By LAURA LEE
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 4, 2002
SEMINOLE -- There were grumblings in the locker room at Seminole Lake Country Club on Thursday afternoon about it being too hot to play 18 holes.
But 5 1/2 hours and several bottles of water later, 36 girls went the distance and completed the first Pinellas County Championship.
High school matches are usually nine holes, so for some it was their first time playing 18 in competition.
"It was long and tiring and very hot, but it was very fun," St. Petersburg junior Tori Brook said. Brook, who started playing golf as a freshman, has played 18 holes only three times.
"They all knew they had to use this as a tuneup for districts and conditioning," East Lake coach Marty Jones said.
The district tournament, which is later this month, is an 18-hole format. This was the only opportunity for some teams to compete in a similar setting.
"It was really exciting," said East Lake's Brittany Jones, medalist with 79. "There's a lot of good girls out here. My heart was pounding the whole time."
The county champion is Northside Christian, which finished four strokes better than Indian Rocks Christian, 368 to 372.
Northside Christian coach D.J. Jackson said he thought the round of the day for his team was that of his daughter, Morgan Jackson, who shot 91. It wasn't the lowest score, but she had been averaging 50 on nine holes and her score gave the Mustangs the edge they needed. The championship plaque is on order and Jackson said he hopes Northside can keep it for another year. With the team's two oldest and best players freshmen, the Mustangs have a good chance of repeating.
Coaches said they were happy to see that girls golf in Pinellas County had grown to accommodate such an event. Eleven schools were represented and five had full teams of four or more.
Marty Jones, a parent who volunteers as East Lake's coach, said this tournament is encouraging.
"It feels wonderful," he said. "It's really promising for the future. Even as the season has gone on, the numbers have increased."
Because there aren't enough varsity teams, the sport is not officially recognized by the county and receives no funding.
"I'm really hoping that in the next couple of years, this county will recognize girls golf as a sport."