On October 29th, 2020 the mystique of Port Royal Golf Course is once again revealed as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary with the start of the PGA Tour Bermuda Championship.
Who would have imagined that the PGA Tour Bermuda Championship 2020 would commence 50 years to the day that we celebrated the opening of this outstanding public golf course.
When the sun rises on the PGA Tour Bermuda Championship Thursday, October 29th, 2020 it will signify a historic milestone at Port Royal Golf Course. It cannot be stated enough how significant it was for Bermuda to have a world class public golf course in 1970, without a doubt Port Royal delivered a new era for Tourism in Bermuda.
Port Royal Golf Course when first developed and opened, came under the Bermuda Department of Agriculture & Fisheries and a then young Assistant Director of Ag & Fish Dr Walwyn Hughes was an integral part together together with area Member of Parliament the late Ralph O Marshall and with the blessing of fellow Southampton Parliamentarians Reginald A Burrows and Stanley Lowe both with strong golf connections at that time.
Port Royal’s first Chairman was the late Reginald Tucker from Stokes Point, St George’s, a bank executive with the Bank of Bermuda, who worked under the legendary Sir Henry ‘Jack’ Tucker. George Wardman, a top amateur golfer in his day who was Deputy Chairman & Links Committee Chairman, he together with the late Eric Parker took a keen interest in turf management and in educating and encouraging young Bermudians to study the field overseas. The late Hubert Smith was also on the Port Royal board of Trustees, as a former president of Ocean View Golf Club, his contribution to golf was enormous.
Dr I W Hughes recalls: “Reggie Tucker was no nonsense, had a short fuse and he was on to the course architects Robert Trent Jones Sr. to get the course completed and opened.”
Prior to 1968 golf in Bermuda was rigidly segregated, with Mid Ocean, Riddell’s Bay, Belmont, Rose Hill/St George’s and Castle Harbour only available to blacks and non whites before 9am.
Ironically, research by Dr Jeffrey Sammons of New York University has unearthed a close connection between Port Royal’s first Chairman Reggie Tucker, as an accomplished young golfer, and the legendary Louis Rafael ‘Kid’ Corbin from St George’s.
When Port Royal Golf Course first opened in 1970, it was established as a Bermuda Quasi Autonomous Government Organization “QUANGO” which would usher in a new era of inclusion in golf in Bermuda.
Port Royal as a world class public golf course, designed by world renown golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr, provided a new era of inclusiveness in golf – one that was already practiced by the Black Golfing Community at the 9-hole Ocean View Golf Course. But with Port Royal being a challenging 18 hole Championship length golf course in 6,600 yards in 1970 it proved to be a grueling test of golf on the southwest coastline of Whale Bay, Bermuda.
One cannot speak about the inclusive atmosphere of Port Royal without recognizing that there were key people managing and working at Port Royal who made it possible to become an all embracing Championship golf course.
Golf Professional, Walter King (who would later become a Member of Parliament) was the catalyst for an avalanche of excitement and enthusiasm in golf within the golf industry in Bermuda which is unrivaled. Golf Professionals Kim Swan, Dwayne Pearman, Cornell Bean, Darron Swan, Bradley Johnson and many others, can all attribute their introduction to the game because directly and indirectly because of Walter King. Ironically, Walter King’s reach even extends to Bermudian Camiko Smith making his debut at the PGA Tour Bermuda Championship.
By 1976 to former top Ocean View Golfers would put their stamp on Port Royal. Frank Rabain would become the Port Royal Golf Professional for 30years starting 1975 and Noel Van Putten who was born in Whale Bay but raised in St George’s would serve as General Manager from November 1977 to January 1984. Ironically, Frank Rabain’s reach extends to Michael Sims who he also influenced as a young junior growing up and golfing at Port Royal.
The staff made Port Royal – a credit to former General Managers and their Assistants – Martin Geaves, WA ‘Toppy’ Cowen, Noel Van Putten, Betty Vincent, Victor Heyliger, Max Atherden, Muriel Richardson, Bill Pitt Jr to name a few notables. Notwithstanding, Port Royal has had many great people working there over the years.
Today we remember Alberta Jones, Lois Steede, Clyde Butterfield, Judy Scott, Dwayne Pearman, Herman. ‘Tucci’ Bascome, Delano Bulford, Inez Curtis, Mrs. DeRosa, Lennie Van Putten, Francis Furbert, Sharon Mallory, May Doers, Space Harney, Eddie Darrell, Denise Stephenson, Sandra Tucker, Alora Rabain, Nicholas Mansell, Glenda Todd, Mrs. Moniz, Ralph Fray, Gary Lambert, Cornell Bean, Adwina Ming, Glen Simmons, Gloriette Curtis, Darron Woods, Eddie Sousa, Trevor Madeiros, Carlton Isaac, ‘Skal’ , Oscar Riley, Cal DeRosa, Henry Ascento, Edward ‘Buzz’ Deshields. Alvina Moniz, The Bremar Family and many others.
2007 to date:
A remodeled Port Royal has transformed our previously narrow tree lined golf course into an elevated open expanse that offers incredible panoramic views. Through the vision of Dr Ewart Brown, former Premier and Tourism Minister, Port Royal was transformed into a made for television golf venue and the people of Bermuda got a taste of world class golf with the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
We deem this as Port Royal’s Modern Era and we have to thank the vision of Dr Brown for introducing PGA Grand Slam of Golf to Bermuda, which elevated our global awareness as a destination on the world stage.
Today we play host to the PGA Tour Bermuda Championship, and the timing is impeccable, as Bermuda looks to sports tourism to take center stage to help revive our economic fortunes.
As Bermuda plays host to the PGA Tour Bermuda Championship, we will be forever be grateful for the collaborative work of former Tourism Minister Zane Desilva & for PGA Tour player PH Horgan 111 (a former Bermuda Open Champion) who are responsible for the Bermuda Championship being on our shores.
In closing, I deem this my testimony of love and appreciation for an awesome vision that birthed Port Royal Golf Course. As we reflect on the 50 years of Port Royal Golf Course – I cannot express the Love that I hold for this public golf course – and the good that has come from its establishment is an example that needs to be followed around the world
Hubert ‘Kim’ E Swan JP, MP, (born 4 October 1957) is a Bermudian professional golfer and politician. As a former member of the PGA European Tour & past President of the Bermuda PGA, he is currently a Board member of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Chairman Designate of the Bermuda Government Golf Courses. He was reelected for the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) in July 2017. Swan learned the game of golf from his uncle, Herman Santucci Bascome, a former golf pro at Ocean View Golf Course in Bermuda, while growing up at the newly developed government-owned Port Royal Golf Course in the early 1970s. He was a member of the then Palm Beach Junior College golf team led by Ken Green, which finished 4th in the State Junior College Championship in 1978, before joining Troy State University golf team. Individually, he won medalist honours at the Northeast Louisiana University Invitational. He is also the Golf Contributor for Bermuda Real