Although the game of golf has gradually spread into previously uncharted golfing territory, nations such as Peru, Ecuador, Estonia and others have been pretty much off the golfing beaten track.
This situation, however, may eventually change if missionary work backed by the R&A and arranged by the PGA of Europe achieves long-term fruition.
The Tour de Las Americas now features tournaments in such countries as Peru, Paraguay, Chile and Columbia, where golf is in competition with the all-embracing South American ‘religion’ of football.
Currently the cost of golf in Peru, basically in country club-style courses, is beyond the resources of some 85% of the population so, while facilities have existed there for many years, golf has been played by only a small minority.
Now a start has been made in spreading the word. Part of these beginnings is UK-based golf pro David Colclough who undertook a ‘missionary’ trip for a couple of weeks at the end of February.
In his detailed report David has outlined how he met with Federation committee members, discussed how best to utilize his time there and set about taking various groups of players, professionals, assistants and caddies for tuition.
During his two weeks of intensive instruction he provided clinics at Los Incas, Lima, Los Andes, La Planicie and Villa Golf Clubs. Men, women, boys and girls, some of whom were the country’s best players, were covered by his efforts
“I felt that basic understanding of technique was good,” he said of his talks with the professionals, “but when giving lessons they seemed to miss the importance of pre-swing fundamentals. I tried to stress this to them all.
“A very useful discussion evolved about how the professionals can take the game forward and how they must work with the Federation to create a stronger organization. Some of the professionals were interested in setting up an exchange with a pro in Europe for a few weeks, or coming to Europe to increase their knowledge,” David added.
Peru has nine golf courses and 3,000 players while possessing a climate that is ‘perfect’ for golf – potentially a 365-days-a-year activity. David’s courses were attended by 15 Peruvian professionals and three from Argentina.
Previously these professionals had very little contact with each other but they now intend to meet on a regular basis in a ‘Teaching Body’. The future now looks brighter though there is a lingering concern…the lessons given by caddies at golf clubs and the need has been expressed for examinations to be introduced.
Attending to such matters is precisely what the PGAE Education programme is about.
PGA of Europe www.pgae.com
Further details appear in the July issue of ‘GolfPro’ the official quarterly publication of the PGA of Europe, distributed to some 12,000 club professionals in 33 countries in Europe and beyond along with trade outlets and media.