The Cayman Islands form a small British Caribbean territory featuring only one 18-hole golf course and 176 registered golfers. Even the most optimistic Caymanian could not have imagined that the 2022 Latin America Amateur champion would emerge from the Islands and perfectly encapsulate the spirit of an event, which has marked a pivotal moment in the history of the game throughout the region.
Less than two months away from the eighth edition of the Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC), which will be played from January 12-15, 2023, at Grand Reserve Golf Club in Puerto Rico, Aaron Jarvis’ feat earlier this year is still very much remembered. His 2022 LAAC victory at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic led him to become the first player from the Cayman Islands to compete in the Masters and The Open.
Founded by the Masters Tournament, The R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA), the LAAC was created to further develop amateur golf throughout South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The Championship is conducted every year at the top golf courses in Latin America and has showcased the growing talent of the game within the region. The list of participants includes a trio of 2020 Olympic athletes: Chileans Mito Pereira and 2018 LAAC champion Joaquín Niemann, as well as Colombia’s Sebastián Muñoz. Pereira and Muñoz were both members of the International Team at the 2022 Presidents Cup in September.
This year’s LAAC champion will receive an invitation to compete in the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club and an exemption into The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool. The champion will also receive an exemption into The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible, along with an exemption into the final stages of qualifying for the 123rd U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club in California. Likewise, the runner(s)-up will receive an exemption into the final stages of qualifying for The 151st Open and the 123rd U.S. Open.
The Island of Enchantment
Puerto Rico has been eagerly waiting to host this Championship. It is an opportunity to show the world what a great golf destination the “Island of Enchantment” has become. The LAAC is expected to leave a lasting impression that will help to drive a sustained growth in the game. This was also the case when the LAAC was hosted in Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Chile, and Mexico.
The island features 16 golf courses and more than five thousand registered golfers. Nevertheless, the Puerto Rico Golf Association estimates that they have roughly 15,000 active golfers.
The 2023 Venue
Grand Reserve Golf Club, which will host the LAAC for the first time, was designed by Tom Kite and is located on the northeast coast of the island. The property offers iconic views of El Yunque rainforest and several lagoons and has hosted the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open since 2008, along with the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
“We are thrilled to welcome the best Latin American men’s amateur players to Puerto Rico. The talent in our region continues to grow and we are excited to inspire the next generation of Puerto Rican golfers through the Latin America Amateur Championship,” said Sidney Wolf, President of the Puerto Rico Golf Association.
There are considerable expectations, not only in Puerto Rico, but throughout the region, in anticipation of the eighth edition of the LAAC. This event has become the region’s flagship amateur competition, the one that every amateur golfer yearns to play, hoping to become part of a history that makes seemingly impossible dreams come true.