It includes free lunch and free range balls.The Babe Zaharias Ladies Golf League meets on Wednesdays at 7:30 a.m. for an 8 a.m. tee time. There are about 24 members right now and the league is looking for more. The league is not too serious and is a great way to make friends and have fun. Call (813) 624-3029.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...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.The Eagles is starting its summer golf season featuring Ladies Only on Monday nights, Men's Night on Tuesdays, Eagles Open League play for men and women on Thursdays, and Gross Skins starting at 3 p.m. on Fridays, followed by Mixed Couples at 5:30 p.m.Nick Brothers won in a sudden death playoff to win the Florida State Public Links Championship at Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club in Dade City...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.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 First Tee of Clearwater and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast will be hosting summer golf camps at the Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club through Aug. 12. Costs are $155 per week for a full day and $105 for half-days. Call (727) 726-8829.Legacy Golf Club will host the Freedom Cup Local Qualifier to benefit the Field of Honor Foundation on June 29 presented by the PGA North Florida Section. Tee times start at 7:30 a.m. with a four-person gross scramble. Team total handicap index must add up to at least 40.0 to be eligible. A team can consist of only one player that has an 8.0 handicap or better.. Call (941) 907-7920.Golfer's Grail will begin summer weekday hours and be open from 9 a.m.- 10 p.m.Wentworth Golf Club is offering full memberships through October with $16 cart fees after 2 p.m. Call (727) 942-4760.The Claw at USF will host the First Annual U.S. Central Command Family Activities Association Tournament on July 5 at 4 p.m. with a four-person scramble format. Call (813) 653-6893.Julie Ashlock, owner of BFIT4Golf is a Level Two certified medical professional and is offering an 11-point physical screening analysis, which can provide a unique golf workout session. She promises to modify workout routines as the golfer's game progresses. Call (813) 373-8312 for more.The Eagles is offering a first Monday After the Majors two-person team scramble on the Monday after each of the four PGA Tour majors. Each event will have a net and gross flight. Each player must have a USGA handicap to compete. There will be a chance to win a trip to the 2014 U.S. Open at the famous Pinehurst No. 2 Course.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.Silver Dollar Golf Club is offering regripping while you wait for just $5.The Eagles will host its Firecracker Open to benefit the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Tampa Bay on June 29. Cost is $80 per player and $300 per team and includes an awards banquet, free draft beer and contests. There will be a 1 p.m. shotgun start. Call (877) 820-CLUB.Rocky Point is offering Sunday golf clinics for $10 by teaching pro Cindy Dzuro. Classes run from noon - 12:45 p.m..Innisbrook will host the 21st annual Innisbrook Amateur on July 5-7. Friday and Sunday rounds will be played at the Copperhead Course and Saturday's will be at the Island Course. Entry fee is $285. Practice rounds are available for $60. Call (727) 942-5557.Golfers Grail junior golf camps begin June 17. The indoor academy will feature weekly camps for kids ages 5 - 14. Golfers will learn fundamentals in a cool environment and have their choice of more than 60 courses. Call (813) 969-2100.Seminole Lake is offering annual memberships for as low as $110 per month. There are no initiation fees. Call (727) 391-3311.The Claw at USF is starting its summer golf camps. Half-day camps from 8 a.m. - noon or noon - 4 p.m. at $100 per junior golfer. Full-day camps are also offered from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. for $200 per golfer. Camp dates run through mid August. Sessions a four days each. Call (813) 632-6893.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.The First Tee of Tampa Bay is looking to sign up golfers who want to play rounds of golf in an organized setting. Teams will meet once a week for 15 weeks on Saturdays from 2:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. at Rogers Park, Terrace Hills, Rocky Point, Magnolia Valley, and Countryway. Call (813) 238-7320.The Claw at USF is sponsoring "Putterpalooza" every Friday from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. until July 6. Golfers who sink a 30-foot putt can win a free round of golf. Contestants can sample the latest Odyssey putters.Countryway Golf Course is holding bi-weekly tournaments on the first and third Sunday of each month starting at 9 a.m. Call (727) 593-3726.The TPC of Tampa Bay will host its women's golf tee time during June through August featuring $30 cart fees with a four-day advance notice.The TPC Tampa Bay is also offering its junior golf camp for one to three weekly sessions at a cost of $150. The sessions run from 9 a.m. - noon...The Florida Junior Tour Championships are starting and will be held Emerald Green (Sept. 8-9); SaraBay (Sept. 28-29), and Lake Jovita (Sept. 28-29).Live Laugh Love Foundation will feature its third annual golf tournament on June 23 at Heritage Harbor to benefit children battling pediatric cancer. Dinner will be provided. Registration is at 11 a.m. for a 1 p.m. shotgun start.The Downs is also offering its 2013 junior golf summer camps. There will be eight camps, all running on Monday - Thursday from 9 a.m. - noon. The last day of camp will include nine holes at Silver Dollar. Call (813) 854-4946.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.Black Diamond is featuring Stay & Play packages at its 45-hole resort, including a one-night Pure Golf Getaway featuring two round of golf on its Quarry, Ranch, and Highlands courses. Call (352) 746-3446.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 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.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.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.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 - 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.
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