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Publication: East Valley Tribune; Date: 01/18/2007

Third Longbow Golf Fest set for Saturday
Community event is geared toward golfers of all ages, levels

By BILL HUFFMAN FOR THE TRIBUNE —— CONTACT WRITER: (480) 540-1780 or bhuff56765@aol.com

As a rule golf shows, exhibitions and demo days don’t attract East Valley enthusiasts like they do in other parts of the country, such as Orlando, Fla., Las Vegas and San Diego, to name a few.

Why this is remains a mystery, considering Arizona boasts more than 600,000 golfers. But well-promoted shows recently by two of the country’s biggest golf publications failed to attract 1,000 fans for either of their weekend dates.

Then there is the third annual Longbow Golf Fest, which is free and set for 9 a.m. Saturday.

The community-oriented event is designed specifically to introduce new golfers to the game, provide a venue for avid golfers to hone their skills and test new equipment, and to, well, “just have fun.”

“If we get 1,000 people (on Saturday), we’re in trouble,’’ laughed Jay Larscheid, the general manager for Longbow Golf Club. “Our Golf Fest is family-oriented in scope, and more about just being neighborly.’’

Located in East Mesa, Longbow always has adhered to that theme. Whether it’s hosting the club’s annual Sunshine Days, which benefit the children’s home of the same name that is located next door, or the prestigious AJGA Heather Farr Classic, Longbow emphasizes the community, Larscheid said.

“We’re proud of this event, the way we’ve been able to get some major manufacturers to come in and show the latest-greatest equipment, the way there’s something for everyone in the family on the program, and that all of the proceeds go to benefit the Junior Golf Association of Arizona.

“I think we must be doing it right, because we’ve really got a lot of calls this year from people wanting to know when it’s going to take place.’’

That’s quite a turnaround from the cold and rain that greeted guests the first year. But last year the Longbow Golf Fest busted loose, attracting nearly 500 fans.

“It’s a carnival-like atmosphere, complete with contests and prizes, as well as $1 hot dogs and $1 draft beers,’’ Larscheid explained. “We’ve got free instruction from our PGA pros, and clinics for the kids.

“And the first 100 people who attend will receive a free ticket to the FBR Open.’’

Larscheid said the idea for the Golf Fest came from Kris Strauss of Scottsdale-based O.B. Sports, which manages Longbow.

“(O.B. Sports) does something like this in Las Vegas at another of the properties they manage, Angel Park,’’ Larscheid noted. “The difference is, at Angel Park (the crowd) is huge — in the thousands.’’

Chances are the Longbow Golf Fest also will be bigger this year, “but not too big’’ Larscheid promised.

The headliner is trick-shot artist Joey O, but demonstrations from club manufacturers such as PING, Nike, Titleist, Srixon and Cleveland remain the backbone of the event.

One of those who will be in attendance is “the founder’’ — Strauss. And he’s excited, especially about the fact that Cleveland’s high-tech van will be there.

“I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not,’’ Strauss said. “But Vijay (Singh) recently won the Mercedes Championship with the new Cleveland Hi Bore XL driver, a driver that actually goes on the market on Friday.

“That means that attendees at the Longbow Golf Fest will be able to get fitted for this brand-new driver, and get one made for them that day.”

Longbow Golf Fest Where: Longbow Golf Club, 5601 E. Longbow Parkway, Mesa
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Free
Directions: Take the Loop 202 to the Higley exit, go a half-mile south to Longbow Parkway, turn left and follow the signs.

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