Kim Swan looks forward to new golf course in St George’s
Kim Swan, the St George’s MP, is excited to finally get a new golf course in the East End, with the St Regis Bermuda Resort set for a grand opening of its hotel and Five Forts Golf Club on May 22.
Swan, a professional golfer, was the general manager of the old St George’s Golf Course when it reopened in 1985, serving in a couple of roles for 16 years. However, there has been no course in the east since the old one was closed in the summer of 2008 in the wake of the demolition of the Club Med hotel.
Now the East End community is set for an economic revival with the new hotel and golf course, which Swan has longed to see after the course became an overgrown eyesore.
“I would say that having a functional golf course in the St George’s community is a major benefit,” said Swan, who is also the chairman of the Bermuda Government Golf Courses.
“From a historical standpoint, St George’s was the epicentre of Bermuda tourism by virtue of us being the first capital of Bermuda.
“St George’s had a golf course in the Coot Pond area, which eventually became the Holiday Inn course.”
The new course will also be an 18-hole layout, designed by world-renowned architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. It offers ocean views from nearly all of its 18 holes and is surrounded by five forts, including the most popular one, Fort St Catherine.
Swan, who moved to St George’s in 1985, has many memories of golf in the east, even playing as a teenager on the old, nine-hole course in the 1970s before it was redeveloped.
“I was on the board in 1980, prior to its opening and during its construction phase,” he said.. “It was actually two nine-hole golf courses, one near Holiday Inn and one on St George’s Hotel — the course that ran over to ’golf link stadium’ on Suffering Lane where the boys played cricket on the course.”
Swan added: “I’ve been doing research and those courses go back to the 1920s. The layout of this new course incorporates a great part of the previous layout, except for what used to be the 16th hole and practice hole on Fort St Catherine. They had to redesign and amalgamate areas to be able to make the 18 holes fit.
“I do believe there will be a combination of par-fours and par-threes. There will be some par-four holes retained.”
Swan added: ”With this golf course being redeveloped, people’s property value will automatically increase because golf courses are well-maintained property areas. Jobs are going to be created and all of that is beneficial to the community.
“Golf has always been an important part of the St George’s community.”
Swan dropped names of several in the St George’s community, many who lived next to the golf course and took up the game of golf — Louis “Kid” Corbin, Edward ”Bosun“ Swainson, Noel Van Putten, Sam Paynter, George DeSilva, Landro Minors, Van Doyling, Twilton Smith and Janice Robinson, who was one of the island’s top female golfers.
“Noel Van Putten was one of the first players to represent Bermuda internationally in the early 1970s, and was one of the top five Ocean View golfers when golf was integrated,” Swan said.
In a 1999 article in The Royal Gazette, Swan described golf “as one of the few games where you are expected to call a penalty on yourself. It motivates high principles and honesty”.
He added: “I can only say to have a golf in a community is nothing but positive. There are a lot of knock-on benefits that will happen in time.
“When I operated the golf course, if you are a good partner of the community you work with the community.”
Swan, who hails from White Hill, proudly calls St George’s home these days. “I’m a St George’s bie for ever,” he said.
“The only team I root for against St George’s is [Somerset] Bridge. When Eagles play against St George’s, I’m Eagles. That’s the only team I played for other than St George’s, who I played Second Division cricket for.”