– as the economy booms, one sport is about to change the perception of Guyana on the world stage

By Timothy Jaikarran

Few sports have the ability to impact a nation and hold its attention as does golf, which has always been considered a sport for a particular sector of the population. And, in fact, it was a feat that the lips of many Guyanese often did not utter; but that has all changed with one man’s quest to make golf one of our country’s top sports.

The new plot of land acquired by the GGA and NexGen Golf Academy

Most people laughed when Aleem Hussain, the current President of the Guyana Golf Association and NexGen Golf Academy, expressed his intentions; but, in a short space of time, it has created opportunities for those far and wide to play the game by creating a platform where everyone interested can access to play the game, and it doesn’t matter what your social status is.
It is now clear from the remarkable response to his efforts that the game of golf has a place in Guyana, as our nation has the opportunity to not only be recognized for its cricket and football, but its achievements golf. Based on current results, one would go as far as to say that golf has the potential to challenge and even surpass many of the country’s core sports.
Through his company, NexGen Global, Hussain has not only improved the facilities at Nexgen Golf Academy on Woolford Avenue, but has also acquired land to open another course on the West Coast of Demerara, as well as eyeing a location in Essequibo. What this means for the Guyanese public is that golf is on the rise, and will be in your area soon, so that everyone can take part.
And what’s even more important is how Nexgen Global builds the sport: from the ground up, with a keen eye to future generations, starting with the school system and competition planning between schools, regions and neighboring countries with the aim of eventually establishing an Olympic team.
While gay people may be sprouting opinions about his endeavors and the true potential of the sport, there is undoubtedly much golf can do for Guyana, especially in the form of Sports Tourism, where there are endless possibilities. Golf tourism is the term used to describe trips made by people and the main purpose is to play golf.
With countries like Cyprus and Saudi Arabia – seriously short of water – developing 30 new courses to save their troubled tourism industry, your eyes must be opened to the potential of golf. To look at more factual data, there are now 32,000 courses worldwide; up from 25,000 in the mid-1990s, which at the time would have covered an area the size of Belgium.
The UK has the highest density in the world: about 0.6% of the land is covered with 2,600 courses, a 40% increase over the last 30 years. In Japan, there are over 20 million players, and they pay a high price to travel the world for their golfing holidays.
According to a 2015 Links report, Links readers have an average annual spend on golf travel of $ 3,965, out of a total spend at $ 10,560 on each travel. 52% of Links readers surveyed said they plan to take between 4 and 9 golf trips over the next three years. SRI estimated that golf produced a total economic impact of $ 176.8 billion in 2011.
Further, according to the report, golf supported approximately 1.98 million jobs, putting $ 55.6 billion of wages in America’s pockets. The SRI report also estimates that sales of existing homes in golf communities “generated $ 1.6 billion in higher real estate value or premium (the premium is the extra amount a buyer is willing to pay for a home or property that has to locate on a golf course or within a golf community). That is, living on or near a golf course is good for property values, which increases the net worth of those homeowners.
So think about it, with Maraiko Bay Golf and Country Club and at least 3 other courses in the development phase, sooner rather than later Guyana would have courses at the same level as the rest of the world, then you can imagine the influx of tourists who would want to take a crack at our courses, and imagine how much revenue Guyana would receive.
If you need more convincing, let’s dive into more data, and look at the figures and ask ourselves why Guyana shouldn’t be benefiting from the golf tourism platform. The global golf tourism market is worth over $ 17 billion, according to the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) as 56 million people play golf worldwide.
The leading market for golf as a sport is the United States – believed to contribute over $ 60 billion to that economy. Europe (apart from the UK) is not a mature golf market; it is still largely prosecuted by the elite few (worth $ 20 billion). The UK, Japan and Australia all have mature golf markets. Golf is more than just a game, it is a thriving business growing the economies of the advancing countries.
The golf tourism market is set to grow $ 5.36 billion during 2020-2024, moving forward at a CAGR of 4% during the forecast period. The market is driven by the growing emphasis on golf infrastructure worldwide and the Government’s growing support for the promotion of golf tourism. This study cites the growing popularity of pro-golf tournaments as one of the main reasons driving the growth of the golf tourism market over the next few years.
One of the most important benefits of golf tourism is that game lovers do not think twice about spending money on the travel and hospitality services involved in the game. In developing countries like India, golf tourism boosts revenue generation, generating economic growth through hotels, restaurants and retail establishments.
Apart from its economic benefits, golf tourism can create new tourism destinations and can also help develop new infrastructure. It also creates a good opportunity to increase community support for sports and sports events. Golf tourism also attracts high-end visitors, especially repeaters, and this enhances the organizational, marketing and bidding capabilities of a country seeking to host major television events.
So think about it, or argue with me, but there are no arguments against these figures and facts that prove themselves. With COVID-19 creating havoc with affiliate sports, and likely to continue to do so in the near future, Guyana, like many other countries, should turn to the game of golf, as it is one sport that meets all of the COVID-19 criteria criteria.
And finally, one man’s dream will become a reality for many Guyanese, because, in a matter of 3 to 5 years, Guyana will be at that level, as many golfers will come to taste what we have to offer, and take their struggles to our lawns.

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