Christophe Curé, who has been at the head of the Mauritius Golf Federation for the last two years, believes that the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Heritage Resorts has given people a good opportunity to find out what golf is all about and hopes that it will lead to increased participation in the sport.
photos : deeneshen sabapathee
How is golf faring in Mauritius at the moment?
Golf is gaining ground. At the start of my presidency, the Federation had 350 members and we hope to have a 1,000 by the end of this year. When you include people who play occasionally, there are about 2,000 golfers in Mauritius. The national teams are doing better and better in international tournaments, with a first win in the Indian Ocean Inter-Island Competition in 2014.
What’s the Federation doing to make golf more popular?
We organise seven national tournaments each year on various courses around the island, as well as junior competitions. With the support of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, we’ve also introduced Golf for All, a programme open to everyone. Last year, we provided an introduction to golf to 500 schoolchildren from all parts of the island. We selected around fifty of them who showed particular promise and they are now in their second year and undergoing more intense training. We have a fresh intake each year and even if these youngsters don’t become golfing professionals they may be interested one day in working in the golfing sector where there are employment possibilities. At the same time, we organise open days to raise interest amongst Mauritians in playing golf.
Do you think there may come a day when we’ll see a Mauritian on the professional tours?
We already have one who has reached the standard level – Ludovic Bax de Keating. He’s given himself one more year to perfect his game before taking the plunge, while being aware that we have to rapidly find the finance to get him as ready as possible for the tour’s qualifying rounds in early 2016. With his future career in mind, his participation in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Heritage Resorts this year will have been a very enriching experience. Within the Federation, we focus very much on talented youngsters in order to produce more golfers able to play at regional and international level over the coming years.
What role did the Federation play in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Heritage Resorts?
We provided a lot of support to the tournament. In particular, we sanctioned the name, Mauritius Open, for what has been a historic event here and also the first ever tri-sanctioned tournament in golfing history. The Federation also organised a group of volunteers, all licence holders, who were responsible for the live scoring at each hole and acted as marshals during the tournament. For these golf enthusiasts, it was a great experience.
How will golf in Mauritius benefit from such a major event?
Such a special event has attracted the interest not just of golfers but of all Mauritians. We’ve been fortunate to have had a high-level sporting event in Mauritius and it’s been an opportunity for non-golfers to find out what the sport is all about. I also hope that seeing top sportsmen in action will inspire youngsters. For the Federation, it’s given us an enhanced international reputation, and Mauritius, as well as its hotels and international-standard golf courses, is now seen as a country which can host such events.
What’s the sport’s future in Mauritius?
There’s a keen appetite for the sport and, with the national handicapping system the Federation has established, we’ve succeeded in bringing together all the golfers in Mauritius. We’ve also obtained a financial contribution from the R&A to help meet the costs over the next three years of recruiting a national technical director, who will help professionalise both the administrative and sporting sides of the Federation. Golf has a great future in Mauritius!
“Always with a golf club in my hands”
With a background in Civil Engineering – he studied at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta – Christophe Curé currently works in the property development sector. From a very early age he was interested in sport, including athletics, tennis and golf. “My parents were members of the Mauritius Gymkhana Club and I was, you might say, always with a golf club in my hands. I took it up more seriously in 2007 and I was even the Mauritian team captain for the Inter-Island Competition in 2012.” He became a member of the Mauritius Golf Federation in 2011 and took over from Dr Roy Chavrimootoo for a four-year stint as President in early 2013. “We have continued to work on the lines established by the former committee and, with the current team, we’re all united in our desire to see golf make further advances in the island.”