Tanya Lee | For the love of golf - EntornoInteligente

Entornointeligente.com / 11/05/2018 – Jamaica Gleaner. / Last week, SportsMax hosted the PGA Tour Latino America in Jamaica for the second time in two years. They were here for the BMW Jamaica Classic.

A golf tourney is no small feat. It takes quite a few weeks of solid preparation, and the BMW Jamaica Classic welcomed some 144 golfers from over 22 countries internationally to our shores at the picturesque Cinnamon Hill in Montego Bay.

Our team has essentially fallen in love with golf as a result of working on the last two tourneys, which, so far have been dominated by the Americans, with the American champion this year equalling the course record to boot.

As we continue to position our island as a golfing destination, the Jamaica Tourist Board’s thrust is to continue to market Jamaica as a viable golf destination, which will aid us in attracting additional visitors to our shores. As Jamaica‘s director of tourism, Donovan White, pointed out, golf tourism is worth some US$25 billion globally.

Coincidentally, golf seems to be the sport of the opulent, and so it’s worthwhile to invest in this tourism product given their recreational travel frequency. Just ask the world’s second richest man, Bill Gates. He’s worth over US$91 billion and lists golf as his favourite pastime.

Now, while I’ve done numerous golfing events before, including Jamaica‘s only team match play tournament some years ago, I really can’t boast a comprehensive understanding of the game. I haven’t fallen in love just yet. The golf gods are conspiring against me.

Maybe it’s all the lull that gets the better of someone like me whose attention span is non-existent. In golf, the hours are long, the sun is unrelenting, and the quietness on the pitch is foreign to someone who enjoys banging a table each time a goal is scored, a race is won, or a six is ‘licked’. Let’s just say that I’m not your average golf spectator. Come to think of it, there is no sporting fan base that exudes quite as much restraint as the golf fan. They are separated from the players by a mere stake and a rope!

In my bid to buy into golf some years ago, I tried my hand at the sport. I mean, if you play it, you’ll get to love it, right? I asked one of the biggest lovers of the sport I know, my CEO, Olly McIntosh, to teach me. We hit the range, and my frustration mounted over two hours. I had a terrible swing! I haven’t tried since.

For many athletes worldwide, however, the experience has been better than mine. Golf is seemingly everyone’s second sport. The irony is that while golf doesn’t appear to be very physical and has a non-moving ball, it is extremely challenging and tests the most skillful of athletes. It accounts for why the NBA’s Steph Curry and Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale play in the off-season and why even the greats like Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Wayne Gretzky are obsessed.

Golf is quite welcoming, too, and boasts a level playing field. It offers the versatility of playing on your own or with up to three or four other players. Also, the handicap system allows persons to field teams with players of different ability levels, which means a mere amateur could have the privilege of taking to the course with a professional.

Golfers retire at their own leisure and play at any age. Tiger Woods got his first set of clubs at two years old. I don’t think there is any other sport that has the same champion at the top of the sport some 23 years apart, but Jack Nicklaus accomplished that feat when he won the masters in 1963 and again in 1986. Mind you, Jack is special. He also won in 1965, 1966, 1972, and 1975.

While it’s not the most physically demanding sport and spectators won’t attend with a vuvuzela, it is, in fact, a great game! Hopefully, the golf cupids haven’t deserted me for good, I may just try again, but after the FIFA World Cup of course! 

One Love.

Tanya Lee is a Caribbean sports marketer, author, and publicist. Follow her @tanyattlee on Instagram.

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