Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism is hoping that the country’s first PGA tour event will kindle interest in the sport and spur the development of new golf courses.
The Ecuador Open, which began yesterday at the Quito Tennis and Golf Club, features 150 golf pros competing for a top prize of $27,000. The event is part of the PGA Latin American Tour.
According to Ecuador’s PGA office, there are only seven golf courses in Ecuador suitable for professional play, two in Quito, three in Guayaquil, one in Cuenca and one near Manta. An eighth is under construction on the central coast with another in the planning stages.
The Ministry of Tourism is advertising the Ecuador Open in the Quito area and hopes to attract several thousand spectators during the four-day event. To educate Ecuadorians, many of whom have minimal knowledge of golf, the ministry is publishing information and do’s and don’ts, including: “be quiet when golfers are preparing for a shot; expect to walk more than mile during a round of golf; and turn off your cell phone.”
The ministry is working with golf course developers, equipment manufacturers and vendors to promote the sport in Ecuador. “Our intention is to develop a golf culture in the country, which means encouraging the development of new facilities and promoting knowledge of the game,” a ministry press release says.
In Cuenca, more than 30 expats belong to the Cuenca Tennis and Golf Club, most of them golfers.
“It’s a nice little club,” says Jason Lamb, who plays two to three rounds of golf a week. “The golf course is nine holes but it’s well laid out and well maintained. The rest of the facilities are good too, comparable to the club I belonged to in Ohio. Best of all, my monthly dues for full membership are less than a third of what I paid back in the States.”
Lamb adds: “For me, it’s a great addition to the expat life and means I don’t have to give up a game that was important to me before I moved to Ecuador.”
The pro shop management company Good Sport Ecuador, and TransAndean Tours, is sponsoring a tour of the Cuenca Tennis and Golf Club, golf fitting sessions with an Argentinian PGA pro, a free round of golf and lunch at the 19th hole on Friday, October 10. Those interested in more information and to sign up should write Tours@TransAndeanTrading.com.
Photo caption: PGA action in Quito.