The Cayman Islands golf team is still basking in the glory of coming second in the Caribbean Amateur Championships over the weekend.
The 52nd running of the event sponsored by HSBC was a lesson in perseverance and self-belief.
Puerto Rico won the Hoerman Cup and Cayman, who usually finish in the bottom three of the 10 nations competing, surprised even themselves by finishing strongly on Saturday to edge ahead of the Dominican Republic and Trinidad & Tobago.
Cayman’s team of Joel Dodson, Ali Hall-Jones, Johnny Widmer, Michael Wight and Robert Woods deserve tremendous praise for upsetting the odds to grab such a high placing against much stronger golfing countries.
The North Sound course had been immaculately prepared by owner Michael Ryan, developer of the Ritz-Carlton and the praise heaped on the organisation and condition of the course will resonate around the region.
Tournament organiser Bob Slatter could not stop smiling. ‘Finishing second was pure gravy, it was so unexpected. I was getting ready for the presentation awards and I heard this scream of pleasure running through the crowd.
‘This is a real feather in our cap and it shows that you should work hard and never give up. Our team was trying for third, but a second, that’s great. And it really tops off the week.
‘Until then all our visitors were having a great time. All the players were trying hard. This is one of those things that paid off because the team really dug in.’
How does Slatter feel this will contribute to Cayman golf? ‘Well, this will help. Really now, frankly Ron, we’ve got to concentrate on our junior programme.
‘Puerto Rico won three of the five trophies tonight. And they’ve just finished winning most of the trophies at the Caribbean junior championships. One leads to the other.
‘Now we’ll do the best we can with the resources we have to rebuild and strengthen our junior programme. We’re going to be hosting the junior championships within the next few years.
‘Next year they’re in Jamaica. I was very pleased to hear some of our committee say that they’re gearing up and want to have a much bigger team than we sent this year to Trinidad to Jamaica. And that’s what it’s all about.
Woodhouse summed it up superbly. ‘If you look around at all Cayman sport, this is arguably the best performance that any team has put in. Right across the region in any sport, this is absolutely fantastic.’
Michael Wight has had many glory moments representing Cayman in cricket, football, tennis and golf and this was amongst one of his greatest.
‘We thought we might be able to sneak into the third but never thought we could get into the second spot so it’s unbelievable. It was a whole team effort and everybody dug in.’
Of the four sports he finds cricket the easiest ‘because I started it as a child and it came natural. The golf is the hardest because I started it latest, so I’m still learning as I play.’
Maybe one day he might score a hole in one, just like his 14-year-old son, Payton, has already done!