Keen battles as travel golf tourney ends on high note
Friday’s curtain-closer at the 19th staging of the US Travel Advisors Golf Tournament at the Sandals Golf and Country Club in Upton, St Ann, saw a dominant win by one team, close battles across the leaderboard and many new memories as Jamaica’s golfing product again took centre stage.
The two-day tournament was won by the team of Pete Drab, Damon Spady, Megan Sams and Scott Austin, who matched their opening-day score of 58 to close on 116, which comfortably placed them seven shots in front of their nearest rivals.
There was an almighty battle for second place between Team Six, which comprised Adam and Dave Anderson, David Schutz and Jeremy Lee; and Team Eight, which featured Craig Mansperger, Angela Mansperger, Ro Gallo and Mike Tipple.
In the end, the two groups of players could not be separated as they mirrored each other’s scores, backing up day-one tallies of 62 with a 61 card yesterday, to close on 123 each, in a two-way tie for second place.
The team of Larry Field, Larry Field Sr, Dennis Field and Michael Zuch ended in fourth place, a further three shots behind on 126 (64 and 62), while the group of Lauren Rotureau, James Rotureau, Nicole Copare, and Terry Stohs were one shot behind in fifth.
Massachusetts native James Cassie did not take top honours this time around, but it did not matter to the 75-year-old, who was making his 14th appearance at the competition.
Cassie, along with his wife Donna, who has been selling Sandals vacations for almost four decades, are regular visitors to the island and the avid golfer underlined the true value of the tournament, which was put together to give travel agents from the US market a first-hand experience of Sandals’ and Jamaica’s golfing and general tourism offers.
“My time here has been great, we get to come here and play golf, visit the resorts, we learn about all the rooms, what’s new — especially at Sandals Dunn’s River, which is brand new and so a lot of these people haven’t seen it yet,” Cassie said.
“You go back to the United States, you can sell this stuff but more importantly, we come here and we bring stuff for the Sandals Foundation. We bring books and pencils and supplies which help. I have a group of people who travel with me, who go to the schools and do readings and they get more satisfaction out of that than staying at the resort and playing golf; that’s what this is about.”
Cassie, whose team also included Donna as well as Danna and David Kimpel, ended the competition in sixth place with a score of 129 after scores of 68 and 61 on each day.
However, as he was sure to point out, every opportunity to play the only golf course in Ocho Rios is always a win for him.
“Golf is the main reason I come, I am a golfer. When my wife says we are going on vacation and asks where I want to go, it’s always Ochi because we can play golf here and I play every single day. This tournament is fun because we get to see a lot of the same people that we know who are all in the same business as us,” said Cassie, who was making his sixth trip to Jamaica in 2023.
“The condition of the golf course, I have never seen it better. The staff here is amazing, Jonathan Newnham keeps a tight grip on everything that’s going on and that is great, they do such a great job here,” Cassie added.