Firstgolf, the access programme created by golf architect Howard Swan and club owner Gill Wilson, is to become the official golf development scheme for South Africa's Western Cape province.
The provincial government has signed a Declaration of Intent with FirstGolf that will lead to the concept being implemented across the Western Cape.
One of the opening Firstgolf projects in the region is planned for the Cape Flats area of Khayelitsha, believed to be the third largest township in South Africa. "There is already a driving range at Khayelitsha, but we are going to create a nine hole Firstgolf course," said Swan. "The opportunity to introduce the game to so many who have today no chance of playing golf is a great example of how golf can become socially sustainable, not just in South Africa but surely elsewhere in the world."
Swan is also working with the Commission of Youth Services and Sport in the Indian state of Karnataka, with the intention of creating a Firstgolf facility adjacent to an existing sports college. Students will have the opportunity to learn to play golf, but also to learn about associated skills such as greenkeeping and caddying, which are likely to be in high demand given the current boom in Indian golf.
This article first appeared in issue 14 of Golf Course Architecture, published in October 2008.