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Port Royal impresses Tolliver

Billy Joe Tolliver, the former NFL quarterback, visited Bermuda for the first time this weekend, and said he was ashamed of himself for not coming sooner.

Tolliver was on Island for a site visit ahead of next month's Bermuda Golf Classic at Port Royal Golf Course, and said he was “very impressed” with everything he had seen.

An established member of the celebrity golf circuit in the United States, the former Atlanta Falcons player, has won the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship four times. Played at Lake Tahoe and televised, and owned, by NBC Sports the championship is now entering its 26th year.

As such, Tolliver knows what it takes to succeed in putting on a tournament such as this, and believes Bermuda can establish an event of its own, something he said he was “already invested in making happen.”

“I like our chances on the deal because they [the organisers] are doing it right the first time,” he said. “They're promoting it as a couples trip, there are going to be things for the wives and girlfriends to do. I think that's a very strategic move.

“Take away the golf and you still have a fantastic place for people to come and unwind.”

Word of mouth will play its part in the beginning, with Tolliver revealing that he got involved because Chris Mohr, the former Buffalo Bills punter, told him about the new event. According to Tolliver if Mohr, a good friend, “tells me the sun's not coming up tomorrow I'll sell my sunglasses.”

Tolliver added: “Originally I was just excited to come and see another part of the world that I've never been to. Now, I'm a little ashamed of myself that I'm 49-years-old and this is the first time I've come to Bermuda. I'll be coming back once or twice a year for the rest of my life now.”

It is exactly that reaction that Bermuda Tourism Authority, which is backing the event as a major sponsor, is hoping to get from the rest of the players who come in April.

For Tolliver, who now works in the gaming industry, the main challenge will be convincing the players, and the fans that organisers hope will follow, that making the trip is worthwhile.

“There are things you can do, perks, first night free, that sort of thing, that hit your bottom line where it's cost effective to do so, but where people walk away feeling good about the experience,” he said.

Ultimately Tolliver is confident that the Golf Classic can become a big draw, and will eventually get the National Football League on board when players, past and present, make it a permanent fixture on their off-season calendar.

“The organisers are going to roll out the red carpet, and if you build it, they will come,” he said.

Photograph by Blaire Jiroux Photography Tolliver is him teeing off at number 6

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Published March 17, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 16, 2015 at 10:42 pm)

Port Royal impresses Tolliver

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