BY JEFF BERLINICKE
TAMPA There was always the temptation of big bucks on the PGA Tour. There were Claret Jugs, green jackets and the same baubles that float through the head of almost anyone with aspirations of making it on one of the most elusive clubs in the world, the PGA Tour.
Those thoughts crossed the mind of Richard Veghte, head professional at Westchase Golf Club.
The thoughts were there and, after all, Veghte had some great bloodlines. His father, Jack, was one of the most decorated amateur golfers in the country. Richard Veghte said his father may have had a shot at the professional level, but things weren't the way they are today.
The purses were a lot smaller, the stakes were a lot lower, and golf was only a professional career for the very best. Remaining an amateur was not uncommon, and it still provided big thrills. Jack faced off against the legendary Arnold Palmer in the U.S. Amateur in 1954, then went on to win the New York State Amateur in a day when being an amateur was every much as important as being a professional.
Jack remained an amateur, even after winning the Florida State Amateur Championship three times. Richard said that the most he remembers from those days is being introduced to the game by his father.
"He brought me into the game as soon as I could walk," Richard Veghte said. "I caddied for my dad and started to develop my game when I turned about 5 or 6."
Richard kept improving and went to Florida State University, but he decided that he wanted to get into the business side of the game. He put in time at the clubhouse and played the FSU course on a regular basis.
The idea was never to play on the pro tour, but to be a club professional. He started working at Countryside Country Club, where his father was still cleaning up the amateur trophies, but Richard was playing with the best of the best at golf powerhouse Florida State.
"I knew I was pretty good, but I always wanted to be a club pro and a teacher," Veghte said. "That's what makes the game special for me, to teach. Seeing new golfers enjoy the game makes it even better for me."
Besides teaching the game to the folks at Westchase, Veghte also coaches the Tampa Prep girls' team, which practices at Westchase. He's in his 10th season and already has two state championships to his credit. Some of his players have even gone on to play Division I college golf.
After 10 years at Westchase, Veghte has no desire to move on.
"We have a great ownership here and a great team and that's so important," Veghte said. "I get to play golf, teach, and there's not much better than that."
Rocky Point Golf Course will host junior clinics every Saturday for kids ages 8-15 starting at 9 a.m. Call (813) 673-4316. … 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. …Robert Capobianco of Oldsmar tied for 22nd at the recent Naples Beach Club Senior Open. …Team Patel downed Team Parsons, 16.6-15.5 at the TPC Par-Tel Cup Challenge in November. …Mulligan's Irish Pub at Wentworth Golf Club will host a Super Bowl party with Happy Hour starting at noon and a $15 all-you-can eat buffet. Call (727) 442-4760. …Crescent Oaks Country Club is offering a kids club for kids 6-13. Benefits include a kids 9-iron with a training grip, membership card, a personal bag tag, a monthly golf clinic, and free greens fees with parents after 2 p.m. Call (727) 937-4653. …Fox Hollow Golf Club is offering a special deal on its 2012 model clubs. …Heritage Springs Country Club held its Mixed Couples Florida Scramble. Joe and Judy Waskelis teamed with Lynn and Henry DeHart to win the first flight; Vince Costello, Pat Zeman, Dee Lepla and Bob Hipkins took the second flight; and Will and Virjean Ausdemore teamed with Gary Curry and Marlene Mogenson to win the third flight. …Pam Mundy, Jackie Skaret, Tricia Cooper, and Susan Wewers each won their flights at the Seven Springs G&C 18-Hole Ladies Group on Jan. 8.