The current Botswana Golf Union (BGU)’s grassroots development plan can be termed ambitious and may prove difficult to achieve.
However, should they attain and implement it, it may just prove to be a masterstroke for the development of golf in the country.
Under the new plan, the BGU intends not only to make golf an accessible sport to all, but also to roll out its development to 50 schools countrywide and to reach as many students as possible annually.
Speaking in an interview with Standard Sport, the president of the Botswana Golf Union, Dr Andrew Hall, said they realise the magnitude and the challenges they face but said they are determined to see it through. While admitting that lack of resources, more especially sponsorship, is their main challenge, the BGU president says the development plan is achievable.
Dr Hall says the latest plan to develop golf from the grassroots is very comprehensive as they have learnt a lot from their past development plan, which did not come out successfully as they had hoped.
In the past development plan, BGU had targeted 185 kids for development, of which, according to the BGU, only 10 are still active in golf and may make it into the national team in the future.
Hall says from this failure and the subsequent assessment from the South African Professional Golf Association, the BGU will now embark on a scientific approach to golf development.
The BGU chief informed Standard Sport that the new plan will be carried out in three facets: Introduction to golf, Identification of talent and finally Development of talent.
Unlike in the past when they targeted all kids, the BGU will, under the new plan, target kids who are aged between 9 and 13 years old for development.
Hall says as in accordance with scientific research on sports development, their past attempt has shown them that kids below the age of nine cannot be earmarked for any particular development as they tend to get bored and deviate from sport by the time they reach their potential.
He underscored their failure to realise this scientific truth as one of the reasons why the past BGU development plan failed to live up to their expectations.
Under the introduction phase, 500 athletically gifted kids from across the country will be introduced to the sport of golf. From this number, potentially gifted golfers will be selected and these will then be developed. Hall informed Standard Sport that in the introduction stage, the BGU will use programmes such as SNAG and tri-golf as these are effective in introducing golf to kids in a playful and fun way.
To ensure they reach as many schools, BGU says it intends to partner with schools for golf to be included in their extra-curricular activities. While admitting that their developmental plan is very ambitious, Hall says BGU is engaging the business community to partner them as they are confident of success.
He says experts like David Johnson from the R & A Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland, as well as the Professional Golfers Association of South Africa (PGASA) have been instrumental in the formation of the plan.
Meanwhile, the report of the assessment carried out on local professional golfers by experts from the PGASA is expected to be in the hands of the BGU in less than two weeks.
According to the BGU president, the report will inform the union of the status of professional golf in the country.
Hall says once the report is in their possession, the BGU will determine where to help local professional golfers.
He says golfers who fare well in the assessment will then affiliate to PGASA and will be able to take part in the highly paid professional ranks. As for those who do not qualify, the BGU says it will try to improve their skills to help them make it into the international arena.
Depending on how much they are considered to be behind, they will be enrolled in various courses to help them advance.