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Championship League gets more competitive

Florida's version of the Ryder Cup is back in swing with the start of the Florida Golf Championship League, a mix of local clubs vying for bragging rights.

After a successful spring season in which Fox Hollow Golf Club topped Lexington Oaks in a sudden-death final, the league added five clubs _ Pebble Creek, the Eagles, Silverthorne, the Grove and Silver Oaks _ for the fall. That makes a 14-team league, and the competition can be fierce.

"We get a lot of people to come for these events, and everyone has a great time," league director Ken Van Baber said. "At Timber Greens recently we had over 300 spectators."

The format is a two-man scramble, match play, and the season winner receives a cash prize and a 3-foot trophy.

The quality of golf is pretty good. Some of the top players are Tom Shea (Fox Hollow), Brian Richker (Plantation Palms), Kevin Burnsworth (Seven Springs), Kevin Kasubinski (the Groves), and Chris Hendricks (Pebble Creek), a former assistant pro from Fox Hollow.

With several area courses recovering from the recent hurricanes, some host courses are looking for new locations. That has slowed the start of the season, but competition finally got underway Monday when Pebble Creek topped Lexington Oaks 4-3.

Van Baber said he still is looking for clubs interested in playing. He can be contacted at (727) 514-1143 or at his Web site

COURSE CONDITIONS: After the recent weather woes, county courses are getting back to par. Silver Oaks suffered quite a bit but is expected to be back in playing shape any day. Summerfield just put in new championship greens last week, and Silverthorn, a course that prides itself on never being cart path-only, weathered the storms and still is living up to its reputation.

Fox Hollow, which is using temporary greens until new ones are ready, should be ready for regular play in early November.

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