Free golf clinic features contests, equipment
By STEVE TRIVETT
THE VILLAGES — Drives got ripped.
Chip shots got chipped.
Bunker shots got blasted.
Putts got putted.
Lessons got taught.
Some things got learned.
And a good time was had by all.
Even a cow — or somebody in a cow suit — got in on the act.
There was a celebration of golf Friday at the Palmer Legends Country Club.
By best estimates, more than 1,000 people turned out for the festivities.
The official title of the event was the Play Golf America Golf Carnival — an offshoot of the PGA of America’s free lesson month program, a national program sponsored by Nike Golf and under the direction of the club professionals all over the country.
But like everything else that starts somewhere else and then comes to The Villages, it got bigger once it stepped into Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
In addition to five different lessons — courtesy of Patrick Leahy and his staff at The Villages Golf Academy — there were contests in chipping, putting, sand play, and a nine-hole outing on the Himalayan Putting Course where even a good putt could finish farther away from the hole than the point from where it started.
Five of the biggest names in the world of golf equipment were there, too.
They brought all their latest and greatest models and let Villagers play with them.
The day was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
It started before that.
It was slated to end at 2 p.m.
It was still going after that.
It was like nobody wanted to go home.
If the mythical bar Cheers were a golf course, it would have been Palmer Legends on Friday.
Susie Thore, a regular in Women’s Village Cup play, walked away with a new putter.
“It’s just beautiful,” she said about the new wand she hopes will bring magic into her game. “This baby is going to knock them in the hole.
“And it was on sale, too.”
While Thore was clinging to her new putter like a prom date, Pat Lake was doing the same.
Lake, who has been playing the game for just two years, was looking for that magic wand, also.
She thinks she’s found it.
“It’s a great putter,” she said. “I putted with it for more than an hour and I just love it.”
So, it’s now in her bag and the other five — yes five — are in the garage.
“I really don’t have six putters,” she said in mock protest. “Two of them are at my other house so they don’t count.”
Methinks the lady does protest too much.
“That’s OK,” she said with a laugh. “I just want to put it in the car, so I can go hit some of those Callaway thingies (hybrid clubs).
“But I promise I won’t buy any.”
Maybe, maybe not.
It was definite yes for Sam Mason when it came to buying.
Mason came out Friday to try out some new irons. He’s currently playing with a set of Ping irons he bought way back in 1983, and one of his buddies told him he should take a look at some clubs from a different manufacturer.
He bought a new set of Ping irons and a new Ping driver.
“I don’t worry about the money,” he said.
“My wife has a lot of money,” he said. “She’s got all of her money and all of my money.”
Yeah, but he’s the one with the new golf clubs — and he wasn’t the only one who left Palmer Legends with a smiling face.
“It was a great day,” Leahy said. “But it shouldn’t have been anything else.
“We came out to celebrate golf and there is nothing better to celebrate than that.”