ISIMI Mini Course, Stimulus for Local Golf Growth

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Sam Emehelu

As the population of Lagos grows towards 30million people, the challenge to solve housing challenge and not tilt the delicate ecosystem further into danger has been one major headache for urban planners.

Golf, despite being seen as a sport has actually been one of the tools to balance the risk of deforestation and maintain good use of open, green and well-manicured spaces.

Penultimate week, owners of Landwey properties unveiled their new project and announced that a mini-Golf course will be tucked into the layout of ISIMI; the ambitious housing project, located in Epe, Lagos.

According to Olawale Ayilara, the Chief Executive Officer of Landwey, “We need to, while developing our city, prepare for the future. There are a number of irreparable environmental decision we have taken (in the past) that need not happen again. We are conscious of that, and have keyed into the Lagos and Federal Government’s climate change policies, especially its adaptation for property development for a mega city like Lagos. ISIMI Lagos will dramatically alter what we currently consider the norm in Lagos.”

ISIMI, wont be the first housing solution to incorporate a golf course. There is Lakowe Lakes Golf Course that has an 18-hole championships course layout embedded with different housing projects. It stands presently in a class of its own (for now).

To get a better picture of the level of peace ISIMI’s three holes and driving range layout will bring, consider that the present Ikoyi Golf Course is the biggest green space available anywhere on the densely populated Lagos and Victoria Island.

Had there been other golf layouts, apart form the game it serves; there would have been more alternatives they would have been useful for as the city population grew, spaces diminished.

According to one of golf’s ruling bodies, R&A, in a publication “Golf Around The World” published in 2019, Nigeria is the second biggest golf facility owner on the continent with 54 courses compared to South Africa, which topped the list by far with 489 courses. Kenya has 43, Zimbabwe is joint fourth with Egypt at 38 courses apiece. Let us not bother about the rest for now.

To put the information into perspective, consider the population against the number of golf course available to a person (golf per capita ratio). Nigeria has the worst of such ratio, among its economic peers. It scored very low on environmental preservation.

For every golf course (in Nigeria), there are 3, 814, 814 persons waiting for its use. In South Africa, with 59million populace the ratio is 120, 654. Kenya is 1, 232, 558. Zimbabwe has one golf course for every 394, 736 while Egypt numbers are 2, 684, 210.

There is really no proven correlation between these numbers and any means of livelihood but one can hazard that it might point to the level of each government’s hang on environmental planning, deployment of green space policy and perhaps wild life preservation.

The list of countries above also includes the top three economies on the continent, but while South Africa is not currently top of that rung, we can deduce that there is a relationship between the numbers and each of the country’s GDP. The outlier here is Zimbabwe.

In 2013, The International Association of Golf Tour Operator (IAGTO) named Nigeria and Kenya as the biggest golf destinations on the continent. And, Nigeria never built any major golf course prior to the year, except for Lakowe Lakes and Smokin Hills Golf Course (Akure), which were under construction during the period.

When querying the IAGTO research, the only matching reason for the spike in golf tourism came from the FDIs (Foreign Direct Investment). So, in simple terms, when foreign investors or their representatives show up in a country, they are likely to play golf or spend an extra day strolling your greens.

No research document has put a seal on this; except for the hypothesis from the IAGTO. If this is true, it then means that the reverse may be true as well.

In Lagos, where the population has swelled to over 20.6million already, (approximately 10% of Nigeria’s population has lived in Lagos at any time), It is strongly believed that ISIMI will help relieve the unbearable traffic of golfers that throng Ikoyi Course. This has made it difficult for any major remodeling or construction that have been proposed in over a decade to be actualized.

Along the Lagos Island-Lekki-Ajah corridor, the new upscale Lagos habitat, no major green space was fitted. Although talks of new possibilities has risen in the wake of some new land reclaiming projects through dredging, but it remains to be seen.

One other thing ISIMI will afford the country is to inspire more people to take up the noble game as the Nigeria Golf Federation is still grappling with the best possible way to get people to play the game in the absence of public courses.

ISIMI beyond being symbolic of peace; may turn the locks open and usher progress for golf development for the country.