This new sport was invented right here in Gulfport by Joe Bertolami who owned roller hockey arenas and also is known for the Rich and Joe Show, a band that often plays at Neptune Grill in Gulfport. The game, played with a hockey stick, dimpled ball and nine numbered wickets, is like golf, but also a little like croquet with some hockey mixed in.
“I played early versions of the sport with family and friends and then got together with Roy and started playing,” stated Bertolami.
Roy Long, Bertolami’s friend who played three years of semi-pro hockey, naturally took to the sport and began playing avidly.
“It’s a new and upcoming sport and I love to promote it,” said Long. It’s also good exercise, he says. “It combines a lot of walking with the swinging of the stick which helps the upper body.”
The game is like golf in that the participant tees off and takes a stroke each shot until they hit the ball through the wicket, which is specially designed for the sport. Scores are kept on a card just like golf. Golfhockey is already a registered LLC and is being played around the area at several recreation centers with more to follow. They play on a rotating schedule at Michael J. Yakes Park and Veteran’s Park in Gulfport, ROC Park at Madeira Beach, Blossom Lake Park in Seminole, and North Shore Park in downtown St. Petersburg.
Participants quickly learn that golfhockey is challenging.
“It’s all about the second shot anyway,” was often heard by the participants after a subpar first shot.
“Just like golf there is a lot of support and camaraderie,” said Ron Sherony before his next shot.
For information on upcoming games, search for “Golfhockey” on Facebook.