SARASOTA — Sarasota resident Nate Ditchfield had everything ready to go.
Or, at least that’s what he thought.
His bags were packed and his golf clubs were neatly stowed away in the backseat of the car.
In a matter of hours, Ditchfield and his family would be on their way to North Carolina for vacation.
At that point, the only thing left on Ditchfield’s to-do list was to figure out where his first round of golf would be played. But after nearly two hours of Internet research that left him right back where he started — without a tee time — Ditchfield realized there was a need for a basic online golf directory.
The Sarasota High graduate, who first turned pro in 1990 at the age of 16 and had wanted to get back into the sport professionally for the past couple of years, toyed around with the idea. Ditchfield mentioned the idea to Lakewood Ranch resident Troy Larkin, and, before long, www.EverythingGolfUSA.com was born.
The website, designed by golfers for golfers, is an online resource that lists all the private, semi-private and public courses in the state, including scorecards, yardage, handicap and slope-rating information.
The site also has information on restaurants, golf and pro shops, driving-range and practice facilities and miniature-golf and putt-putt courses.
Additionally, players can book tee times and golf lessons and find out what tournaments, scrambles or golf outings are available to the public.
“Everything that could be related to golf can be found here,” Ditchfield says.
Ditchfield and Larkin, who met several years ago in church, began by focusing on golf in Florida, but they plan to expand their website nationally.
“Our goal for the site is to increase awareness for local golf,” Larkin says.
In October, Ditchfield and Larkin will launch their newest endeavor — the 2014 Everything Golf discount card.
The annual card, which will be available in Sarasota and Bradenton this year and statewide the following year, will feature discounts and coupons for local golf courses, equipment and apparel, restaurants, lessons and instruction, service companies and more.
Each discount card costs $40, with $10 from each card benefiting The First Tee Sarasota/Manatee, which offers clinics and events to local children.
“The money goes to the kids in our community,” Ditchfield says. “We’re very excited about that. We’re transitioning from just a directory to a resource. We’re looking to change the way things are done, and this is a really cool thing.”
In addition to their website, Ditchfield and Larkin also started their own radio show, “Tee It Up,” in April. The weekly program airs from 8 to 9 a.m. Saturdays, on WSRQ 1220 AM and 106.9 FM Sarasota.
Larkin, a Manatee High graduate and former Division I track athlete, has prior experience in TV broadcasting as a news and sports anchor and a reporter. Ditchfield has been involved in the golf business off and on since he turned professional.
“It’s kind of got a life of its own,” Ditchfield says of the show. “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s informative and a good listen, so it goes by pretty quick.”
Every week, Ditchfield and Larkin play one of the area courses and discuss its positives on the show.
“I’m playing more now that I ever have,” Ditchfield says. “I’m very competitive, and, to me, golf is very cerebral. It’s you against the course, and not you against the competition.
“It’s a game you can learn how to play when you are 5 years old and keep playing until you’re 95,” he says. “There aren’t any other sports like that. It’s something you can do for the rest of your life.”
The duo also shares tips from professionals, highlights upcoming local tournaments and non-profit organizations and offers giveaways, such as free golf lessons and equipment.
“We’re really focused on the local golf scene,” Ditchfield says. “Our goal is to promote local golf.
“It’s very fulfilling,” Ditchfield says. “I’ve been able to do a lot of things in life, and now to get back into it — it’s kind of a full circle. It’s what I love to do. I’m passionate about it, so to be able to get back into it is exciting.”
For more information on Everything Golf USA, “Tee It Up” or the discount card, visit www.EverythingGolfUSA.com. For more information on The First Tee Sarasota/Manatee, visit www.thefirstteesarasotamanatee.org.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.