Winners highlight Jamaica's golf product as Sandals tourney ends
Members of the winning team (from left) Scott Austin, Pete Drab, Damon Spady and Megan Sams share the spotlight with Jake Coldiron, national manager for golf sales at Sandals, during the award ceremony for the US Travel Advisors Golf Tournament at Sandals Ocho Rios. The tournament, which was held at Sandals Golf and Country Club, featured over 60 top travel agents from the United States.

JAMAICA has swung its way into a reputation of being the prime regional destination for golf tourism, a reality that has been fueled in no small part by the Sandals brand through its annual travel advisors golf tournament.

Developed as a tool to offer first-hand experiences to top travel agents from the key markets of Latin America, Canada, and the United States the series — which last Thursday and Friday saw the US-based advisors taking a swing at Sandals Golf and Country Club in Upton, St Ann — continues to encourage golf bookings to the island and further cement the country's image as a haven for top-quality golfing facilities and experiences.

The two-day US Travel Advisors Golf Tournament, which got underway on Thursday, featured 64 agents from the market.

The team of Scott Austin, Pete Drab, Megan Sams, and Damon Spady were the class of the field, swinging their way to scores of 58 on each day for a final tally of 116, a record 26 below-par, in a dominant display.

In an echo of the sentiments shared by the other golfers throughout the competition, the winning quartet expressed that they were impressed with the quality of the course and believe that Jamaica, and the Sandals brand in particular, are well-established as leaders in the golf tourism market across the region.

"The experience was great! This is our second year and we had a great time again. The course is again in great shape; the caddies are fantastic, they were helpful on every shot and really helped us improve our game," Drab told the Jamaica Observer.

"My clients are already asking to come down, just from the social media posts that they have seen. They have said that the course looks great, it looks fun. They see us enjoying it and they know they are going to have a great time here. I think it's a great destination for anybody to come down to Jamaica and experience this," he added.

Austin noted that the design of the course provided a positive experience for both experienced and novice golfers.

"The course is in great shape. It is a great course for anyone to come down and play — whether your skill is great or whether you are just a beginner. It is fun, it is challenging, it's long and it's short so it's a great course for everyone," Austin said.

The lone female in the group, Sams, played a big role in her team's win and is already looking forward to returning to the island.

"We are so excited! We had so much fun these past few days and played some great golf, but it is a challenging course so we were so excited to pull off the win," Sams said.

"I hit a couple of really good drives. Being able to play the women's tees for me is just so much fun, having played golf my whole life. It put the guys in a position to make good shots but it was just so much fun to come together as a team," she added.

For their efforts, each team member received a trophy and a five-night vacation at any Sandals resort.

Trophies were also handed out to Linda Hyde (closest to the pin – ladies); Mike Zuch (closest to the pin – men); Julie Gildner (longest drive – ladies); and Harold Kelly (longest drive – men).

There was a tie for second-place honours 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.

Both teams backed up day-one tallies of 62 with a 61 card on Friday's final day, to close on 123 each.

The team of Larry Field, Larry Field Sr, Dennis Field and Michael Zuch ended in fourth place, a further three strokes behind on 126, while the group of Lauren Rotureau, James Rotureau, Nicole Copare, and Terry Stohs were one stroke behind in fifth.

The tournament also raised US$1,210 toward Sandals Foundation.

BY ANDRE LOWE Sport content manager

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