06 Mar 18
Tributes have been paid to Frankie Rabain, a PGA Honorary Member and key figure in the development of golf in Bermuda who has passed away at the age of 85.
Frankie, who trained as a tiler in his youth and became an accomplished guitarist, was a latecomer to golf and was coached by Alora, his late wife.
However, he more than made up for lost time. So much so that he became synonymous with golf on the island.
Frankie became the first Bermudian to qualify and play in The Open. That was in 1971 at Royal Birkdale; two years later, at the age of 40, he won the Bermuda Open.
He was victorious again in 1977 but his golfing achievements transcended winning tournaments.
He had lengthy spells as the professional at Ocean View Golf and Country Club and Port Royal and gleaned as much satisfaction from coaching and encouraging others to play the game as he did from playing.
Frankie was made a PGA Honorary Member in 2005 and Robert Maxfield, PGA chief executive, said: “His love of the game rubbed off on those he played with, watched him or were coached by him.
“And the part he played in growing the game in Bermuda cannot be over-stated. He is a huge loss to golf as he is to his family and friends, to whom we extend our heartfelt condolences.”
PGA executive president, Sandy Jones, added: “Frankie was a wonderful ambassador for golf and The PGA.
“He was a proud PGA Member and he loved every aspect of the game, especially encouraging others to get involved.
“In many respects Frankie was a larger than life character. He was always smiling, had a great sense of humour and his enthusiasm for golf was infectious. Above all, he was a gentleman and he will be much missed.”
Frankie’s time at Ocean View coincided with it becoming the first club on the island where anyone, including black and Portuguese people, could play.
“He was a trailblazer among that great group of golfers, the first generation that played in an integrated Bermuda,” said Kim Swan of Bermuda’s Progressive Labour Party.
“He was traditional golf pro, a concessionaire and businessman who ran the books at the club. He couldn’t remember names, so everyone was ‘Champ’, and he made you feel like a champ.”
Swan, himself a professional golfer, was one of many MPs who paid tribute to Frankie following his passing.
Diallo Rabain, the education minister, remembered golf lessons from his great-uncle and Opposition leader Jeanne Atherden hailed the “musician and very patient teacher” who became known as ‘Mr Port Royal’.
She added: “Whenever he went anywhere, he represented Bermuda more than himself.”
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