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Monday, Sep 01, 2014
Northwest News

T.J. Heidel hones his game while teaching at Rogers Park


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TAMPA - Most club professionals can accept the fact that they will never be teeing it up on the PGA Tour.

T.J. Heidel isn't one of them. The head golf professional at Rogers Park Golf Club still believes he has a future out on the Tour. At the age of 32, Heidel said he is still waiting for the day when he can get back to Q-School.

"I still enjoy the game so much," Heidel said. "I still have the game; it's just a matter of getting some sponsors."

Making it on the PGA Tour is not a cheap prospect. In almost all other sports, scouts come to you. In the golf world, you go to them. Entry fees, caddie fees, travel fees and many other fees all come into play. Professionals have a chance to make an awful lot of money, but the costs can add up. More than a few players who made it to the big time have gone broke.

So Heidel continues to hone his game along with many of the regulars at Rogers Park, one of the oldest in Florida. Heidel has been around the three Tampa Sports Authority courses (Rocky Point and the Babe Zaharias courses are the other two) since he started the game. He took lessons at the Zaharias course at the age of 8 and never stopped. He played in the Urban Junior Golf League a few years later and, after two years at the Zaharias layout, he moved on to Rogers Park, but he holds a real love for the local courses where he learned the game.

"I have been playing these courses my whole life," Heidel said. "This is my home."

Heidel played high school golf at Chamberlain and stayed close to home. He tried Q-School and, although he didn't make to the finals, he knew he still had plenty of game.

"I tried it and didn't make it, but it was a good experience," Heidel said. "I always believed in myself and in my game. As I get older, I keep getting better. If I can get some financial backing, I am going for it again. It all depends on financing."

Heidel loves teaching, especially with the kids who come out to Rogers Park, but teaching takes time, time that Heidel could be using to hone his own game.

"I know I can still play," Heidel said. "I can still shoot 68, 69 if I have the chance to prepare. It is fun to teach, but it can be tough because I want to work on my game. I enjoy it so much. I have a passion for working with kids. Golf is a full-time thing and I never get tired of teaching, playing, running the pro shop. It's a great life."

When Heidel became a father in 2002, priorities changed. There were no more all-day sessions at the practice range. He kept trying, playing qualifiers for tour events and the U.S. Open qualifier, but things changed when he became a dad.

"When I had my son I knew I couldn't practice every day any more," Heidel said. "When I saw my son, he stole my heart. I believe family comes first, even if it comes at a cost to my golf game. But I am not going to stop trying."

CHIP SHOTS

The annual JCSE Veterans Association Golf Tournament will be held at The Eagles Golf Club on June 13. Registration is at 7:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Lunch and awards will follow. Call (813) 777-0703 . The Claw at USF is starting its summer golf camps beginning on June 5. Half-day camps from 8 a.m. to noon or noon to 4 p.m. at $100 per junior golfer. Full-day camps also are offered from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $200 per golfer. Camps 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 minutes 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 Senior Golf Association of Tampa Bay will be hosting several events throughout May and June including Beacon Woods (May 23), East Lake Woodlands (June 3), Cove Cay (June 6), Bayou Club (June 10), and Northdale (June 13). More events will be announced. Call (813) 818-9831. Events are open to golfers 50 and older . 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 2:30-6:30 p.m. at Rogers Park, Terrace Hills, Rocky Point, Magnolia Valley and Countryway. Call (813) 238-7320 . The Joint Communications Support Element VA, one of the longest standing units at MacDill AFB, will host its annual golf tournament at The Eagles on June 13 with registrations at 7:30 a.m. and a shotgun start with awards to follow. Call (813) 777-9703 . The Claw at USF is sponsoring "Putterpalooza'' every Friday from 8 a.m. to 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 . Cheval will also host several events including the Cheval Couple Tournament on May 26, and the CMGA Individual Stroke Play event on June 8 at 8 a.m. . The TPC of Tampa Bay will host its women's golf tee time during June through August, $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. to noon ... The Florida Junior Tour Championships are starting and will be held at Innisbrook (May 25-27); 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 ... Alonso High School will host its annual charity golf event on June 15 at The Eagles. Proceeds will support the Alonso football program. There is a 9 a.m. shotgun start. Call (813) 417-1442 . 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 is also offering its 2013 junior golf summer camps starting June 10-13. There will be eight camps, all running Monday-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 Amatuer Tour will be hosting local events through Sept. 7. May and June events include: 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 area 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 rounds 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 Abe Brown Ministry Foundation will host its second annual golf tournament on May 31-June 1 at Innisbrook Golf Resort. There will be a four-person shotgun scramble and a banquet. Call (813) 247-3285 . The FSGA will be hosting one-day competitions throughout Florida's west coast in the coming weeks. 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 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 to 10 a.m. for ages 3-9, and 11 a.m. to 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 Saturday's from 10-11 a.m. coordinated by leading golf instructor Brianne Murphy. 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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