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)

Taking on the first hole at Airco Golf Course one last time

The first hole at Airco Golf Course gave me the creeps. It was a straight-ahead par 5 with a few trees down the left and right of the fairway. But a chain link fence down the right side separated the course from the road and hotels around the course adjacent to the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport.

The fence didn't look like it was in play, but as a junior golfer with a terrible slice, it was always in play for me. When people brought up Airco, my first image was that hole, with the ball sailing over the fence, hitting the road, bouncing 40 feet in the air and landing in a retention ditch.

The course had much better holes, but I remember only the first one. With the course less than an hour from closing forever Sunday, it was time to grab the sticks and play it one last time.

The fairway looked like one of the giant runways at the airport. I told myself not to look right and swing away. The drive had a slight fade, but it landed right in the middle of the fairway. The next shot was a 3-iron that bounded under a tree about 20 yards from the hole on the left side. The left side! There was no way I was going over the fence this time.

As I grabbed my clubs to walk to the next shot, my inclination was to fix the fairway divot. What did that matter? Tomorrow the course would be just another plot of land in eastern Pinellas County. Divot, schmivot.

After my third shot rolled to within 6 feet of the hole, I grabbed my putter and sat my clubs down on the green. That's another golfing no-no, but again, what did it matter?

The birdie putt lipped out (some things never change), and I tapped in for par. Now when somebody mentions Airco, I'll think about that first hole, making par and walking back to the clubhouse as the sun sank below an airplane hangar.

Taking on the first hole at Airco Golf Course one last time 05/18/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb made mistakes on back-to-back pitches to the first two Angels hitters Tuesday, allowing homers to Cameron Maybin and Mike Trout, but otherwise gave the Rays another solid outing, working into the eighth and scattering seven hits.

  4. Rays journal: Brad Miller won't return from DL when eligible

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — 2B Brad Miller (left abdominal strain) will not return from the 10-day disabled list Friday as he hoped. While he took ground balls Tuesday, he has yet to resume running.

    Rays second baseman Brad Miller, left, with infielder Tim Beckham, says he’s letting his left abdominal strain “cool down” before testing it by running.
  5. USF baseball rallies to beat Tulane in AAC tournament opener


    CLEARWATER — With Tulane runners on first and second and two out in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday, USF's dugout watched as burly American Athletic Conference co-player of the year Hunter Williams' fly to left went deep.

    USF outfielder Chris Chatfield is congratulated by third-base coach Chris Cates after hitting a three-run homer in the third inning, tying the score at 3.