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He putters around the yard, for good reason

Pradip Patel can be found on his $30,000 private green about three times a week.

By TIM GRANT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002


CARROLLWOOD -- The grass is greener in Pradip Patel's back yard.

The managed health care executive has built a private putting green at his home on White Trout Lake. He says it helps him relax while improving his golf game.

"I love golf and wanted to do something unusual," said Patel, president of Well Care HMO in Tampa. "It's very relaxing because you come home from work and you're on the water putting a golf ball. It's very soothing."

The idea came to Patel, 50, while he and his wife, Naini, were remodeling their swimming pool area about six months ago. He thought a putting green would be a unique way to accent the waterfront view.

When it came to building the 80- by 20-foot surface, Patel spared no expense. He raised it 5 feet above the lake, enclosed it with brick and finished it with the same high-quality artificial turf that's used at Tropicana Field.

It cost about $30,000 to build. Now Patel's older brother, Kiran Patel, chairman and owner of Well Care HMO, wants to build an even grander putting green at his home on Lake Carroll.

The model he envisions will include at least one water fountain. Because he lives within the confines of Original Carrollwood, he needs permission from the Carrollwood Civic Association.

"We told him he had to submit more detailed plans, and we haven't seen them," said Betsey Hapner, president of the association, which received Patel's request late last year. "In all likelihood it will be approved."

Pradip Patel's putting green was installed by Jeff Jennings, co-owner of Pro Tour Greens in Land O'Lakes.

"My customers are usually on the high side of wealth," said Jennings, who provides these home-sized courses for $5,000 to $60,000.

Patel practices on his green about three times a week, and it has made him a better player. He recently won second place in a golf tournament at Tampa Players Classic, where he is a member.

"Now my handicap is 20," Patel said. "Before getting the putting green, it wasn't worth counting. I would have gotten one of these years ago if I knew it would improve my game this much."

To reach Tim Grant call 269-5311 or e-mail grant@sptimes.com.

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