Tuesday, March 21, 2023
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER hosting two successful events in 2021 and 2022, the Bahamas Golf Federation’s Junior Golf Association is eager to put on the third edition of the Inter-School National Golf Championships.
This year’s event is scheduled for April 17-21 at the BGF’s 9-hole Driving Range at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex and is expected to be staged in eight different categories, ranging from the lower and upper primary schools and junior and senior high schools for boys and girls.
In a joint announcement yesterday in the foyer of the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Education joined the BGF and the Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy in releasing details for the event, which was accepted into the Ministry’s curriculum in the fall of 2020.
Acting Director of Sports Kelsie Johnson-Sills, representing the Minister of Sports Mario Bowleg, said they are partnering with the Ministry of Education, to provide another sporting discipline for the young people of the nation to be exposed to.
“The sport of golf teaches you discipline. The sport of golf teaches you how to be focused and honest as a player,” Johnson-Sills said.
“The game is in your hands. It’s not a team shot, so every shot counts. Everything that you do is scored for you.”
Through the sport, Johnson-Sills said the Bahamas could see its first Tiger Woods, so she encourages the young players to go out and do their best.
One of the youngsters present was Tyler Rolle, a seven-year-old student from Nassau Christian Academy. He thanked everybody for making it possible for them to participate in the tournament.
As a former junior golf player, pro volleyball player Byron Ferguson, the liaison officer for golf in the Ministry of Sports, said the sport has helped him in many ways to develop discipline and just to be focused.
“I want to encourage the parents to stick with golf because it can open many doors for their children,” he said. “It’s a sport that keeps you focused.”
Zane Lightbourne, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, congratulated the Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy and the BGF for providing the collaboration of the ministries for making the tournament available for the players to fulfil their dreams of becoming the next Tiger Woods.
“We know that golf is identified as an individual sport but it teaches a person so much and there are so many opportunities that are available in the sport of golf,” said Lightbourne, who noted that he too enjoys playing the game.
“We all know the name Tiger Woods and we know that when you aspire to be great, you always aspire to follow the greatest in the sport. So we encourage you to go out and be the best you can be.”
Lightbourne, an advert basketball player, said the physical education teachers in their schools now have to learn the sport so that they can teach it to their students because it’s now a part of their curriculum and it’s an event that is on the calendar.
Gina Gonzalez-Rolle took the opportunity to interview Aiyanna Hernandez, an 11-year-old student of the defending champions Eva Hilton Primary School.
“I started golf when I was in grade four,” said Hernandez, one of the top performers last year. “Golf is an amazing game. It helps me a lot in school. It actually helps me to bring up my grades in school.”
Gonzalez-Rolle said they are eager to watch the growth and development of so many young players who participated in the sport.
“So many dreams have become a reality and really it’s just the beginning,” said Gonzalez-Rolle, who was able to assist a single parent mother in securing a golf scholarship to a division one Ivy League school for her daughter.
Gonzalez-Rolle noted that all of their students who have received scholarships are not just excelling on the golf course, but they are doing extremely well in the classroom.
“I put it to you that the Bahamas has been put on the map through track and field, swimming, baseball and basketball, but give us three years to the most and you will see our Tiger Rolles or Renee Sands,” she stated.
Not only has the sport attracted students from the public and private schools, they are on the golf course competing against each other in fierce competition as golf is now a part of the school curriculum, and it will be one of the disciplines featured in the Bahamas Games this summer.
She thanked the two ministries, the BGF, the Junior Golf Association, Georgette Rolle-Harris and Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy, the parents, the sponsors - Lightbourne Trading with M&Ms and Mars bars, R&A, Aquapure and the Baha Mar Foundation - and the media for all of the contributions they have made to the success of the tournament.
Rolle-Harris, the tournament director, said each team will be allowed to field a minimum of three players with a maximum of five players, although only the best three schools will count.
And the school which does not have three players, according to Rolle- Harris, can enter their players as individuals, who will be eligible to compete for the top prizes. The top teams and the top individuals, who are not already a part of the team, make it to the finals.
“As we grow, we are increasing the numbers. In the first year, there weren’t many teams so we allowed up to 18 players per division,” Rolle-Harris said.
“The second year, we increased to the top four teams in some cases and the top five individuals not a part of a team.
“I believe that this year, due to the interest, we will increase to the top five teams and top 11 individuals not already a part of a team. The maximum players per division making it to the finals will be 36.”
Rolle-Harris, however, said while they have started at the Driving Range, they hope that eventually they can take the tournament to one of the major golf courses where the competition will be intensified.
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