By RICARDO WELLS
FOR many, the joys of professional sports and the fandom that comes along with it exist within the win/loss ratios of those we cheer. However, for a country eyeing development on all fronts, success has to be marked by the improvements shown along the route.
With the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic moving into its fifth installment later this month at the Ocean Club course, Georgette Rolle has and continues to be the mark by which we grade the advancement of golf in the Bahamas.
The 31-year-old’s two previous performances at the event - a season opener for the US women’s professional tour - have been less than stellar when compared to the more formidable international participants. So far, she has failed to make the halfway cut. But the reality is, her showing year in, year out at the event proves that with determination and practice, the talent here can be placed in a position to not only shine, but inspire.
Speaking to Rolle this week about her preparation for the 2017 tournament, to be played January 26 to 29 with a field of 108, she called the opportunity to represent her country “huge”, adding that the chance to showcase her skills in the Bahamas allows her the chance to illustrate to the next generation of local golfers - many of whom she coaches - that success is plausible with hard work.
“As the event is right here at home, I’m thankful for the support from the Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Tourism and the Bahamas Golf Federation (BGF),” she told Fourth Quarter Press. “More importantly my students and their parents have been such an inspiration that I feel like I’ve already won the event.
“The event definitely jumpstarts the year and gets my competitive spirit at its peak. It motivates me to compete within myself and this male-dominated industry to be the best instructor in the Bahamas. It is the spark I use to ensure I’m well educated on new and innovative learning techniques to deliver to my students.”
Rolle has been one of the strongest proponents in ensuring the success of the tournament’s clinic. Last year, about 40 students from public, private and home-schooled institutions were coached in basic techniques by Rolle and several of her Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic counterparts.
Furthering her point on the growth of the sport in the Bahamas, she said: “The work that the Ministry of Sports and Tourism are doing by bringing four professional golf events to our home is the catalyst for revitalising the game and increasing awareness. I’m just happy to be in a position to take advantage of these opportunities as Glen Archer, the BGF president, always says ‘the next good thing to being born is good timing’.”
She continued: “As I see it, the sport is moving forward in a number of other ways: the Bahamas Golf Federation is working hard to offer its membership more benefits, thereby increasing and retaining it through a better tournament schedule, better golf course rates and better overall support with cutting edge golf software that’s used worldwide. Its junior division is also making strides by getting players into more international events and bringing one here this February at the Albany Golf Club.
“The golf courses such as the Ocean Club have opened its doors by offering junior golf scholarships yearly to approximately 10 participants. That’s a huge step towards growing the game, and I, along with the juniors, their parents and the BGF, are extremely grateful for the vision of their leadership with this initiative. Craig Flowers is ensuring that the nine-hole golf course and practice facility is completed for the growth of the game so that young people can have can have a place to learn and play.
“My initiative, Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy, has been making inroads with junior golf development. With our pilot of the school golf programme this past semester through the Ministry of Education, Mcdonald’s and Atlantis as sponsors, we have exposed more than 400 students to golf through their PE classes.”
Rolle said she has seen talent that cannot go untapped. “We have invited them to join our golf course programme so that we can develop them further. We also have great talent in our golf course programme and the coaches are all fully committed to creating an army of amazing junior golfers. This is only the beginning. This is a great time for golf in the Bahamas.
Rolle said she remains hopeful that her participation in the Pure Silk-Bahamas Classic leads to more participants in her Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy and the overall game of golf in the Bahamas.
She claimed the LPGA has done a remarkable job through Global Golf donating funds and equipment to junior golf, which helps that growth. Away from that, she added that the LPGA has also donated golf balls to Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy which has helped their programme.
Rolle has taken a break from teaching to focus on this season, but plans to return the programme shortly.
• Ricardo Wells writes Fourth Quarter Press every Monday. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org