TWO years after the Jamaica Golf Association (JGA) had to relocate its secretariat from the LIME Golf Academy in New Kingston because of an outstanding debt of J$8 million in rent owed to the property's owner, Urban Development Corporation (UDC), the association's president Wayne Chai Chong still regrets the loss.
The Academy, centrally located in New Kingston and located only metres from Emancipation Park, Liguanea Club, and several hotels in the capital city's business district, served as a training ground for youngsters who wanted to practise their shots, as well as tourists and other golf enthusiasts.
Today, the property has fallen into decay and sits virtually unused, except for the occasional party or live show held at the venue.
Chai Chong told the Jamaica Observer that losing the right to remain at the property was disappointing as several plans the JGA had involving the use of the property had to be abandoned.
"We had many, many plans for we could move golf forward with that academy and without it is a major challenge for us," he lamented.
"Quite often we have the opportunity to have coaches come down and take our youngsters and train them, but without your own facility it's difficult. That's one aspect of it. The other aspect is that we were hoping we could put some technology into the property to help with our advanced our golfers as well."
Chai Chong said the cash-strapped JGA did not anticipate regaining the property anytime soon.
The gap is not being filled, although Chai Chong said initial discussions have taken place with the Constant Spring Golf Club.
"(They) expressed an interest in having a full training facility there, so we have invited them to put forward a proposal as to the kind of assistance they would need to do that and then we work together to see how we can finance it," he stated.
The Constant Spring Golf Club and Caymanas Golf Club are the only two other facilities in the Greater Kingston region where one can go and play golf.
The National Golf Academy was built by the UDC and opened in 2003 sponsored then by Cable and Wireless (now LIME) and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in Scotland.
The Academy's primary objectives were to assist with shedding the image of golf as an elitist sport as well as attract new aspirants. In August 2004, it staged the Tiger Woods In the City Clinic & Festival.