The Captain of IBB Golf and Country Club, Mr Oseni Ahmed has debunked claims that the game of golf is made for the elites only, speaking to Wale Ayeni of LEADERSHIP Sunday Ahmed also revealed that there is a need to develop the game at the grassroots level in other to place the nation in the world map.
In your own view, how would you rate the development of golf in Nigeria, what is the present state?
Nigerians are beginning to appreciate golf, that is why in so many cities in Nigeria we have golf courses like Abuja for instance, the IBB golf club where we have about four golf courses, that is to tell you to show you how keenly appreciated golf is.
The truth is that, as a young person it is possible for you to play lawn tennis and squash to age about 40, but beyond 40, your knees and heart cannot carry the stress of that lawn tennis and squash, golf is a game you play not just because you want to be fit but you can play till your nineties even when you can’t work again.
Why do people see golf as an elite game?
I think that is a wrong notion, rather I see golf as a game you can invest in. the joining fees for any golf course could be expensive but the annual subscription is not that expensive, take, for example, the IBB Golf Club joining fees is N750,000 but the annual fees which 10% is #75,000. Is just like you have to pay N75,000 to renew your membership. I see golf as an investment, you get to meet good people, quality people that you can network with, that networking you can be beneficial to you that is why I see golf as an investment as you might be shocked at what you can recoup for meeting good and quality people in the golf club.
Don’t you think this might be deemed expensive to the layman out there?
Who is the common man? It’s about priority. Somebody who sees the future and decides that instead of buying a tukonbo car at 750,000, he invests it by getting entry into a golf club.
IBB golf clubs is less a high club unlike the others, there are other small golf clubs that you pay about 300,000.
But if you look at the investment that has been put into IBB golf club. Just look at the Bronx, play courses cost quite a lot.
Golf helps in a lot of ways, getting a car at N750,000 might be less profitable than when you invest it into the IBB golf club and where you are afforded the opportunity to make good contact that can give you millions.It all depends on your priority what I want to do. I don’t see anything here.
Let me tell you my story, this might shed more light on this, When I started playing golf, the first bag I bought was $100 dollars and that is N36,000.
There are golf bags you can buy for ten thousand dollars but depends what you have in your pocket. Again, it is not just the club that matters but the mind behind the club.
You could go and buy $10,000 bag but you don’t how to use it, but the person with $100 golf clubs can even play better.
How can we develop golf at the grassroots level in Nigeria?
Here at IBB club, during long vacations when students are on holiday, we encourage primary and secondary schools students to come here for training and we call it golf clinic.
We normally do it for one month during their three months long vacation, we have been able to discover them young and some of them play with us now. They attend lectures in the morning about golf in the morning before going to main practical class later, their parents are made to pay token to take care of some little things which have been very rewarding for everyone. In fact last year, some of the children that were trained here went to Morocco to play international golf.
The FCT Minister has also aided this growth by deciding to take golf to all six area councils, they will be golf courses even if is nine holes. IBB has 18 holes, the idea is to get to the children such as primary and secondary schools so they can begin to appreciate golf from that level.
Were they new talents discovered at the last National sports festival?
Actually, we partnered during the National sports festival because it was part of the game played during national sports festival and we discovered new talent, young boys especially from David Mark golf club in Otukpo, Benue state.
They have actually been recommended for professional training sessions, some will go to South Africa for training. The idea is to train them to a professional level just like Tiger Wood.
What are the plans for IBB Golf club for 2019?
We have some interesting activities, although my tenure as the captain of the clubs expires in April, by then the new executive will come in.
In two weeks time, we would visit the Kaduna golf club to have a match with them. We also have a return match with Achimota golf club of Ghana.The reason for this is that whenever we are celebrating our independence, they come here and whenever they have their own, we go there.
We also have GMD golf of NNPC that is coming up in March before the end of January, we also have President Buhari Cup which the president has approved to be played. Last week, we welcomed the president of the Health organization with a game of golf hitting along with medical doctors and pharmacists in Abuja and he told me that he organized a big tournament with the NMA president.
Where are we in the world rankings now?
We have done very well and gradually phased out that notion that it’s an elitist game. A lot of people are playing golf now, even the caddie (people who carry our bags) we encourage them to also play and a lot of them have turned to professional golfers, I think in Africa for instance, we are probably second to South Africa because they are dominated by white men as it took blacks long time to learn.
So, everything was all a white affair, so you understand why they are number one and we are number two and I don’t think any other African countries embrace golf like us and we are among top 20 in the world rankings.
Just like football, Can we say Golf can bring about peace in the country?
Old things are difficult to throw away, over the years football has been seen as the number one sport. For instance, if you go to the Olympics, swimming gives you more medals than football, football only gives you one medal but swimming gives you more than one and people don’t think about swimming. It takes time for people to now begin to say oh! We should be looking at golf, what can you do?
Yes, we can partner with the media. We are always trying to sell ourselves, and if people do not buy what we do, then it becomes difficult, as just you know it football gets natural acceptance from everybody.
My intent is to make golf a uniting force and we are getting somewhere with this as there are better understanding and appreciation than what was obtainable in the past. Just like South Africa, golf can bridge any gap amongst people.
To buttress this significant feat, you can see in Abuja alone, we have about five golf course, for instance, Lagos has 6, Cross River 4, as small as my village is, we have golf court in Auchi, and across the country.
While off the golf course is the big wigs in the jungle
There’s a starting point for everything. We are gradually getting there just like the IBB golf club, where we have straight 18 holes, there are some clubs you get to and you find 18 straight holes while others probably have 9 holes, 15 holes that means some of the holes may have to be repeated so as to make 18, some can also do 12, repeat a few holes to make it 18 hole.
10 in Abuja is per 4, what it means by per 4 is your fourth hit should enter the hole. For example, if you hit 1,2,3, the fourth hit should enter the hole that makes it a per for you, that means you are per, equal to what the whole required four times, some 10time, some play 3 which is less than before that is required 10 points. The lower you score that made you better for you.
For men, you stand from handicap 28 when the handicap doesn’t you are disabled, disabled means that on the blocking force. For you to have handicap 28 which is the higher you can have and it means when you play 18 holes you are to make 28 mistakes on the blocking force for you to be in that category handicap 28.if you do more than 28 mistakes, you fail, but if you do less than 18 hole tons to you, so you keep doing until now reducing to 28, 27 like that until you can start playing zero and zero is professional. That means you are not allowed to make mistakes throughout 18 holes. Like now, if I do 12 mistakes, I have 2 credit to myself, if I do 14 that means is not good.
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