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Pakistan golf needs to rise above mediocrity

The golfing action after three consecutive weeks moves out of Karachi – thanks to the ...

Pakistan golf needs to rise above mediocrity

The golfing action after three consecutive weeks moves out of Karachi – thanks to the upcountry golfers who were beginning to get homesick.

In scheduling the Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF) calendar, we ought to consider, whether a month-long golfing activity at one station is preferable to the professionals. Whatever the case, it is always going to be costs vs convenience for these poor professionals who are constantly struggling not only with their game but with their lives as well.

The golfing community in Pakistan, privileged as it surely is, enjoys this game as an entirely club sport. Hence whatever their involvement or contribution, it is more towards club activities rather than, supporting the game itself. Understandably, this is how it is, and not much is likely to change.

We are unable to put together an amateur golf team that can make the country proud.

The competitive aspect of the game is beginning to be dominated now by the caddie boys, rather than by members or their children – we have such young boys as Taimur Khan, Naeem Khan, Zohaib Asif, Ashiq Hussain, Sajid Khan and Mohammad Rehman who are practically paid to play golf. The elder ones, Ghazanfar Mehmud, Waseem Rana, Tariq Mehmood, are getting older and there is a feeling, justified or not, that we should look for a younger lot rather than fielding the same old faces.

Given the constraints, we should facilitate the caddie boys by wholeheartedly supporting them, encouraging them, as well educating them.

Therein lies our future golfing strength. This is not to say that our members’ children should not be given the opportunity. In fact, what is needed is to create a level-playing field, giving equal opportunity to all.

It is understandable that the children of members, even those who are extremely keen and have a great deal of promise, have to forsake golf for studies and their careers – and in time become only good weekend club players.

We need to move on with the establishment of golf academies, golf clinics and fully functional golf organisations at every level – club, federation and association.

We can look forward to a renewed interest in the development of the game. All we require is a handful of dedicated and committed people who are willing to work and make that extra effort to take on the responsibility to better the golfing conditions in Pakistan.

We all as golfers discuss the sport, watch international events and dwell on the golfing celebrities, but unfortunately give scant thought to our own golfing conditions. We haven’t bothered to bring our golf courses to international standards. Most clubs do not lack funds for such improvement, but somehow we are always hesitant to incur the rightful expenditure that could bring us at par with other golfing countries. That’s the story applicable to generally all the clubs in the country. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot have courses that can match the high standards of international golf – there is no shortage of manpower, no shortage of material, no shortage of available equipment. Yes, one can say, there is an acute shortage of ‘know how’. Presently, the Defence Raya golf course in Lahore is by far the best maintained golf course in the country. Other courses being planned and supervised by foreigners are supposedly going to be equally good.

It is apparent that without “foreign touch”, we cannot prepare a course to those high standards we are wishfully thinking of.

The Arabian Sea Country Club (ASCC) outside Karachi, when it opened in 1998, also through foreign expertise, set a very high standard both in terms of the golf course, the clubhouse and the infrastructure.

It set the ball in motion for other clubs to follow. The Karachi Golf Club (KGC) followed. The Islamabad Golf Club got its uplift and the Lahore Gymkhana took its cue from ASCC.

As for the premier golf club of Pakistan, the KGC and the DHA Golf Club, quality fluctuates from month to month.

The overall standard of the game in Pakistan, it must be said, has a direct bearing on the quality of courses we play on.

Therefore, better the golf courses, better the game, happier the golfers, happier the golfing scene.

Our aim, at least of the passionate ones, should be to improve the conditions of our golf courses, take all such measures, however costly they may be, to lay the foundations of perfection. Golf is such a game of abundant pleasure that every round of golf is played with the aim at making fewer strokes on the course.

The good part is that visible improvements all around are being seen and hopefully in time we can get to that level of competitiveness both in terms of the game and the infrastructure which is comparable to the best in our region.

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