There were hopes that the Grand Bahama Sports Promotion Association (GBSPA) would be able to host the Edward St. George Memorial Invitational Golf Tournament in November. However, with the mandated two-week quarantine for visitors from New Providence and the United States, the association has decided to postpone the tournament until further notice.
The announcement came from GBSPA Vice President and Tournament Director Ambrose Gouthro. Along with the travel precautions, Gouthro shared that there is also an issue with the Reef Golf Course, where the tournament is held annually.
“We need to postpone because of the pandemic, and, with people having to quarantine for 14 days and take a test, travel would be difficult for those people.
“We also have a golf course situation that is not ideal. The only course that you can host an event like that is the Reef Golf Course. The Reef is not in good shape right now. It might be by the time we get to the tournament. Anything can happen.
“It seems when lockdowns occur the conditions get worse. Right now, they only have 25-28 golf carts and they’re waiting on a sale to happen. So, nothing much is being done with the course. They’re keeping it open for local play, which is appreciated by the local golfers, but unfortunately, it’s very hard to plan ahead for an event like the Edward St. George Memorial.
“We can’t expect people to come in from the United States and quarantine for 14 days and play in a tournament for one day. We’re facing a dilemma here with golf in Grand Bahama.”
Gouthro went on to point out that he would like to see the revitalization of the Lucayan Golf Course, which is located near the Lucayan Towers. The GBSPA Vice President suggests that if that golf course can be resurrected, it would give golfers an alternative on the island.
“Hutchison Port Holdings owns the Lucayan Golf and Country Club and the government owns the Reef Golf Course and another development group owns the Fortune Hills Golf Club, which is a nine-hole course.
“Grand Bahama needs an 18-golf course that can facilitate Bahamians, and, those who are only here for half the year. When they’re here they expect to have things to do and at an affordable rate to do it. I know two people personally who said they are not coming back because of the pandemic and the golf situation here.
“If Grand Bahama is going to go forward (in golf) we need one golf course that is controlled by a local entity. My thoughts would be that Hutchison should deed that property over to either the Bahamas Golf Federation, or some local group that is willing to put it back to full operation.”
Gouthro fondly remembers the Lucayan Golf Course having “the best,” 18 holes to play on within the Caribbean. Equipped with a clubhouse and driving range, Gouthro feels that course could also be utilized to develop junior golf on the island.
“Lucaya has the best 18 holes in The Bahamas and Caribbean if you ask me. It has the facilities - a clubhouse and driving range and a facility at the driving range that could be used to attract people who want to practice.
“Golf can be a 12-16-hour day at the Lucayan Course, and, if it were a course designated for locals and visitors, then it’s an attraction for more people to come here. We could create a club atmosphere and they could become members at various rates. It could become a focal point as an activity to attract people like snorkeling, or the beaches or anything else. It’s a reason for people to come here and spend some time. That’s what you need to do with tourism and that’s what you need to do to make golf better.
“Even if they turn it over to a group of businessmen, and Hutchison or the Grand Bahama Port Authority or the government want to assist ... if that happened then that’s one way of moving us from where we are now to a new place going forward as far as providing a place for golf in Grand Bahama and an activity for visitors while they are here,” he concluded.