Achimota Golf Club missed the boat – Captain

The Captain of the Achimota Golf Club Rene Gameli Kwame has admitted that club has some way to go before become an international Golf course.

The nation’s premier golf club which was established in 1934 by some colonial teachers at Achimota School has been hosting local competition ever since.

The club has a rich history with its membership including people in high social class in society who live in Accra and beyond but the golf course is yet to attain international status due the rather the slow pace of development on its irrigation system.

Speaking on E TV’s Revealed last Tuesday, Rene Gameli Kwame, the captain of the Achimota Golf Club, acknowledged that the club failed to catch up with the pace of development in the game along the line.

Rene also responded to criticism about the low standard of the golf course saying “I agree with them to a certain extent” he said adding that “since 1934 we do not have an international golf course.”

“I will not blame them too much because of cause at the time that it started it was just for leisure. Now that the game has grown internationally, that is where we missed the boat; we did not grow with the rest of the world.”

The 38 year old, who assumed the reigns of the golf club earlier this year, is optimistic though that the club can address its challenges.

“I think it is not too late. I believe that is one of the visions for myself and my council is to gradually get us to where we will now be recognised as an international golf course.”

Rene, who is a self employed father of two is the youngest ever captain of the nations famous golf course, has big ambitions to overturn the fortunes of the 18 hole course during his reign. But he is under no illusion about how much it will cost to achieve that goal.

“On a very moderate and conservative budget  it is going to cost us- just to have a fully automated golf course irrigation system and not just an ordinary irrigation system- $600, 000.00

“That is just one part of it. We need to invest in machinery. The last budget we are working with to get enough greens, mowers, just the basics to keep us going: we are looking about $250,000.

“We have not talked about maintenance and the other little things.

“Yes (we are talking about over $1m) and that is a very moderate fee.

“Assuming we were at ground zero for now, if we invest about a $1m tomorrow, we should be about 80% of achieving international standard because once you have irrigation in place, the course will be green year round, the greens are going to play better, you can now start thinking of ok, how do I re-grass, how do I bring better grass and better quality turf onto the course. But without an irrigation system, without equipment to cut and maintain these grasses, what is the point?”

The world’s former number one golfer, Tiger Woods is credited with lifting the image of the sport globally after becoming the first $1 billion athlete before his infamous sex scandal broke.

Rene believes that the local game needs a super star like Tiger Wood to lift the profile of the sport.

“Yes, currently we don’t have a strong professional golfing community. We have not appeared on the international circuit yet. I will say a few of them have gone out to try their best but it wasn’t big news.”

“Golfers in those days came to Africa to make sure that they could get onto the international circuit like Fiji’s Vijay Singh. He used to play in the Nigerian Open. Vijay played with some of our senior golfers in Achimota but today he is ranked among the top ten top golfers in the world but there is no Ghanaian.

“We have not encouraged Ghanaians to follow the steps of Vijay Singh and others. Again it boils down to sponsorship. If we are not attracting the right sponsorship, then we can’t get there.

The Achimota captain also sought to dispel the long held perception that golf is a game for only the affluent in society saying that “anyone can play the game with a little commitment.”

In that respect Achimota, he said, has been giving some youth the chance to play at the golf club as a way of enticing them to take to the sport.

Rene Kwame is also looking forward to playing an active role in seeking sponsorship for the game of golf nationwide.

“I guess an election year is coming again, I will think about running again. But I will avail myself to attracting good sponsorship for golf as a whole, not just for Achimota.

“I will like to encourage young people if possible mentor a Ghanaian to get onto the international golf circuit. So I will do anything for golf.

By Erasmus Kwaw

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