So you've been hitting it straighter lately and think it's time to take your game to the next level. Or you're looking to branch out of your regular foursome and find other groups to play with. Perhaps the idea of playing different courses on a weekly or monthly basis is appealing.
Whatever the reason, joining a golf league can be a way to test your skills and have more fun. Most leagues pair players of equal skill level, and established handicaps make hackers equal to scratch golfers.
"We have all kinds of players, from Ph.D.'s to garbage collectors,'' said Bruce McNally, director of the Pasco County Senior Men's Golf Association. "Everybody's the same out there. They all just want to hit that little white pellet.''
There are leagues for juniors, leagues for serious players, leagues for women and leagues for seniors. Here are some area golf leagues to check out:
County Golf Association
Who: Amateurs (men and women) and seniors (55 and over). Scores based on established handicaps.
When: Mondays and Thursdays. There are morning and afternoon starts (8 a.m. or 1 p.m.). The league runs year round.
Courses: Mostly private or semi-private courses in Pinellas County (Feather Sound, Countryside CC, Pasadena CC, Wentworth, Seminole Lake, Isla Del Sol, Bardmoor, Belleview Biltmore). The group plays some tournaments in Hillsborough, Pasco and Manatee counties.
Cost: $60 to become a member, plus $40-55 per player, per tournament. Non-members may play but are ineligible for prizes.
Contact: (727) 446-6644, or www.countygolf.com.
The skinny: The CGA has been around since 1975. According to CGA director Jayne Goodman, there are between 150-200 players in the winter and nearly 100 players during the summer.
Greater Tampa Junior Golf Association
Who: Kids ages 6-18.
When: Tournaments end on May 16. Registration for the next season begins on July 2 and tournaments begin again in August.
Courses: Mostly in Hillsborough County, although some are in Pinellas and Pasco.
Cost: $50 per person ($25 for each additional family member). Tournament fee is $30 per 18-hole event ($25 second family member; $20 each additional member) and $25 per nine-hole event ($20 second family member; $15 each additional member).
Contact: (813) 930-6166. www.gtjga.com.
The skinny: At 31 years, one of the oldest junior golf associations in Tampa Bay. The Association boasts alumni such as Lee Janzen, Woody Austin, Ryuji Imada, John Huston and Beth Bauer. Tournaments are flighted by skill level. "We're not out to make a profit, it's more to teach the rules and etiquette of golf to young people,'' GTJGA executive secretary Penny Gallagly said. "It's very rewarding to watch these young golfers grow as people.''
Executive Women's Golf Association
Who: Women of all skill levels and ages.
When: Various evenings and Saturdays throughout the summer.
Courses: Par 72 courses in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties.
Cost: $125 for classic membership, $350 for executive distinction membership.
The skinny: This is a national association that has a Tampa Bay chapter. The group boasts over 20,000 members nationwide. They are having a new member orientation next Thursday at GolfTEC-Westshore in Tampa from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Pasco County Senior Men's Golf Association
Who: Senior golfers 50 and above.
When: First Monday of every month.
Courses: Par 72 courses in Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas County. The next tournament is Monday at Lexington Oaks in Pasco.
Cost: $35 entry fee. Discounted rates at tournaments.
Contact: Bruce McNally, firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 868-4489.
The Skinny: The league uses established handicaps to equal the field. The tournaments are 18 holes, individual scores. McNally, the league director, said there are more than 100 players during the winter, but at this time of year it is more like 70-80.
Senior Golf Association
Who: Senior golfers 50 and above.
When: Every Monday and Thursday.
Courses: Par 72 courses mostly in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties.
Cost: $75 per year.
Contact: Harry Krentz (813) 818-9831 or Carl Calletto at (727) 725-1199, e-mail: email@example.com.
The skinny: This league plays year round and according to Krentz, 90 percent of the tee times are in the morning. It is in its 25th year and still going strong.
North Suncoast Junior Golf Association
Who: Juniors 8-18 years old.
When: Once per week beginning in early June.
Courses: In Hernando and Citrus Counties (Sugarmill Woods, Southern Woods, World Woods, The Dunes and Inverness).
Cost: $60 annual fee, $15 each tournament.
Contact: Wendy Deans, (352) 796-5500, ext. 11.
The skinny: The association has been around since the 1980s. It is based at World Woods in Brooksville but plays many of the par 72 courses in the area. "We have around 90-100 kids who participate,'' board member Rick Kelso said.
First Tee Programs
Who: Kids ages 8-18
Chapters: St. Petersburg (Twins Brooks and Mangrove Bay Golf Courses), Clearwater (Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Course), Tampa (Rogers Park and Terrace Hill Golf Club).
When: Year round.
Cost: Varies for each chapter, but generally the cost is $30 for a yearly membership, plus $10 per program. Scholarships are also available to those in need.
Contact: St. Petersburg: firstname.lastname@example.org. Clearwater: (727) 726-8829 ext. 238. email@example.com. Tampa: (813) 984-8655. firstname.lastname@example.org.
The skinny: The First Tee programs are all about teaching life skills as well as golf. There are lessons from qualified club pros as well as monthly tournaments.
The Tampa Tour
Who: It caters mostly to young professionals in the Tampa Bay area with handicaps of 22 or lower.
When: Saturday mornings, twice per month through August.
Courses: Par 72 courses mostly in Hillsborough, but they also play courses ranging from Kissimmee to Bradenton.
Cost: $20 yearly membership fee, plus greens fees at tournaments.
Contact: www.thetampatour.com. e-mail: email@example.com.
The skinny: The league began nearly five years ago with four friends who wanted to start a local tour. "We thought it would be great if we played every week and accumulated points like it was a regular tour,'' original member Shaun Collins said. "It's grown to about 70 active members.'' Collins said each tournament has between 30-36 players.
Pinellas Police Athletic League Golf Camp
Who: Boys and girls ages 8-15.
When: June 14-Aug. 20, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Courses: Airco Golf Course and Brooker Creek Golf Course.
Cost: $600 for 10 weeks.
Contact: (727) 528-5779. www.pinellascountypal.com.
The skinny: This is more of a camp, which will focus on fundamentals as well as playing the courses.