Inter-school National Golf Championships April 17-21 at BGF’S 9-hole driving range



Senior sports reporter

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AFTER hosting two successful events in 2021 and 2022, the Junior Golf Association of the Bahamas Golf Federation is eager to host the third edition of the Inter-School National Golf Championships.

This year’s event is scheduled for April 17-21 at the BGF 9-hole driving range at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex and is expected to be played in eight different categories ranging from lower and upper elementary to junior and senior Senior high schools rich boys and girls.

In a joint announcement yesterday in the foyer of Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, the Department of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Department of Education joined BGF and the Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy to release details for the event, which adopted the Department’s curriculum in autumn 2020.

Acting Director of Sport Kelsie Johnson-Sills, deputizing for Sport Minister Mario Bowleg, said they are working with the Department of Education to offer the nation’s young people one more sporting discipline to be exposed to.

“Golf teaches discipline. Golf teaches you how to be focused and honest as a player,” said Johnson-Sills.


“The game is in your hands. It’s not a team shot, so every shot counts. Everything you do counts for you.”

Through the sport, Johnson-Sills said the Bahamas could see their first Tiger Woods, so she encourages young players to get out there and do their best.

One of the youth in attendance was Tyler Rolle, a seven-year-old student at Nassau Christian Academy. He thanked everyone who made it possible for them to take part in the tournament.

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A former junior golfer, pro volleyball player Byron Ferguson, the liaison officer for golf at the Department of Sport, said the sport has helped him in many ways to develop discipline and just focus.

“I want to encourage parents to stay with golf because it can open many doors for their children,” he said. “It’s a sport that keeps you focused.”

Zane Lightbourne, Secretary of State at the Department of Education, congratulated the Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy and BGF on the departments’ collaboration to make the tournament available to players so they can fulfill their dream of becoming the next Tiger Woods.

“We know golf is labeled an individual sport, but it teaches a person so much and there are so many opportunities that are available in golf,” said Lightbourne, who noted that he too enjoys playing the game.

“We all know the Tiger Woods name and we know that when you strive to be great, you always strive to follow the greatest in the sport. So we encourage you to get out there and be the best you can be.”

Lightbourne, a promotional basketball player, said that since it’s now part of their curriculum and an event that’s on the calendar, gym teachers in their schools need to learn the sport so they can teach it to their students.

Gina Gonzalez-Rolle took the opportunity to interview Aiyanna Hernandez, an 11-year-old student at defending champion Eva Hilton Primary School.

“I started golf when I was in fourth grade,” said Hernandez, one of last year’s top performers. “Golf is a great game. It helps me a lot in school. It actually helps me improve my grades in school.”

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Gonzalez-Rolle said they are excited to see the growth and development of so many young players who have taken part in the sport.

“So many dreams have come true, and this is really just the beginning,” said Gonzalez-Rolle, who was able to help a single mother secure a golf scholarship for her daughter at a Division 1 Ivy League school.

Gonzalez-Rolle found that all of her students who have received scholarships excel not only on the golf course but also in the classroom.

“I’m telling you that athletics, swimming, baseball and basketball put the Bahamas on the map, but give us three years at most and you’ll see our Tiger Rolles or Renee Sands,” she said.

Not only has the sport attracted students from public and private schools, they are also competing on the golf course in some tough competition as golf is now part of the school curriculum and will be one of the disciplines at the Bahamas Games this summer.

She thanked the two departments, the BGF, the Junior Golf Association, Georgette Rolle-Harris and the Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy, the parents, the sponsors – Lightbourne Trading with M&Ms and Mars Bars, R&A, Aquapure and the Baha Mar Foundation – and the media for all their contributions to the success of the tournament.

Rolle-Harris, the tournament director, said each team is allowed to field a minimum of three players with a maximum of five players, although only the top three schools will count.

And the school, which Rolle-Harris says doesn’t have three players, can individually enter their players who are eligible to compete for the grand prizes. The best teams and the best individuals who are not yet part of the team make it to the finals.

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“As we grow, we increase the numbers. There weren’t many teams in the first year, so we allowed up to 18 players per division,” Rolle-Harris said.

“In the second year, in some cases, we’ve moved up to the top four teams and top five people who aren’t part of a team.

“I believe that this year we will move up into the top 5 teams and top 11 people who are not yet part of a team because of the interest. A maximum of 36 players per division make it to the final.”

However, Rolle-Harris said while they started on the driving range, they hope they can eventually take the tournament to one of the major golf courses, where the competition will intensify.

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