lthough many in the country, a lot of financial and hospitality experts as well, frowned upon the government of The Bahamas’ decision to purchase the Grand Lucayan resort, those of the island’s golfing fraternity became very interested over the news.
Now, (they thought at the time) with government ownership, finally a major golf facility would operate in a manner quite sensitive to the needs of Bahamian golfers, in particular Grand Bahama’s residents linked closely to the sport.
The Lucayan Reef Golf Course was part of the purchase agreement the government engaged in with Hutchison Whampoa, and Grand Bahamian residents who are affiliated with the sport expected a general outlook much more favorable than in the past.
The truth is that like other 18-hole golf facilities around the country, the fees charged at the Lucayan Reef make it virtually impossible for a lot of interested persons, especially, the youth aspirants, to get involved meaningfully with the game.
The fees to play, even for juniors, are exorbitant. The prices are unreasonably high. The juniors don’t have the funds, personally, and parents/guardians are hard-pressed to provide such. Presently, at the government-owned Lucayan Reef Course, juniors are charged almost $40 dollars ($39.96) to play a round, without a cart.
Lucayan Reef members who pay quarterly fees of $300, still have to come up with almost $30 dollars extra ($27.64) to play a round. Native organizers of tournaments geared to heighten the profile of the sport and to boost sports tourism are charged around $40 for every player entered.
That means, for instance, a field of 64 would cost organizers $2,560 on top of practice rounds. The fees applied by the Lucayan Reef management have actually been a deterrent to golf advancement in Grand Bahama. Those organizations that persevere and bite the bullet are functioning to grow the sport at great financial costs.
If the fees were more moderate, organizers of tournaments could charge less to players, and accordingly, more would participate. It figures then, that the numbers playing golf, on a regular basis, would increase; more star performers would emerge out of Grand Bahama; and the sport nationally would be greatly enhanced.
The same is true for other golfing communities in the rest of the country.
As for the Lucayan Reef Course, hopes remain high in Grand Bahama that the situation of fees would be addressed prior to a sale. The government has been actively pursuing prospective buyers for the Grand Lucayan resort.
While still in ownership, now is the time for the government to ensure that flexible fees are put in place to establish a culture going forward. It would be appropriate indeed to set the stage for the new buyer, and the Grand Bahama golfing community to be more on the same page than is the case today.
•To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.