Fun events for adults and children; a chance to sample state-of-the-art equipment designed to lower your scores; Main Stage entertainment by professionals, trick-shot artists and long-range bombers; and an appearance Sunday by LPGA major tournament winner Brittany Lincicome are just a few of the attractions at the 10th annual Golfest.
Organizing the annual Golfest Demo Day & Expo leaves Jon Johnson with scant time to reflect on the event’s ongoing success.
But when patrons descended upon The Downs Golf Practice Facility just south of Tampa Bay Downs racetrack Saturday morning, a sea of familiar faces and even more newcomers offered proof of Golfest’s popularity with players of all ages and ability levels.
“We’re trying to build it every year, and the fact that it’s our 10th anniversary shows that it’s had staying power,” said Johnson. “It’s become a tradition with area golfers, as well as many snowbirds who visit the area.”
Jon Johnson (right), The Downs Golf Practice Facility Manager, and Assistant Golf Professional Joey DiPompo are NOT allowed to enter the "Smash It, Pitch It, Sink It" contest, in which men, women and children will compete for prizes.
Billed as the Tampa Bay area’s largest outdoor golf demo day and expo gathering, the 10th annual Golfest will be held today from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tickets are $10 today and $5 on Sunday, with today’s ticket good for both days.
Juniors 14-and-under are admitted free with an adult ticket. Each admission includes a coupon for a free small bucket of balls at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.
Parking is free. A goody bag will be handed out to each attendee.
Entertainment will be provided on the Main Stage throughout the weekend, with area resident Brittany Lincicome of the LPGA Tour scheduled to appear at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday with long-drive and trick-shot artist Trevor “Macho Man” Consavage. Lincicome has won eight times on tour, including major championships at the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship and the 2015 ANA Inspiration, and is a six-time U.S. Solheim Cup Team member.
Fans will have a chance to “meet and greet” Lincicome and Consavage following their show.
Also expected to appear during the weekend are long-drive and trick-shot artist Mike Zeigler; trick-shot entertainer Patrick “Paddy Whack” Cocherl; instructor Brett Meyer of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and his wife, long-drive athlete Cassandra Meyer; Daniel Shipman, owner of Full Torque Fitness; PGA professional Pat Eggeling; and Matt Mitchell, The Downs Golf Practice Facility’s Director of Instruction.
Visitors to Golfest will have an opportunity to “try and buy” the latest equipment from numerous major manufacturers, including Callaway, Mizuno, Wilson, Cobra, Ping, Tour Edge, Cleveland, Srixon, XXIO, newcomer Honma and Bridgestone. Club-fitting will be provided. About 15 exhibitor booths will provide information and deals on area courses and golf-related businesses.
Golfers of all ages are welcome to compete in the “Smash It, Pitch It, Sink It” competition for a chance to win prizes, with divisions for men, women and children in various age groups. There is no fee to enter. Contestants hit four drives, four chips and four putts, with the worst scores thrown out.
Also free to enter is the $500 “Hole-In-One” contest, featuring a shot of about 50 yards in distance. Each entrant gets two shots, with anyone making a hole-in-one sharing in the $500 jackpot.
Another fun way for golfers to test their skills is by competing in the Cleveland/Srixon Wedge & Ball Challenge chip-shot event. Prizes will be awarded, and “buy-one, get-one” balls will be sold during the competition.
A silent auction will be held to benefit the Sickles High School boys and girls golf teams. Rounds of golf at area courses, equipment and sports memorabilia will be among the items up for bid.
Savings on merchandise will be available throughout the event at the Golfest Outdoor Pro Shop.
If it sounds as if there is enough going on to spread Golfest over two weekends, that is probably the case. But the expectation among organizers is that visitors will be stoked to hit the links and apply their newfound knowledge (and, perhaps, use their new state-of-the-art equipment) as soon as possible.
“We’ve added some new equipment companies, we have some of the top teachers in Florida on stage, we have Brittany Lincicome on Sunday and we have contests for adults and the kids,” Johnson said. “There is a huge variety of things to see and do and we’re looking forward to helping kick off the new season by showing golfers what’s available and what can help them improve.”