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Fairway to heaven
Former TCU golfer oversees golf in Anguilla.
By Tim Cotroneo
For most people, the idea of living on a Caribbean island is only a dream. So when Kingwood native Dana Schmid '97 got the opportunity to work on one of the most beautiful places on the planet, she didn't hesitate.
Today, Schmid manages the Greg Norman-designed Temenos Golf Course on the tiny island of Anguilla. Located northeast of the Virgin Islands, Anguilla is just three miles wide and 16 miles long, and acclaimed for its 33 talcum-white beaches and the surrounding ultra-blue sea. Schmid knows that she has been blessed with the dual pleasure of working in a sport she loves and living in a breathtaking locale.
In 2005 she was working for Troon Golf as the director of golf at the Westin Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Fla. Greg Norman and Flag Luxury Properties were breaking ground on Temenos. One day, Schmid received a call from Mike Ryan, her boss at Troon.
You might want to sit down, he told her.
"When Mike inquired if I was interested in becoming Temenos Golf Course's first employee, he didn't have to ask twice," said the former TCU golfer.
Schmid made a surprising discovery prior to Temenos opening in November 2006. Many of her Anguillan workers had barely heard of golf.
"Cricket and boat racing are the big sports here. About a week after our initial training, I had two employees come up to me and say they watched golf on television for the very first time. That conversation felt like a milestone."
The Anguillans aren't the only ones learning. For Schmid, the hardest part of life on Anguilla is acclimating to the relaxed pace. "Phone service didn't arrive in Anguilla until the mid-'70s. Even today, phone lines are shared. That means a credit card purchase at a store can take up to 10 minutes. Also, when golf merchandise needs to be shipped, it's going to take six to eight weeks, rather than one or two," she said.
"But the main adjustment for me is people rarely showing up on time. With any of our events, we can count on people arriving an hour later than what we've scheduled. That's just life, living on island time."
Adjusting also carries over to life at home. Native residents and foreigners like Schmid lack some of the luxuries taken for granted at nearby resorts and hotels.
"The home that my boyfriend, Brian, and I share has a cistern. This tank channels rainwater to our home that we use for showering. It's actually a big deal for us when it rains in Anguilla. It's not only good for the golf course, it also means that our cisterns won't run dry. But we have to be careful not to show too much excitement about the rain to vacationers. Tourists are here for our year-round sunshine, and rain is the last thing they want."
When she's not working, Schmid finds time to do what Anguillans call "limin" -- taking it easy under the shade of a lime tree. One of her favorite escapes is a rustic beach bar on Rendezvous Bay. MSNBC has called the Bankie Banx Dune Preserve, named for Anguilla's most famous reggae singer, the Caribbean's "most artistically eclectic beach bar."
"At first, Bankie was opposed to the building of Temenos. Now he considers us friends," Schmid said. "I love going to his beach bar, relaxing and having a drink while listening to his music. Afterward we can take a dip or even snorkel in the sea."
Schmid's fondness for the sea, or any body of water, can be traced to her childhood. Growing up in Texas, she loved to swim, fish and ski. The water even played a role in her early development as a golfer.
"My dad and older brothers were all avid golfers, so naturally I wanted to go golfing, too. My brothers weren't enthusiastic about having their little sister tag along, but one day my dad let me join them. On a par-three hole over the water, they let me hit an old golf ball. My shot landed two feet from the hole. I made the putt for a birdie. I didn't realize it then, but I guess I was up for the challenge."
She was 8 at the time.
Challenge in sports, career or life is rarely something from which Schmid backs down. Hey, she had the guts to move to the Caribbean.
"I knew I could come back to Texas. Deep down, Texas is home. But if I didn't take this chance, maybe I would be missing something."
What Schmid is not missing is a work environment short on stimulation. She's thankful for her Caribbean career move each time she gazes at the turquoise sea, breathes the fresh Anguillan air and hears the soothing ocean waves.
Truly, there is nothing quite like limin in paradise."
For information: www.temenosgolfclub.com
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