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Golfers hit greens, gavel to help kids pay for college

By JON WILSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Close to tee-off time, clouds threatened slightly.

But they never produced, and the 10th College Fund Golf Classic turned out virtually perfect Monday at the St. Petersburg Country Club.

Perhaps a consistent breeze offered the only flaw, providing -- according to some golfers -- a challenge to accuracy.

But the day wasn't about perfect golf. It was about college scholarships for young people.

In nine years, the golf tournament and its enthusiastic supporters have raised more than $350,000 for Tampa Bay area high school and college students.

Tournament director Jim Ina said he hoped Monday's event would bring the total to $400,000 in 10 years. Every cent of the event's net proceeds goes to the scholarship fund.

The event is a diverse effort in which golfers, organizers and supporters comprise a racially mixed group. Scholarship recipients attend United Negro College Fund institutions, but the awards are not restricted to African-Americans.

"It's not all about black and white. The only requirement is that he or she go to a UNCF school," Ina said.

Two candidates for scholarships were present.

Tamara Williams, 19, is a Lakewood High School graduate attending Morris Brown College in Atlanta. She is a chemical engineering major who runs track and cross country, plays flag football and competes on the school's swim team.

"I'm athletically inclined," she told golfers at the post-tournament banquet, in what was probably the day's biggest understatement.

John Terrell, 20, is a business management major at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Also a Lakewood graduate, Terrell is contemplating a transfer to the University of South Florida, where he'd like a shot at playing baseball. He is the son of Grady Terrell, a St. Petersburg business leader who died Friday.

The scholarships will be awarded later.

Nearly 144 golfers played, and many remained to eat and bid on items up for auction, the proceeds of which also go to the scholarship fund.

Items sold include resort weekends, rounds of golf and equipment. Sometimes the bidding wasas competitive as the play. Monday's highest bid was $680 for a golf bag used in a tournament by professional golferTiger Woods.

It brought in more money than a weekend at the Tradewinds Resort on St. Pete Beach or the weekend use of a Jaguar.

Such enthusiasm is typical of the tournament, said Ina. He expressed special appreciation for several major sponsors, including Mercantile Bank, Merrill Lynch, Scott Buick, Raymond James, Prudential Securities, Derby Lane, Raytheon and Chase Manhattan.

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