An amateur long drive competition will be to raise money for area Boy Scouts.
The first annual Swing for Scouting contest takes place on July 9 at The Abbey Course in St. Leo from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The longest drive competition will have three divisions: Youth (under 18), Adults (18-50) and Senior (over 50).
The contest is for amateurs only. Those competing must supply their own clubs and all club heads must conform to the standards of the United States Golf Association. Golf clubs cannot be longer than 50 inches long. And, all contestants will be provided three balls to hit. Those competing will not be allowed to bring their own balls to the competition.
Proceeds from the event will go into the general fund of the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council, which is chartered by the Boy Scouts of America.
Funds raised by the event will be used for camp upkeep, scholarships and administrative purposes.
Jason McCombs, vice chairman for the Allohak District, came up with the fundraising concept after he recently passed by the golf course for a different scouting event. The Allohak District serves eastern and central Pasco County, including the communities of Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel, Dade City, Zephyrhills and Lacoochee.
McCombs is looking to have at least 200 long drive participants, and hopes to raise about $4,000.
“Being the first year that we’ve ever done this, we’re shooting for the moon, but we’re hoping to just hit the target,” the district vice chairman said. “We’re very close to making our (fundraising) goal for the year, so this is just going to put us over the top.”
In addition to the longest drive contest, there will be other golf skill challenges, including a putting contest and a closest to the pin game.
“The main one that we’re doing is the longest drive competition,” McCombs said. “If we have other people interested, there are things there like the practice putting green and a pin that’s off to the side that you can practice pitching (wedge shots) with. It’s just a little small thing to keep people interested waiting for their turn or waiting for their results.”
McCombs has interest in organizing a Swing for Scouting event each year, with plans to rotate to various golf courses or driving ranges throughout Pasco County.
“I would like to see it move around; maybe next year we can do it in Land O’ Lakes someplace or Wesley Chapel. We’ll have to see how it goes,” he said.
In March, the Gulf Ridge Council and West Central Florida merged to form the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council. The council now encompasses nine counties and serves more than 26,000 youth in 200 Cub Scout packs, 212 Boy Scout and Varsity Scout troops, 46 Venturing Crews and nearly 17,000 Learning for Life participants. It also maintains six camp properties, including Camp Owen J. Brorein in Odessa.
McCombs noted the importance of the Boy Scouts of America, which he says creates “fun with a purpose” for youth.
“We give them life skills,” he said. “With our merit badges, we can teach them and expose them to things they may be interested in doing a career in. Plus, we give them the ability to become leaders in their own community…and just basically give them a chance to grow up.”
Advance ticket prices for youth are $12; adult prices are $22. To preregister, visit http://tinyurl.com/SwingForScouting.
For more information, call Jason McCombs at (813) 368-7282.
Published June 29, 2016