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It's time to drive for dough

By WAYNE GRUMET

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 7, 2001


Golfers will do anything to get more distance on their drives. The short game might be better for the scorecard, but the long ball is better for the ego.

There's more than one way to increase a golfer's distance. "You have to have innate strength but you have to have technique. And you have to have the right equipment," Timber Oaks golf pro Susanne Pace said. "You can't go out there with any old off-the-rack driver. That's not going to happen nowadays."

Pace knows a little about slugging a golf ball. She was a long drive champion among teaching and club pros in 1986.

On Saturday, Pasco's longest hitters will converge on Timber Oaks in Port Richey for the 2001 RE/MAX Long Drive Championship local qualifier. Pace will be out there to see if she still has one good drive left in her.

"This isn't for wimps," Pace said. "You have to hit it on a semi-frozen rope."

The trick for golfers Saturday will be keeping the drives in a grid 40 yards wide. Men can shell out $30 for six balls while women must pay $20 for six balls.

Registration for Saturday's event is at 2 p.m. The competition runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Competitors can keep buying six-packs of balls until 6 p.m. Only a handful of drivers will advance to the district qualifier in the fall.

The event has divisions for men, women and seniors. The competition is open to pros and amateurs.

The RE/MAX Long Drive Championship will take place Oct. 16 in Mesquite, Nev. The event's purse of $300,000 is the largest in event history.

Last year's event drew 12,000 golfers worldwide. Viktor Johansson's 315-yard drive edged four-time defending champion Jason Zuback by the length of a club. Stacy Shinnick won the first women's event with a 249-yard drive. Mike Gorton won the senior's division with a 310-yard shot. Call Timber Oaks at (727) 863-1072 for information.

ACES: Kathy Quinn collected her first hole-in-one at Meadow Oaks on Sunday. Quinn used an 8-iron to ace the 117-yard 15th hole.

Robert Scheck tallied his fifth hole-in-one at Timber Oaks on Tuesday. Scheck used a 7-wood to ace the 11th hole.

JUNIOR GOLF: Meadow Oaks will host a golf minicamp beginning Monday. Buzz Walker and Alex Koskos will instruct students ages 8 to 17 each Monday until Aug. 6.

The camp will run from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and costs $8 a week.

Walker and Koskos will cover basics, including aspects of the swing, short game, and rules and etiquette. Clubs can be provided.

Call (727) 856-2878 for information.

HOOPS CAMP: Saint Leo University will host a basketball day camp July 9 to 13. The camp is open to boys and girls entering grades three through nine. Saint Leo men's basketball coach Mike Madagan will direct the camp. Madagan and his staff will emphasize ways to improve fundamental skills.

Campers of all skill levels are welcome. Both half- and full-day sessions are available. A full day costs $150 and a half day costs $125. All campers will receive a ball, T-shirt and lunch.

For information, call Madagan at (352) 588-8224.

- Wayne Grumet can be reached by e-mail at bkhwlg@msn.com or by fax at (352) 521-0290.

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