by Mike Henry

After a year’s hiatus due to COVID-19, Golfest returns to The Downs Golf Practice Facility on Friday and Saturday with a focus on making the sport more enjoyable for players of all skill levels.

Billed as “Tampa Bay’s Largest Golf Fitting Day,” the event offers golfers free club fittings by representatives of many of the sport’s top equipment manufacturers, with a goal of helping individuals purchase clubs that can help them shave strokes off their scores.

Hours are from noon-6 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free both days. Half of the driving range will be devoted to customer club fittings, with the other half available for normal operations.

Golfers are encouraged to sign up for their 45-minute club fittings in advance through The Downs Golf Practice Facility Pro Shop (some companies will allow walk-ups if scheduling permits). Upon signing up, golfers will receive a 10-percent discount coupon toward their equipment order.

Individuals will also be able to trade in their old and/or current clubs through the locally based appraisers “Golf Club Dealz,” which will cut a voucher applicable toward the golfer’s subsequent purchase,


Joey DiPompo, Director of Golf at The Downs Golf Practice Facility, says the Golfest event on Friday and Saturday is designed to help players derive more enjoyment from the sport by getting into the right equipment.

“Our main goal with Golfest is to get customers fit to the equipment that best suits their game,” said Joey DiPompo, Director of Golf at The Downs Golf Practice Facility. “Golfest is designed for people who are seriously interested in purchasing clubs, with an eye toward improving their games.

“You have to use the proper equipment to play better golf, and that’s why club-fitting is important. If you’re playing the wrong clubs, it can prevent you from becoming a better golfer.”

Aspects of the short game will also be addressed, with instructors from “Fun Golf Club” conducting free chipping and putting clinics from 2-5 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday. A silent auction featuring sports memorabilia and rounds of golf at prestigious courses will be held both days, with proceeds benefiting the Sickles High School golf teams.

Paradise Golf will be on hand offering membership deals providing discounted rates at some of the best courses in the greater west-central and central Florida areas. Balls, bags, hats, gloves and other accessories and apparel will be on sale at discounted prices in the Pro Shop throughout the two days.

“It’s going to be different from years past, no question,” DiPompo said. “We’re putting a strong emphasis this year on getting customers fit with the right equipment. To be able to do that with no additional cost for a fitting is a big plus. Especially for people who might have just begun playing and are using hand-me-down clubs or a starter set, this is their time to upgrade and we are going to be here to help them.”

The lineup of manufacturers offering fittings changes slightly over the two days. Friday's lineup includes Bridgestone Golf; Cleveland Golf; Mizuno; PING; TaylorMade; Srixon; and Wilson.

Saturday's lineup features Bridgestone Golf; Callaway; Cleveland Golf; Mizuno; Srixon; and Tour Edge. Bridgestone will also be offering free ball fittings.

“Getting fit for the right ball is just as important as getting fit for the right clubs, because there are so many types of balls and so many types of golfers,” DiPompo said.