By Brent Long
While he’s not shipwrecked or stranded on a remote island, Kevin Mumford doesn’t mind being a castaway at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club on Great Exuma in the Bahamas.
Scattered like pearls across the ocean, the Out Islands of the Bahamas offer a hidden world surrounded by pristine beauty, endless land and sea adventures and some of the most breathtaking waters in the Caribbean. The largest of 365 mostly undiscovered cays, Great Exuma stands out from all the others. Vibrant, exotic and serene – this is the ultimate island getaway.
“I like to say that it has all the beauty and isolation of Gilligan’s Island, but with the added bonus of having an award-winning Greg Norman designed golf course and a world-class Sandals Resort,” says Mumford who grew up playing golf at Port Carling G&CC in his youth and returned home in early March to attend the Toronto Star Golf and Travel Show.
“It truly is paradise. When I first arrived here in September 2010 from Grand Cayman very few people knew of Sandals Great Exuma and the majority of our guests were not golfers,” Mumford adds. “Now through the hard work of our PR and marketing team and word of mouth, we sell out all our morning tee times, which is great for a course in the Caribbean and we continue to grow the golf aspect of the resort.”
The front nine weaves through scenic mangroves, while the back nine wanders along Emerald Bay’s stunning coast with six signature holes 11 through 16 playing on the rocky shoreline with spectacular ocean views and a breathtaking backdrop – some have called it the Pebble Beach of the Caribbean. “Our owner, Butch Stewart, has a terrific relationship with Greg Norman, who continues to promote the course and the Sandals destination,” Mumford says. In fact, Norman and Holly Sonders, co-host of Morning Drive and School of Golf on Golf Channel, just filmed a playing with the pro lesson at Emerald Reef that will air in late March or early April on Golf Channel. There’s even talk of Norman renovating Sandals’ two other courses Sandals G&CC in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Sandals GG in Castries, Saint Lucia.
Mumford is also looking forward to hosting members of the Golf Association of Ontario at Sandals Emerald Reef GC for the 3rd Annual GAO Invitational for couples from November 2 to 9th. The getaway includes; airfare for two on Air Canada, accommodations, unlimited golf with three fun couples competitions, awards dinner and banquet and all food and beverages starting at $5,000 per couple.
Before that, Mumford will go out on tour this summer and play several events on the PGA European Tour and the French Alps Pro Tour – both feeder tours to the European Tour – as a brand ambassador for Sandals. “It’s a terrific partnership. I get to play some competitive golf and it’s a branding exercise as we introduce Sandals – a story of two people in love getting away and reconnecting with each other in a package where everything is included, even the golf,” says Mumford who spent four years as the Head Professional North Sound Club in Grand Cayman before washing ashore at Sandals Emerald Reef Club.
Prior to setting sail from Canada, Mumford turned pro in 1992. He apprenticed at Emerald Hills GC and then Lionhead G&CC before spending five years at Glen Abbey GC as a teaching pro. Then it was back-home for three years to work at The Lake Joseph Club. While the summers were great, the 42-year-old still shivers at the idea of a Canadian winter. He decided to hook up with Elite Golf Cruises in 2004 cruising the Hawaiian Islands full-time giving lessons and escorting vacationers to big-name courses. He also threw in a few trips on ships making waves in the Mediterranean and Caribbean for a change of pace, followed by a year teaching at Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda before island jumping to Grand Cayman and then Great Exuma. The next destination is anyone’s guess, but here’s guessing that there won’t be any snow!