As a sport played by over 80 million people in over 130 countries, golf has a significant global reach. Unfortunately, however, the popularity of golf across the African continent is relatively low. This is largely due to limited golf development programmes and the fact that golf has traditionally been inaccessible to many Africans, writes Howard Swan.
Golf has a wide potential sphere of influence. It spans the leisure industry, professional and amateur sport, retail, tourism, hospitality, urban planning, eco-development, real estate investment and property development. Golf makes important contributions to community development through job creation, skills development, poverty alleviation and leisure opportunities.
In countries where golf is a fairly new sport, golf development initiatives are necessary to promote the game and to ensure that its associated socio-economic benefits can be realized. The Africa Golf Centres of Excellence Programme is an initiative aimed at promoting golf in African countries. Its aim is to establish and support efforts to help communities and countries benefit from a growing interest in golf.
The Africa Golf Centre of Excellence Programme will establish three key pilot projects in Southern Africa, West Africa and East Africa, through public–private partnerships.
The Africa Golf Summit will be an important turning point in establishing the Africa Golf Centres of Excellence Programme. At the Summit, a final decision regarding the selection of participants will be made. The Summit forum will determine the criterial for setting up pilot centres as well as participation in the programme. This will be done in consultation with the various national governments, the golfing federations and allied associations and the selected projects and facilities where the pilot programme will be developed in Southern Africa, East Africa and West Africa.
In launching the Initiative Kwakye Donkor, Marketing Director of RETOSA (the Regional Economic and Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa) and Howard Swan, golf course architect at Swan Golf Designs and Chairman of the Golf Consultants’ Association hope to set out a platform whereby a number of stakeholders can work together in realising the aims and objectives of the programme. Swan adds “there is a great chance for many interested parties throughout sub Saharan Africa to pool their expertise, their experience and their enthusiasm to grow the game at this grass roots level and to involve a host of communities which have had no such opportunity to do so to date. More importantly, I feel that is a real opening to make an expanding game in Africa really work for those communities in reaching out and providing education and training for all involved. By doing so we must surely manage to make that Olympic ideal reachable to more”
The objectives of the Initiative are to:
- To promote golf as an Olympic sport – really
- Numerous Africa Golf Centres of Excellence will be established at public golf courses, with multi-purpose buildings and clubhouses
- Nine hole and short courses, Golf academies, practice areas and driving ranges will be launched to support the economic viability and the natural and social sustainability of venues
- Through these facilities golf will be made more accessible to local communities through affordable access and those denied the opportunity to date will be given a chance to learn the game
- The local communities to participate in the developments and will be targeted, identifying and nurturing talent thus enabling people from all backgrounds to learn to play golf
- Stemming from the initiative learning, education and training as well las employment opportunities will be created within the communities
Additionally, The Centres of Excellence aim:
- To encourage the development of golf in local communities, through public-private partnership
- To identify African youth with limited resources and provide them with education, training, life-skills and learning opportunities through golf
- To create an enabling environment for the creation of local small enterprises and provide them with business opportunities
- To increase awareness, interest and participation in golf by increasing the number of training facilities that will focus on youth and elite level training
- To develop golf industry skills to ensure that our amateur and professional players can compete globally and participate in golf as an Olympic sport
- To complement, support and enhance existing but limited golf development initiatives on the continent, to grow the game and the business of golf
- To increase African countries’ representation in golf at world championship and Olympic Games level
- To reach communities where golf hasn’t previously been considered as an option and to promote the benefits of the sport to these groups
Why Is a Development Programme Needed?
- Golf is perceived as an expensive and elitist sport
- Governments in Africa have very few development programmes for golf
- The initiative will contribute to the creation of environmentally-friendly green spaces in local communities
- The Centre of Excellence initiative aims to help African countries to develop a coherent strategy to increase participation in golf and contribute to its development
- The initiative will complement the aspirations of the governments and sport federations to increase participation in the business and sport of golf
- It will also provide opportunities for people to improve their life and leadership skills
- The initiative will allow policy makers, governments and local communities to understand that golf is uniquely well-placed to make a significant contribution to local economies and poverty alleviation
Proposed Scope of the Initiative
The programme aims to generate adequate technical and financial support for talented young people to become education, to undertake vocational training, in subject areas including the following:
- Literacy and numeracy
- Social and life skills
- Golf and Club management
- Reception and front of house management
- Greenkeeping and course management
- Irrigation, water management, environmental management
- Retail management and staffing
- Golf product and service employment
- Tourism and hospitality employment and management
- Golf and sports development coaching and training
- Small business and medium-size enterprise development
Africa Golf Summit www.africagolfsummit.com/
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