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Page 26 stories Behold, the five best golf courses in Nigeria Like they say, there are always two sides to a story. The big deal…

Page 26 stories

Behold, the five best golf courses in Nigeria

Like they say, there are always two sides to a story. The big deal is one must try enough to listen to the other side.

Just get the drift, sometime ago, some members of the IBB International Golf Club, Abuja, moved to a lowly Nairobi, Kenya, for a holiday. On arrival, they met this Winsdor Golf Club that shapes up like the famed Augusta in Georgia. The guys could not believe what they saw on ground. They were used to the archaic thinking that the IBB course was something out of Africa. Well, that’s human nature. The human race is never satisfied. The more they have, the more they want. No wonder, one of those who made the trip to Nairobi referred to the IBB course as a kitchen compared to the Windsor. It was at this point the argument heat a momentum where it became clear we must clarify which are the best five golf courses in Nigeria. Well, here are the best five:

1. Smoking Hills

Somewhere in Ilara Mokin, a sleepy village which is a shout from Akure, Capital City of Ondo State lies this previous gold. It is a sprawling 18 hole golf course that is as huge as the one that is home to world Masters of the game, that is Augusta International situated in Georgia, Atlanta.

The Smoking Hills is a course meant for golfers with true and bold hearts. The Course plays like a dream. It will sap your energy dry because it is perilously long and huge. Even Professional golfers find it a huge task to play around. But this is what a real Course is meant to be. That is to challenge your courage to no end.

The greens here are superb and the age – long trees that dot every angle of the course make it a beauty to behold. You could play well here if you have the stamina to withstand a round. Some play great and drop all saved shots from hole 15th. Reason? They are tired. Some even pack up from hole 15 due to fatigue and loss of staying power.

Smoking Hills has well over 100 golf carts and yet more facilities are in sight. Like a landing pad for copters and light planes. There will be a magnificent hotel by the side of the course and a huge Clubhouse that could set the one in Augusta back several years.

Smoking Hills gulped a stunning 17 Million dollars. The man who built it is Chief Michael Ade – Ojo, the Mogul behind Elizade, the Company that rolls out about every Toyota Car Nigerians ride.

2. Ibom Course, Uyo

Just like a parlour in heaven. Lush fairway, breath-taking water hazards in about every hole. And greens like you’ll ever see at some courses in the Algarves.

But come to think of it, who will ever believe it? That Nigeria, could own such a golf course that could make any soul sleep in regal solitude. Brace yourself. It’s all there in Uyo, Akwa Ibom. Not just the course but a Meridien five star hotel and a complete helipad are the footstool of this course that could be instantly rated among the very best of courses in the Algarves, Portugal.

Truth is the first time you see the Ibom course, a sudden urge to urinate would group your loins. Who in his best element would dare work out a dream where Akwa Ibom would place on mother earth a course that could shift the ever popular IBB course in Abuja to the back-stage? For God’s sake, it was the former Military Administrator Audu Bako who initiated it before ex-Governor of the state, Obong Victor Attah started its development. Attah doesn’t even really play golf. But what he lacked from not playing, he made up by having exquisite taste. Everything the man touches, like any other architect, comes out smelling roses.

3. IBB, Abuja

It used to be the best in the nation. The layout is cool. It’s like you are in some setting in the moon. All laid out in Greens. The Greens could be funny sometimes. You can’t read them enough. Plenty waters of man-made. The natural atmosphere is exquisite. Walk by any of those waters, and you will be one on one with alligators. They are friendly, though. But could they? If you have a way around liquors, then IBB could be your abode. Prices of liquor are quite moderate and it’s the Sheraton that is handling the bar.

How they do it? Well, you may ask the captain of the club. The truth is that IBB has a lot of potentials. Members are not just pushing enough.

4. Ikoyi Club

No doubt, this could be the busiest club in the world. From sun-up to sun-down, the course is heavily booked. Well, a tight course somehow. It needs space but where will the land come from. I keep saying why can’t they mow down the dilapidated Federal Secretariat lying by the course so Ikoyi could be expanded for great patronage. The place could develop beyond those out of tune greens. But the members must calm down. I love Ikoyi and you will love it too if you want to live life in a hurry.

5. St Marks, Otukpo

You all know former Senate President, David Mark. He loves golf like you will love Arsenal, Manchester United or any other English football club. When the late Sani Abacha eased him out of the country, the man, David Mark simply went to Ireland. Not to raise chicken like Obasanjo is doing in Ota but to play golf.

Not just that, he indeed built himself a course over there. So much for passion. But when Abacha died, it was time for Mark to come home, so he did. Before he indeed settled down, he quickly built a golf course at Akpegede, Otukpo. A lovely course by all standard. Besides, the course hosts more tourneys than they see at Ikoyi. The course is fitted with Green putting surfaces and the atmosphere is enchanting.

S/Africa disabled students join Canon’s First Swing Golf Competition

Children with varying disabilities from four Gauteng schools got the opportunity to participate in the inaugural Canon First Swing Gauteng Inter Schools golf tournament hosted by the South African Disabled Golf Association’s (SADGA) First Swing Programme and Canon South Africa on in June 2016. For many of the children this was the first time they had the chance to pit their skills against other emerging golfers who too have overcome disability in a regional competition.

The competition took place at the Wits Golf Academy, Raikes Road, Braamfontein. The participating schools were Hope School, West Rand School, Prinshof School and Alma School. All of the participants took part in SADGA’s First Swing Programme which works to develop skills and inculcate a passion for golf amongst young school children with disabilities. All of the young competitors are level 2 and 3 golfers on the First Swing Programme and are able to play four to nine holes of regular golf.

The First Swing Programme offers a platform which exposes children with disabilities to the game of golf. The primary focus of the programme is on rehabilitation and psychological development of disabled children. The programme is operational in 35 schools across the country, with some 800 children benefitting every week.

“Through our First Swing Programme we create a modified sports environment where children with disabilities can participate in sport and feel part of a group. It has tremendous benefits, increasing self-esteem, confidence, respect, responsibility, honesty, integrity and perseverance.

“We constantly look for and work to create opportunities for young golfers to play in competitions. For the Canon First Swing Gauteng Inter Schools golf day, we created a five-hole competition to allow our level 2 and 3 players the opportunity to get a taste of a real golf tournament on a course they are able to play. It was a wonderful experience for our young players,” says SADGA’s founder, Eugene Vorster who established the First Swing Programme.

Canon SA has been closely involved with the SADGA since 2001. Since then, the company’s involvement has continued to grow and blossom, with its support focusing specifically on the First Swing initiative.

Montgomerie qualifies for Royal Troon

Colin Montgomerie will play at the Open for The first time since 2010 after qualifying to play at his home course at Royal Troon.

The 53-year-old shot rounds of 66 and 71 to secure one of three places available from final qualifying at Gailes Links, Irvine.

Montgomerie finished third at Gailes behind Oskar Arvidsson of Sweden and Scott Fernandez of Spain.

The Scot made 21 straight Open appearances until 2010 at St Andrews.

Montgomerie, for whom it is likely to be his last chance to play an Open at Troon, finished one stroke ahead of fellow Scot Jack Doherty, who finished on four under after a second-round 70.

Arvidsson, who is ranked 1,418th in the world, finished four strokes ahead of Fernandez after a blistering opening 64, with the Spaniard one ahead of Montgomerie.

Final qualifying was held over four courses and there was drama at Hillside after five players tied for second behind England’s Jack Senior.

Compatriots Paul Howard and Dave Coupland qualified after a play-off, with English amateur Steven Robins, Scotland’s Jay Taylor and Australia’s Scott Arnold missing out.

There was also a play-off at Woborn, where Ireland’s Paul Dunne led the field to finish one ahead of England’s Ryan Evans on nine-under par.

Robert Rock won a play-off against fellow Englishman Aaron Rai to clinch the third qualifying spot after they tied on seven under.

England’s Matthew Southgate led the field by three shots at Royal Cinque Ports, with compatriot James Heath and New Zealand’s Steven Alker also qualifying after tying three strokes behind on three under par.

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