Par-tee on the lake

event-0713When Jan Zacharchuk moved to Lake County from St. Petersburg in 2005, she was surprised by the area’s beautiful, pristine lakes.

“Seeing the sunset on Lake Harris for the first time was breathtakingly beautiful,” she says.

To this day, though, she is amazed and disappointed by how underutilized the lakes are.

“Other than fishing, I seldom see people using the lakes for recreational purposes such as skiing, tubing, or just enjoying a boat ride. That drives me crazy.”

As executive director of the Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Jan has thought long and hard about organizing an event that would bring visibility to area lakes. Unfortunately, her ideas never seemed to materialize. She continued swinging, though, and now Jan feels she has hit a hole-in-one.

The Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Lake Scramble will be held July 26th at Venetian Gardens. Avid golfers who have a fear of hitting a ball into the water should not worry. That is actually the objective of this unique on-the-water golf tournament set on the shores of Lake Harris.

Organizers will set up 18 weighted-down “holes” throughout various spots on the lake made out of pool noodles, and floating flags will be placed inside each noodle to help golfers with their accuracy. At each hole, participants will have two chances to hit a biodegradable golf ball into the floating targets. Nine holes are 20 yards from the target, while the remaining holes are at a distance of 40 yards. Volunteer boaters will be stationed at each hole to determine where balls land in the water.

The tees will be set up on wooden bridges, the shoreline, and other locations throughout Venetian Gardens. At each tee, golfers will place their ball on a square artificial grass mat and swing for the target. Participants can access the tees by riding a golf cart or walking. Attendees will be allowed to use only two golf clubs, but they will not be intimidated by annoying sand traps.

“You do not have to be a skilled golfer to participate in this event,” Jan says. “I urge everybody to come out for a day of fun. Bring your family, friends, and co-workers because everyone will truly have a wonderful time.”

In addition to golf, members of the Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce will provide a continental breakfast, food, beer, and water. The after party will include an awards ceremony, live music, and food.

No doubt, Jan is serious about bringing recognition to local lakes. She is advertising the event in various media outlets throughout the East Coast. “I hope this event helps locals and tourists appreciate the abundance of natural beauty that we have in Lake County.”

The cost is $50 per player. Tee box sponsorships cost $250. For more information, call 352.787.2131.


Meet Lake’s lakes

  • Lake County has more than 1,000 lakes and rivers.
  • Lake County is home to two unique waterway systems that feature multiple lakes connected by canals and rivers — the Harris Chain of Lakes and the Clermont Chain of Lakes.
  • Of the nine lakes that are part of the Harris Chain of Lakes, Lake Harris is the largest at 15,087 acres.
  • Of the 11 lakes that are part of the Clermont Chain of Lakes, Lake Louisa is the largest at 3,634 acres.
  • During one month in 2005, more than 350 professional and amateur anglers came to Lake County to compete in two separate nationally televised fishing tournaments on the Harris Chain of Lakes.
  • Clermont Waterfront Park on Lake Minneola is home to the longstanding, popular Great Floridian Triathlon.

Sources: www.visittavares.com/activities/fishing.shtml; www.lillysonthelake.com/clermont_chain_of_lakes.cfm; www.lakecountyfl.gov/hometown_highlights/fishing_in_lake_county.aspx

Written by James Combs

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