YEAHHHH! Prime Minister Owen Arthur (right) looks
on as GermanyÕs Marcel Siem (left) and teammate Bernhard Langer
show off the winnerÕs trophy after capturing the 2006 Barbados
Golf World Cup yesterday. (Picture by Charles Pitt-Grant.)
BARBADOS SHONE on the world's sports stage last week as the island staged
the World Golf Championship Barbados World Cup, which was seen by more
than a billion viewers around the world.
the PGA Tour vice-president of Championship Management, said there was
"tremendous interest" in the event which was televised worldwide.
ESPN, the biggest sporting network in the United States, and ABC, one
of the largest news networks, covered the event extensively.
According Noel Lynch, the Minister of Tourism, the event was expected
to bring exposure that the island could not possibly pay for. He noted
that it came just three months before the island hosts the final of the
Cricket World Cup, another event that will bring unprecedented exposure.
"As a sporting nation, Barbados has already distinguished itself
at the highest level in many areas," he said. "Golf is a relatively
new addition to our range of outdoor sports, but we are hoping to reap
real economic benefit from hosting such a prestigious event."
Local and visiting fans were on hand at the Sandy Lane Country Club to
see some of the world's leading players display their skills on the challenging
Little Barbados, not as well known for its golfing product
or expertise in the sport as it is in cricket, aspired to host the World
Golf Championships Barbados Cup and did so successfully. I don't presume
there will be any dissent surrounding this claim either.
The Sandy Lane Country Club, in St James, will forever be identified with
the massive triumph for Barbados in staging such an international event.
It was not only the quality of the course but the work of its well trained
and helpful staff along with all the other officials including wonderful
and tireless volunteers that made it posssible.
It should not be taken for granted that we were given the privilege to
stage this tournament especially against the background that we don't
have a strong golfing tradition.
The Professional Golfers Association (PGA), the owners of the World Cup,
had to be satisfied that we had the facilities and the organisational
capabilities to host the tournament because they know that the world's
leading players would not settle for less. Their faith was justified.
Government must also be given lots of credit for having the foresight
and guts to bid for the tournament against countries including China,
a country with the world's largest population and one of the strongest
As Prime Minister Owen Arthur said after the tournament, we must have
some clarity about the decision to embrace golf because it seems to be
the entertainment of choice for lots of tourists coming to our island.
As a country which has embraced tourism as its business, we must comply
to the best of our financial capacity to satisfy that demand.
It goes without saying that they can get their wish fulfilled at other
destinations. But, we must be avid competitors to stay as key players
in the market and golf seems to be a natural progression in our drive
to attract people from the high end of the industry.
I think successes such as what we achieved in the World Cup would help
the powers that be to justify why permission has been granted for the
building of more golf courses when the question of land and water usage
always come into play.
The money earned from the influx of visitors who will include golf as
part of their vacation package, will help build our foreign reserves in
the process. This does not mean, of course, that we should expect immediate
returns on our investments in this area. Medium to long term expectations
are much more realistic.
I believe, too, that the exposure we got in front of a worldwide audience
would have done us the world of good not only as a superb golf destination
but also as an island that has other characteristics to make their stay
here comfortable and enjoyable.
At the end of the day, I think the local golf authorities would be hoping
that many more young people would begin to show an interest in the sport
as a result of the hype and success of the World Cup.
One of the keys to this is to have the kind of playing facilities to train
youngsters in the rudiments of the game.
In this regard, it had to be very heartening news that the PGA donated
US$20 000 to help erect a driving range. I know that since the one in
Balls, Christ Church, was closed about two years ago, the youth programme
took a nosedive.
The sooner the new range comes on stream the better because there appears
to be greater interest in the sport among ordinary people since Tiger
Woods came on the scene.
Lest we forget, the local association will also be getting an additional
US$20 000 for the new range from James Johnson who will be donating his
earnings from the World Cup because he is resorting to his amateur status.
As for golf itself, it was a privilege to see some of the world's top
players up close and personal doing their work at Sandy Lane. Of course,
they are human and there were times when they struggled like the ordinary
enthusiast battling against the wind and rain.
Most of them found putting very difficult and would at times miss par
even from about five metres. Some even conceded that they found deep trouble
negotiating, for instance, the par five 17th hole.
Evenso, the overall standard of play couldn't be questioned and you would
have to think the Germans were worthy winners after holding their nerve
to win a play-off against Scotland. And don't forget the Swedes, who had
a two-stroke lead going into the last day, also played very well.
The Bajans, Johnson and Roger Beale, the least experienced of all the
teams in the tournament, had their brilliant moments too and could only
have emerged as better players as a result of testing their skills against
The greatest victory, though, is that we showed millions that we are capable
of scoring an eagle in hosting a major world golf tournament.