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Golf courses proven tourist attractions
Predictably the planned upgrade of the Chaguaramas Public Golf Course has ruffled feathers. Against the background of a contracting economy with its attendant austerity budget, just about everyone can think of a better way to spend the $3 million.
But that misses the point. The 9-hole course certainly needs an urgent upgrade, but not of this kind. Chaguaramas should be upgraded to a full 18-hole championship quality course.
Much is made of Chaguaramas being a public course, where local aspiring golfers can learn the game. The inference being that this is adequate for their needs.
But being a public course does not preclude its upgrade to full international standards, and Tucker Valley is the ideal location for it.
This goes way beyond local use, important though that should continue to be. The Chaguaramas course should be developed to international standard, and recognised as an important tourism attraction.
We continue to hear that the government is anxious to develop tourism in Trinidad. And the Ministry of Tourism’s long range planning committee, chaired by Dr Accola Lewis-Cameron, has correctly identified conference tourism as the primary opportunity for development.
Guess what? Golf is a top priority for conference delegates, indeed many conference venues are selected by their meeting planners on golf’s availability, and a nine-hole course simply does not cut it.
Sadly neither does Moka, which is a private course without the availability of electric carts where tee times are often difficult to come by, and the Millennium course at Trincity is on the wrong side of town with all the traffic horrors of the East/West corridor to contend with.
Some of the greatest golf courses in the United States are public courses: the legendary Pebble Beach and its three sister courses on California’s Monterey Peninsula, or Bethpage Black on Long Island in New York, both venues for the US Open on multiple occasions.
The importance of golf is a well understood fact elsewhere in the Caribbean. Barbados has three internationally accredited courses with the Green Monkey, Sandy Lane and the Royal Westmoreland.
Jamaica has the White Witch, Rose Hall and Tryall in Montego Bay, Puerto Rico has four courses at Dorado and two others at Rio Mar, the Dominican Republic has the Teeth of the Dog and three other courses at Casa de Campo, and Bermuda has its famed Mid Ocean.
All are proven tourism attractions for both conference and leisure visitors.
After last Monday’s budget presentation it would be impossible not to understand the financial crunch that T&T is now facing, but any interim upgrade to Chaguaramas should surely be part of an integrated long range plan to establish an international championship golf course there.
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