THE EDITOR: In the 1990s, I learnt to play golf at the Usine Ste Madeleine Golf Course, a scenic nine-hole course located near the “Usine pond.”
In those days, it was the main course in the South accessible to the ordinary man or woman. (Becoming a member at Petrotrin required recommendations, was expensive, and entailed at least a two-year wait. Many who applied were rejected.)
These days, the Usine golf course is the only one in the South, period.
In the US, they are advertising drive, chip and putt competitions for children, with overwhelming response. And what are we doing? Closing one of the few golf courses that children and poor people can use.
There are many and better ways to make a profit than by destroying yet another golf course. (The senseless and wanton destruction of the Brighton Golf Course in La Brea, for the benefit only of those paid to destroy it, comes to mind.)
When I watch on TV the excitement and interest created by high-school and college golf, it is worrying that we would rush to close one of the few facilities that we have. For what?
Rest assured that this is not about building houses “for the poor man,” as is rumoured. (Extensive, expensive work was done on housing infrastructure just a tee shot away from the golf course and that project now seems abandoned.)
It appears that closing the golf course is more about exploiting a business opportunity for the benefit of a select few.
While initially the Usine course may have been built for the enjoyment of expat Caroni workers, in more recent times it has become known as the “poor man’s” golf course.
In its heyday, the Usine club was a beehive of activity including swimming (in a pool, not the pond), lawn tennis, table tennis, snooker and badminton. All the infrastructure is still there, it just needs renovation and refurbishment to restore it to its former glory for the enjoyment of those in the surrounding communities. It is not just about golf.
Just recently, an Indian Arrival Day celebration/function was held at the venue. Even with the massive crowd, the celebrants and the golfers did not get in each other’s way.
There is the potential to do so much more at the venue than play golf. It can be converted into a mecca for sporting, cultural and social activities. Heaven knows, the people of south Trinidad need such a facility to encourage wholesome activities among its youth.
The money needed to restore Usine to its former glory is chicken-feed compared to what is being spent just to register our Venezuelan visitors, or what is paid to others for doing little or no work. And while I have no problem accommodating those seeking a better life here, surely it’s not asking too much for some charity to begin at home?
We have a pervasive crime problem but, as everyone knows, the devil finds work for idle hands to do. We spend massive amounts of money “fighting crime.” Surely we can spend a little on Usine to help prevent crime, if even a little bit, by providing an outlet for youthful energies? It is a sacrilege to let this opportunity go a-begging for the enrichment of a few.
Restoring the recreational facilities at Usine, including the golf course, would go a long way in providing opportunities for our youth, as well as senior citizens, to be involved in positive, uplifting activities. I beseech the authorities to restore Usine, not destroy it.
NOEL KALICHARAN, Princes Town