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In full swing

In full swing

Stunning Bahamas golf courses are perfect for mixing business with pleasure

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The Bahamas Investor Magazine
February 16, 2019
February 16, 2019
Gillian Beckett

Anyone who doesn’t believe in mixing business with pleasure has never stepped foot on one of The Bahamas’ many spectacular golf courses. With picture perfect greens ringed by gently swaying palm trees, edged with powder white sandy beaches against a backdrop of sparkling turquoise waters, it is little wonder why many financial services providers in The Bahamas would rather spend a day on the links than in the office.

According to Forbes magazine, an estimated 90 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf and 54 per cent of business professionals see golf as “the perfect networking tool.” Additionally, chief executive officers who play golf are paid up to 17 per cent more on average than their non-golfing counterparts.

“Traditionally, golf has always been associated with the corporate world as a way to connect outside of the boardroom,” says Michael Simms, head golf pro and instructor at Ocean Club Golf Course. “Compared to other sporting activities, golf is played at a slower pace and is great for friendly one- on-one interaction. On the golf course, you can build relationships with your clients on a more personal level and hopefully share a few laughs.”

A golfer’s paradise
From its early beginnings in Scotland, golf has been a favourite sport among the upper echelons of society and business, particularly enjoyed among those lucky enough to live and work in The Bahamas. Thanks to the island nation’s year-round summer climate, golf can be enjoyed any day of the week, and there are plenty of courses to choose from.

On Paradise Island, the Ocean Club Golf Course is a popular golfing destination for guests staying at The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort and the nearby Atlantis megaresort. For local executives and professionals who live in the exclusive community of Ocean Club Estates, they can enjoy a round of golf practically in their own backyard.

Designed by Tom Weiskopf, this 18-hole, 72-par course stretches 7,100 yards across the Paradise Island peninsula, offering stunning views of the Atlantic and Nassau Harbour. It was recently recognized by Golf Digest as one of the top 10 resort courses in North America and the Caribbean region.

“We have a diverse mix of golf, corporate and summer members, many of whom are in the financial services field,” says Simms. “We offer corporate golf memberships at discounted membership rates and also, we have corporate events which include a full day of golf, instruction and awards and entertainment at the Clubhouse. It’s great for team building and staff appreciation days.”

Simms adds Ocean Club’s location, a stone’s throw from Nassau’s downtown core, makes it highly convenient for those with offices there.

“It’s an attractive location situated close to the downtown commerce centres,” he says. “A central location with less commute time from work to the golf course.”

The new Royal Blue at Baha Mar, is another popular course, especially among professionals living in the highly sought- after Cable Beach area. Opened in April 2017, the 18-hole, 72-par course was designed by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus and features a “two courses in one” concept. The front nine is mostly flat with gentle slopes, while the back nine is more challenging with elevated peaks and dips and limestone moonscapes.

Located in southwestern New Providence, the luxurious Albany community and resort, home to many business CEOs and financial services executives in The Bahamas, features its own signature golf course. The golf course has hosted Tiger Woods’s Hero World Challenge since 2015. Designed by PGA star Ernie Els, the par-72 course features 7,302 yards of challenging play with “windswept dunes and numerous scenic water features.”

In addition to enjoying a round, golfers can also perfect their swing at the 400-yard driving range or have a quick game at the chipping and putting greens. The Hero World Challenge is a four-round, 72-hole stroke play event with a $3.5 million purse, a $1 million winner’s prize and Official World Golf Ranking points awarded. It was held at Albany’s par-72, 7,302-yard Championship Golf Course for the fourth consecutive year in 2018.

Playing away
Nassau and Paradise Island aren’t the only places for golf, however. Many business executives choose to entertain their clients and colleagues with a destination golf excursion to The Bahamas’ Family Islands.

Among the top three is The Abaco Club at Winding Bay on Great Abaco Island, recognized as the world’s first 18-hole Scottish style links course in a tropical setting. Designed by Tom Mackenzie and Donald Steel, this private golf course offers 7,182 yards against a stunning backdrop of the island’s Atlantic shoreline. Membership at this exclusive course starts at $75,000.

Also in Abaco is the Treasure Cay Golf Club at the Treasure Cay Beach, Marina and Golf resort. This 18-hole, par-72 course was designed by Dick Wilson and is among The Bahamas’ older offerings, opening in 1969. Treasure Cay is laid out over 6,985 yards and features elevated greens, natural island foliage and challenging ocean crosswinds. Casual play is enjoyed here by locals and guests and no tee times are required.

Rounding out the top three is Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course, located on Great Exuma. This stunning 18-hole, oceanside golf course was designed by golfing great Greg Norman and is renowned as not only one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean, but also one of the most challenging. The course is characterized by winding, seaside dunes and mangroves with six signature holes positioned precariously near the peninsula’s coastline.

Ideal networking tool
In the financial services industry, forging relationships with prospective clients and fellow colleagues is key, so it is easy to see why the beautiful and relaxed surroundings of some of The Bahamas’ most scenic golf courses can serve as the ultimate icebreaker.

On average, an 18-hole round of golf takes approximately four hours, which gives plenty of time to discuss financial wheelings and dealings in a stress-free environment.

However, golf can ultimately provide some insight into a client’s or colleague’s character. To play golf requires composure, confidence and patience–the same traits that determine how well a person performs in business.

Simms says that golf etiquette can go a long way when it comes to making crucial first impressions and solid connections. Of the top etiquette tips to keep in mind, he says: “Most definitely do not talk or move while your playing partner is hitting. Pace of play would be of the utmost importance–make sure you play quickly; do not take two or more practice swings on every shot. Be courteous to your playing partners by playing when it is your turn–the ball furthest from the hole goes first–and help them find their ball.”

For beginner or novice golfers nervous about making a good impression in front of business clients and colleagues, Simms recommends taking a few lessons beforehand and learning the rules of the game.

“The great thing about golf is that you can play with players of all levels and can have a great day, as long as everyone knows the basic rules and etiquette,” he says. “If you are a complete beginner, take a golf lesson from the golf professional. The last thing you would want is to have your client teaching you or you leaving the front nine early, complaining of back pain.”

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