Monifa Sealy, the only professional golfer from Trinidad and Tobago, hosted the inaugural Monifa Sealy Invitational 2017 in her home country and invited 41 professional golfers – predominantly Symetra Tour members - to come to Tobago the first week of February. Find the hashtag #msitobago17 on Twitter or Instagram and you’ll quickly realize that she did an amazing job and the players loved every minute of their experience.
The former UCF (Central Florida) star will enter her second season on the Symetra Tour in 2017. We caught up with her to find why she organized the pro-am and how it went.
Trinidad and Tobago is one of 45 different nations represented amongst Symetra Tour members in 2017.
SymetraTour.com: How did the pro-am come about?
Monifa: It was the brainchild of my father Henry Sealy, who always dreamt of building an international grade golf course in Trinidad to host professional tournaments, and his friend Mr. Fitz Neptune, the co-founder of a junior golf academy in Tobago.
SymetraTour.com: Many players commented about your country and how beautiful it was. How nice was it to expose your fellow professionals to your country?
Monifa: I have always enjoyed exploring the beauty of my country. While growing up, my parents would take us to a different beach or nature spots on most weekends. I fell in love with Tobago, my father’s birthplace, from an early age. We spent all our school vacations there before I got into golf. So, I was proud to be able to share with my fellow pros and was ecstatic that they enjoyed the experience as much as I did.
SymetraTour.com: What was the format of the pro-am?
The tournament was three-pronged: amateurs only (Stableford), pro-am teams for two days and the final-round was with pros only. Pro-am scores counted towards the daily purse. AJ Newell (Symetra Tour member) was the winner with the most money after three days. There was also a great junior clinic for about 25 young and promising kids from Tobago. They were all delighted to meet the pro ladies and get some tips. (Adult amateurs tried to sneak in on this too!)
SymetraTour.com: What was the goal of the pro-am?
Monifa: There were three objectives: to inspire upcoming juniors and show that academic goals could be achieved through the sport of golf; facilitate training for a junior golfer at the Academy which I attend in Florida; and promote sports tourism by showcasing the island of Tobago.
SymetraTour.com: What were a few of the fun things that were set up with the pro-am?
Monifa: We had a glass bottom boat tour to our Buccoo Reef, famous for its exotic fishes and coral reef, and the Nylon Pool, a shallow crystal-clear patch in the middle of the ocean. I think this was the highlight of the activities. Some of the ladies did the island tour, which included a waterfall hike and a firsthand look at island life. Of course, there was the beach after each round and the “hangouts” after dinner where the ladies learned to dance merrily to the Caribbean beat.
SymetraTour.com: Does an event like that energize you for 2017 season?
Monifa: Absolutely, there was so much outpouring of support from the ladies who took time off to participate in the event. I am sure that the 41 of us now feel like a family. I am really excited now about meeting up with them on Tour as they now understand my Caribbean background and culture.
SymetraTour: As the season nears, what are your goals for 2017 on course?
Naturally, I am working towards playing well enough on the Symetra (Tour) circuit to attain my (LPGA) Tour card at the end of the season. My priority status for 2017 provides a great opportunity for me to pursue this goal and I am eager to start the season.