ACE GROUP CLASSIC: Fans soak up Golf-a-Palooza, First Tee Champions Challenge

Clinics, clowns, teachers and pros make the ACE Classic kickoff a family affair

Special to the Daily News/Jason Easterly
Golf Professional Andy Bean talks with A.J. Radunz, 16, of Naples and Jenna Tuccio, 15, of Marco Island about a putt during the First Tee Champions Challenge on Tuesday afternoon at TwinEagles Golf Club.

Photo by JASON EASTERLY // Buy this photo

Special to the Daily News/Jason Easterly Golf Professional Andy Bean talks with A.J. Radunz, 16, of Naples and Jenna Tuccio, 15, of Marco Island about a putt during the First Tee Champions Challenge on Tuesday afternoon at TwinEagles Golf Club.

Special to the Daily News/Jason Easterly
David Besaw, left, and Bill Boehm, both of Fort Myers, laughs with Peter Jacobsen, a Champions Tour player who lives in Bonita Springs, during a golf clinic on Tuesday afternoon at TwinEagles Golf Club. The clinic was part of Golf-A-Palooza which included opportunities for fans to try out new clubs on the driving range, free clinics and a trick-shot exhibition by Divot the Clown.

Photo by JASON EASTERLY // Buy this photo

Special to the Daily News/Jason Easterly David Besaw, left, and Bill Boehm, both of Fort Myers, laughs with Peter Jacobsen, a Champions Tour player who lives in Bonita Springs, during a golf clinic on Tuesday afternoon at TwinEagles Golf Club. The clinic was part of Golf-A-Palooza which included opportunities for fans to try out new clubs on the driving range, free clinics and a trick-shot exhibition by Divot the Clown.

ACE Group Classic: First Tee Challenge

Sights and sounds from ACE Group Classic.

ACE Group Classic: Peter Jacobsen

On competing in golf tournament.

There was something for everyone at The ACE Group Classic at TwinEagles Club on Tuesday.

Three clinics were the perfect example. TwinEagles instructor Dr. Jim Suttie, a nationally recognized swing coach, was there for those who were seriously into the game. Champions Tour pro and Bonita Springs resident Peter Jacobsen was there to entertain. And so was Divot the Clown for the younger set.

"We had a great turnout," tournament director Lesley Baker said. "It was nice to kick off with (Play Golf America) Golf-a-Palooza. I think a lot of the spectators came out for that. They enjoyed the clinics. I know Peter Jacobsen's clinic was a huge hit."

"It was a spectacular day," said Ed LaPierre of the PGA Tour Superstore in Naples, which partnered with the tournament for Golf-a-Palooza. "Peter Jacobsen did a great job, and Divot was phenomenal. We had a great turnout for Doc Suttie's clinic this morning."

Fans also could try out equipment from Adams, Bridgestone, Callaway, Cleveland, Cobra, Mizuno, Nike, TaylorMade and Tour Edge. And take lessons from PGA club professionals.

"Everybody got a chance to hit all of the great new products," LaPierre said. "It's an exciting time with all of the new stuff that just launched at the (PGA Show)."

Fans also took part in the Subway Family Putt for Dough, a weeklong, three-hole contest with daily winners qualifying for a chance to win $50,000 on Saturday. And they could pick up pedometers to participate in the MyMiles Fore NCH program.

Suttie, who writes a tips column for the Daily News, tried to mesh what amateurs see when professionals are swinging the club and — more importantly — how they can and should apply it to themselves.

"The thing I was trying to get across is that the senior player can't play golf like a professional player does," Suttie said. "They've got accommodate their abilities, and their physical abilities, and what their body can let them do. ... A pro's swing is all body, body, body. The average guy on the street just can't do that."

Suttie joked that, based on the questions fans were asking, that perhaps many of them read too much about the golf swing.

"The individual is important," Suttie said. "Everybody's fundamentals have to be applied to the person individually about what their body and what their swing pattern will allow them to do. If everybody swings the same, you wouldn't have heard of Arnold Palmer."

While the clinics and promotions are new, The First Tee Champions Challenge is not. It returned for the fifth straight year.

Champions Tour player Andy Bean teamed with A.J. Radunz and Jenna Tuccio of The First Tee of Naples/Collier up against Champions Tour pro Jay Sigel, along with Pat McCann and Justin Murray of The First Tee of Philadelphia, in a four-hole exhibition.

The First Tee of Philadelphia reclaimed the title, 38-40. It was the first win for Philadelphia since the event's inaugural year in 2009. The teams played Nos. 10, 11, 17 and 8, with The First Tee players competing in an alternate-shot format, and then each team taking the best-ball score from either the alternate shot or the professional's individual ball.

"It was just a great experience," said Radunz, 16, who plays both golf and hockey. "Just learning how they play around the course,"

"It was an experience of a lifetime," said Tuccio, 15, a sophomore at St. John Neumann. "It was a real honor playing here today, and I had a lot of fun."

Tuccio and Bean chatted about more than just golf. She told him she wanted to be a lawyer, so they talked about law school, too.

Tuccio watched Bean and Sigel, and how they went about their business.

"They're really concentrating," she said. "They're very in the zone. They're still talking to their players, and they're still having fun, but they're here to do their jobs, and that's what they do best."

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