In his own wisdom, which runs aplenty, the main spirit behind Elizade and Toyota in Nigeria, Chief Michael Ade Ojo, named his postcard exquisite full blown 18-hole golf course built right inside his home town, Ilara Mokin ‘The Smokin Hills’ Golf Club.
Quite frankly, there could not have been a better name for this course, if you have had the opportunity to see the place first hand. Ilara Mokin is a deep village as they come.
It is indeed a herculean task getting to the breath-taking architectural master-piece but once there, you are immediately swept off your feet. Close by is the Elizade University that will instantly take the breath off you. Move round both facilities and all you get is this assurance that you are one on one with God. Then, the Smokin Hills course will finally take your breath away.
Several times, I have seen the IBB course in Abuja and the Ibom course in Uyo. Both have done very well but you can’t put them in same sentence with the Elizade course. This course is just one that went from frog, given the environment surrounding it, to Prince overnight. Reason? It is a course that takes patience and the ability to be creative around the Green. You could see this from the several bunkers and huge trees that dot the course.
I walked some holes, charting golfers’ drives, their chips, their putts. I criticized some play, some decision making. I must say the course is completely entirely playable, even to a weekend hacker. It has this simple elegance.
The Elizade course will give you a feeling of completeness. Some kind of a goodluck charm. You will not want an ending to it if you are in a game here. Besides, you will always thirst for a flawless round of golf on this course. Most times the game will get to you and you will feel miserable. Here, you will miss a shot and you will think, what the heck. It is a beautiful day and what pure fresh air you are breathing. This is the feeling the Elizade course gives you.
Professor Dibu Ojerinde, the man who used to be in charge of JAMB and spirit behind many Memorial Pro-Ams played at the IBB and Otukpo courses, then moved round its University and pronounced that the University was capable of handling any course anyone would think of in Nigeria. Ojerinde was indeed thrilled that only one man could do so much for a tiny village of his birth.
Gonji, General Manager of the IBB Golf Club was awe stricken at the course layout. He had his reservations though. This has to do with the maintenance of the lavish and lush course. Well, he needs not worry. Words reaching this reporter indicate that Elizade sinks some N3.5 million as monthly maintenance allowance on this course. At all times, you see some four foreigners roaming across the course tending to its fairways and Greens.
Former Osun Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, played here. When asked of his take on the course, he waved me off, muttering… ‘What else can anyone say?. This is beyond every imagination”.
The immediate past Captain of the UBTH Golf Club, and indeed the man who for five years nurtured the UBTII Club to fruition, Professor Waziri Erameh equally played here. He gave kudos to the layout but mentioned that the Greens are not indeed perfect.
Well, an Administrator of the course, Prince Bayo Aderinto mentioned that the course is just coming and golfers are yet to see the ending. There are talks of a new Clubhouse and a 5-star hotel with a roof-top helipad.
The owner, Michael Ade Ojo only assured that his course would be a tournament course that would host several international tourneys and challenges among golf Professionals in Africa and across the world. He added: “Golf is big in Nigeria at the moment. People want a course this country could be proud of. We now have one. Let’s play it”.