Monday, Jul 13, 2020
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Basil Smith, forgotten golfing star of the 1970s

Very often in The Bahamas, major contributors to the nation’s development process, be it in sports or otherwise, are quickly forgotten once they are no longer active. This is one of the weak areas in this country. There are indeed the”special”ones who have been given their just due appropriately through the years.

However, a large percentage of our nation builders, those who functioned in a manner than enhanced their fields of endeavour from one era to the next, have been forgotten.

Their efforts have not been passed on for newer generations to get the full picture of those who made a positive difference at one time or the other. This is a sad scenario, but that’s the way of The Bahamas.

Thus, my tendency in this space at times is to make the connection for generations of Bahamians to those people who rose to high levels of achievement and accordingly lifted their respective organizations.

Let’s go down memory lane to a man named Basil Smith. No, reference is not to the veteran tourism executive, Basil Smith. I refer in this case to Basil Smith the golfer, diminutive like he of the tourism industry, around 5’6″or so tall, but of a much darker skin color.

During the latter part of the 1970s(1975-80)there was no better golfer in the country. He didn’t win every time out but he was steadily successful. His top years kind of overlapped the peak period of the Young Lions(Mike Rolle, Vernon Lockhart, Greg and Phil Maycock etc.)of Bahamian golf.

The Lions gave The Bahamas its greatest golfing run in regional competition. On home turf though, in tournament play, whatever the golf format, they had little choice but to recognize Smith as a formidable foe.

Unlike the Lions, Smith was one of a group of individuals who got interested in the game as full adults, but, the focus was such for Smith and some others that they were able to compete very favorably with the Lions and all others, visitors inclusive.

Smith became a champion golfer, winner of local club green jackets and he had a run for about five years that rivalled the best stretch of golf played by any other. His game was well-rounded. There was something else about Smith that made him kind of unique.

Golf is a very serious game. Golfers are basically single-minded when on the course, in getting to the hole in par regulation or under. As a rule, they don’t joke around. It’s all business on the course. With Smith though, it was not that huge a deal. He was jocular and almost always smiling. He flowed easily around the course, never allowing an errant shot to disrupt his game.

He was a gracious player and quite accommodating within the rules. Often, he made gestures, giving an opponent the benefit of the doubt. He played his heart out, but in the end for Smith, it was just a game, not a big deal.

The Basil Smith at the top of his career was an embracing individual who reached out with kindness to all and sundry. I remember him as a quality individual, a special kind of sportsman.

(To respond to this article, please contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected])

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