Outerbridge’s legacy to be honoured
The legacy and contributions of late golfer Rogers Outerbridge will be honoured annually during a Pro Am tournament featuring local and overseas players.
The inaugural Rogers Outerbridge Golf Classic is scheduled to take place at Port Royal Golf Course on April 6.
In the 1960s and 1970s Outerbridge and his wife Lilian held numerous monthly tournaments with an organisation called Pro Am & Juniors, which also featured prominent overseas players such as professional Bill Bishop of the Philadelphia PGA Section.
By far the most popular tournament the couple held was the annual Rogers Outerbridge Grand Slam, which also took place at Port Royal, attracting the largest participation of local golfers of all races, genders and ages.
During his era, Rogers was limited to playing at Ocean View Golf Course, the only golf course where black players were allowed to play because of segregation.
He earned a living as a caddie at Mid Ocean Club and while he was an accomplished player he was denied the opportunity to compete equally among his professional peers, locally and internationally.
Before 1973, local golf was governed solely by the Bermuda Golf Association and anyone who caddied for a living during that period was deemed as a professional and, as such, rendered ineligible to participate in amateur events.
The Bermuda Professional Golfer’s Association was formed after Outerbridge had retired from playing, however, he was unable to become a member of the organisation as he was not formally employed at the very golf clubs where he taught and generated considerable business.
“It is important to appreciate the time context of Rogers Outerbridge’s contribution to golf in Bermuda,” Scott Roy, the BPGA president, said. “Pre 1967, golf was rigidly segregated in Bermuda.
“He did a lot in local golf and this is our way of honouring him. His name had been thrown around local golf for years and it’s been on our agenda to honour him.
“I’m sorry it’s taken this long to do, but I’m proud to say that we’ve actually got it off the ground.
“We’ve reached out to the family of Rogers Outerbridge and they are very excited to hear that we are doing this.”
The launch of the Rogers Outerbridge Golf Classic falls in line with the BPGA’s efforts to encourage more participation in their events.
“We do have an active tournament schedule and we are re-energising that again throughout the year to get our players out and playing to better our skills,” Roy said.
“We have two players who are trying very hard to get out on Tour, Daniel Augustus and Camiko Smith, so this will give them another platform to play and hone their game in.
“We had our first event [Monthly Medal] on Monday at Mid Ocean and we’re going throughout the year. We’re looking at around 14 events with a few other Pro Ams and fun events in the mix between February and October.
“We’ve brought back our BPGA Professional Championship, BPGA Senior Championship and what used to be the Fritzweiter Memorial Match Play tournament.”
There is added incentive for players to compete on the Tour as the top eight players in the Order of Merit will qualify for the BPGA Match Play Championships at Belmont Hills in September.
“We have a point system so you get a point based on where you place and then those points will accumulate at the end of the year,” Roy said.
Roy said extra bonuses and prize money will be awarded to the top three or four players in the Order of Merit at the end of the season-long tour.
More details can be found at www.bermudapga.com