Former Jamaica Golf Association Executive honored at 56th Jamaica Open Golf Championship.
The promotion of Jamaican golf in general and junior golf specifically are primary objectives for organizers of the 56th Jamaica Open Golf Championship, underway this week at picturesque Tryall Club in Hanover, just outside Montego Bay.
It was hardly a surprise when the Jamaica Golf Association (JGA) decided on the recipient of its annual honor citation; the organization settled on a man who has worn multiple hats in promoting golf throughout the Caribbean island nation.
David Mais, a former vice president of the JGA and Commissioner of the Professional Golf Association of Jamaica, was honored during the pro-am competition’s prizegiving ceremony held at Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa on the eve of the Jamaica Open.
“Primarily, we honored David because he has been able to get golf and ‘Golf Jamaica’ out as a brand,” said Jodi Munn-Barrow, President of the JGA. “He did this many, many years ago. When the Jamaica Open wasn’t even happening, he was very prominent in trying to get the Open revived. He has been someone who has promoted the Open repeatedly and he has always insisted that we needed to have the Open.”
Founded in 1953, the Jamaica Open Golf Championship was held annually until 1995, when a lack of sponsorship led to a 10-year hiatus. The tournament came back for one year in 2006, skipped 2007, and was then held from 2008 to 2012. After another brief interlude, the 50th Jamaica Open was played in 2017, and it has been staged every year since then.
“So helping revive the Jamaica Open was a primary reason,” said Munn-Barrow. “And then also because of what David has done behind the scenes, with the administration, with the association. He has always been a part of the association, always helped with the development of golf and always promoted junior golf so we just thought it was well nigh time to honor him.”
Mais was unable to attend the prizegiving ceremony on Saturday at the Grand Palladium Hotel. His citation plaque was accepted on his behalf by his granddaughter, Mattea Issa, after being presented by JGA Vice President Dr. Mark Newnham.
Munn-Barrow also highlighted the multiple roles that Mais has performed over the years.
“He has worn hats not just in golf in Jamaica but hats in different sports in Jamaica,” she said. “He has been involved in various fields, he has been part of the GC Foster school, which is a school for training in sport, so he has always been a part of ‘sport Jamaica’ and worn many, many different hats – golf just being one. He has been vice-president of the Jamaica Golf Association and he also been a part of other sporting bodies as well. He is very much a man for all seasons and he personifies the phrase ‘exemplary servant’.”
A natural administrator, Mais is a former Wolmers’ Boys and Munro College alum who has worked in sports, education, government, and business while also heading several boards during his multi-faceted career.
He began his lifelong journey as an administrator in the 1970’s and, in the world of golf, he has held various roles in operations and tournament directorship, most frequently at the Jamaica Open and most notably as Director of Operations at the prestigious Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship, which was held at Tryall Club from 1991-1995.
Mais has worked alongside every JGA President since the 1980s, and he also served as President of the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica from 1980-1982 before stepping into the role of Chairman of the Sports Development Foundation from 2008-2011.
The GC Foster College appointed him as its board Chairman from 2008 to 2020, and he also held chairman’s positions with Papine High from 2017 and was Consultant General to the Fire Brigade from 2018.
For his various contributions to the development of sports, education, and community development, Mais was awarded the Order of Distinction in the rank of officer by the Governor General of Jamaica on August 6, 2023.
Ewan Peebles, Director of Golf at Tryall Club, has lived in Jamaica for more than two decades, and he is a big fan of the Jamaica Open. He sits on the tournament committee and is aware of how important the event is for the growth of the game in Jamaica.
“The Jamaica Open is a major funder of the local golf programs here in Jamaica that are managed by the Jamaica Golf Association – national teams, the national junior team, junior coaching programs,” said Peebles. “Monies made and any profits derived from the Jamaica Open are invested back into those programs. So, it is very important for the Jamaica Golf Association. It’s a big event for that, and David Mais has been a big part of this tournament over the years.”
Asked if there was one thing that jumped into her mind when she thought of David Mais, Munn-Barrow replied: “The love he has of Jamaica, the love he has for sport in Jamaica. I think that’s the easiest way to describe it. It’s the passion that he has for Jamaican sports.”