EDITORIAL: Tiger burned bright but we missed an opportunity

If you turned on the TV any time toward the end of last week or on the weekend, you were likely to see a welcome face in a familiar place, Tiger Woods at Albany. It is not the purpose of this space to comment on the subject of golf or to play the role of announcer, dissecting talent and skill. But we do want to take the opportunity to applaud organisers and note the success with which an event in The Bahamas was handled, the overwhelming surprise crowd it drew on the ground and the international coverage it generated for a country whose economy is heavily dependent upon people from outside its borders.

First, caps off to Albany for the Tiger Woods branding and for the greatest golfer of all times to have chosen Albany in which to invest and to host one of his signature events. Tiger Woods has experienced as many highs and lows as the wildest roller coaster, but there is no denying his ongoing pulling power. When he played this year’s US Open the viewing audience nearly doubled to some 5.1 million for the final round. His presence is what has come to be known as the ‘Tiger effect” and whether he eagles, birdies or bagels, the audience cannot seem to get enough of the boyish smile and lasting good looks which are icing on the cake for a man who earlier in his career grinned his easy way through 14 major championships.

Aside from Tiger being the biggest draw of any sport, the Tiger Woods Hero World Challenge at Albany proved a world-class event could be pulled off in The Bahamas without a hitch, or at least without a hitch apparent to the viewing public. Kudos to the organisers and - despite a gnawing and relentless feeling of injustice at Albany’s duty-free environment extending benefits intended for the resort industry to those who never intend to rent their multi-million-dollar homes and could afford to pay duty like the rest of us - we have to hand it to developers and Tiger for securing and living up to the branding.

From the erection of a giant tower to capture the arc of a long shot flying high over the 7,903 foot course to the helicopters hovering overhead, from the set-up of a climate-controlled pavilion from which to watch in luxury, the event organisers pulled off a feat deserving of enthusiastic applause.

Given the hours of extensive TV coverage - all of Saturday and Sunday afternoon - we would have liked to have seen more of The Bahamas exposed in the endless advertising breaks. Where were images of the swirling turquoises of the Exuma Cays waters, the forests of Andros, the yachting world of Abaco, the historic heritage of places like Cat Island and Fox Hill?

We think the country missed that opportunity and that is our only misgiving. Instead those who watched saw a rather run-of-the-mill Ministry of Tourism commercial. Every now and then they saw images of a horse and buggy in Rawson Square or a few other tired video clips. It was an opportune time to show so much more, especially given the high level of sponsorship that was testament to the Tiger draw and the expectation of quality of viewing consumers.

Hero MotoCorp, Rolex, Baha Mar with its brilliant commercials, Citi Private Bank and others aimed messages at those in living rooms and social clubs across America and so the sole criticism is the Ministry of Tourism, which was a major sponsor and no doubt assisted in a thousand ways as it always does to pull off such an event, could have dug deeper, reached further to expose all aspects of The Bahamas that set the island nation apart from others in the region.

The tournament was billed as an “experience unlike any other” and advertised on its website as “perfect for client entertainment or a personal, luxury getaway.” It was ripe for a full Bahamas collage of experiences and beauty.

The two private jetports, Odyssey and Executive, Flight Support Avitat saw a spike in business and at one point, Immigration and Customs officers in both facilities experienced some of their highest volumes ever.

It matters little that Tiger Woods finished near the bottom of the leaderboard, 17th place out of a field of 18, or that Jon Rahm of Spain walked off with the $1 million purse. The Hero World Challenge helped raise millions for the Tiger Woods Foundation that is committed to providing education opportunities especially in the areas of science technology, engineering and mathematics.

If those who could afford what was called “the finest in hospitality and golf” could while away the hours greenside, the score on the board was an outcome of a four days of golf. The real winners were The Bahamas and the students who will earn scholarships.