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February 01, 2018


by Mike Henry
Two-day event Saturday and Sunday features major equipment manufacturers, a closest-to-the-pin contest with cash prizes, on-stage entertainment and a miniature course for children.

Golfers of all ages and ability levels can discover the keys to improvement and enhanced enjoyment of the game at the eighth annual Golfest on Saturday and Sunday at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.

Tampa Bay’s largest outdoor golf demo and expo offers visitors a chance to “try and buy” the latest equipment from a variety of major manufacturers and to interact with more than 20 area small businesses and golf courses.


The Downs Golf Practice Facility Manager, Jon Johnson, prepares for Golfest

The Golfest Stage will be a beehive of activity both days, with appearances by long-drive champion Mike Zeigler and former PGA Tour standout Andy Bean highlighting Saturday’s events and Chuck “The Hit Man” Hiter, the world’s No. 1 trick-shot artist, and Golf Channel analyst and morning host Charlie Rymer providing some of the entertainment Sunday.

A closest-to-the-pin contest from 80 yards, awarding $500 in cash each day, will be held throughout the weekend.

Competition will take place in men’s, women’s, junior and senior divisions, improving everyone’s chances to win. Additionally, local PGA members will provide putting, chipping and full-swing clinics throughout the weekend.

Golfest hours are from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults (no charge for parking), with children 14-and-under admitted free. Each ticket comes with a coupon for a free small bucket of range balls at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.

“Most of the companies represented have strong new drivers and iron sets that people want to hit, and we have exhibitors with excellent products and services, along with a strong cast of main-stage performers,” said Jon Johnson, the Manager of The Downs Golf Practice Facility. “We’ll also have a four or five-hole miniature golf course for kids and the ‘World of Beer’ experience, so we think there is something for everyone, no matter their level of dedication.”

Johnson said representatives from such equipment companies as Wilson, Ping, Callaway, Mizuno, Cobra, TaylorMade and U.S. Kids Golf will be on hand to assist customers with sampling products and club-fitting on site, and that many of the products on display will be available for purchase. The majority of companies will also provide a 10-percent discount on equipment purchases to Golfest patrons.

T & D Golf will accept trade-ins on clubs, crediting the value of your old models toward a brand-new purchase.

The Golfest Stage action begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday with a presentation on Directed Force putters from The Downs Golf Practice Facility PGA Class A professional Matt Dettman.

Zeigler and Bean will appear at noon, along with Golf Channel “Big Break” competitor Carolin Pinegger and Ben Taylor of the Tour. There will be a PGA Professional golf swing clinic at 2 p.m.

Hiter’s exhibition Sunday begins at 11 a.m., followed by the popular “Celebrity Skills Challenge V” at noon; Mike Zeigler at 1:30 p.m.; and Charlie Rymer at 2:30 p.m.

Visitors should also check out the silent auction being conducted by the Sickles High School golf teams, featuring sports memorabilia, gift baskets, rounds of golf and other items.

Tickets are available at The Downs Golf Practice Facility, located just south of the Tampa Bay Downs racetrack, or they may be purchased the days of the event. Anyone pre-purchasing a ticket for Golfest will receive an additional coupon for a small bucket of range balls.