May 05, 2021 Sports
Kaieteur News – Make it smaller, play on shorter courses that give an easier pathway into the sport and are much quicker to play, whilst removing the high membership fees and improving access.
For many years the demand for bigger areas of land for longer courses with tee boxes stretching back to nearly 7,600 yards became the fashion despite the fact that, for the vast majority of people who swing a club, playing a course anywhere near that length is a lot closer to anguish than enjoyment.
But now the tide may be changing. The recent release of the Guyana Golf Association 2020 Report has been viewed as the first real step by the body to rein in distance and make the sport more sustainable. A release form the GGA stated that, “As we all become more aware of the environment and looking after the planet we live on, the idea of large golf courses taking up huge areas of land only becomes more of a stick for people to beat the sport with and bring up arguments that golf is for a selected few in society to enjoy behind closed gates.”
“There’s no doubting that due to the efforts of the Guyana Golf Association and Nexgen Golf Academy that golf in Guyana is accessible than many countries around the world. However, more can always be done and with the boom golf enjoyed during 2020, now may well be the time to capitalise by opening up more avenues into the sport, particularly for children and families.”
This is already something that the GGA has made moves on in the Guyana. Earlier this year, the governing body announced plans to build a community golf facility in Crane/Vreed-en-hoop on the West Coast of Demerara.
According to the GGA, the project “aims to redevelop several acres of unused rice lands to create a family-focused venue that provides access to a uniquely designed course with challenging greens that will be floodlit for visitors to enjoy a wide range of golf activities, including shorter forms of the sport especially in the evening when it’s much cooler.”
GGA President Aleem Hussain made it clear that facilities such as the one proposed in West Demerara (one of five nationwide) are very much aimed at making golf more accessible and are an example of the governing body acting on the overused “grow the game” phrase in a proactive manner.
“In this case, smaller really is better – the sport immediately becomes more accessible to the masses, the GGA provides the clubs needed to play the course, the shorter distances allows children and beginners to be introduced to the game at a scale which suits them, and the maintenance of the course is far less expensive.”
“Best of all, it takes up only a small plot of land and, for all of those who say golf now takes far too long to play, even 18 holes on the Hussain designed course will only take an hour or so. The idea is that a short course such as the one proposed for West Demerara by the GGA, will create much more seamless graduation to the longer form of the sport.”
Golf, like any industry, has to adapt. It doesn’t all have to be private membership, fancy dress code and five- hour rounds, it can also be a small food and beverage area, jeans, sneakers and t-shirts, and take the same amount of time as a 20- over cricket match.
“Both are still golf and both ends of the spectrum can co-exist. The days when bigger meant better may well be coming to an end and making the sport more accessible and more sustainable is key”, said Hussain.
Growing the game is often talked about and until the advent of the Guyana Golf Association and Nexgen Golf Academy, perhaps not acted on enough but as GGA President Aleem Hussain says “maybe the best way to make golf bigger and better is, in fact, to make it smaller, more accessible and affordable for everyone.”
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