As we celebrate the legacy of our Bermuda PGA members past and present – we take a moment to celebrate Walter E King – the 1st Golf Professional at Port Royal Golf Course and 1st Bermudian to win the integrated Bermuda Open in 1970.
Like so many Golf Professionals Walter King was a talented athlete, Walter was a member of the formidable Bailey’s Bay County Cricket Club teams of the 1960’s & 70’s, a guest player for Willow Cuts County Cricket Club in the Western County who tried hard but never made Cup Match.
Former Bermuda International Golf Representative Mr Denton Outerbridge shared: “Walter and I both came out of the Bailey’s Bay Community and attended Francis Patton and St. George’s Secondary Schools together. As a schoolboy attending St. George’s Secondary School, while Walter was well regarded as a cricketer, he and I would often skip school to caddy at Castle Harbour or Mid Ocean Club. Through caddying we earned good money, leaned to golf and came in direct contact with many influential people.“
Denton Outerbridge continued: “Walter had a passion for encouraging young people and he influenced young people like the late Glen Simmons, Cornell Bean, Dwayne Pearman & Kim Swan. He also had a major influence on the career of the late Wilfred Fray before his untimely death in 1971.
“Walter was a pure competitor who like to win – very positive ‘I can do person’ ………… when I defeated Brendan ‘Bees’ Ingham in the 1974 semifinals of the Bermuda Amateur with ‘Ninety’ Simmons from Harris Bay as my caddy (to set up the first all Ocean View Finals), Walter was the first person I called…..we were close.”
Kim Swan proudly proclaimed: “As a young teenager in 1971 I stared coming up to Port Royal and gravitated to Walter King.
“Eventually I would accompany Walter King everywhere, and between he and Mrs Alora Rabain,
“I learned how to run the Golf Operation before I was 16 years old. Imagine as a teenager, Walter King entrusting me to open & close and help oversee his business. I remember the great local golfer late Michael Albouy (may he Rest In Peace) telling me, your already functioning like his Assistant Golf Professional and I recounting I not good enough yet. But they could see what Walter was doing then. I remember being the one who picked the Port Royal Team to play in the weekly Golf League in the early 1970’s. Walter King showed us about how to implement economic empowerment in the early 1970’s.”
Kim Swan recalled: “ I remember when Walter King took a car load of us children to Tuckers Town to play golf in the Colonel Clarke Junior Championship. It was that type of exposure that led to me eventually winning the Mid Ocean Junior (Colonel Clarke) , Belmont Junior, Ocean View Junior (Frank Weinstein) and Port Royal Junior Christensen/Trott Trophy) Championships and representing Bermuda at the Orange Bowl Junior Championship in 1974.”
Everyone knew Walter King, he could talk and was so charismatic. I wanted to become a Golf Pro because of Walter King the Golf Professional who even entered politics. After a brief flirtation with the UBP, Walter King ran successfully for the PLP in 1976 and served one term in the House of Assembly until 1980. Needless to say, I continued in his footsteps by being in Youth Parliament in the early 1970’s but also wanting to be a Parliamentarian like Walter by even running unsuccessfully in the 1983 General Election and eventually following Walter’s footsteps into the legislature.”
Undoubtedly Walter King encouraged the young people from the Greater Somerset Bridge Community and integrated us within the white children who came to Port Royal – Ricky Demoura, Blake Marshall, Timmy Simons, Jordy Trott, Bradley Johnson – gave us jobs and encouraged us to play golf at Port Royal for FREE in exchange for odd Jos and ‘sense of belonging’. He developed golfers for a lifetime and his legacy lives on through the lives he positively impacted.
Champion Golf Professional Dwayne Pearman shared: “Walter King encouraged Cornell (Bean) and I immensely – he kept us around by giving us odd jobs , we picked up the range balls, wash carts & then sent us out to practice.
“Every year from were age 11 Cornell and I would played on Walter King’s Rogers Outerbridge Grand Slam Team. Today we are both Golf Professionals and even my son now is also a Golf Professional. Without Walter King that would not have been possible.”
Cornell Bean continued: “He drove us all down to Tuckers Town to play Mid Ocean Junior (Colonel Clark) and he told us a lot of unforgettable stories, I’m proud to have followed in his footsteps.”
Greg Thompson, a Bermudian living overseas shared on Facebook: “He (Walter King) taught us kids[circa 1971]at port royal,and then we would play 9 holes[like 10 of us]…great memories….”
Canadian Golf Professional Bradley Johnson who grew up in Somerset Bridge wrote on Facebook, “He (Walter King) was instrumental in forging my Golf Professional Career – when I was 14! …. Waiting to get ‘picked up’ and he’d be on the Port Royal putting green with “challenges”. He was an amazing inspiration for me indeed.”
Walter King ensured the best players and teachers were around Port Royal: Wilfred ‘Ralph’ Fray, Edward ’Buzz’ Deshields , Herman ‘Tucci’ Bascome, Eddie ‘Updo’ Darrell all worked in various capacities at Port Royal during Walter King’s tenure. And it was not uncommon for Rogers Outerbridge to be at Port Royal practicing with Denton Outerbridge and staging Pro Am & Junior Golf events.
The year 1970 was Walter King’s time, he was the first Bermudian to win the integrated Bermuda in January 1970 and capped that great achievement by becoming the first Golf Professional at Port Royal Golf Course on October 29th, 1970. But it was without a doubt Walter King who opened the floodgates and ushered in a new period of openess and inclusion in golf in Bermuda.
Walter King came to Port Royal having worked as Caddy Master at Castle Harbour Hotel & Golf Club, the busiest Golf Course in Bermuda at that time period. At Castle Harbour Walter King came in contact with many influential persons globally and Walter knew that they can help him get ahead. It was through Walter’s international connections that he secured membership with the British PGA which qualified him for employment as Golf Professional at the new Port Royal Golf Course in 1970.
Walter King would be among the group of Head Golf Professionals who first formed the Bermuda PGA. Long after he left Bermuda to make his home overseas his Bermuda legacy continues to live on through the works of those he inspired.
Kim Swan remembers: “When I was a Junior at Troy University, Alabama in 1979, Walter King flew me to join him in Atlanta to compete in a National Golf Association at Adams Park. I shot a first round 66 and was low amateur. We would years later connect (1990’s) when I was in a playoff for an alternate spot in North Carolina, somehow he knew every shot I hit without being on the golf course.
“He would share with me about two upcoming young black players Ms. Laree Suggs and Tiger Woods – Walter was so well connected globally.”
In more recent years he has connected with Camiko Smith during his competitive golf exploits in the USA.
While Walter King now resides United States, we take this opportunity to thank him for the positive influence he had on the development of golf in Bermuda. Walter King didn’t only make history when he was finally able to play golf equally but proceeded to lay a foundation that uplifted many young people by making golf fun and accessible. Bermuda owes a debt of gratitude to Walter King.
Thank You Walter King.
Kim Swan, JP,MP, St George’s West C2 – Secretary , Bermuda PGA