The Terra Cotta Invitational draws some of the top amateur golfers from all over the United States and beyond. This year's 17th annual event, which will be April 13-15 at Naples National Golf Club, is doing the same right here from Southwest Florida.
St. John Neumann's Edward Figueroa, a Florida Gulf Coast University recruit who just played in the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open earlier this month, Community School's Ben Balter, Ryan Celano and Spencer Ciesla are on the contestant list released at Tuesday's media day.
Figueroa, 18, enters the tournament with a new outlook, courtesy of legendary tour pro Chi Chi Rodriguez of Puerto Rico. After bogeying two of the last three holes and missing the 36-hole cut at the Puerto Rico Open, Figueroa spent the weekend with Rodriguez, 76, even caddying for him when he played a few holes to support the tournament on its final day.
Rodriguez spent hardly any time talking to Figueroa about his golf swing, mostly discussing the mental approach to the game. He also gave Figueroa books on the mental side that didn't necessarily all have to do with golf.
"I call him twice a week now," said Figueroa, whose father was born in Puerto Rico. "He's really my mentor now, ... He really believes in me. He's a great guy, a great mentor. ... That's been the best part of me going down to Puerto Rico, just having him be my mentor and having all of his knowledge helping me. It's been great."
At this point, Figueroa easily will trade missing that cut to meeting Rodriguez.
"If I would've played four days and came in 60-whatever, it would have been nothing compared to how much he taught me," Figueroa said.
This year's Terra Cotta charity is the Naples Neighborhood Health Clinic. Safrin and Glass emphasized that all money raised goes to the tournament charity. Sponsorships are available for presenting ($25,000) and corporate ($5,000). A one-day sponsor/contestant tournament will be held April 12.
The public is invited, and there is no admission fee.
"We want people to come out here," Naples National pro Bill Safrin said.
"That's our focus is to promote amateur golf as a club and the charity," Naples National president and Terra Cotta tournament director Denny Glass said.
Former tour pro Tee McCabe also is in the Terra Cotta field. Former Community School golfer Danny Schmeiding, who has been playing in Germany, is playing as well.
Defending champion Emiliano Grillo turned professional last year, and is not eligible. Former champions Matt Ceravolo (2009) and Gene Elliott (1998) are in the preliminary field.
Three other former champions since the tournament went to stroke play in 2006 are tour professionals: Arnond "Bank" Vongvanij, Peter Uihlein and Bud Cauley (2006-2008 winners). Cauley earned his PGA Tour card solely through his finish on the money list through sponsor exemptions last year. Casey Wittenberg, who was the 2003 champion when it was still match play, won a Nationwide Tour event Sunday.
The Terra Cotta is now ranked in the top 100 of more than 3,000 tournaments in the world by Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking List.
Ryder Cup Junior Academy: Estero's Robert Butler is one of two juniors chosen by the South Florida PGA Section to participate in the Ryder Cup Junior Academy at PGA Village this summer. Katelin Glass of Lake Worth is the other.
"We are proud to have Robert and Katelin representing our section," Meredith Schechter, the junior golf and special events coordinator for the Section said. "They are both members of our Junior Tour, straight-A students, and hard workers who are dedicated to improving their golf games. This will be a great experience to meet juniors and instructors from all over the country and grow as individuals."
The academy will be July 1-8 at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie. The academy focuses on playing and competing in both stroke- and match-play formats.
Avow Hospice Pro-Am: The 21st annual Royal Palm/Avow Hospice Pro-Am will be played at Royal Palm Country Club on Friday, April 6. Over $800,000 has been donated since the event began in 1992.
Many head professionals from clubs across Southwest Florida participate and bring their own amateur teams. On Saturday, April 7, a celebration dinner will be held to honor donors and raise additional money through a silent auction.
For more information, contact Don Harlow at 774-1774 or Rick Neet at 775-1150.
Florida Junior Tour: Naples' Emma Bradley finished third in the FJT event at Longboat Key Club in the girls 13-15 age group. Bradley shot 81-74 for a 155, three behind Taylor Tomlinson of Gainesville.
Naples Amateur Tour: Net results, Hammock Bay (3-20): 1. Jim Gibbs, Chicago, 73; 2. Danny Marakovits, Allentown, Pa., 76; 3. Paul Dillon, Bethesda, Md., 77; Fiddler's Creek (3-22): 1. Dillon 66; 2. Walter Heesch, Setauket, N.Y., 74; 3. Richard Combra, Martha's Vineyard, Mass., 76; 3. Gibbs, Chicago, 76; Upcoming events: Thursday, The Rookery. Open to players 0-23 handicap. Contact Rob Mucci at (978) 328-9145, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Southwest Women's Tri-County Golf Association: Results, stroke play at Verandah (3-12, 3-16): Champion: Lindsey Noble 151; Flight 1: 1. Amy Young Kennedy 152; 2. Cathy Wright 159; Flight 2: 1. Linda Seber 169; 2. Lorraine Houlahan 171; Flight 3: 1. Valerie Klosterman 170; 2. Pat Lonergan 178
Ronald McDonald Care Mobile Classic: The sixth annual tournament is Friday, April 13 at Quail West. There is a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start, with registration starting at 11:30 a.m.
Proceeds benefit the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, which provides over 1,500 medical and dental screenings annually to children in Southwest Florida. The entry fee is $250, and includes, lunch, awards and a cocktail reception. To register, contact Elizabeth Zuluaga at 658-3113 or email@example.com.
Marine Corps tournament: The 14th annual Marine Corps League tournament will be Saturday, April 14 at Glen Eagle Golf & Country Club. The best-ball scramble begins at 8:#0 a.m. The entry fee is $125 per golfer. For more information, contact Joe Johnston at 417-9343.
Changes for First Tee tourney: The inaugural First Tee Club Tournament of Champions on Monday, April 16 has added the following individual divisions — 2011/2012 club champions (both men and women); 0-4 and 5-9 handicap divisions for men; 0-6 and 7-12 handicap divisions for women.
The tournament at Calusa Pines Golf Club benefits The First Tee of Naples/Collier's permanent facility. The entry fee is $1,250, and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Shotgun start at 9 a.m.
Contact Cindy Darland at 825-4851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fore The Children Tournament: Friday, April 20 at Old Corkscrew Golf Club to benefit The Children's Home Society of Florida. Sponsorships are from $150 to $7,500. The entry fee for golfers is $150. Registration is at noon, followed by a 1 p.m. shotgun start. Contact Mary Ellen Johnstone at 275-3107 or visit www.chsforethechildren.org.
PGA Tour Superstore tourney: The Spring Customer Appreciation Tournament will be Thursday, April 26 at TwinEagles. There will be a 9 a.m. shotgun start.
The entry fee is $99 per person. That includes a $20 gift card, and 45-minute practice bay session. For more information, call 384-6380.
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Miami Hurricane Club Tournament
Info: University of Miami football coach Al Golden will appear at the Southwest Florida Hurricane Club's Golf Classic and Luncheon on Saturday at Heritage Bay. Registration, 7 a.m.; Shotgun start, 8 a.m.; Lunch, awards, 1 p.m.
Contact: (305) 284-6699, Darin McMurray 278-1177, ext. 315 or 872-1166, or Heritage Bay at 353-2561.
Info: Cure Cancer is holding a simulator closest-to-the-pin contest at the PGA Tour Superstore on Sunday, April 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to win a free ticket for a chance to play nine holes with sports psychologist Bob Rotella. Rotella is appearing at the Country Club of Naples on Sunday, April 15 at 9 a.m. Tickets to Rotella's appearance also will be sold on April 4 for $40. All proceeds benefit the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Research Center.
Mike Ditka/Jim Hart Invitational
Info: April 13-14, Golf Club of the Everglades. Benefits the Foundation for the Immokalee Child Care Center. Entry fee, $550 per amateur, $2,000 per corporate foursome. Includes two pairings party admissions. Pairings party, April 13, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; Golf tournament, April 14, 8 a.m. registration, 9 a.m. shotgun start.
Contact: Don Vining 262-1450, email@example.com
Info: Friday, April 13, The Forest, Fort Myers. Registration, $600 per foursome, $150 for individuals. Shotgun start, 1 p.m., followed by dinner and awards. Benefits the nonprofit organization in Dunbar that offers after school reading and mentoring.
Contact: 461-0234, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Rotella appearance
Info: Noted sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella, Country Club of Naples on Sunday, April 15 at a "Let's Cure Cancer" fundraiser. The fundraiser benefits cancer research by Massachusetts General Hospital. A raffle also is being held to play nine holes with Rotella that day at 9 a.m. The cost of a raffle ticket is $40, and only 200 tickets will be sold. Tickets can be purchased at the Country Club of Naples pro shop.
Contact: Tony Franklin 261-1267.
St. Matthew's House Golfathon
Info: 15th annual Dean Lind Memorial Golfathon, Tuesday, April 17 at Imperial Golf Club. No entry fee. Players encouraged to raise at least $1,000 in either per-hold sponsorships or flat donations. Volunteers are needed for silent auction prizes.
First Tee of Naples/Collier
Rick Smith Golf Academy
Info: Spring break camp — Ages 7 and up, from April 2-4 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. each day. The cost is $160 per person. Call 593-1111 to sign up; Afterschool programs — Elementary school: Mondays, 4 to 5:30 p.m., $190 for four-week session; Middle school: Wednesdays, 4:30 to 6 p.m., $190 per four-week session; Junior Champions Golf Program: Thursday, 4:30 to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 3 to 6 p.m.; $200 twice a week; $150 once a week per four-week session; Player development class: Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m., $75, instructor Kathy PadgettContact: 593-1111
Rodney Bungartz clinics
Info: At Arrowhead. Afterschool junior clinic — 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, $13 per student per session, ages 6 and up; Middle school junior clinic — 5 to 6 p.m. Mondays, $15 per student per session, ages 12 and up.
Lessons for charity
Info: Arrowhead Golf Club and teaching pro Wes Smith are inviting the public to take a lesson from Smith every Saturday, and write a check for a donation directly to a designated charity. There will be a charge of $6 for range balls.
Info: Jim Mapother of RJM Golf is providing free clinics Friday afternoons from 3 to 4:30 p.m., through May at Lely Resort's Flamingo Island and Mustang driving ranges. Short-game work, then full swing. Registration limited to eight.
Contact: 208-755-7644, email@example.com
Executive Women's Golf Association
Gulf Coast Gold Senior Tour
Info: For golfers 50 and over. Tee times will begin each week in midmorning. The entry deadline is Mondays at 11 a.m. Entry fee, $20 per event, including the rate for golf at each club. Stableford scoring system.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 458-0754
Southwest Amateur Series
Info: Men's circuit through the Florida State Golf Association features 36-hole individual competitions, with $130 entry fees.
Tournament Players Association
Info: 18-hole Men's League on Saturdays at 8 a.m.
Contact: 352-0777, www.ValenciaGolfandCountryClub.com
World Golfers Amateur Tour-Southwest Florida
Info: Cost for tour, $189 per year.
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■ APEX Golf — State-of-the-art training studio combining the skills of a golf pro and a physical therapist to improve the body and golf swing. The studio has a high-definition golf simulator, a K-Vest golf swing analyzer, video, and strength and flexibility testing software. APEX offers a free 30-minute analysis of the body and swing. Call 337-2739.
■ Arrowhead Golf Academy — PGA professional Mike Dopslaff, a four-time Southwest Florida PGA Player of the Year, provides instruction. Individual, group lessons. Call 596-1000.
■ Rodney Bungartz Lessons — Rodney Bungartz of Arrowhead Golf Club will have a Get Golf Ready series starting April 3 on Tuesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. The cost is $99 for six 60-minute sessions. Call 348-5929.
■ Jon Butler Golf at West Bay Beach and Golf Club — Offering 2 and 4 day Golf schools, short game schools, clinics, private lessons and on-course playing lessons. Call 239-821-8447, email@example.com, www.jonbutlergolf.com
■ Mike Calbot International Golf Studio & Triad Golf Schools — At Old Corkscrew Golf Club in Estero. Full and half-day schools are offered. Instructional packages are one, two or three days. All instruction is by appointment only. Private instruction and playing lessons also available. Thirty-five years of instructional experience. Call 482-0900 or visit www.golfdoctorusa.com.
■ John Carroll Lessons — Former Club Pelican Bay professional John Carroll is at Tuscany Reserve Golf Club in North Naples. Carroll was at Pelican Bay for 29 years. He is available for instruction Tuesdays through Saturdays. To make an appointment, call 597-3561 or 860-8470.
■ Concierge Service of Naples — An off-site service free of charge to the customer. The service can make tee times year-round at private country clubs in Southwest Florida up to 60 days in advance. The fee is the normal guest rate, and golfers are not required to play with a member. Call 285-7457.
■ Coral Isle Golf Center — Ladies clinics each Tuesday and Wednesday, men’s clinics each Thursday, a mixed clinic each Wednesday at 2 p.m., and a mixed clinic each Saturday. All clinics are at 10 a.m., other than the Wednesday mixed clinic. Junior clinics also are offered from 3:45 p.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays and 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. Call 732-6900 for more information.
■ The Golf Institute — Club fitting program includes evaluation based on series of tests, including frequency check and lie and loft angle. Putting evaluations also are available. Call 643-5895.
■ Phil Grear instruction — Forest Glen’s Phil Grear is offering the Get Golf Ready program sponsored by the World Golf Foundation. Sessions Tuesday through Friday, 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. Each weekly program is $99 per person. Call 354-1898 or 595-1120.
■ Kim Hilbert Lessons — Windstar on Naples Bay assistant pro Hilbert earned honorable mention as a U.S. Kids Golf Top Kids Teacher. Hilbert is an LPGA teaching professional, and also teaches at Able’s Golf Facility in Dublin, Ohio. Hilbert offers numerous youth programs, including multi-day schools, camps, clinics, private lessons, tournament coaching, and afterschool golf programs. Her programs can be found at www.teachingu2golf.com.
■ John Jacobs Golf School — at Lely Resort. Staffed by local PGA and LPGA professionals. School offers 5-day week and 2-day weekend sessions, plus corporate days and private instruction. Discounted rates for junior golfers. For more information, call 1-800-472-5007 or visit www.jacobsgolf.com.
■ KISS Golf For Women Golf Schools — At Royal Poinciana Country Club. LPGA teaching professionals Lorie McCabe and her staff offer two- and three-day golf schools for women. Private instruction also is available. Call 1-888-451-KISS or 354-3633. The school’s Web site is www.kissgolfforwomen.com.
■ David Leadbetter Golf Academy — At LaPlaya Beach & Golf Club. Leadbetter is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. Academy programs include three-day golf schools and players’ schools, and a one-day mini-school. Private instruction and playing lessons also are available. Call 592-1444.
■ Jim Mapother instruction — Call 431-5315 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ Mediterra Golf School — Clinic on Friday, March 16 with stack-and-tilt method teachers Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett. The clinic will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and costs $550, which includes lunch in the clubhouse, and will be limited to 10 students; Contact director of instruction Adam Bazalgette at email@example.com or go to www.adambgolf.com.
■ Dennis Meyer’s Golf School — at Quality Inn Suites & Golf Resort in Golden Gate offers two-, three- , and four-day schools. Playing lessons included in full-day golf schools. Half-day options are available as well. Private lessons available. Call 1-800-445-4554 or 267-4652.
■ Naples Golf Academy — Located at the Hibiscus Golf Club. Lauri Travers leads a team of instructors that offers private lessons, golf schools, clinics and playing lessons. Specialty programs geared toward women and beginner golfers are available year-round. Visit us at LearningGolf.com or call 239-732-9944 for more information.
■ Naples Grande Golf Schools — Christina Ricci, the author of the Golf Survival Guides, will be making an appearance at Naples Grande Golf Club on Wednesday, March 7 from 2 to 6 p.m. Ricci and teaching professional Mark Durland will share tips and techniques on the range and on the course. To sign up, contact Durland at 784-2208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ Tom Patri Golf School — Tom Patri back at The Quarry from Dec. 1 through April 15. Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher in America. South Florida Teacher of the Year. Met (NY) PGA Teacher of the Year. Available to all skill levels, and juniors. Private instruction by the hour, half and full day sessions also. Short game specialist. Visit www.tompatri.com, email email@example.com, or call 239-404-7790.
■ Patri/Mapother clinic — Instructors Tom Patri and Jim Mapother will hold a one-day golf school on Monday, April 9 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lely Resort. Instruction will consist of a full swing and short game, as well as a discussion on equipment and its effect on ball flight. Class size is limited to 10 people, and costs $225 per person, or $400 for twosomes. Lunch is included. Contact Mapother at (208) 755-7644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ Bob Prange Lessons — Estero Country Club at The Vines is the winter home of Prange, who is a teaching professional at The Bridgewater Club in Carmel, Ind. Prange previously has been a head instructor, staff member and golf school coordinator for John Jacobs Golf Schools. He has been 2004 Teacher of the Year in the Indiana PGA Section, and a Top PGA Instructor by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. Call 267-7003 for appointments and schedules.
■ Rick Smith Golf Academy — Offering weekly 90-minute clinics Saturdays at 3 p.m. for $90 per person with a 6:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Clinics alternate between full swing and short game with the first being a full swing clinic. Call 593-1111 for more information.
■ The Rookery at Marco Golf Academy — Includes a 14-acre practice facility. Director of instruction Jan Wivestad. For more information, call 642-2747
To submit an item to the golf column, send an email to email@example.com or a fax to 263-4816.