When American professional Patrick Cover defends his title at the 56th Jamaica Open Golf Championship, which will be played at the spectacular Tryall Club in Hanover from October 29-31, organizers will be hoping for a triple dose of benefits to flow from the tournament.
The Jamaica Golf Association, which runs the prestigious event, has long had a three-fold mission: to generate income from the Open, to continue to develop golf – and especially junior golf – for the island nation and to boost tourism in Jamaica.
“Those are our three basic tenets, and all three are very important,” said Jodi Munn-Barrow, President of the Jamaica Golf Association. “The development and the administration of golf in Jamaica is a primary objective and we are really trying to focus on junior golf and golf in Jamaica itself, which is difficult because in countries like Jamaica there is this elitist perspective when it comes to golf. And that makes it even harder to grow the game for the masses and to spread it through the communities versus football, cricket or track and field which are traditional sports here. We’ve been really trying the last few years to get more development of golf and exposure for golf because of the opportunities that golf brings for our kids in particular.”
Munn-Barrow readily admits that pushing the tourism angle is an ongoing task, given that so many other countries around the world label themselves as golf destinations.
“Our association is trying to work with our Ministry of Tourism to include Jamaica a lot more in the public conversation as a golfing destination, and the Jamaican Open is a good opportunity for that,” said Munn-Barrow. “A majority of the players are from overseas, and a lot of them don’t come here alone. They come with family, so you have that marriage of the tournament with tourism. From a local perspective, it’s also an opportunity for our elite amateurs to compete with the pros, to earn world amateur ranking points and to get a lot of experience because when you’re playing with professionals at that level, it augurs well for your game of course.”
Aqua Bay Resort returns as presenting sponsor of the Jamaica Open for the fourth consecutive year. The tournament serves to showcase its vast potential and the beauty of Jamaica and is also sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Digicel Business, and the Grand Palladium Hotel.
Anticipation is high for a Jamaican Open field which usually includes a strong representation of international professional and amateur golfers, local players as well as several outstanding juniors. Entries have already been received from the United States, Canada, Australia, the Caribbean and from the host country.
To enter the tournament as a professional, senior professional, amateur, or senior amateur please visit: jgagolfstore.com/56th-ja-open.
Cover won the tournament for a second time last year, having previously finished on top in 2019, the first year at Tryall Club. This year’s winner will receive $20,000 while the overall purse is over $100,000.
Ewan Peebles, Director of Golf at Tryall Club, has lived in Jamaica for more than two decades and he is a big fan of the Jamaica Open. He sits on the tournament committee and is aware of how important the event is for the growth of the game in Jamaica.
“The Jamaica Open is a major catalyst of the local golf programs that are managed by the Jamaica Golf Association – national teams, the national junior team, junior coaching programs,” said Peebles. “Any profits derived from the Jamaica Open are invested back into those programs. So, it is important for the Jamaica Golf Association. It’s a big event for that.
“In terms of the price point and entry fee for the players, we try to keep it as cost effective as possible because we understand that you have to board a flight to get here and book a hotel. Even if you are just coming in from Florida, you are looking at a couple of thousand dollars minimum. The type of golfer we are looking at, we occasionally have players off the Korn Ferry Tour or the Champions Tour, but most of our customers for this event are mini-tour guys who are price sensitive. They do the math immediately: ‘What’s this going to cost? How much are you paying out? How well am I going to have to play to break even or even make a profit?’ That’s their formula so we have to tailor what we are doing to make the numbers work within their formula.”
Although the 2023 Jamaica Open is not televised this year, Munn-Barrow has high hopes that more effective marketing of the tournament this year will lead to greater exposure and, perhaps in the mid-term, an alignment with the Latin American Tour.
“The Jamaican Open is primarily a professional event,” said Munn-Barrow. “While a lot of the other Caribbean events are more amateur driven. We have a decent purse for a small association, it has grown in the last few years, and we are hoping that it will grow even more and then maybe step by step we can move it from just a regional event into the Latin American Tour. And then maybe from there it grows it even more.
“Right now, it’s in an exposure stage. How much can we get exposure from the event? We are trying to do more marketing this year than we did in previous years. We are also planning to do some livestreaming through our YouTube channel to get it out more, to form a foundation that we can build on for the future.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?