FRIGATE BAY, ST. KITTS — It has been a busy start to the year for Golf Ontario. Partnering with the St. Kitts Tourism Authority (SKTA), Golf Ontario recently sent the Junior (U19) Provincial Team to the island for a training camp, followed by a group of guests for the second annual St. Kitts Invitational.
“Having the junior team here was a main event for St. Kitts,” said Raquel Brown, SKTA CEO. “You had Canadian teenagers interacting with kids from St. Kitts, explaining golf and giving them a different perspective on the sport. It was a great way for us to start off the year!”
“I am glad to see that there were even more persons this year for the Invitational. It means that we are growing,” said Lindsay Grant, Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce. “I believe that over the years the Invitational will continue to grow. We have a wonderful partnership with Golf Ontario.”
The Ontario contingent on the island began on Dec. 31 with the junior team traveling to St. Kitts for their first winter training camp of the season. The junior team, led by Reggie Millage, Head Provincial Coach, took part in a seven-day camp, which saw them play and train at the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club.
“The experience was great,” said Millage. “We received first-class treatment from the moment we got off the plane and the rooms at Royal St. Kitts Hotel were great accommodations for the team.”
Each day the team utilized the nearby beach for their morning training, something that was a big hit with the players. Afterwards, the team took to the course for morning rounds, followed by training at the club’s practice facilities in the afternoon.
“It was refreshing to have the junior Ontario team here in St. Kitts,” said Bruce Wilson, Director of Golf at the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club. “They are very disciplined and some of the most respectful and courteous juniors that I have had the pleasure of working with. I wish them the best of luck in their golf careers.”
As part of Golf Ontario’s goal of helping the island to grow the game of golf, the team took part in a two-hour junior golf skills clinic. Thirty local kids from the island took part in the clinic, run by the Team Ontario players.
“It was awesome to see our kids interact with the team. It helps them realize that with some time and effort, they have the potential to reach that level of golf. The St. Kitts kids haven’t had the expose to other young golfers to see what they can become. It was really nice for them to see and it gives them a challenge to work towards,” added Wilson.
As the team departed the island on Jan. 7, the next group of Ontarians arrived ready for the second annual St. Kitts Invitational. The two-day event made its debut in December of 2015. The 2017 tournament saw 22 individuals (11 teams) compete, doubling the field of the inaugural event. They were joined by a pair of teams from the island.
Defending champion Dave Ramsumair, with teammate Sylvia Jones, won this year’s event. Ramsumair, a Canadian now living on the Island, and Jones accumulated 96 points to win the two-day net stableford competition.
Receiving the award for Top International Team were Hamilton’s Jim and Sheila Drury who scored 88 points in the two-day event.
In addition to the tournament, the group enjoyed the accommodations of the St. Kitts Marriott, who hosted the annual awards banquet. During their stay on the island, the group experienced dining at some of the island’s best restaurants, which gave them a true taste of St. Kitts. The trip also included a visit to sister island Nevis for a round at the Four Seasons Nevis Golf Course.
In all, the guests seemed to enjoy what the island had to offer. “The trip has been great!” said London’s Paul and Anita Pouliot. “Lots of nice people, beautiful golf courses and lovely weather. We have had a really good time and are happy we came.”
“It has been seamless!” added Jim and Sheila Drury. “Going from the airport to hotel to golf course it has been a very good experience. The courses and people have been really nice.”
As the group departed on Jan. 14, it was clear that the relationship between Ontario and St. Kitts is helping to grow the game on the island. “I want to say thank you to Golf Ontario for 2017. We want this event to grow and we think golf is the perfect avenue to get Canadians to St. Kitts. Visitors come to golf but get to see the destination in its truest form. The fact that the junior training camp and Invitational did so well gives St. Kitts a different perspective for golf,” added Brown.
Golf Ontario would like to thank the SKTA for their efforts in organizing the trips. Thanks to the Royal St. Kitts Hotel and Marriott Resort for providing accommodations and Royal St. Kitts Golf Club and Four Seasons Nevis Golf Course for use of their facilities. Stay turned for the announcement of the 2018 St. Kitts Invitational.
To vie photos from Team Ontario’s training camp and the St. Kitts Invitational visit our Facebook Photo Gallery Page.