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Passionate team reverse Ocean View fortunes

Like the proverbial phoenix, Ocean View Golf Club is gradually rising from the ashes.

Nearly a year ago the government-owned facility teetered on the brink of closure as a result of a crippling decline in revenue.

However, through the combined efforts of management and a new generation of young, energetic and ambitious staff, Ocean View's fortunes have taken a turn for the better.

“We have done a whole transition of staff,” Brian Morris, the Ocean View head professional, said. “We have a lot of dedicated people here.

“We have all young Bermudian staff, including three graduates from the Golf Academy of America in Florida, so this is a stepping stone for them like Stonington Beach Hotel School used to be.

“They will work here under OJ [assistant professional OJ Pitcher] and myself and learn how to work inside and outside as well as run tournaments and serve people.

“To be honest, last April they [management] were talking about that it's it and asking why should we stay open. But for the last four months we have probably had the best four months that Ocean View has had in a long time and I just think it's dedication and the new staff and president Cheryl-Lynn Thompson. She is a superstar and is dedicated to Ocean View.

“We don't have a whole lot, we have nine holes. But we are going back to the old Bermuda, focusing on our guest. It's back to being the people's course and open now to everybody. It's the people's course and anybody can play and it's affordable.”

Ocean View now holds skins games weekly and are in the process of reviving the former Johnny Walker Tournament.

“We have skins on Wednesday and were going to bring the Johnny Walker — when they used to play for the yellow jacket — and a couple of other tournaments back,” Morris said.

In recent years the Devonshire facility has suffered because of stigma.

“We supply a good product but nobody really sees it because Ocean View has had a stigma for awhile,” Morris said.

“The stigma is that it has not been taken care of well by government or financed well by government with all the bells and whistles going up to Port Royal and Ocean View becoming like the stepchild.

“That was the stigma but now it's got to the point where we are working together, management from Port Royal is working with us, the board is working with us and seeing that if given the opportunity we can create stuff and we can do things and get people here.

“The stigma is all done now because we are young and full of energy and we focus on hospitality, taking care of the guest.

“We just renovated the club and installed new windows and air conditioning. The bar is up and running while we are in the process of getting the restaurant open.

“We only have five groundsmen but they keep up and the golf course is in great shape.”

Affordable golf lessons and costs to play along with discounts for seniors and V1 golf swing technology can also be attributed to Ocean View's turnaround.

“I would say we have seen a 20-30 per cent increase in people playing golf,” Morris added. “We have a lot of first timers up here now, people we never saw before.

“We're getting a lot of younger golfers, especially people who are getting into golf because it's comfortable up here. It's not people breathing down your neck and we also have a lot of people coming here to play nine holes because that's all they have time for.”

Morris anticipates that trend will continue this year along with a spike in club membership.

“I am anticipating that we see a bit of growth this year because we have been stagnant for a while and actually declining in membership,” he said.

“However, since a little bit more life has been injected into the place people have seen that.

“We have always had people playing here but now they want to join and be a part.

“There has been a lot more interest in membership whereas before we had no inquiries. Now we are getting people inquiring.

“We dropped the rates for seniors, which I thought was a great idea, while there's a lot of people you see now that used to be here that's coming back.

“When we play skins on Wednesday the parking lot has more cars in it whereas once upon a time it was dead and people had reason to say maybe we should close because it doesn't make money.

“The whole atmosphere is different now and we focus not just on golf. We want people up here to have fun and we have a lot of fun tournaments.

“If people only have a couple of hours and only a couple of dollars they can get the biggest bang for their buck up here.”

Pitcher, the Bermuda and St George's Cup Match captain, is delighted to be a part of the club's revival.

“It feels really good to be a part of the course coming back on the up,” he said.

“It was obviously a period where the course had been struggling. But now people are impressed with the progress they are seeing, and I am glad to be a part of the team.”

Shedding the stigma: Morris, left, and Pitcher, are helping revive the government-owned facility in Devonshire (Photograph by Colin Thompson)

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Published February 03, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 02, 2017 at 11:08 pm)

Passionate team reverse Ocean View fortunes

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