After seven editions, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open has made an undoubted impact inside the ropes as one of the most popular Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournaments, but it’s impact outside the ropes on the youth of Mauritius is also being felt.
This year’s tournament at the spectacular La Réserve Golf Links included a golf clinic in association with the Mauritius Golf Federation, the AfrAsia Bank Foundation and the local chapter of the global charity Caritas.
Roughly 50 children from diverse backgrounds gathered on the driving range and were given an introduction to golf by several professionals who competed this week as part of a general focus on growing the game amongst the youth on the island.
And the enthusiasm for the game of those who attended surprised even Dylan Frittelli, a former winner of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
“It’s amazing to see how once they’ve figured out the grip and the swing and they hit a good shot, they turn around to their friends and you can just see the pure joy on their faces. Seeing that is pretty cool for us as professionals as well,” said Frittelli.
It’s a feeling Frittelli himself remembers.
“I can remember being six years old and for the first time hitting a ball out of the middle of the club, and that feeling just running through your hands and up your arms. That’s the feeling that made me want to always go back to the driving range and made me wake my dad up early in the morning to take me.
“That feeling when you strike a golf ball well for the first time wasn’t a feeling I’d ever had playing any other sports. It’s good to see just how keen the kids here are on golf.”
The golf clinic in partnership with the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open provides a seamless pathway that allows a young Mauritius golfer to be exposed to the game and then see at the highest level where it could take him or her.
And it’s clearly working as the tournament’s aspirational effect has increased participation in golf on the island.
“When we look at the figures, we can see a significant increase in the number of licenses,” said Yannick Merven, President of the Mauritius Golf Federation (MGF). “Compared to last year we have a more than 12% increase in licenses, and especially amongst the juniors where we are seeing growth of more than 25%. The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open definitely contributes to this growth of the game. This tournament creates dreams for our younger generation and for young Mauritians to one day want to compete on tour.”