Exuma Classic ‘hits stride’ in best year yet

Grand Isle’s soon-to-be opened beach club featured in pre-tournament party, as China’s Marty Dou wins the tournament, now in its third year

The Great Exuma Classic “hit its stride” in its third year, according to tournament organizers, as professional golfers and tourists alike enjoyed beautiful weather, signature events and world-class golf over the course of several days. 

Grand Isle Resort’s new beach club, 23 North, has the best views onto Emerald Bay. Photo By Kevin Bires / BD Global Sports

Some of the most exciting, up-and-coming professionals seeking a spot on the PGA Tour touched down on Exuma earlier this month to compete for $600,000 in total prize money.  The Emerald Bay Golf Course, which surrounds Grand Isle Resort, once again took center stage. Designed by Greg Norman, the award-winning course is recognized as the longest and one of the most scenic 18-hole, par 72 ocean-side courses in the Caribbean.

Grand Isle, Sandals and other nearby hotels were packed with golfers, tourists and members of the media for several days festivities. The tournament was also once again televised on NBC’s The Golf Channel, reaching millions of viewers worldwide.

“The Great Exuma Classic hit its stride this year,” said Catherine Clifton, the tournament director.

“The tournament began with  an added hospitality feature: a pre-tournament party at the soon-to-be opened 23 North, Grand Isle’s new beach club. More than 100 guests, players, caddies and VIPs enjoyed exquisite food options from the chef at Grand Isle and live music from three country stars from Nashville.”

Also prior to the big tournament was the official Pro Am. As an official sponsor of the Great Exuma Classic, GIV  Bahamas Inc. entered two teams, both of which played alongside a Web.com professional. 

Doug Smith gets in a shot during the Pro AM. Photo by Kevin Bires / BD Global Sports

In addition to the golf, Grand Isle guests playing in the Pro Am also received an island excursion to see the many sites around Euxma, including the giant iguanas, sandbars, celebrity islands and the world famous swimming pigs.

Greg Norman, the legendary Australian golfer, also participated in the Pro Am and socialized with guests at the tournament’s cocktail parties.

Doug Smith, a retired professional hockey player, participated as one of GIV Bahamas’ guests for the Pro Am. 

“Visiting Grand Isle Resort in the Exumas changed us,” said Smith, who is the founder of Doug Smith Performance. “We have found our ‘get away for life’ just a short flight from Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal. Thousands of beaches and an Archipelago that is breathtaking.  Bali, Fiji or The Maldives have nothing on the Exumas! For a fraction of the time and cost, we can have exactly the same experience and better. Awesome food, predictable sunshine, endless beaches, swimming pigs and a positive, nurturing, crime-free culture. If you really want to experience what it would be like to live in or visit am island paradise, the Grand Isle Resort delivers.”

Doug Smith mingles with Greg Norman at one of the tournament’s parties. Photo courtesy of ONE Exuma

After all of the events and festivities, it was time to get down to the golf.  In the end, it was 21-year-old Marty Dou, from Beijng, China, who captured the title and $106,000 in winnings, posting a winning score of -18. Dou was followed closely by Americans Ben Kohles (-16) and Steve LeBrun (-16). 

The next Great Exuma Classic will be held from January 9 to January 15th, 2020.