When Port Royal Golf Course celebrated its 50th Anniversary on Thursday, October 29th, 2020, tears of joy were shed as i recalled what this public golf course has meant to my life.
Prophetically, my mother was born and raised on this property in the 1930’s. Ironically, she lived next door to Noel Van Putten who would years later be a black golfing trailblazer, represent Bermuda internationally in golf and serve as Port Royal Golf Course General Manager 1976 to 1984.
In my heart I consider “Mr Van Putten” family, he is a cousin to my uncle Herman ‘Tucci’ Bascome (who taught me the foundations of golf), we have shared many memorable times through golf and I give thanks for his contribution to the development of Port Royal Golf Course and golf in Bermuda. Noel Van Putten would move to St George’s where he would come in contact with the legendary Louis Rafael ‘Kid’ Corbin growing up on the St George’s Golf Course. Ironically, my uncle Herman who had a training golf course in the Whale Bay area before Port Royal was built, had featured in legendary matches during the segregated period against Louis Rafael ‘Kid’ Corbin.
Set A Tone for Inclusion : Bermuda was Waiting to Exhale
When Port Royal was opened in 1970, it gave birth to a new excitement in golf within Bermuda for all people. The inclusive spirit was the single most component of Port Royal’s existence and that was reinforced by Port Royal’s first Golf Professional Walter King and General Manager Martin Greaves. A welcoming spirit was created and the results form part of this article today. The opening of Port Royal set a positive tone for Inclusion in a country that was ‘Waiting to Exhale’ following years of rigid segregation.
Personally, my life as a golfer was birthed at age 12 at Port Royal, by that spirit of inclusion at Port Royal, as I golfed, dined daily and did numerous odd jobs around Port Royal including initially trying my hand at caddying. In essence, I was the prodigal son of Port Royal Golf Course raised by the staff at Port Royal who observed how passionate I was about golf. Golf provided me an opportunity channel my athletic talent towards golf, learn golf etiquette and have my life shaped by this new era.
Walter King the Role Model
Port Royal’s first golf professional Walter King was my inspiration and role model. Because of Walter King I wanted to become a Golf Professional and I did. Walter King became a Bermuda Legislator when he was elected to serve as a Progressive Labour Party Member of Parliament 1976 – 1980 and likewise, I have now served 17 years as a Bermuda Legislator. While Walter King’s charisma impacted my development in positive manner, his reach was wide and many young people from all walks of life were likewise inspired.
Walter King who would learn his trade at the Castle Harbour Hotel & Golf Club and he believed that mentorship was key and he impressed upon me to do likewise when I get in position. Ironically, a few years later my professional golf career led me also to Castle Harbour Resort & St. George’s Golf Course and in later years to also serve in the legislature just like my idol Walter King.
As a golf pioneer Walter King won the 1970 Bermuda Open Championship following Scotsman Doug Dalziel’s three (3) consecutive victories, this event had only recently become integrated in 1967. The Bermuda Open was a prestigious event in the 1970 & 80’s especially where the winner received prestigious exemptions and invitations. Once again both myself (Kim Swan) and my cousin Dwayne Pearman (also a Port Royal product) would both win five Bermuda Open titles between us.
Thanks to the Greg Maybury Era at Port Royal:
Since 2011, I have been the Teaching Golf Professional at Port Royal Golf Developmental Program – with juniors Samson Douglas, Kenny Leseur Jr., Oliver Betschart, Jackson Scott, Benjamin Betschart, Nylan Tyrrell, Sienna Mosquera, Skyler Crockwell, Joseph Lau and others among my young students with a Herman-like Foundation similar to that which I received – who I feel have the ability to excel in golf.
More importantly we also introduced many entry level golfers to the game of golf, through group clinics and regular golf tournaments.
Our developmental program was successful because of the support we received from General Manager Greg Maybury.
The young persons he (Greg Maybury) has encouraged and mentored is a worthy legacy and today several have assumed leadership roles. For example, Steven Lambert serving as Acting General Manager is a huge role that he has stepped into admirably or Andrew Trott- Francis ‘Drew Lightning’ was a government intern in 2012 with no knowledge of golf.
Drew’s love for golf is pure and he is now developing as an Assistant Teaching Pro/Junior Golf Coach under my supervision with the blessings of Mr Maybury.
The Voice of Golf
Today, as I reflect on the 50 years of Port Royal Golf Course, I offer thanks to Premier E David Burt for putting his faith in me by making me the Bermuda Governments ‘Voice of Golf’.
It is a most humbling experience to placed as Chairman of Board of Golf courses and on the Tourism Authority Board. To see my life ‘From Caddy to Chairman’ within these 50years is humbling in and of itself. But when I reflect on what this golf course has meant to my life I must humbly submit and say Thank You Lord.
May the spirit of public golf live on, prosper and grow is my prayer.