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Tampa native and former major-leaguer Jason Romano creates Web site to help golfers better their game

Jason Romano, who spent a short time with the Rays in 2004, says he started playing golf when he was 10 and got his handicap to 5.

Times (2004)

Jason Romano, who spent a short time with the Rays in 2004, says he started playing golf when he was 10 and got his handicap to 5.

Jason Romano's life always had centered around baseball.

Since his days as a Little Leaguer he always had been the best player on his team. He excelled at Hillsborough High and embarked on a professional career in 1997 when the Texas Rangers made the utility player a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the draft.

Then came the 2005 season, when Romano tore a hamstring so severely that he needed surgery to reattach it to the bone. His career as a major-league journeyman was over.

"I was 26 and thinking about what I was going to do the rest of my life,'' Romano said. "The clock started ticking.''

In the latter part of his career, Romano, now 30, had a side business called Pro Living, which helped athletes find housing while they were playing. His company handled the setup and furnishings.

He also gave baseball lessons to youth players during the offseason.

When the season started, he would e-mail instructional videos to some of the players from the city in which he was playing. As he faced a career crossroads, Romano thought about the baseball videos and figured another sport would be even more lucrative: golf.

"The lightbulb went off,'' Romano said. "I could charge about $10 per month and send out baseball tips. I ventured down that road. But then I took a look back and figured that golf had a bigger demographic.

"There are 2 million-plus golfers. With the power of the Internet and golfers having more disposable income, I figured golf was the way to go.''

Birth of a Web site

While Romano made his living playing baseball, his hobby was golf.

He started playing when he was 10. He said he played often during the baseball offseason and played almost daily after spring practices. He got his handicap down to 5.

Romano knows golfers are always looking for ways to improve their game. So he founded egolftip.com.

The Web site offers video tips from 100 teaching professionals from around the country. The videos are generally two minutes long, and they touch on a range of subjects, from where to place your ball on the tee to how to make a 10-foot putt.

"When (golfers) show up at work, they can click on an e-mail link and take them out of their work life and give them a two-minute golf tip,'' said Romano, who lives in the Carrollwood area of Tampa.

"We're all looking for ways to improve our game. This will give them tips to think about.''

A yearlong subscription to the site is $25 and includes the videos and fitness and mental tips.

Romano said about 500 to 1,000 people have joined his Web site in the five months it has been online.

Before the site was launched, Romano and a production crew hired the teaching pros and shot the videos.

Of the 100 pros used, 25 are from Florida. The Floridians include Mike Bender of the Timacuan Golf Club in Lake Mary, Brad Brewer of Shingle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Tom Patri of the Quarry Club in Naples, and Lew Smither III, director of golf at Cypress Run Golf Club in Tarpon Springs.

"We only wanted to use the best teaching pros we could find,'' Romano said.

Playing days

Romano was a baseball standout at Hillsborough High, where he hit .458 with nine home runs his senior year as a third baseman.

After he was drafted, he broke into the majors in 2002, when he played 29 games for the Rangers and hit .204. He was traded to the Rockies that year and played 18 games for Colorado.

In 2003, Romano played 37 games for the Dodgers and then joined the Devil Rays for the beginning of the 2004 season. He played four games for his hometown team.

Romano was recommended to the Devil Rays by scout Syd Thrift, who thought he could add infield depth. The problem was Romano hadn't played the infield in more than a year.

After a shaky start at second base, the Devil Rays designated Romano for assignment and tried to get him through waivers.

The Reds snagged Romano, and he spent his final two major-league seasons with Cincinnati. His final major-league stats: 129 games played, .204 career average, 12 RBIs and two home runs.

Next career

Romano doesn't plan on stopping his Web site business at golf. He has bought domain names for 38 potential sites, including ebasketball, ecooking, efishing and estocktips.

If the golf site is successful, Romano believes others could be as well.

"I'd like it to be an e-series for dummies,'' he said.

Rodney Page can be reached at page@sptimes.com, golf@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8810

fast facts

Jason Romano

Age: 30 Hometown: Tampa High School: Hillsborough

Drafted: First round, Texas Rangers, 1997

Major-league baseball career: 2002: Rangers, Rockies. 2003: Dodgers. 2004: Devil Rays, Reds. 2005: Reds.

Tampa native and former major-leaguer Jason Romano creates Web site to help golfers better their game 12/02/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 8:59pm]
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