The heat of summer is upon us, but North Sound Golf Club will be busier than ever this month and next.
The biggest event will be the 62nd Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships taking place the week of July 30 to August 3.
“It’s the first year in quite a while that we’re hosting that tournament,” said North Sound Director of Golf Erick Fowler. “We’re really looking forward to that.”
The Cayman Islands Golf Association last hosted the the Caribbean Championships in 2008 and once before that, in 1997. It has also hosted the Caribbean Junior Championships in 2002 and 2013.
Fowler said that in addition to a team from the Cayman Islands, eight other Caribbean countries are sending teams to compete in the championships this year and that it is possible a ninth — St. Lucia — would join them. The participating countries are sending men’s and women’s teams, meaning that there would be a lot of golfers on the course.
“During that week, we’ll only be open for that tournament,” he said.
Fowler, who coached the Cayman Islands men’s team to a third place finish — its best finish since coming in second place when it last hosted the championships in 2008 — will once again serve as coach of this year’s national team, which consists of juniors as well as adults.
The 5th Annual Summer Social Corporate Golf League will also carry over into July, ending with the championship tournament on July 27.
“The response for that has been unbelievable,” Fowler said, noting that all 16 team slots were filled in less than a week after the league was announced and that six or seven other teams had to be turned away.
The eight-week corporate league started June 12 and takes place every Tuesday, with the exception of the championships, which takes place on a Friday. The rounds get off to a shotgun start at 5:15, giving players enough daylight to play nine holes. Six players are fielded by each team for each round and at least one of the players on each team must be female. Each round consists of three alternate-shot matches.
“It’s become a highly anticipated league,” Fowler said.
I want to see more juniors play the game, not only because I think it’s important for the North Sound Golf Club, but also for the island.Erick Fowler
The summer also offers golfing fun for youngsters. The annual Camana Bay Multi-Sport Camp, which involves three separate camp weeks starting July 3 and ending July 20, will include golf instruction and practice once a week, said Fowler.
“We will also run our own junior camps [at the North Sound Golf Club] in July and August,” he said, adding that the camps take place in the mornings over the course of one week. “The kids will learn the basics of golf; a little about the game, about driving, pitching, putting and iron play. By the end of the week, we hope to have these kids on the course playing three or four holes.”
If the camp golfers don’t have their own clubs, some will be provided for them to use. In addition to the summer camps, during the academic year the North Sound Golf Club also sends staff members to some of Grand Cayman’s schools, including John Gray High School, George Town Primary School and Sir John A. Cumber Primary School.
“We go out to the schools once a week for five- to six-week stints,” he said, noting that each week his staff teaches three separate sessions for different age groups at each school using plastic SNAG golf clubs, tennis ball and SNAG targets.
Some schoolchildren who show a keen interest and ability to play golf can be offered “scholarships of sorts” that allow them to come to the course and play rounds, Fowler said. “Two Sir John A. Cumber students, Leelan Moore, 12, and his brother Kenny, 10, have both been given such “scholarships.”
Fowler said he believes it is important to encourage junior golfers to pursue the sport, partially because he doesn’t feel people are exposed to it enough in the Cayman Islands.
“I want to see more juniors play the game, not only because I think it’s important for the North Sound Golf Club, but also for the island,” he said, adding that golf is not only a good way of meeting and spending time socially with others, but it also plays an important business networking role.
Although golf was once seen as a “rich man’s sport,” Fowler said it’s more accessible with less protocol than it used to be.
“Golf has relaxed a little now.”
Fowler joined the North Sound Golf Club as a PGA professional in July 2016 and became the director of golf in March 2017. In March of this year, when former North Sound Golf Club General Manager Jeff Sauvage left his position, Fowler assumed a larger role.
“I now oversee the entirety of the operation,” he said. Golf has been a passion of Fowler’s since childhood and although he studied mechanical engineering at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, he’s happy to have a career in golf. He’s also happy to be working at the North Sound Golf Club in the Cayman Islands.
“This is the best golf job I’ve had, no doubt,” he said. “It’s also one of the best management teams I’ve worked with in my career.”