Columns & Blogs

Golf program is becoming elementary

High schools in Manatee County have golf programs, but what has been lacking are programs for younger players.

That’s where LPGA Class “A” pro Cathy Schmidt comes in.

On Wednesday, Anna Maria Elementary will become the first school to start the Golf in PE program with Schmidt and the Florida Junior Golf Council. The PTO ($500) and FJGA ($3,000) contributed a grant dedicated to equipment for the program, according to a news release.

The money was enough to purchase equipment for the entire school. Birdieball, a golf ball-like sphere that has a maximum ball flight of 40 yards, is being supplied. Any field can host an 18-hole course because of the short distance the Birdieball travels. Balls are hit from a mat to prevent damage to the ground from divots. That company donated $500 in product, according to Schmidt.

U.S. Kids is supplying right- and left-handed golf clubs. Paul, of Paul’s Auto in Bradenton, donated junior sets that were acquired in the past two years for the program. Melissa Schwab Grants School Board of Manatee acquired the grant.

Schmidt is teaching the physical education coaches the proper golf-swing mechanics, which will allow them to effectively communicate the new knowledge to the kids in their physical-education classes.

For more information, contact Schmidt in Timber Creek Golf Club’s pro shop at 794-8381.

One Pop team left

Then there was one.

Only the Manatee Mustangs Junior Pee Wee team survived Saturday’s Pop Warner Foundation for Youth Development Division I championship game.

The Mustangs earned a 6-0 victory over the Carrollwood Hurricanes on Saturday at the Mustangs Field.

The victory sends the Mustangs to the Southeast Regional Playoffs at Tampa Bay Tech High this Saturday against either the Riverdale Wildcats or Gwen Cheery Bulls at 11 a.m.

Two other divisions of the Mustangs, though, were eliminated this past weekend. In the Pee Wee division, the St. Petersburg Silver Raiders rolled to a 27-6 victory over the Mustangs.

Then in the Junior Midget contest, the South Shore Longhorns blanked the Mustangs 30-0.

Meanwhile, over at G.T. Bray park, the Don Clark Memorial Bowl Games continued for another week.

The Manatee Wildcats and East Manatee Bulldogs had teams in action. The Wildcats lost 26-12 to the St. Petersburg Gibbs Gladiators in the Mighty Mite division.

In the Pee Wee division, the Bulldogs dropped the Cape Youth Storm 25-19 behind Cody Staton (three touchdowns) and Jernard Porter (two rushing TDs). Porter scored on runs from 40 and 5 yards, while Staton tossed a 55-yard strike to Chase Tench and capped the scoring with a bullet to Noah Benghuzzi. The defense, anchored by Adam LeBuffe, Matthew Strauss and Benghuzzi, stopped the Storm with less than two minutes remaining on a 4th down to earn victory.

Turkey Trot looms

Cross-country enthusiasts looking for another race to best personal records can look no further than next week’s Turkey Trot.

The 14th annual Bradenton Runners Club 5-mile event takes place Thanksgiving Day at the DeSoto National Memorial. There is no cost to participants.

Instead of entry fees, though, runners are asked to bring something to share with the other participants. The BRC website says bagels, bananas, oranges, energy bars or sport drinks are running favorites.

Interested runners should register by Nov. 21 at the following Internet address:

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at