Welshman, Ian Woosnam, is one of the most successful British golfers of all time, and with his affable personality, he is also one of the most popular. Known affectionately as Woosie, Ian won 52 tournaments, was the first player to win £1 million in prize money in a single year and he won the World Match Play Championship three times. Ian achieved the pinnacle of his illustrious career in 1991 when he won the US Masters at Augusta National. He was a member of the Ryder Cup teams between 1983 and 1997, of which Europe held the cup five times. He was captain of the 2006 European Ryder Cup Team that emphatically defeated the U.S. 18½–9½ in Ireland. The following year, Ian was awarded the OBE. Ian is currently playing on the European Seniors Tour and the Champions Tour in America, and, between tournaments, enjoys spending time in Barbados, which he adopted as his second home in 1996.
I first visited Barbados in January 1983, when I was invited to play in the Robert Sangster Pro Am at Sandy Lane. Glen, my wife, came with me and we stayed at Glitter Bay. We fell in love with the island straight away and have visited almost every year since. We love the beach, sea, sunshine and lovely breezes, but it is the friendliness of the Bajans that we like most. We feel at home here in Barbados.
By the time our children came along we had started to think about buying our own place on the island. When Royal Westmoreland was being developed, adding another world-class golf course to the mix, Barbados suddenly seemed a good choice for us as the perfect winter home. So in 1995 we decided to invest in a house at Royal Westmoreland and we moved in the following year.
Barbados is a great place for families. There is nothing better than escaping winter in the UK and coming here to spend some quality time together. It was amazing when the kids were little that every time we came back they’d meet the same friends they’d made the year before. That was good for them and it was good for the parents too. Different generations of the same families like to keep coming back to Barbados.
The nightlife is good and we really enjoy the large variety of high quality restaurants.
One big advantage with Barbados is that I can play golf in perfect weather all year round. I’ve enjoyed playing in Barbados, including participating in several charity events. I have played in the Robert Sangster event for many years, which raises money for the Children’s Trust, and the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust and Desmond Haynes events. I have also supported Brian Lara’s charity golf event in Trinidad. These are all very worthy causes and I enjoy giving back whenever I can.
In March 2016, I was delighted to host the first Woosnam Golf Cup, an annual charity tournament in aid of the Barbados Diabetes Foundation, which was held at the Apes Hill Golf Club. We based it on the Ryder Cup, with Barbados versus the Rest of the World. There were 36 players on each team, each four ball comprised two players from each team and we played match play - 6 holes better ball, 6 holes foursomes and 6 holes individual. I was honoured to captain the Rest of the World team and it was a great privilege for me that Sir Garfield Sobers captained the Barbados team. We had a lot of fun but most importantly, thanks to the generosity of the many people involved, we were able to raise in excess of BBD $145,000.00 for the Barbados Diabetes Foundation. I’d like these funds to be used to educate people, especially the youth, about diabetes and how to best manage the problems it causes.
I believe that there is a great opportunity for the further development of golf tourism here. The Barbados Golf Club has 18 holes; there are 45 holes at Sandy Lane, 18 at Royal Westmoreland and 18 at Apes Hill Club. These are all championship golf courses. I would like to see a more proactive approach to attracting more people to become homeowners by way of a citizenship by investment programme similar to other countries.
With Barbados’ perfect climate, its easy accessibility and most importantly its safety and security, there is terrific potential to further develop Barbados as a leading family and golf destination. I’d love to get more involved with any great opportunities that may come along.