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Local golf courses partner to host county championship event

Prose and Kohn: Ryan Kohn.

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It's about competition and charity.

Heritage Harbour's Bryan Veith is passionate about both things. The 49-year-old found himself thinking about those values recently.

He was reminiscing about the county golf championships he played while at Riverview High in Sarasota — going against not only golfers his age, but adult amateurs. They were fun, he thought, and gave him a taste of what a 36-hole tournament was like. 

The city of Sarasota still has one at Bobby Jones Golf Course, and the city of Bradenton has a championship series out west, but the county championships have disappeared.

Why not bring one back?

"There has been so much growth in East County," Veith said. "We can help the community and do a twofer." 

On Dec. 7-8, thanks to Veith's idea, Heritage Harbour and Legacy Golf Club will joint-host the County Amateur Golf Championship with Legacy Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch. The first day will be at Heritage Harbour and the second day will be at Legacy, 18 holes each. There will be space for 120 golfers to play, open to amateur adults and high school players.

Depending on the number of participants, and their handicaps, the event will have between four and six flights, making sure everyone plays against opponents of similar ability.

The December timing will allow golfers to avoid the sweltering summer heat and the rainy season. The event will have live scoring, so players can check the leaderboard between holes on their phones, and feature a night-before "Pairing Party," where golfers can check in, receive their player's gifts and find out who they will be playing alongside the next day. 

The event will also raise money for charity. While the specific organization — or organizations — are still being decided, Veith said some of the money will go toward a Manatee County youth sports organization, helping those who cannot afford to play sports with a high barrier to entry, like golf. Veith said the event is looking for a title sponsor and for in-kind donors to help with trophies, player's gifts, etc. Veith said if it all works like he thinks it will, the event could raise $8,000 or more for charity. 

Jon Whittemore, the owner of Legacy, is also excited about the event.

"You can't have enough of these types of events on the calendar," Whittemore said. "The quality courses will be an attraction. There will be a competitive environment. And of course there is the social aspect, with what Bryan has planned for the pairing party."

Whittemore said he was thrilled the event could raise funds for the youth sports community within a championship atmosphere. 

"I remember these being a lot of fun," Veith said. "They were great for networking. You got your name and score in the paper. You heard them announce your name at the first tee. It was a cool feeling."

The championship should only get cooler the longer it runs. Veith said he plans on adding the name of every winner to the bottom of each trophy, instantly creating a piece of history. If you win this event, you can come back in 10 (15, 20) years and see your name still standing. Memories will flood your mind. Thinking about it gives me goosebumps. 

Personally, I cannot wait to cover this thing. Any time athletes can convene on one location to duke it out and determine a champ, or champs, I am for it. If you can do it while making a positive impact on the community, even better. There are still some details to be sorted — in addition to the charities supported, Veith said he is unsure how much it will cost each player to play, though he should know soon — but everything about this sounds promising. If I were you, I would sign up as soon as possible.

That is not all Veith has planned. Later in December (exact dates TBD), Heritage Harbour will host the Suncoast Junior Classic, another 36-hole tournament, this one just for teenage players across Manatee and Sarasota counties. There will be a 13-15 year old division and a 16-18 year old division. 

For East County golf families, this holiday season truly will be the best time of the year. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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