San­dals makes swing for PGA sta­tus

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Ains­ley Wal­ters Gleaner Writer

SAN­DALS GOLF and Coun­try Club, in the hills of Up­ton, St Ann, is al­ready the most-played in the Caribbean, log­ging 25,600 rounds last year.

That num­ber could in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly as San­dals boldly moves to po­si­tion the par-71 course to Pro­fes­sional Golfers As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica (PGA) sta­tus in “the very near fu­ture”, ac­cord­ing to gen­eral man­ager Miguel Arthurs.

Among the events San­dals hosts an­nu­ally are three mar­ket­ing com­pe­ti­tions, one of which ended at the week­end, the 14th US Travel Agents Golf Tour­na­ment. Travel agents from Latin Amer­ica and Canada are hosted in two other tour­na­ments.

More than 100 travel pro­fes­sion­als from the United States played 36 holes, in a four-man scram­ble for­mat, “giv­ing the travel part­ners a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the prod­ucts first-hand and, hence, be­ing bet­ter able to mar­ket the des­ti­na­tion and fa­cil­i­ties to their re­spec­tive clients”, ex­plained Garth Laird, San­dals Re­sorts’ di­rec­tor, Travel In­dus­try Pro­grammes.

Team 10A, led by Christopher Ward, a pro­fes­sional player, won ahead of Team 10 by virtue of hav­ing a bet­ter back nine, af­ter both sides tied with over­all scores of 121 on Satur­day.

FIRST-TIME EX­PE­RI­ENCE

Ward was among the first-timers at the tour­na­ment, who Laird said would get to ex­pe­ri­ence “the ren­o­va­tions done at San­dals Ochi Beach Re­sort, the most com­plete des­ti­na­tion in the Caribbean”.

Ward, who or­gan­ises groups trav­el­ling to golf des­ti­na­tions, was a big catch for San­dals as he has been play­ing on the sec­ond-tier pro­fes­sional Web.com tour since 2011 and com­peted as re­cently as June in the Air Cap­i­tal Clas­sic.

He de­scribed the course as “fairly easy and en­joy­able to play”, con­sid­er­ing it has shorter holes, com­pared with oth­ers.

“It’s been great. It’s my first time in Ja­maica. I have been to other parts of the Caribbean be­fore. Over­all, the ex­pe­ri­ence has been great, a laid-back at­mos­phere,” he said, watch­ing team­mate Lind­say For­rester as she birdied the par-four eighth hole, cheered on by Rus­sell and Cody Hulse, the other mem­bers of Team 10A.

Ward’s com­ments scored a hole-in-one for Arthurs, gen­eral man­ager for a year-and-a-half, and proud of the role an­nual travel agents’ tour­na­ments play in sup­port­ing San­dals Foun­da­tion’s Ju­nior Golfers pro­gramme.

San­dals Golf and Coun­try Club hosted the Ja­maica Na­tional Ama­teur Cham­pi­onship ear­lier this year, the first time the tour­na­ment was be­ing held out­side the Cor­po­rate Area or St Cather­ine, which Arthurs de­scribed as “a re­sound­ing suc­cess”.

The long-term goal, though, is to re­turn Ja­maica to pride of place in host­ing in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments as the is­land did from 1991 to 1995 when Tryall Golf Club was home to the in­vi­ta­tional John­nie Walker World Golf Cham­pi­onship.

Team A (from left) Lind­say For­rester, Christopher Ward, Rus­sell House, and Cody House.

PHOTOS BY AINS­LEY WAL­TERS

Miguel Arthurs, gen­eral man­ager, San­dals Golf and Coun­try Club.

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