Affiliate in Focus: Madagascar

It might be the world’s fourth largest island and more than twice the size of the United Kingdom but in golfing terms Madagascar has a long way to go to catch up on its island counterpart.

While the UK can boast more than 2,700 golf courses in its 94,000 sq mile area, Madagascar currently has five courses with one under development in a terrain stretching to 229,000 sq miles.

The disparity in scale does not mean that the Fédération de Golf de Madagascar (FMGOLF) is any less enthusiastic in terms of growing and developing golf on the island off the east coast of Africa.

The Federation recently became the 150th affiliated body to The R&A and is making strides to establish the coaching and championship infrastructure required to become a golfing nation.

Of the country’s five courses, two are 18-hole layouts, at Andakana (Rova Golf Club) and Nosy-be, and three are nine-hole courses, at Malaza, Antsirabe and Foulpointe. A new nine-hole course is currently under construction at Fort Dauphin, and a further golf course project is in the early planning stages in the capital city Antananarivo.

The Malaza Golf Academy was established in 2010 to serve as a practice and training facility for junior golfers but the only certified teaching professional has left the country. Caddies from Malaza have stepped up to fill the void and have since been serving as the only golf teachers in Madagascar.

With a little more than 550 golfers across the country, the Federation has developed an ambitious strategic plan that aims to grow the number of players with a key focus on promoting the game to the next generation.

The aim is to give young people in Madagascar a positive first impression of the game, generating excitement for the sport that will in turn encourage adults to get involved.

The Federation also hopes to establish a national championship to allow golfers of all skill levels to experience competitive golf while showcasing the game to the public. In the future, it is hoped that a champion golfer from Madagascar will succeed on the international stage and serve as a positive role model to inspire the next generation.

With the support of The R&A, a golf professional will travel to the country in 2014 to provide coaching sessions for both juniors and adults, train the current caddies that are teaching at Malaza, and provide guidance to the Federation on the progress of the strategic plan.

The R&A will assist the Federation with new greenkeeping machinery and golf equipment to improve existing facilities and strengthen club membership.

Additionally, the Federation will work with existing clubs to attract new members. A national marketing campaign will be rolled out over the next four years, promoting Madagascar’s golf clubs and the game of golf as a whole.

New infrastructure support coupled with FMGOLF’s measured commitment to promote the game across the country translates into great potential for golf in Madagascar. With plans in development to encourage young golfers to keep coming back to the game throughout their lives, the future of golf in Madagascar looks bright.