Golfing in Belize - a Move to Further Develop the Sport
It is a sport that has been played in Belize for decades and since 2004, the Belize Open has had participation from athletes from as far as England, Canada, Colombia, and neighbouring Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador. Over the weekend, players including U.S. Chargï¿½ d'affaires Keith Gilges and B.T.L. Chairman Mark Lizarraga as well as Galen Alumni gathered in the outskirts of Roaring Creek Village for you guessed it - golfing. News Five's Duane Moody reports on the efforts to develop the sport among the youth in Belize.
Duane Moody, Reporting
It is often referred to as a sport for the elites. And while names such as Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are synonymous with golf, the owners of the Roaring River Golfing Course in the West are trying to develop the sport in Belize.
Rodrigo Barrera, Member, Belize Golf Association
"This golf course opened in 2004, so it is sixteen years almost going to seventeen years of golf in Belize. Before that, we had Caye Chapel - and if you know about Caye Chapel - it has been the only golf course in Belize as you could say regulatory size because here, the longest hole you'll find is about two hundred and ninety yards. But when you go outside of Belize, you have holes up to five hundred yards so it is a very different feel towards playing golf. But yes, we've had golf here since 2004 and I guess people in Belize don't really know about it because there is a misconception that golf is for people that are of higher class when in reality it is not."
The Belize Golf Association is trying to change just that, with a program to engage more Belizeans in golfing, building on the foundation, having recently been recognised by the National Sports Council.
"It was more of a leisure sport - you came here, you had fun, you play with your friends - what we are trying to do is making sure that golf has a future in Belize and the way we do that is trying to incorporate more players. Obviously kids; we started a beginners tournament. We started a female tournament. But I think the biggest project that we have coming is called the Belize First Team, which is trying to incorporate kids. Kids could come and play for free by the way, as long as you are with a parent, you can come and play for free."
Rodrigo Barrera says this is about ensuring that golf has a future. Over the weekend, members from the Galen Alumni participated in the sport, including athletes from other sporting disciplines.
Deiny Montoya, Student Affairs Assistant, Galen University
"I came here on Thursday to practice and Galen came here with the staff and students and the practice went really bad for me. It was my first time playing golf and I hit the ground more times than I hit the ball. It was really bad; I even hurt my hands. So it was really bad."
"How has the experience been so far?"
"I came here very disappointed saying I am not going to make it or be good about it. And I am doing very well."
Out on the nine-hole golf course were Open Your Eyes host Gavin Courtenay as well as News Five's anchor and professional volleyball athlete, Bryton Codd.
Bryton Codd, Professional Volleyball Athlete
"The golf that you see on television is totally different than what it actually is in real life. I've developed a greater appreciation for sport. It takes a lot of patience; it's a lot of mental and a lot of technicalities that are similar to other sports. For example, in volleyball for the hips and in golf with the hips. So you develop an appreciation for the sport."
Gavin Courtenay, Host, Open Your Eyes
"I was relying on some skills that I learned about ten fifteen years ago. Luckily they still kicked in and I didn't come in last. I had fun though. It was a really fun experience. It is a lot harder than it looks - I can definitely tell you that - but even with that said, I think it is something that a whole lot of different people should come out and try. We played nine holes of golf; it took a few hours, but it was a whole lot of fun."
Duane Moody for News Five.
Free classes for children up to sixteen are held on Saturdays and Sundays; you must be in the company of a parent.