#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#AS the Bahamas Professional Golfers Association (BPGA) emerged from its hiatus over the Independence holiday weekend, Grand Bahama Chris Lewis was elected as president to usher in a new era over the next two years.
#Despite the inclement weather on Saturday, the association also staged a golf shootout at the Ocean Club Golf Course to recognise its golfing pioneer, the late Leroy ‘Roy’ Bowe, OBE, who founded the BPGA in 1968.
#Keno Turnquest clinched the title with a score of 72 and collected the top prize of $600. He was followed by Lemon Gorospe with a 76 for second and $400. Raquel Riley, making her debut as a female pro golfer, finished third with 78 for $300. There are currently nine active pro golfers in the association and Lewis said he’s elated to have been chosen to lead the resurgence in the sport. “I’m excited to be the new president. We look forward to re-establishing ourselves as the governing body for professional golfers in the Bahamas,” said Lewis, who is the current golf superintendent at the Reef Golf Club.
#Lewis will head the association over the next two year with an executive team that comprise of Gorospe as vice-president, Turnquest as treasurer and former president Glenn Pratt as secretary.
#“I think we have experience group of guys, who are very knowledgeable of the sport, based on their experience and knowledge over the years. I think collectively, we should be able to do some dynamic things.”
#The BPGA also amended its constitution to include female pros. Riley, who was present at the meeting, was the first female pro admitted into the association and was honored to have the recognition.
#“Golf has been a very important part of my life and I grew up looking up to brothers Greg and Phil Maycock as well as Keno Turnquest in junior golf,” said Riley, the former pro at Bakers Bay Golf Club in Abaco, which is currently under reconstruction due to Hurricane Dorian damage.
#“The sport has given me the tools to get an education and I am happy to be a part of the history of golf in The Bahamas.”
#Having just taken office, Lewis said they have not yet completed their agenda – short or long term – but they are looking at some ambitious plans that they will announce in short order.
#“I know we want to see that Bahamians get more opportunities to secure jobs at the local golfing resorts so that we can continue the growth of the sport,” Lewis pointed out. “We want to provide more opportunities for the future generation of Bahamian professional golfers.”
#Lewis just believes that the Bahamas Government need to take a more proactive approach in introducing more initiatives for Bahamians to access certain properties.
#“I know most of the properties in Nassau are either high end or private, so we need to now look at ways in which we can alternative venues to accommodate the golfing community, similar to what they are doing at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.
#“It’s hard to develop golf if you don’t have no where to play.”
#Since the passing of hurricanes Francis and Jean, Lewis said Grand Bahama has been in a state of decline with golfing properties and the Reef is the only 18-hole facility available. The other is Fortunes Hill, which is only nine holes.
#“At one point, Grand Bahama, used to be the golf mecca of the Bahamas and pretty much this region,” Lewis reflected. “But that has faded away as the conditions in Grand Bahama has deteriorated over the years. So we would like to see some focus put on invigorating the golf properties here in Grand Bahama.”
#If it is reality, Lewis said they can provide more opportunities for persons to play the sport and eventually they can see an influx of the professional golfers, who are currently idle because of the inactivity of the association since 2012.
#Pratt, a pro of 38 years, said the BPGA was formed to protect the employment interests of Bahamian golf professionals and to help with further advancement of Junior Golf in the country.
#As for the shoot out on Saturday, Lewis said despite the inclement weather, they had some fierce competition and they are looking forward to that type of rivalry when they continue with their series of tournaments in the coming months.
#Here’s a synopsis of the newly elected members:
#Chris Lewis – President, BPGA (2020-2022)
#Lewis obtained his BA in Business Administration from Texas Southern University in 1992 on a golf scholarship. In 2002, he obtained a specialized associate degree in golf complex operations and management from the San Diego Golf Academy where he graduated with a 4.0 average and was a Valedictorian.
#In Grand Bahama in 2003, Lewis worked as an assistant golf professional at the Royal Oasis Resort. From 2003-2011, he was the director of golf at the Cable Beach Golf Club in New Providence then moved to Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club in Abaco as a golf pro.
#Upon returning to Grand Bahama, Lewis joined the Reef Golf Club in 2011 as a director of golf and maintenance and currently holds the position of golf superintendent. He is also a Class A golf professional.
#Lewis has held many posts with the BPGA, including past-president (2010-2012) and been elected to serve another two-year term.
#Lemon Gorospe – Vice-President, BPGA (2020-2022)
#Gorospe started his golf career in 1998 as an assistant golf professional under Vernon Lockhart, who was the director of golf at the South Ocean Golf Club. In 2000, Gorospe opened the One and Only Ocean Club Golf Course as the head golf professional.
#From there, Gorospe landed the director of instruction at the Lyford Cay Golf Club from 2007-2009. He is currently the director of golf at Albany Bahamas.
#Gorospe has a Certification in Country Club Management and is a Class A golf professional. He has held the position of vice-president before and is taking on another tenure for the 2020-2022 term.
#Keno Turnquest – Treasurer, BPGA (2020-2022)
#Turnquest started as an assistant golf professional at the Abaco Club under the tutelage of Tom Mackenzie. He has been playing professional golf since 2004 and in 2010 joined Albany Bahamas as the golf services manager.
#Turnquest obtained a degree in golf management from the University of Birmingham and has obtained his Class A Certification while working at Albany. He has held many posts in the BPGA and currently serves as treasurer for the 2020-2022 term.
#Glenn Pratt – Secretary, BPGA (2020-2022)
#Pratt, a master golf instructor, turned pro golfer in 1982 became the youngest Bahamian head golf Pro in the history of golf in The Bahamas in 1984 as head golf pro under Golf Director Freddie Higgs at the Paradise Island Golf Club.
#He is a past-president of the BPGA (2006-2008) and is the newly elected secretary.