Bahamas Ministry of Tourism’s Travis Robinson, Parliamentary Secretary, on Tuesday extolled the virtues of his homeland as a “sports mecca” and welcomed local and international media and golf fans from around the world to the sixth annual Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic during a press conference at the Ocean Club Golf Course at Atlantis Resort.
Hosted by Jeff Raedle, tournament director and principal of Global Golf Management, which operates the season-opening event on the LPGA schedule, the press conference kicked off a busy day at the Ocean Club as players worked in their practice rounds and aspiring young golfers got an introduction to the game during the annual RBC Junior Clinic.
Also appearing on the dais with Robinson and Raedle were the following dignitaries: Kevin Darling, Head of Business Banking, Northern Caribbean; Alan Bates, Chief ALIV; Robbie Leming, General Manager of Ocean Club; Bahamas native Georgette Rolle, who is competing in her fifth Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; and Sharon Cleare, Bahamas Golf Federation Chair, Ladies Division.
“This is the sixth year of this prestigious international tournament in the Bahamas, a tournament made possible by the close collaboration of key sponsors,” Robinson said in front of a packed room. “The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation is pleased once again to be a co-title sponsor of this tournament in conjunction with Pure Silk and the LPGA. … This tournament has been an all-around success, which explains why sponsors return year after year. To underscore the evidence of this success, I’d like to briefly highlight the impact of the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic has had on the Bahamas tourism and our economy in general.”
Robinson went on to highlight the 10 hours of television coverage to 150-plus countries on Golf Channel and accompany the U.S. and international broadcast media worth an equivalent value of $4.7 million. In print media, there were 3,000-plus mentions and placements in 50 countries, and in digital media, the event drew more than 600 million views. “This year,” he said, “we look forward to an even wider media coverage … at one of the most scenic golf courses in the world.” The event accounted for 3,700 room nights at area hotels.
Robinson added that the tournament “solidifies the reputation of the Islands of the Bahamas as a sports mecca.” Raedle announced plans for the new “Big Saturday” series of events at the Ocean Club in conjunction with the competition, which includes a Kids Zone, presented by Neutrogena, and live music from Chris Sweeting after the end of play at approximately 5 p.m.
Rolle, 32, who hopes to make the cut for the first time, talked about, “the golden opportunity to have a shot to compete in a professional golf event, something I’ve been really thankful for, and proud to be able to represent my country in. Five times [in the tournament], it’s been a great journey.”
Also Tuesday, LPGA players Marissa Steen and Jackie Stoelting greeted more than 70 boys and girls for the RBC Junior Clinic held on the driving range at the Ocean Club. The clinic is one of the pre-tournament highlights of tournament week. Steen and Stoelting provided demonstrations and offered individual and group instruction on several facets of the game. They also signed autographs and posed for photos.
The LPGA announced Tuesday that Denise Hill of Canada is its first recipient of its new XL Catlin Volunteer Service Award. The LPGA will recognize and exemplary volunteer from each of its LPGA tournaments in 2018. Hill has been a volunteer at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic since its inception. “Denise is the type of volunteer who takes initiative and is willing to go beyond the call of duty to make the tournament the best it can be,” said Selina Maddox, volunteer director with Global Golf Management.
The sixth annual Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic is the opening event on the LPGA schedule for the fourth time. Offering a purse of $1.4 million, the tournament features a field of 108 players from 24 countries that include 15 major champions and 12 winners from the 2017 season (compared to 13 and seven, respectively, last year). Five of the top 10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are entered, led by No. 1 Shanshan Feng, No. 3 So Yeon Ryu, who shared the 2017 Rolex Player of the Year Award with Sung Hyun Park, and No. 4 Lexi Thompson, the Race to the CME Globe champion in 2017.