A Love of Jamaican Culture and a desire to grow the game of golf sets Aqua Bay up as a presenting sponsor of Jamaica Open
When the Jamaica Open Golf Championship is staged this week at the picturesque Tryall Club in Hanover, just outside Montego Bay, it will be the fourth year in a row that Aqua Bay Resort will return as the presenting sponsor.
This sponsorship has already become a perfect fit for the tournament, and it was born out of a love of Jamaican culture and a burning desire to grow the game of golf in this island nation.
Scott Summy is the Owner of Aqua Bay, and his motives for sponsoring the Jamaica Open are very clear-cut.
“My objectives really don’t have anything to do with making money for Aqua Bay,” he said. “Aqua Bay does just fine and rents out almost every single week that we’re not occupying it. Our interest was to give back to Jamaica. It’s a place that my family and I have come to love. We love that we can play great golf in Jamaica, and we know that many people in Jamaica can’t play golf from a socioeconomic standpoint.
“So, we thought to ourselves, ‘What if we amplified the game of golf by keeping the Jamaica Open alive and well? We decided to sponsor it. And when we did, it was right before the (Covid) pandemic and then the pandemic hit which would really have thrown the Jamaica Open into a state of flux. We decided to step up and keep it going during that time, even though much of the world was struggling to stay open. Golf was one of those sports that you can play outside, and we thought, ‘What a great way to keep this tournament running!’ And after that, we fell in love with the Jamaica Open and decided to keep it going, and here we are.”
Born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas, Summy has become a Jamaican by choice. Fifteen years ago, he was tempted by a friend to come for a visit.
“Even though the villa was great, I fell in love with the people and the culture. My friend had a staff on site, and they were just phenomenal. And then I met other Jamaicans, and we started going there three or four times every year. And then I decided that I needed my own villa because this place is so awesome. My kids, my family, we love Jamaicans, we love the culture, and my kids often talk about how they could live here fulltime. They have learned the language, the patois, and that is really what brought us back, and keeps bringing us back.”
Located right on the oceanfront at the western end of Tryall Club, Aqua Bay redefines the concept of ocean style. The elegant villa boasts a splendid zero-edge heated pool with a spa and two swimming holes on a coastal strip fed with seawater and edged by a white sand elevated beach.
“What we’ve built is a villa that was really just for our family,” said Summy, a career lawyer who is the Environmental Litigation Group (ELG) leader and a shareholder at Baron & Budd. “It’s got four bedrooms, a TV room combined with a game, a gym and a massage spa room and we are right on the water. It is just gorgeous. We have an incredible staff and everybody who stays there, they all want to come back and so that’s why it’s hard to get even a week there. It’s one of the hottest and most popular villas at Tryall. It’s fantastic.”
Summy is also a massive fan of Tryall Club, which has long been regarded as the best golf course in Jamaica. Designed in 1958 by the renowned Texan golf course architect Ralph Plummer, the layout combines the island’s hilly terrain with other natural elements for a unique golfing experience.
“It’s an amazing golf course,” Summy said. “The front nine takes you down by the ocean, and you feel like you are playing ocean golf. You’ve got the various wind changes that occur daily; the wind sweeps down through there, and you’ve got to control the golf ball. Plus, you have a lot of water that comes into play on that front nine.
“And then you turn to the back nine and head up into the hills and you feel like you are playing mountain golf. You’ve got a lot of elevation and the lies are not even, and it’s like you are playing a totally different course on the back nine at Tryall. It gives you this great combination of ocean golf and mountain golf all in one round. And it has this unique character. You get to the seventh hole, and they call it the waterwheel hole. It is an old waterwheel that used to treat and provide water for the pineapple plantation and so you have this relic of the past that you see visions of as you play this golf course. It has tremendous character.”
Due to his commitments as the presenting sponsor, Summy does not plan to play in the Jamaica Open as an amateur, but he hopes that his 27-year-old son, Hunter, who competes on various mini-tours, will get the chance to play.
“He’s coming off a back injury and he hasn’t played in about a month, and we are hoping he gets to play,” said Summy. “He is dying to play. We will see what happens. So I will be following him, if he gets to play, and I usually go out and try to catch several holes. And then on the last day, I try to watch the leaders play a lot. It’s a great tournament and it’s a lot of fun.”
Having fun is a key component of the Jamaica Open; for Summy, it is all part of the laidback Jamaican vibe.
“The Jamaican vibe is very distinctive, and it makes me think of that song, ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’,” he said, referring to the 1988 No. 1 U.S. pop hit from American jazz singer and songwriter Bobby McFerrin. “I always think of that song whenever I am in Jamaica. In America. We have such drive, desire, and work ethic, and that’s all great. But we also have a lot of anxiety…and for good reason because I think there is a lot of pressure to do things and work hard.
“But when you go to Jamaica, you sort of let your guard down and you’re able to relax and you’re able to get perspective on what’s important and what’s not important. And I think the Jamaican people carry that with them. They seem to have great perspective on life, and I have really enjoyed my time there and when I go there, I spend a lot of time really in thought and recharge mode and getting perspective on life.”