Nation's first public golf course opens in Cayo
Tuesday, November 5, 2002
It's not a sport that one immediately associates with the rough and
tumble nation of Belize... but with the game of golf spreading to
virtually every corner of the globe, it was only a matter of time until
Belizeans got a chance to experience the frustration of trying to hit a
tiny white ball with a long narrow stick. The nice thing for Belize is
that the country's first public golf course, besides being reasonably
priced, is also beginner friendly...as News 5's Janelle Chanona found
Janelle Chanona, Reporting
Forty-four year old Paul Martin isn't a golf fanatic...he just wanted to
play golf so badly that he built his own course.
Paul Martin, Owner, Roaring River Golf Course
"It will never become a mainstream sport here, but it will become a
Over the past eleven months, Martin estimates he's spent close to a
million Belize dollars using highly specialized machines to groom his
greens, finesse the fairways and tidy up the tee boxes.
"We've got to the stage where basically the development is done now.
Basically the course is maturing now and we're at the point where we're
ready to start taking more people now, the course is now strong enough
to take traffic through here."
"Do you think this green will start making you the other kind of green
"Well we hope to get our green back, but it's not a short term process,
simply by the numbers game. We see it as a long term project, and the
older the course gets, the more mature it's going to get. So it's a long
term project, it's not an overnight project where you expect to get your
Located along the picturesque Roaring River just outside Belmopan, the
golf course boasts nine holes, a practice green and several water
obstacles, one of which features a special living hazard that will make
you think twice before trying to recover any lost balls.
"There's about three, four hundred balls in this hole here already.
There's about three or four hundred. I think when we get them out we'll
have a big party eh."
Martin hopes that the natural beauty of his property will attract the
affluent and the adventurous to get into the swing of things.
"What we've tried to do is to fit the nine holes to make it a reasonable
size. But we had to try to make the course hard enough for good players,
but easy enough for beginners as well."
And speaking of beginners...
"Paul, I have never played golf before, what do I need?"
"Basically these are two sets of clubs. You have a ladies set and you
have a man's set. The only difference between the two sets is the length
of the club is slighter shorter and the grip is a little bit thinner on
the ladies set."
"Those are what you tee up on the green. You put the ball up there, the
ball sits up there. That's only on the tee box you use the pegs. And the
balls, those are balls that they use."
I've got the tools, now it's time for the technique. First there's the
"You put your two hands on it. Some people prefer to hold it with the
two hands like that or that's the "Vardon" grip, where you put the index
finger and the little finger and you lock them in together there,
sometimes feels more comfortable."
Then the stance...
"Get your grip. Bend forward. Keep the distance here. Bend your knees
ever so slightly, just to take the flex, you don't need too stiff going
into the shot. Basically, that's the stance position."
And finally, the swing.
Okay so I had the form, but there was no follow through.
(Janelle's bad swings)
...And practicing didn't help.
But after a slight rain delay, the putting went a little better.
(Janelle putting and missing...finally gets ball in)
"Okay, so maybe not every shot is a hole in one and despite the
significant risks involved in promoting a new sport, the creation of
courses like this one might very well put Belize on the golfing map.
Reporting from the Cayo District from News 5, I am Janelle Chanona."
If you would like to play nine holes at the Roaring River Golf Course,
head to Camalote Village on the Western Highway and look for the signs
on the south side of the road. Price, including club rental, is thirty
Belize dollars for locals and thirty U.S. for visitors. Golf balls may
be purchased at the course.