Can golf really become a factor in Guyana?

– Escarraga, Contreras, Oudit give their take

By Timothy Jaikarran

As a sports writer who has followed the many improvements in the sport of golf in recent years, I was curious to see how Guyana rated among local and foreign golfers, so I sought out several persons and asked their opinions.
First, I asked the CEO of MACORP, Guillermo Escarraga, who hails from Colombia, a series of questions about his views on the game and the way forward. Here are his responses:
Q: What do you think about the game of golf?
A: “When I think about golf, I associate it with wisdom and joy. it is something that is teachable, and it teaches patience. You have to work hard, and those are things we have to keep in mind and practise to play good golf.”
Q: Where do you see golf heading?
A: “I see development, I see opportunities, and I see growth. I think if the country gears towards development, golf has to be a part of it. I think the development of new facilities will actually improve the game, and I see that new generation, especially school kids, have that opportunity to practise now, hence I see great things for Guyana and golf in the future.”

Ambassador of Mexico to Guyana, His Excellency José Hurtado Contreras

Q: What’s the difference between golf in Guyana and golf in Colombia?
A: “Here we only have one golf course and one practice facility. I think with development and new infrastructure we will see more in Guyana. Golf anywhere is tough, but what really drives golfers is that you get to play different courses, and I think that’s the main difference between Guyana and Colombia.”
Q: What do you think your company can do to better golf in Guyana?
A: “We’ve been associated with golf for the past 13 years. We usually sponsor a tournament every year. We help the local golf course in their infrastructure maintenance (and) development. We will continue supporting that, and we will continue supporting the efforts of others who want to bring golf to the wider population. So, the company would definitely be willing to help those who want to lead the development of golf in Guyana.”
I then sought out the Ambassador of Mexico to Guyana, His Excellency José Hurtado Contreras, who talked about the experience he had when he and his family visited the Nexgen Golf Academy during the Curry-Q fundraiser for the Enmore Orphanage.

MACORP CEO Guillermo Escarraga

The Ambassador recalled receiving lessons from our current Guyana Open champion, Avinash Persaud.
In a statement, Contreras said, “It is a great contribution to the development of golf in Guyana, since golf requires training and technique. I also believe that this sport will play an important role in the development of Guyana. I think golf in Guyana is incipient. In Mexico, it already has a long history. They are different situations. I believe that golf in Guyana has a great future; surely, there will be more and more golfers. Guyana has created many expectations with the oil boom. We hope it will benefit society, education and sports in general, and golf in particular. Any sport is very good for your health. Golf is a sport, and as such is a physical exercise of skills, dexterity and physical strength. Teaching golf in schools is undoubtedly positive.”
However, it was important to hear what a Guyanese thought about golf and the aggressive changes that the Guyana Golf Association and Nexgen Golf Academy were bringing to the country, so I chatted with former GuySuCo Chairman and President of the Guyana Horse Racing Committee, Vic Oudit.
Here is the outcome of that conversation:

Guyana Horse Racing Committee President Vic Oudit

Q: Mr. Oudit, what is your impression of the Golf Academy as it compares to other golf facilities internationally?
A: “Very favourable.”
Q: in your opinion, how does the standard of golf here compare with those of other countries you visited?
A: “Guyana is below the average standard since, previously, golf in Guyana was mainly enjoyed as a recreational activity, with occasional tournaments.”
Q: What are your thoughts on golf development in Guyana in general?
A: “There is a need to transform golf from a mindset that it’s only a middle-to- upper-class sport, with just a few caddies and their children having the opportunity to participate, and open the sport to everyone with an interest at a cost they can afford.”
Q: How much of an impact do you think the school programme that has been implemented would have on golf in Guyana?
A: “I applaud the Guyana Golf Association and the Ministry of Education programme to teach school-age children and youths, along with the establishment of Golf courses across the country, which will have a very positive impact on the sport within a few short years.”
So there you have it – a consensus opinion that golf is headed for great things in Guyana. That opinion is shared by this reporter, several foreigners, and certainly hundreds of Guyanese who are, for the first time in their lives, playing a sport they were previously only able to watch on television.