Howard Archer contributed to country’s sporting image
Published: Aug 07, 2013
Many of those who made valuable contributions to the development of sports over the 40 years of independence, by registering their share of historic milestones, have not been mentioned. They are the forgotten stars of yesteryear. It is unfortunate that while the due recognition has been given to some, a large number of others have been left wondering why their efforts were overlooked.
Howard Archer surely is one of those who are puzzled. Archer is the versatile athlete of the 1960s who was a quality boxer before he cut short his career in the ring. He joined the Royal Bahamas Police Force and was outstanding for years in the mile at the annual sports meet extravaganza that the country’s prime law enforcement agency organized.
There was a time indeed, when the police sports meet was one of the sports/social highlights of the year in the country. For the purpose of this feature however, what Archer accomplished in golf, post independence, certainly qualifies him to be brought into the spotlight during this 40th anniversary year.
When Grand Bahama was the acknowledged ‘Magic City of the West’, the various social and sporting happenings were pure delights. Golf was at its zenith during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. The courses had the glamor and aura of playing at Doral or Palm Beach in Florida or Palm Springs in California.
Such, was the rich atmosphere in Grand Bahama on the links. The Bahama Reef was top class in the golfing world. The pro at Bahama Reef from 1967 to 1979 was none other than Howard Archer. A lot of what he did in the way of golf development and sports tourism at Bahama Reef, obviously was either not known to the 40th Independence Anniversary celebrations coordinators, or ignored.
While based at Bahama Reef, Archer conducted a junior clinic for years and had a significant role in the development of some of the best amateur golfers in the history of this country. I refer to the Maycock brothers, Greg and Phil. The Maycocks, later, were part of the “Young Lions” group (inclusive of Vernon Lockhart and Michael Rolle) who dominated golf in the Caribbean for several years during the 1970s.
Also developed under the guidance of Archer were Bobby Rose and Percy Major, now both Bahamian golfing luminaries. Other than Bahamian golfers, Archer also helped advance the game for many visitors to the country, including celebrities like Althea Gibson, the legendary tennis player who switched to golf to extend her competitive sports career.
Archer was so prominent with his teaching and professional golfing demeanor that he was featured in international publications, in particular the noted “Golf Pro Pointer Magazine”. On one occasion, Golf Pro Pointer profiled Archer demonstrating the way to handle the pitching wedge. Here’s Archer’s pitching wedge tip published in Golf Pro Pointer:
“Since the pitching wedge is used primarily for short shots, it’s only logical that the swing should be short and compact. To set up firmly, place most of your weight on the left side, open your stance and grip the club firmly with the last three fingers of the left hand. The swing itself should have little or no body movement and is made with the arms rather than the wrists. To complete your compact package, keep the backswing and follow-through the same length. That length is dictated of course by the length of the shot.”
That’s the “compact wedge shot” as authored by Bahamian Howard Archer during the height of his golf pro tenure at Bahama Reef. His credentials qualify him for icon status. Indeed, he is one of those who deserve to be saluted as we celebrate the 40th year of independence in this country.
Archer was the third Bahamian golf professional. He followed in the footsteps of his late friends Roy Bowe and Donald “Nine” Rolle. Without a doubt, he is one of the authentic post independence sports heroes.
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