For the past eight weeks, the Daily Trust President Buhari Golf Cup Tournament had moved around the zonal regions of the country with certain joyous acceptance. Every region the qualifying round of the tourney played out, golfers in their numbers trooped to the course with the uncanny will to survive the qualifiers.
The format of the qualifiers was challenging enough. Just 40 players were earmarked to qualify from each zone. The first 10 from at least 150 players from each zone those zones had direct qualifications for the Pro-Am which was set to be the final stage of the tourney. The remaining 30 were to move to Kaduna for another qualifier that could see them through to the Pro-Am. Every golfer from the 30 was eager for Kaduna to happen so things could get done with. The road to Kaduna was already fun in itself.
Then we arrived Ibadan for the South West Zone Qualifying Round and things took dramatic turns. The first 10 who qualified here jumped clearly and punched holes in the sky in joyous ecstasy. The remaining 30, unlike those in the first three zones of Jos, Dutse and Bauchi who craved for bold challenge in Kaduna, appeared uninspired and totally dead to the world. Reason? They claimed nothing on earth would make them travel to Kaduna at a time politicians and voters could be set to have each others’ scalp at the Presidential and Gubernatorial elections.
At once, we of the Daily Trust felt this was bizarre. For God’s sake, we were talking golf here and how could this really relate to some cutlass wielding thugs who promised mayhem at next month’s poll. We wrote off the whole scenario as arrant nonsense. A week later, our train moved to Benin for the South South zone game and that was the time we became thoroughly shocked.
Like it happened in Ibadan, the first 10 in Benin went overboard with joy. The remaining 30 just wore this long look of convicts. They hid nothing. They plainly laid it out that in as much as they would want to be part of the President’s tourney, nothing would make them arrive Kaduna on election period. What at sad stage. At a point we were contemplating what next steps to take, words reached us that the Executive Governor of Plateau and indeed a major backer of the President Cup, Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong, equally requested that we shift the final dates till after the polls so we can make a grand spectacle of the President Cup. At this point we concurred and instantly chose new dates for the Kaduna qualifiers and the Pro-Am.
The Kaduna final qualifying round will now happen between March 9 and 11 and the Pro-Am grand finale will come up between March 28 and 31. Both events will be staged at the Kaduna Golf Club.