CLEARWATER - He's had a golf club in his hands since he was 2. To say Ron Hritz started golf young, and has barely taken a break since, might be an understatement.
But as his game got better, his body grew bigger - so much bigger that the ride he earned to Mississippi State University lasted just one year. Hritz, now the head PGA professional at Countryside Golf Club, was told his game had gotten too big for the rest of his team.
"It wasn't that I was too big physically, but that had something to do with it," said Hritz. "I was holding up other players just trying to get from hole-to-hole."
It didn't bother Hritz too much. A golf pro with outwardly strong confidence, he knew he was going to end up in the golf world somehow. First, he bounced around the mini tours, but the difference between the mini tours and the majors isn't that much - if you prefer sleeping at a Motel 6 over a Hyatt or would rather dine on McDonald's rather than visit Shula's Steakhouse.
Hritz took a long look in the mirror, checked his bank account, and chose to get into the business of the golf world.
"I was good, but not good enough," Hritz said. "I decided a steady income was the way to go. I think it was the right decision."
Hritz spent nine years as assistant golf professional at Stoneybrook, a popular course in Winter Garden outside of Orlando. He came to Countryside when his general manager moved over and took him along as head professional.
Now, Hritz handles all golf activities, from giving more than 20 golf lessons a week to hosting more than 60 outings a year, all while making sure that the course is in perfect condition. And while several prominent Tampa Bay area courses are bouncing back from years of neglect, Hritz said that Countryside has never missed a beat.
"The course is in great shape and we've made a lot internal investments along the way," he said. "The locker rooms have been improved, the ballrooms have been changed and now we want to work on the outside. I plan to stay here for a long time because it just keeps getting better and better."
Countryside is located at 3001 Countryside Blvd. in Clearwater.
The annual Golf for ALS event will take place at 9 a.m. at Cheval Golf Club. Raffle and silent prizes are rolling in and Steve's World of Golf is stacking the pro shop. There is still room for several foursomes. Call Gary Dassatti at (813) 530-652 . Golf Locker has opened its new store in Tampa just one mile north of Raymond James Stadium on Dale Mabry Highway. Call (813) 269-8999 ... Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills is offering a summer family fun package which includes daily breakfast, golf, tennis, marina rentals and more for as low as $119. Call (800) 9053 . Seminole Lake Golf Club is offering free golf for children under 15 if they play with an adult, every day afternoon. Call (727) 391-6255 . Temple Terrace Golf Club is offering two new levels of summer memberships starting at $39 per month for social membership and $59 per month for golf membership. Call (813) 334-0400 . Joe Alfieri, from Lutz, the 2013 Mid-Amateur Stroke Play Champion, finished tied for sixth in the 96thFlorida State Amateur Championship in Jupiter last week . The Early Childhood Council of Hillsborough County is hosting its first annual Early Childhood Council Golf Classic on Oct. 28 at Hunter's Green County Club. There will be a four-person scramble with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. Check www.huntersgreencc.com . The Eagles Golf Club will start a weekly skins game on Aug. 19. It will consist of a 3 p.m., nine-hole shotgun start with twilight rates with golfers playing for $10 skins. Call (813) 920-6881 . The Special Olympics is looking for a golf coach to work for two hours, one night a week. Call Sid Altner at (727) 944-4248 . Countryway Golf Club will host the fourth annual Fun(d) Raiser to support missions and ministry of the Lutheran Church of Our Savior on Sept. 21. It will be a four-man scramble costing $200 per team . Tarpon Woods Golf Club is offering its Golf Plus card which costs $34.95 per month and offers unlimited golf . The TPC Tampa Bay will start its second season of match play tournaments starting Sept. 9 and running until Nov. 17. Cost is $60 per player with a $1,600 purse based on a 32-player field. Jonathan Shapiro is the defending champion . TPC Tampa Bay is also starting its Thursday night Member Summer Shootout Series. Different formats will be held each week ending on Aug. 22. Points are awarded and the point total reflects the best eight weeks of points over the 12 week series . The Cross Bay Club is offering limited golfing privileges at four of its tennis/athletic membership clubs. Golf clubs include East Lake Woodlands, Hunters Green, Tampa Palms, and Countryside. Initiation fee is $50 with a 12-month agreement. Call (727) 784-8576 . The Tampa-Sarasota Senior Amateur will continue through the summer. The format is 18-hole stroke play using only gross score and conforming to USGA rules. Golfers will be placed into a flight according to handicap and remain there until their flight warrants a move. Coming events include TPC Prestancia (July 27). Call (863) 514-0176 . East Lake Woodlands is offering complimentary golf and tennis clinics each Saturday. Call (727) 784-8576 . Golf professional Tony Pasquine will be hosting his High School Summer Series throughout July. Events include: Feathersound Golf Club (July 17); East Lake Woodlands (July 24); TPC Tampa Bay (July 31, Aug. 1); Bardmoor Golf Club (Aug. 7); Emerald Greens Golf Club (Aug. 14). Call (727) 776-0450 . ..Ace Golf is offering free buckets of range balls to kids 15 and under at its driving range locations in Brandon and Riverview as well as Crescent Oaks, Pebble Creek, and Wentworth Golf Clubs . Seminole Lake Golf Club is offering its Member for the Day program where players can golf for $42. It includes free lunch and free range balls . The Babe Zaharias Ladies Golf League meets on Wednesdays at 7:30 a.m. for an 8 a.m. tee time. There are about 24 members right now and the league is looking for more. The league is not too serious and is a great way to make friends and have fun. Call (813) 624-3029 . Ace Golf is offering U.S. Kids Golf group sessions every Saturday at 3 p.m. for $20 per session at its Riverview location. All instruction will use U.S. Kids golf instructional materials and there will be monthly sessions where juniors can test for pins. Instructor Matt Primrose is the only U.S. Kids certified instructor in the Tampa Bay area. Call (813) 672-7750 . ..Lansbrook Golf Club is offering its Insider Plus membership that includes 20 percent off golf at all times. It includes golf privileges at 41 local clubs and bonus rounds at private clubs. Call (727) 784-7333 . The Eagles is starting its summer golf season featuring Ladies Only on Monday nights, Men's Night on Tuesdays, Eagles Open League play for men and women on Thursdays, and Gross Skins starting at 3 p.m. on Fridays, followed by Mixed Couples at 5:30 p.m . Northdale Golf Club is offering a two-man "money game'' on Mondays at 2 p.m. There is a two-man blind draw with a FedEx-style point system. There will be a $2,500 grand prize. Call (813) 962-0428 . Lansbrook Golf Club is offering its Player Development Program, featuring unlimited range balls and unlimited golf starting at 3 p.m. Juniors play for free and there is no long-term commitment. Call (727) 784-7333 . The First Tee of Clearwater and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast will be hosting summer golf camps at the Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club through Aug. 12. Costs are $155 per week for a full day and $105 for half-days. Call (727) 726-8829 . Golfer's Grail will begin summer weekday hours and be open from 9 a.m.- 10 p.m. . Wentworth Golf Club is offering full memberships through October with $16 cart fees after 2 p.m. Call (727) 942-4760 ... The Eagles is offering a first Monday After the Majors two-person team scramble on the Monday after each of the four PGA Tour majors. Each event will have a net and gross flight. Each player must have a USGA handicap to compete. There will be a chance to win a trip to the 2014 U.S. Open at the famous Pinehurst No. 2 Course . The Continental Golf League takes place at Bloomingdale Golfers Club every Thursday with a 5:30 p.m. shotgun start. Groups will play alternate nines each week. Call (813) 689-2985 . Silver Dollar Golf Club is offering regripping while you wait for just $5 . Rocky Point is offering Sunday golf clinics for $10 by teaching pro Cindy Dzuro. Classes run from noon - 12:45 p.m. . Golfers Grail junior golf camps begin June 17. The indoor academy will feature weekly camps for kids ages 5 - 14. Golfers will learn fundamentals in a cool environment and have their choice of more than 60 courses. Call (813) 969-2100 . Seminole Lake is offering annual memberships for as low as $110 per month. There are no initiation fees. Call (727) 391-3311 . The Claw at USF is starting its summer golf camps. Half-day camps from 8 a.m. - noon or noon - 4 p.m. at $100 per junior golfer. Full-day camps are also offered from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. for $200 per golfer. Camp dates run through mid-August. Sessions a four days each. Call (813) 632-6893 . Golfers Grail is offering lessons with its PGA professionals and apprentices. Lessons are 30 or 60 minutes starting at $35. The simulators provide a detailed analysis of every swing so adjustments can be made immediately. Call (813) 969-2100 . The First Tee of Tampa Bay is looking to sign up golfers who want to play rounds of golf in an organized setting. Teams will meet once a week for 15 weeks on Saturdays from 2:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. at Rogers Park, Terrace Hills, Rocky Point, Magnolia Valley, and Countryway. Call (813) 238-7320 . Countryway Golf Course is holding biweekly tournaments on the first and third Sunday of each month starting at 9 a.m. Call (727) 593-3726 . The TPC of Tampa Bay will host its women's golf tee time during July through August $30 cart fees with a four-day advance notice . The TPC Tampa Bay is also offering its junior golf camp for one to three weekly sessions at a cost of $150. The sessions run from 9 a.m. - noon ... The Florida Junior Tour Championships are starting and will be held Emerald Green (Sept. 8-9); SaraBay (Sept. 28-29), and Lake Jovita (Sept. 28-29) . The Downs is also offering its 2013 junior golf summer camps. There will be eight camps, all running on Monday - Thursday from 9 a.m. - noon. The last day of camp will include nine holes at Silver Dollar. Call (813) 854-4946 . Paradise Golf is offering seven-month memberships at more than 65 Tampa Bay courses for $199. Members can receive more than 40 percent off regular rates. Call (800) 605-2582 . Black Diamond is featuring Stay & Play packages at its 45-hole resort, including a one-night Pure Golf Getaway featuring two round of golf on its Quarry, Ranch, and Highlands courses. Call (352) 746-3446 . Several Bradenton clubs have come together to form Partners Golf Card for the summer season. This new card will offer more benefits and value than have been available in the past and can be purchased in the Legacy Golf Club pro shop. It costs only $39. Participating clubs include: Legacy Golf Club, River Strand, River Wilderness, Misty Creek, Serenoa, Rolling Green, Bent Tree, Manatee, and Buffalo Creek. Call (941) 907-7067 . The Claw at USF is offering specials including weekday tee times for $22 before 8 a.m. and $27 after 2 p.m. Weekend specials are $29 before 8 a.m. and $34 after 2 p.m. . The Golf Channel AM Tour, the largest amateur golf tour in the nation, is looking for new members. Call (877) 465-5094. Golfers of nearly any handicap are invited and play is held at some of the top courses in the country, including many in Florida . The West Florida Golf Tour is about to announce its summer golf schedule. There will be 10 weeks of 54-hole events with no cut. Courses include The Founders Club, Laurel Oak, and several others. Call (941) 735-4428 . For regripping services, you can call Cindy Dzuro at Rocky Point Golf Course at (813) 673-4317 . Pebble Creek Golf Club is hosting private lessons for adults with a certified PGA instructor. Fees for a one-hour lesson start at $60. Juniors and seniors can get a half-hour lesson for $30, and semi-private lessons are also available. Also, Pebble Creek is offering adult group clinics on Saturdays at 10 a.m., and junior clinics every Saturday from 9 - 10 a.m. for ages 3 - 9, and 11 a.m. - noon for kids ages 10 -18. For Pebble Creek lessons, call (813) 973-3870 . The Tides Golf Club in Seminole is offering memberships to its Loyalty Club. For a $10 membership fee, members can receive a dozen free golf balls after six visits and free weekly clinics for members and their families . The Morning Star School will present the 28th Annual Morning Star School Golf Classic at the TPC of Tampa Bay on Oct. 25. Call (813) 935-0202 . The Pinecrest Golf Club is looking for new members for its Women's Golf Association. Tee time is every Wednesday at 9 a.m. Call (727) 584-6497 for information . The Rocky Point Men's Golf Association is looking for players at all levels to compete on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It starts at 7:30 a.m. Call (813) 205-6828 for information . Lansbrook Golf Club will host Thursday clinics from 10 - 11 a.m. at its Shriver Golf Academy. Cost is only $15 . Rocky Point Golf Club has a Friday 3-hole course clinic from 5 - 6 p.m. and supervised practices on Saturdays from 10 - 11 a.m. coordinated by leading golf instructor Brianne Murphy, and Cindy Dzuro will teach a golf clinic at the range every Sunday from noon - 12:45 p.m. . Rogers Park Golf Course, Babe Zaharias Golf Course, and Rocky Point Golf Course are offering a group membership plan that includes all three courses. Golf costs $12 for 18 holes with a membership . Silver Dollar Golf Club is now offering a Thursday Ladies Day with half-off all rates. Players can walk or ride nine or 18 holes. Call (813) 920-3884.
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