By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WITH another strong, vibrant team in place, incumbent president Lynford ‘Neil’ Miller and vice president Anthony Hinsey are confident that they can take the Bahamas Golf Federation to higher heights, once they are re-elected.
The duo will head the administration team going into the election of officers on January 22 for the next two years. Already they are being challenged by the duo of former administrators D. Shane Gibson and Craig Flowers for president and vice president respectively.
However, the Miller-Hinsey led team are running again on their past tenure in office where they claimed that they were successful in reaching milestones that were not successful in prior regimes.
“Through a successful partnership and the hard work from Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy, the junior golf programme is stronger than ever and the optimism of our future is bright,” the executive team said.
“We’ve fostered positive relationships with numerous organisations such as the USGA and the R&A that have lent their support either through financial donations or in-kind provision to see the opportunities we have set forth become a reality for our youth. Introducing the game of golf to thousands of youths and adults has been more rewarding than we could have ever imagined and we feel like we have only scratched the surface.”
They also charged that they have changed the mindset and flow of the national team development programme and very soon, the Bahamas will be back in the winner’s circle on the international scene.
“The 10th Hole, the restaurant at the BGF golf facility, is flourishing and providing members with food/drink options at their home facility,” the executives say. “Our members and non-members were able to play the BGF Golf Facility 9 Hole course when we opened it in 2019.
“We have assisted with the implementation and progression of the golf team at the University of the Bahamas. We have created a new wave of young instructors trained to teach the Fourteen Clubs method of instruction, which has been praised and reviewed by Andy Leadbetter of the world-renowned Leadbetter Golf Academy.”
Through their committed partners, the BGF executives said they ran successful local junior golf tours and have covered the travel costs of the junior golfers in Grand Bahama from 2018-2019.
“We have fulfilled our obligations to the USGA and R&A by consistently implementing initiatives to grow the game, and by keeping the GHIN handicap system updated and growing,” the executives said. “We pushed the promotion and growth of golf clubs, and we have enabled the formation of the first women’s only golf club.”
In support of Riccardo Davis Jr, the BGF has watched as he created The Bahamas Professional Golf Tour, a professional tour which also encourages the inclusion of amateur golfers wanting an increased competitive atmosphere.
“US Kids Golf now has a local Nassau Tour which is earning our youth the opportunity to qualify for international events and points without having to incur the cost of travel,” the executives say. “The Ministry of Education and Youth, Sports & Culture have supported and assisted us with getting golf in the school curriculum so that all public schools taught golf in the Spring of 2020.
“We also saw the hosting of the first school annual golf championships which hosted 248 players and 32 schools. There is so much more on our agenda that needs to be accomplished. Many of our youth golfers who would not have normally been exposed to the game of golf are moving through their collegiate careers because of our efforts. Who would want to stop this kind of growth?”
And though their current administrations’ success thus far, there is still a lot more to be done in their continued effort to make the sport of golf one of the most vibrant in the country again.
Joining Miller and Hinsey for election to office are Gina Gonzalez- Rolle, running for director as chair of the junior division, Frederick Taylor as director with a focus on the central division development, Timothy Pinder for director with a focus on player development, Ethelyn Davis for director with a focus on amateur to professional golf development, Dr Patti Symonette for director as chair of the women’s division, Georgette Rolle- Harris for director with a focus on general development of golf and Keno Turnquest, Peter McIntosh and Duwayne Hepburn, all for selection committee members.
Over the next two years in office, once they are re-elected, the administrators revealed that they intend to push forth ten (10) agenda items which they feel are necessary and can help with the overall strategic development of golf in and for The Bahamas.
1 Continue the open dialogue with the membership golf courses and the governing body for the sport
“We will continue to find ways to keep the membership informed of opportunities and events within The Bahamas,” the executives say. “We have used Golf Genius and Facebook as our main communication platforms.
“The membership base is no longer simply a base of information. We will continue to strengthen the community of members for the growth of the organisation. We will add a podcast as our third platform focusing on sharing our history.”
The BGF will form a research committee to electronically record the information for the BGF administrations for the past 20 years.
“We need clarity in place for future boards for proper administration. We have experienced an unfortunate level of dishonesty from past administrations in the respect of constitutions and other items related to the management of the federation,” they say.
“If anyone is interested in joining this committee please let us know. We will continue to strengthen the relationship with our golf courses and governing bodies so that we can be knowledgeable on what is happening so that we can have a voice with all items pertaining to golf in The Bahamas.”
2 Support a sustainable school golf programme
Although the school golf programme is flourishing in New Providence and Exuma, they will push more focus on Grand Bahama and Long Island with the instructors available to assist with on-site programme development.
“Some may say that there are no courses on Long Island, but we will first create the golfers, and in the meantime think about viable solutions for them to play,” the executives say.
The school golf championships is scheduled to be held March 21-25, 2022 and after hosting 248 players and 32 schools this year, they are anticipating that the numbers will soar past 300 players and 30 schools represented.
“We will continue to develop young coaches through Fourteen Clubs with the support of the BPGA, so that we can teach more youth,” the executives say.
3 Continue to support junior golf
The executives admitted that there’s no other way to put it other than “the junior golfers are the future. If we do not invest in them, we are not doing our job to grow the game. Junior golf in Nassau is almost at a sustainable level.
“We will move the focus to further supporting Exuma, building out the programme in Long Island, and Grand Bahama. Junior golfers will grow with the mindset of playing good golf...not rushing the process.”
The Operation 36 model has been tested over the past four years, and has culminated into the playing ability tests.
“Our juniors will learn the mindset of the process by only advancing if they are able to successfully play from a short yardage,” the executives say. “We will then be on the level of junior golf development in other high performing countries.”
4 Reintroduce Women’s Golf
Women’s golf, according to the executives, is one of our main focus areas for 2022-2023.
“We have supported the stream upwards to ensure viability, so now we can focus on strengthening the middle.
“There will be more ladies-focused events, and push for more ladies to join clubs,” the executives say.
“We have many young women transitioning from youth and college golf, along with women who already play golf. We will bridge the gap, and strengthen this so that our women’s complement for the CGA competitions are better represented.
5 Promote additional club growth
Over the last number of years, the BGF has allowed clubs to promote golf at all levels of play. “The more clubs that are created, the more creative groups we will have that are pushing growth. Our goal is to assist the creation of an additional 5 clubs by the end of 2023,” the executives say.
Some of the clubs which are currently in the database are the Poopdeck Eagles, Palmdale Golf Club, Women Who Play Golf 242 & Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy.
“If you are a member of a group of golfers, please let us know so that we can add your group to our list,” the executives say.
6 Change the mindset of developing golfers to developing low handicap golfers
“Over the next two years, we will focus on growing the number of low handicap players, and the number of aspiring professional players,” the executives say. “The BGF will naturally still host the major events and championships, but will allow the clubs to produce and run their schedules as desired.
The Central Division will work with Fred Taylor and Timothy Pinder pushing the value of the playing ability tests (PATs).
“For too long have we simply allowed the development of the mindset of high scoring based on not playing from the distance per skill set.”
Taylor and Pinder Frederick will produce a 2022 schedule with seminars and PATs for all serious golfers who aspire to play on the national teams.
“Once players are able to demonstrate their ability to shoot good scores from tournament distances.
“Ethelyn will work with the BPGT and BPGA to provide quality low handicap and professional tournament opportunities,” the executives say.
“We are bridging the gap between our amateur and professional players. She will ensure that rules clinics are held so that our tournament players are always informed and can perform at their best.”
7 Redefine the national team development and qualifying process
“Our national teams over the past two terms have been improving in overall performance, outlook, and accountability,” the executives say.
“We have shown the courses that we can commit to practice schedules, and that our squads are committed to playing good golf, versus free golf.”
8 Reintroduce a major fundraising event for a separate scholarship fund for aspiring collegiate golfers
“We will introduce the little BIG bringing together our youth and adults. This scholarship fund will be held separately to support collegiate golf,” the executives say. “We will create an educational committee to oversee this. We will hold an annual fundraiser for proceeds to build this fund.”
9 Build a home facility
According to the executives, the BGF is growing.
“We need sustainability which means another revenue source. This will come from the creation of our home facility,” the executives say. “In the next two years, we would have created an additional 200 golfers. We need to secure a place for them to play and become lifelong golfers.”
10 Strengthen the bridge between the BGF and the BPGA to run seamless transition programmes and championships
“For years the BGF and the BPGA have been trying to work together with a seamless process,” the executives say. “We feel that with the addition of numerous young coaches and the possibility of an apprentice programme, the relationship between the two bodies can thrive.”
Persons wishing to get more information from the executive team on their overall development plan can contact the executives at 1.242.432.0355.