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. 1997 USF Bulls: Keith Williams proof it's never too late to finish degree


    Keith Williams shows off the bachelor's degree he received last year in interdisciplinary studies from Hodges.
  2. 1997 USF Bulls: Charlie Jackson navigates life's speed bumps


    USF wide receiver Charlie Jackson (1) strives for extra yardage as he is brought down from behind by the Citadel's Rob Nichols (29) in the first quarter on Sept. 14, 1997. (Times 1997)
  3. 1997 USF Bulls: Jay Mize, a 'relentless, fearless' safety and entrepreneur


    USF football alumnus Jay Mize, 39, poses for a portrait at Irish 31 Pub House & Eatery located at 1611 W Swann Avenue in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, August 8, 2017. Mize, a member of the first USF football team, has evolved into an immensely successful businessman and entrepreneur and he owns the Irish 31 pubs.
  4. 1997 USF Bulls: Scott McCready trades green and gold for black belts


    USF WR Scott McCready (16) attempts to get past Jacksonville State LB Duriel Hardrick (31) durin a Sept. 2, 2000 game. (Times 2000)
  5. 1997 USF Bulls: Cory Porter regains passion for game 10,000 miles away


    Brian Surcy (25) and Cory Porter (80) celebrate USF's first victory, against Kentucky Wesleyan. (Times 1997)