Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Souchak was driving force for two area ventures

After Mike Souchak’s playing career, he started a business and worked with Innisbrook.

Allsport (1985)

After Mike Souchak’s playing career, he started a business and worked with Innisbrook.

Mike Souchak, a Belleair resident for more than 30 years who died on July 10 of heart failure at 81, is best remembered for one scorching week in 1955 at the Texas Open. He shot an opening 60 and a four-round total of 27-under par, both PGA records at the time. It was the first of his 15 PGA Tour victories.

But in the bay area, he is remembered for more than just his tour career. In 1970, after working as the head pro at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan, Souchak came to Palm Harbor to help start Innisbrook Golf Resort. He also started a business in Clearwater, Golf Car Systems, in 1973 with partners Bill Dodd and Bob McGrath. It provides golf cars and service to golf courses.

Both are still thriving, thanks mainly to Souchak's hard work and dedication.

"His last day (at Golf Car Systems) was July 3,'' Dodd said. "He would come in every day around 9:15, then we'd go to lunch and he'd solve the world's problems. He was so well known in the golf world that he gave us instant credibility.''

Jay Overton, director of golf at Innisbrook, was lured from a dream job at Pinehurst in North Carolina by Souchak in 1977.

"In all honesty, I didn't want to come here,'' he said. "How can you leave Pinehurst for anything? They finally convinced me to come do an interview in December of '77. At the end of the day, Mike takes me away from everybody else, we get in his Cadillac Deville, and we end up on the 11th tee at the Island Golf Course. We're all by ourselves and he says, 'What do you see?' I say, 'What do you mean, Mr. Souchak? What am I supposed to see?' He says, 'Do you see Florida?' I said, 'No, I see Pinehurst. I see North Carolina.' The only thing he said was, 'Don't miss this opportunity.' That was that.''

Souchak stayed at Innisbrook until 1981, then devoted much of his time to the golf car business and some tournaments on the senior tour. He was a member at Belleair Country Club and played when he could.

"He always recognized people around here and was very quick to say hello to you,'' said assistant pro Mike Sohanski, who has been at the Belleair Country Club for 34 years. "He was always very appreciative whenever you would change grips or do something for him.''

Souchak is survived by his wife, Nancy, sons Chris, Mike and Frank, and daughter Patti. Overton said he talked to Souchak frequently, and saw him in April and gave him a tour of Innisbrook.

"We rode every hole of the Copperhead and Island Course,'' Overton said. "Then we chatted for a long time, and the last thing he said was, 'Jay, you're the last guy who understands why we started this property.' He was saying, protect what we have going here. It was the last time I got to see him."

Rodney Page can be reached at or (727) 893-8810.

Souchak was driving force for two area ventures 07/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 17, 2008 11:53am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Family a driving force for University of Tampa pitcher David Lebron


    TAMPA — For University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron, baseball reminds him of family. He uses it to help honor the memory of his father, who taught him the game. One day, he hopes his career can help support his mother and allow her to rest.

    University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron (Courtesy of University of Tampa)
  2. L.A. delay could re-open Super Bowl chance for Tampa in 2021


    Construction delays on the NFL's new stadium in Los Angeles mean the Rams and Chargers won't be playing there until 2020, a year later than expected, and the ripple effect could give Tampa another chance at landing a Super Bowl in February 2021.

    Tampa and Raymond James Stadium last hosted a Super Bowl in 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers edged the Arizona Cardinals.
  3. Bucs' Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston honored in NFL top 100


    Helping fans pass time through the offseason each summer, NFL Network has been unveiling its top 100 players for 2017 as chosen by the players, and the Bucs' Gerald McCoy and Jameis Winston are the first Tampa Bay players revealed, coming in at No. 52 and 57, respectively.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis WInston and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, shown in the 2016 season finale against the Panthers, have both been named to the NFL Network's top 100 players for 2017.
  4. The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.
  5. Former Gator Caleb Brantley paying a steep price for nothing


    It turns out Caleb Brantley isn't quite the dirtbag that millions of people presumed. It's too bad the damage to his reputation and bank account is already done.

    Caleb Brantley, who dropped to the sixth round of the draft, works out during Browns rookie minicamp. [Associated Press]