By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Concerned by the “direction” they see the Bahamas Golf Federation heading in, former executives David Shane Gibson and Craig Flowers are running as president and vice president in the election of officers on January 22.
However, while addressing a group of golfers at the BGF’s Driving Range yesterday, the duo expressed their concerns about the manner in which the election process is shaping up and the need for more transparency from the current executive officers, who are seeking to be re-elected.
They indicated that the incumbent executive team of Lynford ‘Neil’ Miller as president and Anthony Hinsey as vice president, were invited to participate as well, but they declined the offer.
In their campaign mode, Smith and Flowers outlined their agenda, but felt the practice of allowing foreigners to pay a reduced rate for a round of golf, that includes membership in the BGF, should give them the rights to vote in the elections.
Having the good fortune of playing golf at the age of six and being afforded the opportunity to play on every golf course on the island as a junior, Gibson said he got the chance to play on the Bahamas national tram, and go off to college on a golf scholarship.
“But the way I see it now, I just don’t like the direction that golf is heading under the direction of the current executive officers,” Gibson said. “There’s very little access to golf properties on the island. I’m a member of the Ocean Club, so what I’m doing is not for me.
“What I’m doing is to ensure that I provide opportunities for the young golfers, who I see out here on a daily basis. They have limited access to these golf properties because they are juniors. But once they reach 18, they will not be able to afford it.”
On average, a round of golf costs each golfer about $140, which limits the amount of times for the average golfer to get a chance to improve his game. And that’s aboutonce a week, if they can afford it.
“When I look at the glory days of the Bahamas Golf Federation, as a past chairman of the Southern Division and chairman of the junior programme, we organised tournaments every month to ensure that golfers stayed competitive, so whenever there is an opportunity to make the national team, their game is sharp,” Gibson pointed out.
“Every now and again, you might hear about an event. The executives board just don’t have the sponsors they need to make sure they have these events, so for me, it’s basically to make sure that the golfers have the opportunity to participate in some affordable golf,” he said.
Just appointed as a board member at Baha Mar, Gibson said he and Flowers are putting a team together with some more former executives to enable the golfing properties to open the door for the BGF to function as they did in the past.
For Flowers, who has exerted as lot of time, energy and resources in the creation of the Driving Range, said their aim is to get the BGF back to the level of respect that it once was known for around the country.
“Right now, properties have zero respect for the Bahamas Golf Federation, as well as the officers of the federation,” stated Flowers. “That is not really because of the federation or because of the properties, I think it’s because of a lack of communication.”
Together, Flowers said he and Gibson want to recreate that opportunity that was mandated by the late Fred Higgs when the constitution was amended to change the Bahamas Golf Association to the Bahamas Golf Federation.
The sole purpose of the federation is to regulate golf in the country through the various divisions in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Exuma, Abaco and wherever else they exist or could be formed.
“It’s time for us to raise the level of the BGF to where it used to be,” Flowers said. “The present administration, doesn’t have the experience that is necessary to take us back there. They are doing a great job running the local affairs, but that’s not what the federation is about.
“The federation should be able to go into these properties and sit at the table and in the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and have a conversation as it relates to the role of foreign entities coming into the country to deal with golf.”
As a team, Flowers said they believe that they can get the job done in the shortest space of time.
They used their time on Tuesday to try and convince the membership to either go to the polls on election day and vote for them or to cast their proxy votes on their behalf. However, they are concerned that the executive board has secured at least 70 percent of votes by proxy from foreigners, who got a chance to play for a reduced rate at certain golf courses by becoming members of the BGF.
During the question and answer period, one person asked the membership if they felt so strongly about what they claim is an unfair voting process, to call a special meeting to have the elections postponed until they can get the matter sorted out.
According to Flowers, they had a meeting with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, where it was agreed by all parties concerned to come up with an amicable resolution that everybody is content with going into the election.
However, Flowers said after the meeting, the executives called the Ministry and indicated that they are not agreeing to any amendments and the election will go on in its original form. Flowers said another meeting is being called by the Ministry to further discuss the matter.
When contacted, the executive team indicated that they will make their statement by the weekend.