SARASOTA – Juan Elizondo wore a shirt with “Juan Putt” on the front.
If the 80-year-old “Juan” putts today, the resident of Omaha, Neb., could walk away with his share of $45,000 in prize money.
The event is the PopStroke Tour Championship, being held at the PopStroke miniature golf course at The Mall at University Town Center. Founded by CEO Greg Bartolo, with partner Tiger Woods, PopStroke is an 18-hole course made up entirely of greens.
The first two facilities were built in Fort Myers and Orlando. The 10,200-square-foot course in Sarasota opened in April. Plans are to add facilities this year in Arizona, Texas, and Wesley Chapel. Next year, said Sarasota PopStroke general manager Jason Weathers, “we have three or four properties already lined up.”
“It’s local entertainment for all levels,” he said. “We got 5-year-olds and 95-year-olds out here.” Each of the holes at PopStroke has differing undulations and lengths of putt, ranging from 10 feet to 40 to 50 feet.
More:Tiger Woods’ PopStroke launching in Sarasota this week
This inaugural tournament features two separate competitions, for a combined purse of $125,000. The team championship has attracted 200 two-man teams, from as far away Sweden. They will compete for a $100,000 total prize purse, with $20,000 going to the winning team.
In individual play, 100 players are competing for a $25,000 total prize purse, with $5,000 going to the winner. But in team play, the top team will get to play a team of PGA pro Rickey Fowler and LPGA pro Paula Creamer, the winning duo taking home an additional $25,000. The PopStroke Tour Championship will be shown on a one-hour broadcast on Bally Sports on November 20.
Players qualified for the Sarasota event at qualifying events around the country. Elizondo will team with partner Jay Meinke, also from Omaha. Elizondo has been a PGA teaching pro, club pro, once owned a golf course, and invented a putter called the “Juan Putt.” Years ago, he invented the Speed Stik, which helps increase the speed of a golfer’s swing.
After playing several holes, Elizondo said the course was “very challenging” but fair. “It’s straightforward and it’s fair because everybody can see what they have to do.”
Today, the final day of the event, will feature round 3 of individual play at 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the $25K SHOWDOWN involving the first-place team taking on Fowler and Creamer at 3 p.m.
The individual play championship is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with the awards ceremony set for 9 p.m. All the golf today at PopStroke, which features three bars, including a rooftop bar, outdoor dining, and a children’s playground area, is free and open to the public.