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Keith Pearman (1943-2021)

Exceptional ball striking: Keith Pearman holds the trophy he won at the 1969 Belmont Invitational. The tournament has since been renamed as the Gosling's International Invitational and change from a matchplay to strokeplay format (Photograph by Colin Thompson)

Bermuda golf has lost one of its greatest ambassadors.

Keith Pearman, the former Mid Ocean Club head professional and golf instructor, passed away on Sunday following a bout with illness. He was 77.

Pearman resided in Devonshire, not far from the Ocean View Golf Course where he groomed his skills.

He went on to enjoy success both as an amateur and a professional player and break down barriers that existed in the local game during the era of segregation.

Pearman was also a founding member of the Bermuda Professional Golfers’ Association who led the tributes paid to their late colleague.

“The Bermuda Professional Golfers’ Association is sad to learn of the passing of Mr Keith Pearman,” Scott Roy, the BPGA president, said. “Keith was a founding member of the Bermuda PGA, mentor and friend to all of the golfing community.

“He was a true class act and the game of golf in Bermuda is in a much better place because of him.

“The BPGA family send out our deepest condolences to the Pearman family and friends.

“We all draw comfort and strength from our many great memories of Keith.”

Craig Brown, the Bermuda Golf Association president, described Pearman as a trailblazer who left his mark on the local game.

“It is with deep sadness that we learnt of the passing of Keith Pearman and our condolences extend to his family and friends,” Brown said.

“Keith was a trailblazer for Bermuda golf. He passed on his knowledge and made a lasting impression on many in the game.

“Keith’s warm and infectious personality will be sorely missed, not only at the Mid Ocean Club, but throughout our golf community.”

Kevin Benevides, the director of golf at Mid Ocean Club, added: “Keith was one of the special guys. Once you met him, you didn’t forget him and what he brought to golf in Bermuda.

“He’s a stalwart and was a large part of Mid Ocean Club and the family that exists here that are still thinking about him.”

Pearman enjoyed considerable success throughout his career and was perhaps best known for his excellent ball striking.

“Keith was a very good ball striker and an exceptional iron player,” Kim Swan, the former European Tour and multiple Bermuda Open winner, told The Royal Gazette in a previous interview “His iron play set him apart, in my opinion.

“He had a very good grip and his hand positioning was deliberately forward, up by his left leg, and he drove down and through the ball with exceptional ball striking in that regard.

“His speciality was knockdown shots in the wind. We used to call him ‘bat them down'. He was a maestro when it came to that shot.”

One of the crowning moments of Pearman’s illustrious career was becoming the first Black Bermudian to win the prestigious Belmont Invitational at Belmont Hills in 1969 —two years after the desegregation of local golf.

Then an Ocean View amateur, Pearman upstaged favourite Louis Moniz while competing in the tournament’s original matchplay format.

“You look on that trophy [the Gosling's International Invitational] and see maybe nine or ten times he's [Moniz] owned that trophy,” Pearman told The Royal Gazette on the 50th anniversary of his historic feat in 2019

“We came out and the course was set up with the first two par fives.

“I went par, birdie and he went birdie, eagle, so I'm two down in two holes and I got to shake my head now and say, ‘Keith, you got to go. Dig deep'.

“I hung in there and around the back nine, I got close to him, one up, and we were going up 13.

“The old 13 that's pitched up the hill and he missed a putt up there and I think we halved the hole.

“I went birdie, birdie, par and had him two down and two to go and I'm saying to myself, ‘He may beat Butch [Gilbert Lindo], but he's not going to beat me', and I ended up being the winner.”

Mid Ocean Club paid a brief tribute to Pearman yesterday.

“Keith first joined the Mid Ocean Club as a golf professional in 1978 and served the club for 30 years, retiring as Head Golf Professional in 2008, and continued on as Golf Pro Emeritus for several years,” the club said in a statement. “Keith was beloved by many generations of MOC members as a teacher, confidant and close friend. In retirement he could often be found out on the course or giving a lesson on the range. He loved the game and everything about Mid Ocean, and he will be dearly missed.”

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Published February 09, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated February 10, 2021 at 12:22 pm)

Keith Pearman (1943-2021)

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