The Grand Bahama Sports Promotion Association (GBSPA) has been forced to suspend its slate of activities for 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, association executives called off the 2020 Edward St. George Memorial Golf Tournament that was slated for this coming November.
President Fred Sturrup and Vice President Ambrose Gouthro, both noted that it would be extremely difficult to have golfers travel to Grand Bahama, only to be quarantined for two weeks.
Also, while the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) has been addressing a number of concerns on the island as a result of COVID-19, along with recovery efforts still being made post Hurricane Dorian (2019), Sturrup shared a hopeful plea to the GBPA to also keep sports “in mind.”
“We want to take this opportunity to reach out to the Grand Bahama Port Authority. Let me just say, initially, that the GBPA has been doing a magnificent job in terms of its role in the recovery and restoration following Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19.
“They’ve partnered with the Red Cross to provide grants for residents. They leased the Cancer Association so the government could have a COVID-19 center. They partnered with several different entities to provide food for various communities in Grand Bahama.
“They renovated the PACE Center for pregnant high school girls. They have been doing a marvelous job. But we don’t want the ‘Port’ to lose sight of the fact the very foundation of youth development is, collectively, education and sports.
“The sporting community couldn’t do anything this year because of COVID-19, but we’re all preparing for 2021. We just don’t want the Port to lose sight of these significant elements that are very necessary for the restoration and recovery of Grand Bahama as well,” Sturrup said.
The association networks with a number of sporting disciplines on the island, through events the GBSPA hosts every year. They also assist and network with programs like the HOYTES (Helping Our Youth Through Education and Sports) basketball program, the Northern Bahamas Golf Federation program, and several others.
The GBSPA was also planning to host a group out of West Palm Beach, Florida to foster a relationship and launch a junior golf exchange program.
On another sports-related matter, Vice president Gouthro, elaborated on the poor condition of the tournament’s host course, the Reef Golf Course. He said the course is in need of full attention. The Lucayan Reef Course is owned by the government.
Sturrup noted that even if there was no pandemic it would have been a “tall task,” to host the tournament at the Reef due to the conditions. Gouthro then went further regarding the current conditions of the course and ho contestants’ play could be negatively impacted.
“As we all know we’ve gone from approximately seven 18-hole courses to just one, which is now in limbo. It’s owned by the government which purchased the hotel and the Reef Golf Course with it.
“The Reef Course, during the pandemic has had its challenges in regards to maintenance and employees not being able to work. So, the conditioning of the course is not very good. It’s frustrating to sometimes go play it. I know they are doing the best that they can with the circumstance they are given, but someone needs to wake up in Grand Bahama and realize that at least, one good golf course is essential to the future of Grand Bahama, if we intend to attract people to come here to visit or live.
“The fairways are compromised with grass from the area we would call the rough. You could hit your ball in the middle of a fairway and it could roll into a chunk of grass which is now a foot high.
"The sand traps are overgrown with weeds and not maintained. So, when the ball lands there that could present a bigger issue. The overall look of the course is poor right now. Basically, the difficulty on the course is raised by a factor of five or six strokes which would make scoring for competitors in the tournament much more difficult,” said Gouthro.
He said, issues with the conditions at the course are not brand new but Hurricane Dorian and the pandemic added to the problems. He then added that there are only 25 golf carts that are functional at the clubhouse, and, more than that number would be needed to host the Edward St. George event.