Golf takes centre stage this week as the Caribbean
Championships tee off today.
All sporting attention is at the North Sound Club for the 52nd staging of the annual event, sponsored by HSBC Bank and the Cayman Islands are well represented in every category.
The five members of the men’s team vying for supremacy are Joel Dodson, Ali Hall-Jones, Johnny Widmer, Michael Wight and Robert Woods.
They face tough opposition from the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the OECS (St Kitts), Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos and the US Virgin Islands.
A total of 160 visiting competitors, team officials and supporters are here.
Dominica Republic have won the last two men’s titles to capture the Hoerman Cup. Barbados have been runners up in the last two championships. Cayman have a strong team with teenage sensation Widmer and Hall-Jones in good form.
Woods is president of the Cayman Islands Golf Association who has competed several times in the Hoerman Cup and Ramon Baez Trophy.
Hall-Jones is Cayman’s national champion. This will be his first Hoerman Cup and he is confident of doing well. Widmer is one of the region’s best youngsters.
Wight, best known as a cricketer, has also played football for Cayman. His golf has evolved dramatically recently and he will provide excellent support to the younger team members.
Could the Caribbean Association Golf Championships record be broken this year? Many years ago Trinidadian Stephen Ames, then 16, shot 66 at Sandy Lane, Barbados.
In the 1997 CAGC Cayman’s Robert ‘Chilly’ Chilman shot a 66 on the Links.
Ames is now a world class pro and while Chilman is still on the Cayman team, he is now in the Seniors but still hitting superbly.
If the conditions are right, a 65 is possible on the beautifully prepared North Sound course.
Cayman’s women’s team challenging for the George Teale Memorial Trophy is Samantha Widmer (Johnny’s sister), Nitty Howe and Siobhan Ribbins. They too have an excellent chance of winning.
Howe is the national champion who has found extra length this year which will make her even more competitive than usual.
Ribbins is from an Irish family of golfers and has won many titles over the years.
Samantha has just finished playing at college level and is one of the best female players in the region.
Cayman’s mid-amateur team going for the Ramon Baez Trophy is Colin Mackay and Trent Riggins. Mackay is returning to competition golf after a few years’ absence. Riggins returned to the CAGC last year after a prolonged absence.
Robert Chilman and Stephen Heal are Seniors playing in the Francis & Steele-Perkins Cup. With years of experience, they have a good chance of lifting the trophy.
Andy Newton and Don Stewart are Super Seniors, challenging for the Higgs & Higgs Trophy. This is for the over-60s but they play as well as any youngsters.
The Cayman team is managed by North Sound Director of Golf Sean Wilson and coached by Kevin Mumford.
A great human interest story is that Trinidad’s Robert Grell is the only Super Senior who can boast that he played in the first CAGC in 1957. Yes, 51 years later he is still going strong at 75 having represented T&T an amazing 43 times.
He has won the Trinidad and Tobago Open five times and numerous other titles at all levels in a long and distinguished career.