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Monday, November 19, 2018

CESAR RIVERA - A Life in Sport

We may all know a few, or at least one, sports fanatic.  However, not many can say they know that person who can quote with authority on not just one sporting event, but multiple sports, multiple disciplines, and not like a robot, but with genuine passion-- the bona fide sports fanatic. 

Cesar Romero is that person. The 'living legend' in Caribbean golfing circles happily confesses to being into "almost every sport, every team, every player."  And yes, it started at home, at an early age. "My father loved all sports and used to take us to the ball parks to see ball games. My father was a manager at a sugar mill and I grew up participating in many different sports."

A partial list of those is baseball, volleyball, basketball (though admittedly not at a high level), and of course, golf. 

And Cesar's participation was not limited to playing.  As early as 1959, he recalls, at the 3rd Pan-American Games in Chicago, USA, he was appointed referee for volleyball.  In fact, he was also assigned the Gold Medal showdown that year between USA and Brazil.  "I remember when it was announced at the Olympic Village that I was going to be the referee of that match, hundreds of member of the Puerto Rico delegation went to see the game, including my wife who was a member of the PR volleyball team."  When they returned to Puerto Rico, Romero was selected that year by the territory's Olympic Committee as the personality of the Year in the Sport. 

But, of course, he's best known for golf, and that came into his life in the mid-70s, through a friend, and Romero recalls loving it from the first moment.  "In those days it was an elite game, only for wealthy people." A few years later, in 1978 another friend, who was the President of the Puerto Rico Golf Association (PRGA) invited him to be part of the PRGA board.  "That year," he goes on "at the election, I was elected to the Board and they appointed me as the Tournament Director of the PRGA." 

From there on, he became interested in learning the rules of the game, which involved attending seminars and paying attention to his new colleagues.  It must have paid off, because in 1979, he was elected President of the PRGA, the first of an incredible 12 consecutive terms.  Further, in 1986 the US Golf Association (USGA) appointed him  to its Regional Affairs Committee, beginning what became a 26-year tenure. 

Challenged to name his inspirations and motivations, he pauses be=ore saying, "I think first my parents, next my family, third but not least my integrity and my respect with the people and the whole community.  For me every one is the same. And not because someone does not have what another has doesn't mean they should be treated any less than that person." 

Analysing the growth of the sport regionally, he notes, a lot of different people all around the Caribbean are now seriously interested in the game and put a lot of time  into getting it." He cites TV as a major boost and no doubt the visibility of golf's leading lights is a factor. But how can it get even better? "For the game to grow in our area, we need to put more effort thinking on others-- not only on us.  Also, I know that cost is a problem, but, all problems can be solved if we want to solve it."

He has no regrets, he says, only gratitude.  "I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to be involved in Sports. For me to be involved in sports was the best thing that could happen to me.  My family helps me and I thank them.  When I was President of the PRGA, my whole family (wife, daughters and sons) work as hard or more than me.  Everything was so good and beautiful that I would say that if born again I would like to have the same life that I have.  Be involved in Sport." 

Having Iived-- and continuing to live-- a fulfilling life in sports, Romero wants be remembered by the sporting fraternity as "a person that lived most of his life to give something to all sports without expecting anything back."  Solid words from a man who has given his life to sports and to service-- and both are  the richer for it.

Sport History of Cesar Rivera

1956- Start of interest in becoming an International Volleyball Referee. Went to various Rules Seminar

1958- Certified by the International Volleyball Federation as an International Referee with card #117.   The first in the Caribbean and one of the few in America.

1959- Went to Referee first International t Tournament. The 3rd Pan-Am games in Chicago, USA. After that went to 6 Pan-Am games.

1962- Went to my first Centro America and Caribbean Games in Jamaica. After that went to 6 more of them.

1964- Wanted to be a Basketball International Referee and started going to Rules Seminar and was certified by the International Basketball Federation as an International Basketball Referee. The only person in America to have both certifications.

1966- During the 10th Centro America and Caribbean games in Puerto Rico, appointed as Chief Rules Official for  Volleyball.

1967- First Caribbean Referee to referee in a Pre-Olimpic games in Mexico.

1968- First Caribbean Referee to referee in an Olimpic games in Mexico. Referee at 4 more Olimpic games.

1969- Appointed by the International Volleyball Federation Member of the International Volleyball 
           Referee Comision for America and the Caribbean. One of the duties were to give Rules

1969- Started in Mexico the first North-Centro America and Caribbean Volleyball games and referee on all of them till 1989 retirement as a volleyball referee.  During those games, tried the use of Antenna in the net and was after those games approved by the International Federation and still they are using them.

1970- During the 11th Cento-America and Caribbean games in Panama, the first Referee to work as Referee in two different sports, Basketball and Volleyball.

1974- Referee his first World Volleyball Games and after referee in 3 more of them.  Referee in NCAA, Centro and South America and around the world like in Japan, Europe, Africa and Others.

1975- Interested in Golf and excelled in the sport of golf.

1987- The USGA appoint me as Member of the USGA Regional Affair Committee in charge of the Caribbean All Latin America.  Elected for a total of 26 years as member of the committee.

1988- Certified as Course Rating by Mr. Dean Knuth who was the inventor the Course Slope Rating.

2000- Inducted to the Golf Hall of Fame by The Puerto Rico Golf Association

2009- The Municipality of Bayamon (the town where Cesar lives) inducted him into their Sport Hall of Fame.

2013- The CGA inducted him into the Hall of Fame in Golf.

2015- Fedogolf inducted him into the Hall of Fame in Golf in the Dominican Republic.

2015- Puerto Rico inducted him into the Volleyball Hall of Fame.

2016- La Romana, Dominican Republic. The town where he was born inducted him into their Sport Hall of Fame.

2018- The Caribbean Golf Association council decided to ensure that Cesar Rivera’s name would continue in the Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships.  Therefore, from now on, in the Hoerman Cup and George Teale Memorial Trophy, the first place male and female medalists will receive the Cesar Rivera medal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

After The Hurricanes, Caribbean Travel Is Coming Back Faster Than You Think

by Doug Gollan -


When agents from Ovation Vacations call clients to discuss their upcoming winter travel plans, many are surprised to hear their favorite Caribbean resorts and islands are already open, back in business or will open by the Festive Season, the period that starts on December 22nd and runs until the 3rd of January. “Tourism puts food on the table so it’s our responsibility to help get people coming back,” says Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Vacations.

View of Harry Smith Beach, Bottom Bay, Barbados. Travel agents are working to get the word out that 90% of the Caribbean's hotels will be ready for this winter travel season.

As Irma and then Maria tore paths of devastation through the region, Ezon said his advisors were arranging charter flights to get clients home before the storms hit. But seeing the wall-to-wall television coverage, he was already concerned that as the news channels moved on, viewers would be left with the impression that the entire region was impacted. “Our responsibility is to put things into perspective,” he told about 80 journalists attending Virtuoso Travel Week here Las Vegas, pointing out the Caribbean covers an area equivalent of Toronto to Miami from north to south and Los Angeles to Atlanta from west to east.

The conference brings together over 6,000 of the network’s luxury travel advisors, travel suppliers, promotion boards and the media, and with so many reporters in one place Ezon said, “Each advisor has hundreds of clients. You have millions of readers. We need your help to get the word out." The good news is current bookings for Festive are 13% behind last year “which is not terrible...There’s space, but it’s not wide open.” January is currently running 18% behind last year while both February and March are nearly equal to 2017.

An upcoming advertising campaign funded by a coalition of Caribbean nations titled, “The Rhythm Never Stops” will use music from different countries as part of the effort to woo back visitors, according to Karolin Troubetzkoy, immediate past president of the Caribbean Hotel Association. She said in times of distress, “We’re one family,” adding hoteliers who last year gained business rebooked from impacted islands donated over $250,000 of those proceeds to help in recovery efforts.

Now the focus will be on getting travelers back for the critical peak Winter travel season. “Only 10 of 33 countries were impacted (and) as of May, about 90% of room inventory is now open," she said. Only six of 32 islands are still in recovery mode although the impact was harsh. The storms created a loss of nearly $900 million in revenues, just under one million visitors and over 12,000 lost jobs.

Even some of the hardest hit islands are on there way back. On Anguilla three of the island’s 5-star hotels reopened earlier this year and 98% of restaurants have reopened with the remaining ones waiting for the peak season. St. Barts, which was also hit, is also coming back with nearly 70% of its popular rental villas ready for arrivals, and most hotels back too, although Le Guanahani, which has water on both sides will remain closed until late 2019. Restaurants and shops have been open since earlier this year and many of the island's loyal repeat guests were at the lead in making donations. Those who have already been back said they don’t mind the lack of crowds. Since there was a lot of concrete construction, the damage was more limited than other places.

One of the hardest hit places was the British Virgin Islands, and Rodney Skelton, Deputy Director of the tourist board noted a flood and landslides before the hurricanes only amplified the destruction. It lost about 90% of its business for an economy where tourism accounts for 60% of GDP. Fortunately, he told the group charter yachts came back quickly and Richard Branson’s high profile Necker Island is due to open October 1. While favorites such as Biras Creek and Bitter End Yacht Club won’t reopen this year, he said visitors are discovering some of the other options including, eco-friendly Cooper Island, Oil Nut Bay with its uber-luxury villas and Anegada Beach Club, which features a glamping experience.

In terms of trying to help in the recovery, the action isn’t limited to land. Vicki Freed, a senior vice president for Royal Caribbean Cruises said it is increasing its ports of call and bringing its newest ship, also the largest in the world, the 228,000-ton Symphony of the Seas starting in November.

She said the tragedy gave the company a chance to find its inner soul. Instead of taking its ships and redeploying them to other parts of the world the company made the decision as soon as it could bring its guests back home, it would go full throttle into aiding in recovery efforts.

“These aren’t just places we drop off our guests in the morning and pick them back in the evening. These are the homes of our colleagues who we have been working with for 50 years. They are part of our family,” she said.

The mega-ships were used to shuttle in relief supplies, including over 500 generators, plus fuel and pallets of diapers and baby food. The empty ships were then used to evacuate guests from hotels, the elderly and pregnant women, then families, including their pets. Shipboard miniature golf courses were converted to an area that dogs, cats and even guinea pigs could relieve themselves. She said for the crews on the ships watching families who lost everything except what they had with them, with their pets, on their way to safety on the U.S. mainland was a moving experience. “It made us a richer company,” she told the room. With more than 30 tours in each of its ports, Freed added the line is “doubling down on the Caribbean.”

David Zipkin, the co-CEO Tradewind Aviation said his company’s first airplane landed in St. Barts two days after Irma hit bringing in relief supplies, including generators from San Juan. With St. Barts having started to recover when Maria smacked Puerto Rico, he said residents of the French protectorate brought generators and supplies they didn’t need to the airport so Tradewind could fly them back to San Juan. It ran over 200 flights relief flights and helped other charter operators and private jet owners coordinate relief flights.

“Nothing prepares you for the aftermath, especially when you have a family with small children,” said Carmen Teresa Targa of Puerto Rico's Condado Travel. With a generator they reopened only days after the storm and to her amazement, with no phones or ways to communicate, the staff showed up and the office became an alternate home where they ate meals as they began working to help clients stranded away from the island to extend their stays and then help in the community.

She wants tourists to come back this winter, not only because the hotels are open and the economy needs a boost, but, “We want to say thank you for the supplies, thank you for the donations, thank you for the text messages of support.”

Friday, June 08, 2018


Champion golfer Phil Mickelson (43 PGA wins, including 3 Masters titles) says choosing the right club for the situation is the first step to success in any situation. Wrong club, and you’ll miss the mark, no matter how well you swing.
The same is true in business. To succeed, you need to choose the right tools. That tool may be a hiring decision or a type of software. More often than not, its also the right attitude. If one looks at the game of golf long enough, there are  parallels to the entrepreneurial career. Here are five such lessons.
1. It’s harder than you thought, and that’s OK.
Even with experience, running a business is hard.  Looking at the pros (in golf and in business), it seems effortless, but it’s not. It takes time, patience, and practice. Rare is the athlete or business leader who reached great success without years of painstaking, often repetitive, honing of skills – a process that often takes place away from the spotlight. Stay focused on the big goals.
2. To Win, You Need A Strategy
Many of history's greatest players, like Jack Nicklaus, walk the course before playing a single shot. They did this to get the layout of the course, know the hole positions and discover any potential problems. After doing this, top players will go back and develop a strategy for how they will attack the course. Often times, players will have a strategy for how they play each and every hole. The same is true for the entrepreneur. You should strongly consider building strategies for individual projects, your first year, three years, five years, and beyond.
3. Do what you’re meant to do
Pros don’t carry their bags – at least not in tournaments. Their focus is on  finishing the course in fewer strokes than anyone else. Many caddies are also talented and even accomplished golfers, but their best contribution is carrying the bag and helping the professionals talk through difficult shots. Every business owner needs to surround himself with people that help him function at peak.  Even solo-preneurs can outsource tasks that will free up their time to do more productive things for their business.
4. Tough times never last
There’s probably no golfer that will tell you they’ve ever played “a perfect round.” Even the best rounds usually have one or two shots that put players in a difficult spot. The key is not to let one or two bad shots color the ones that come after. If you are running your own business, there will be [unpleasant] surprises and unwanted setbacks from time to time. Don’t let a bad break here or there take you mentally out of the game.
5.Start fast or start slow, but finish strong.
In golf, you have the front nine and back nine -- 18 holes. Avid golf fans and the pros themselves will tell you that championships are often decided on the back nine. Many business owners, especially entrepreneurs, get down on themselves if they don’t start out "on fire." Doubts fill their minds and they may question themselves and their decisions. Rather than get flustered, look at your processes, and make adjustments midway (or wherever necessary). Stay in the game and find a way to finish strong.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

IN SEARCH OF ‘BIGGER HITS’ What Are The Right Clubs For You?

It’s ‘a brand new bag’ out there today as far as golf clubs are concerned.  Golf clubs have changed quite a bit over the long history of the sport, and club development is continuing apace as equipment makers seek to give players more advantage in dealing with ever more challenging courses.
But first, a look at today’s ‘typical’ golf bag.  The modern club set includes hybrids and wedges in addition to the traditional woods, irons, and putters.
Hybrids, as the name suggests have club heads that are a ‘cross’ between wood and iron.  Wedges are typically iron heads, but which have been slanted at a more severe angle in order to produce greater loft.
Your choice of the mix of clubs will be influenced by your game level: whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level (semi-pro or pro).  If you’re a beginner, a set of three woods and eight irons is sufficient.  Make sure the clubs fit your strength and posture.  Once you reach the intermediate level, a good set of clubs are ones that have been fitted for you.  In addition to the aforementioned, there are a few other ‘specialty sticks’ out there for you to consider.
The Hand Wedge is the most versatile club out there.  It can get you out from behind a boulder or from under a large tree trunk.  One good smooth scoop can save a hole or a complete round.  Unlike your standard clubs, the hand wedge has the ability to produce a long, low trajectory shot or a high lofty shot to clear a large tree that was obviously planted in a very bad spot.
The Foot Putter is best used to tweak your position or lie on the course and is great for removing your ball from unfortunate subterranean situations.  Unlike the hand wedge, the foot putter doesn’t require you to even bend over to take the shot.  In fact you don’t have to look at the ball at all when using the foot putter.  Just swing away in what foot putter specialists describe as a ‘kicking motion.’
The Sole Driver is very similar to the Foot Putter other than the fact this club is not used to improve your ball’s position but rather to degrade the lie of your opponent.  A perfectly placed shot with the sole driver will put your opponent’s ball 3 inches deep into the terrain making for a very unplayable follow up shot.
Ultimately, you, the golfer are the real ‘engine’ driving a better scorecard.  But there’s no question that a golfer with great technique hitting better equipment will improve over time.  By the way, hitting better rarely means hitting harder.  It’s important to focus more on contact with the middle of the ball rather than trying to whack it down the fairway.

Thursday, April 05, 2018



There are those who might have the view that there's no need for golfers to be concerned with nutrition, believing that golf requires less exertion than other sports.

Not so fast. Cathy Williamson, the author of Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Golfers, says players ignore nutrition at their peril. “You’re out there for four or five hours, longer than many sports,” says . "If you don’t pay attention to fuel and hydration, your game will suffer."

Keep in mind that even though golf is categorized as  a low-to-medium intensity activity, there is still loss of carbohydrate, protein and importantly - water. Also, golf performance in tournament play involves a warm-up, a 4-5 hour round (including some walking) and then practice after a round. All of this happens repeatedly over several days in a tournament. 

Nutrition experts [at golf Canada] have divided the golfer's nutritional needs into three stages: pre- game (particularly the hour before); during the game and post-game.

Given that 3-4 hours is the generally required digestion time for a typical meal, (the smaller the meal, the quicker it can be digested), most experts agree that ingesting a meal of a meal containing 140-330 grams of carbohydrate 3-4 hours before physical exertion tends to enhance athletic performance. Tolerances vary greatly from person to person.  

In pre-game, it is recommended that players consume a small snack 30-90 minutes before tee-off Fresh fruit (bananas are ideal becuase of their high potassium and other nutrient content) as well as nuts, whole wheat bagel with or without light cream cheese.
If your round begins very early in the morning (or too early to allow for the requisite digestion time, then eat high-quality carbohydrates with your proteins  - such as pasta or log grain rice along with stir-fry vegetables - at dinner the night before.   
The fact that water is vital for peak bodily function is unequivocal, more so when golfing in humid tropical or subtropical conditions. Some general guidelines are: 500mil (standard bottle) up to two hours before the start of play, another 250 mL 30 minutes before, then another 250 mL at 15 minute intervals thereafter.  
During play
Whether you're walking the course or going by cart, the body will be losing fluid and electrolytes - primarily through sweat - throughout the day. In addition to the aforementioned water,  energy drinks and bars are recommended (but watch out for the sodium content) Some golf pros, walk with a "stash" of  electrolyte tablets (or the powdered version) and others will much on granola bars or even dark chocolate. 
After Play
It's paparmaount to set your body up for a quick recovery. Protein – approximately one quarter of your daily requirement • Carboh ydrate – still the most abundant nutrient • Water – however much you lost and were not able to replenish during play (weighing before and after is the best way to assess this)  Some examples are: turkey sandwich on whole w heat bread, power bar, ½ cup of almonds with small glass of fruit juice.
The overall nutritional principles apply to golfers as to other athletes
Eat nutrient-dense foods; reduce or eliminate sugar and low-quality carbs.
Maintain healthy blood sugar levels. avoid fried or overly processed foods, which all quickly elevate blood sugar levels setting up the dreaded "back nine energy crash".
Consume high-antioxidant superfoods and supplements..Essential fats such as omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fatty fish, grass-fed beef, eggs, some nuts and chia seeds and flax seeds are absolutely necessary nutrients for the health of your immune system, heart, skin, endocrine glands, brain function, nervous system and energy levels. EPA/DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid/docosahexaenoic acid) are the omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish and fish oils. The best source for EPA and DHA is cold-water, oily fish including salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines (avoid farm raised fish).  Other superfats include almonds, coconut, macadamia nuts, olives and avocados

[the Jamaica Golf AssociationJGA]