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Emir of Dutse and his undying love for golf

Some seven years ago, I received a surprise call from a fellow I had not met before. The caller said he was Vince Ighile and…

Some seven years ago, I received a surprise call from a fellow I had not met before. The caller said he was Vince Ighile and that he was the Captain of the Kano Golf Club. He wanted me to come to Kano so we could both drive to Dutse to witness the grand opening of the Royal Dutse Golf Club, a course built by the Emir of Dutse, Alhaji (Dr.) Nuhu Muhammad Sanusi.
Aside that Dutse is the capital of Jigawa State, I knew next to nothing about this place I was invited to. But since golf as a game is a bridge to all sorts of places, I agreed on the trip.
When I arrived Kano I met a brother and a great golfer, Ben Agbi. He, too, was on the way to Dutse. I decided on a drive with him. The snag here was neither of us knew the road to Dutse. We asked a local Caddie to join us as our ‘pathfinder’. This proved to be a big problem. Our ‘pathfinder’ couldn’t find a path. We had driven for some four hours when something in me suggested that we were lost.
I told Agbi that since Jigawa was carved out of Kano, we ought not to have travelled for more than three hours before we could see signs of Dutse. We parked and asked for the way. The fellow we asked almost cried in pain. He said we had missed our turn some 80 kilometres back. We went back on the road. By the time we arrived Dutse, it was nearing midnight. Our Exhaust got blown and so were we. We were thoroughly exhausted.
We had a late dinner at our Jigawa Hotels and went to bed.   
I was looking forward to the next morning with some sort of anxiety. The little I saw of Dutse as we drove in didn’t suggest a golf course would be here. I had not heard of it. I was just wondering if this was not going to be like the one that used to be in Jaji… some stony fairways that could send your ball to where you least expected it. Anyway Jaji has since been modernized. A bus came to pick us in the morning. Players, mainly from Kaduna and Kano and Jos were around to grace the commissioning of the course with a tournament. All I was eager to see was the course. The bus arrived after some ten minutes drive.
The course was huge, just like the Military course at the Air Assault in Port Harcourt. It is a full blown 18-hole course and yes, a masterpiece. The design is simple but trendy. Lakes bound the course to trap water for the fairways when it could really be dry in Jigawa. There is a cart road that equally bound the course, like you have at the Elizade course at Ilara Mokin. The design is what you could see in the Algarves, or those posh courses in South Africa. Well it has to be, for the course was designed by the Emir himself who is an American trained Architect.
Last month I ran into the Emir again when he was being hosted to a golf tournament at the Port Harcourt Golf Club.
After a four-hour game with the King of Twon Brass and indeed the first Governor of old Rivers State, Alfred Diete-Spiff, the Emir looked back and mentioned new innovations he has put in place at his Royal Dutse Golf Club. Presently he has put in place a huge club house.
He told me the club house just erected was bigger than the one he was sitting in at the Port Harcourt Club. I tried to squeeze a smile and he caught me off track. He said, amidst smile: “Tony, you think I am joking? Come to Dutse and see things for yourself. I have equally turned the 18 brown putting surfaces to greens. I can even make it clear that I am sure of the facilities on ground in Dutse to the point I could host a Matchplay against Port Harcourt Golf Club anytime they are set. I love Rivers and the people here, I really feel at home that I can’t wait to host the people in Dutse”.
All these could have come and gone but the Emir said he is prepared to devote more time for golf. I was in Dutse just before the Emir went on vacation to the United States and I saw things for myself. The Greens are lush and constantly watered. The club house is indeed bigger than the one in Port Harcourt… just like the Emir mentioned. And a good look at the fairways which I walked for some two hours showed a remarkable improvement on the course I saw seven years ago. At the moment, the fairways are exquisitely green and thoroughly well-manicured. Even in that dry season I visited, the dams are really producing enough water to cater for the course all year round.
As for the Matchplay against Port Harcourt, the Emir promised this could happen when he returns from America by the end of this month. Definitely, clubs around the Dutse axis can’t wait for this period when the Royal Dutse will come alive again.

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