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Rinaldo's efforts worthy of award

Bill Rinaldo of Scotland Yards was recognized recently by Florida Golf News for his service to the game and junior golf.

Scotland Yards owner and builder Bill Rinaldo didn't necessarily set out to start a state junior golf program. It just kind of happened.

In 1994, Rinaldo's daughter, Robin, was playing events in the American Junior Golf Association. Her travels led to a conversation one day between Rinaldo and Mark Brazel of the AJGA. The two discussed the need for regional or state competitions.

Soon thereafter, a conversation with World Woods Golf Club pro Stan Cook sealed the deal. Cook had an opening on the Brooksville course for an event on New Year's Day. Rinaldo figured why not go for it.

Five years later, Rinaldo's Florida Junior Golf Association is the leading state junior golf association in the country. Rinaldo was recognized for his commitment to the game earlier this month.

Florida Golf News named Rinaldo as the first recipient of its Service to the Game Award. The award will be given annually for "significant achievement to the betterment of golf in Florida."

While the award is nice, Rinaldo's satisfaction comes from working with young golfers and helping them earn college scholarships.

"I'm pretty honored. But you don't do these kind of things with awards in mind," said Rinaldo, a member of the Professional Golfers Association. "When you do get one, you think, "that was neat.' "

The FJGA has grown and so has the talent level. Some of the association's former players include 1999 U.S. Amateur champion David Gossett and PGA Tour player Brent Schwartzrock.

The FJGA has grown so much that Rinaldo is inundated with requests to play. In a recent event at the University of Florida, Rinaldo received 211 entries for 96 spots.

"It's so difficult to tell a young person that they can't play," said the 52-year-old Rinaldo.

"No one likes to turn kids away, we keep adding more tournaments. We've gone from one a month to two a month except for June and July."

Rinaldo makes shaping young people's lives look easy.

While an award is nice, the tournament chairman for the North Florida Senior Open is more interested in spreading the love of golf.

"We are trying to establish some benefactors in the FJGA to get some underprivileged kids in an event," Rinaldo said. "And we need to get more girls involved in the sport. If the parents knew that there were about 650 unused college scholarships the year before last, they would jump on the opportunity.

"Besides, what other sport can you play and take throughout your life? Golf is something we can use in the business world. I know men who have advanced their careers because they are good golfers. The boss likes to play with a guy who helps him win."

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