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From caddie to national player - Dane Bailey now dreams of PGA Tour

Published:Sunday | September 21, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Golfer Bryan 'Dane' Bailey. - Contributed

Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor - Sport

Bryan 'Dane' Bailey is taking full advantage of the opportunities that exist in his surroundings. This is particularly so, as it relates to Sandals Golf and Country Club.

Bailey has spent all his life in Exchange, the St Ann community where the golf club is located. And so almost like a natural progression, came Bailey's association with the facility.

In time, that association would deepen with his role as a caddie, then as a player.

He continues to do both, advancing with honours in the latter, to the point where nine years on, the 25-year-old is now a member of the senior men's national golf team.

"Representing the country is a really good thing. It was a really good experience," Bailey said, as he reflected on his participation in the Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships held in Puerto Rico recently.

That was his first time representing Jamaica.

Puerto Rico, though, outdid the Jamaicans and everybody else, and Bailey believes the strength of their junior programme played a big role. He firmly believes Jamaica should start preparing for next year - when they will host the championship - and pointed to the junior programme at Sandals Golf and Country Club. He wants it to be replicated across the island to enhance Jamaica's chances for regional success.

Bailey's transition

Bailey's transition into the national team was measured, given his steady play and successes at top amateur tournaments such as the Panasonic and Easter events. But his foray into the sport was not, given his natural ability.

"I never came up through the junior programme, I started playing at age 16," admitted the former Exchange All Age and Marcus Garvey High student.

Actually, the junior programme, started by the Sandals Golf and Country Club's golf pro Bill Williams had not yet started. It came on stream shortly after, and with it, a linkage with the Sandals Foundation.

"In terms of sponsorship, the Sandals Foundation, among other things, would normally pay our entry fees to tournaments and membership fees," Bailey explained.

"You've to play a certain number of tournaments, but not only that, your scoring average will decide if you get invited to the trials," he continued.

Truth is, he might have made his national debut earlier. But in the search for greater opportunity, he took on another job which took him away from the golf course. He had limited playing time.

"In my fourth to fifth year of playing golf, I was playing better than now, I was shooting par, mid 60s," said Bailey. "Even now, I'm shooting in the mid 60s, but I need a lot of practice to be consistent."

Golf pro Williams concurs.

"The best I've seen him was several years ago, when I was on his heels," he said.

But for one with over 35 years in the business, Williams is never ready to give up on talent.

"Dane looks good, as he could blossom, but we still have some things to work on," the man who literally fixes from a pin to an anchor while working as coach, greens and even the irons at the golf club, explains.

"Once a person is young, you can't tell what he'll do tomorrow; he's a good 'blossom'," Williams continued.

"But he has to get out there and do more work.

"I see myself going forward, but it's a process, it's step by step. My goal is to stand there on the PGA Tour playing against those big guys," Bailey stated.

"Those guys on the Tour are hitting balls every day, in the morning, in the afternoon; every day they're hitting balls. I think that's the key: hard work, hard practice."