Nov. 28, 2002 – More than a hundred golfers ages 12-17 and their families descended on St. Croix Wednesday to compete at the Carambola Golf Club in the final event of this year's Teens on the Green World Championship Series.
The youngsters, according to the program's chief executive officer, Renny Roker, are from all over the world and are among the best golfers of their age anywhere. "These kids are just unbelievable athletes," he said. "Some of them are shooting in the low 60s and 70s."
Roker, a Crucian with an extensive background as a show business and sports entertainment producer and promoter, is best known locally for having developed the America's Paradise Triathlon, which has since evolved into the St. Croix Half Ironman. He has touted the three-day youth golf tournament — Thanksgiving Day through Saturday — as having the potential to bring a major economic boost to the financially troubled island.
Teens on the Green is a program gaining momentum throughout the nation that encourages young members of minority groups to take golf lessons from top-quality pros, Roker said. The program encourages sportsmanship and scholarship, he added.
The youngsters participating at Carambola come from 40 states and 25 countries and competed at several venues on the mainland earlier this year, according to Roker. He said several Virgin Islands businesses teamed up with the program to provide golf clubs to promising athletes.
The Thanksgiving event is the final stop on this year's tour, Roker said, and is scheduled for international television broadcast, including on BET and The Golf Channel. "This will go to over 120 million homes, and they will be carrying the program in English and Spanish," he said.
Teens on the Green could draw other golfing events to St. Croix, he said. "Every place we've been, many other junior organizations have followed. After our event there will probably be a lot more tournaments coming to the Virgin Islands."
Cosmo Williams, Carambola co-owner, shares Roker's enthusiasm. "This is a godsend for us. It's unimaginably big," Williams said. "The TV exposure alone will go into over 100 million homes, giving people a chance to get to know Carambola."
The adjacent Carambola Resort hotel is at 85-percent occupancy, according to co-owner Mike Mitchell, who said the publicity will be great for future business.
Roker said the earlier stops on the tour have produced some fierce competitions. This week's event is open to the public, with tee-off time daily at 7:30 a.m. For more information, call Roker at 778-3800.
For more information about Teens On The Green, visit the Teens on the Green Web site.
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