More help needed for ace Jamaican golfer
Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor - Sports
It will take some heavy financial backing to get Jamaican golfer Wesley Brown around the United States' National Golf Association (NGA) Tour for this upcoming season.
Brown just completed his second year as a professional on the Tour and was quite successful. Playing in the 2014 Carolina Summer Series, the 23-year-old won two tournaments, placed second twice and ended in the top-six in five more events. In all, there were 10 events.
Next season, that complement will increase significantly to 28 tournaments for the Jamaican, as he continues his drive through new golfing frontiers towards the ambitious goal of earning a spot on the Pro Tour with the biggest names in the sport, such as Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.
"It's not cheap to go from city to city, tournament to tournament," explained Brian Roper, chairman of the Jamaica Golf Association selection committee. "The cheap part of it is the equipment. Tailor Made has been very kind at this stage, but we're looking at $50-$60,000 US dollars next year to get him into 28 events."
Competition at Brown's present level attracts a lot of costs, primarily air and ground travel, accommodation and tournament fees. At the moment, sponsorship from the Sandals Foundation keeps him afloat. He was able to attract their support because he came out of their golfing programme at Sandals Golf and Country Club, where he also worked as a caddie while developing his game and representing Jamaica at the junior and senior levels.
Roper, also general manager at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios, says they need more partners to support Brown's drive.
"We mustn't lose the opportunity. He's a young man, he's in his early 20s, he's the first Jamaican to have gone away and won events at this stage. He has the talent, we're sourcing the proper coaching for him now, the proper nutrition and fitness which all go when you get to that level," he observed. "He needs those opportunities and I appeal to corporate Jamaica, we all owe it to a young man like that. He will make Jamaica proud and I can tell you, Wesley will never forget where he is coming from."
The player was born in Runaway Bay and attended Hoolebury All-Age, then Brown's Town Comprehensive High and started playing the sport at the Runaway Bay Golf Course. At 16, he went to Sandals Golf and Country Club and developed as an amateur, before his recent transition to the pro ranks.
"Last year, he won in the region of $4000 or $5000 dollars (US). The first thing, as Wesley came back to Jamaica, was to give $1000 to charity. Now, you win your first $5,000, which is not a lot of money and he gives back 20 per cent of it to charity because he got an opportunity. This is the type of young man he is and we, corporate Jamaica, need to give Wesley the opportunity," Roper appealed.