By Victor Okoye
Abuja, Sept. 3, 2022 (NAN) Stakeholders at the just concluded Nigeria Golf Federation (NGF) Summit say it is a new dawn for the game of golf in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the maiden three-day NGF Summit for Captains, which began on Wednesday, ended Friday in Abuja with no fewer than 70 golf clubs in the country taking part.
A cross section of stakeholders, who spoke to NAN at the end of the summit, said the event would usher in a new wave of development in the game of golf in Nigeria.
Ekanem Ekwueme, the only certified female World Handicap System (WHS) Course rater in Nigeria, said it was a new phase, adding that the WHS concept would change the perception of golf in Nigeria.
“It’s a new dawn in golf in Nigeria. I can assure you that golf is wearing a new face in the country.
“We just have to thank God for the president we have now in the NGF in the person of Olusegun Runsewe.
“We couldn’t have had it any better, seriously speaking, because it takes serious passion to execute what he is doing in the golf federation right now.
“I am speaking as someone who also has a passion for golf. I can tell you that he is doing a very good job and I don’t think we’ve ever had so many captains in one place like this before.
“This alone is a big feat and I must commend our president for putting this all-important summit together,” she said.
Peter Igbi, a representative of Bonny Island Golf Club in Rivers State said the outcome of the Summit had given him so much hope about the great future of golf in Nigeria.
“I am really impressed with what I have seen here and it gives me alot of hope and enthusiasm also about the direction golf is going in Nigeria.
“Initially, I thought we were all operating in silos, that is; each golfing community did not really know what the other was doing.
“Also, when I look outside the country and see how organized it is out there, I used to wonder when we would get it right here.
“Nigeria has so many wonderful gifted golfers and keying into the WHS is one of the best things that will ever happen to us.
“We are definitely looking forward to getting rated and infact one of the key issues my captain said we should really address here is how we can get to key into the WHS.
“As a club, we have talked about it in committee and seen what the benefits are. So, we really look forward to being a part of it,” he said.
Igbi who represented the club captain Abubakar Husseini noted that Bonny Island Golf Club was at an emerging phase.
“Bonny Island Golf Club has come a long way. We are at an emerging phase.
“Although, we’ve been here for a long time, but I think the interest in the game has picked up alot more in the last few years and the numbers are growing tremendously because people have come to see and understand what the benefits of golf are.
“So, it is a thriving and a growing community in Bonny Island,” he said.
Bello Suleiman, the North East Zonal representative on the NGF Board, said the summit was a good initiative which has happened to the development of golf in the country.
“I think this is a good thing that has happened to golf development in Nigeria.
“I was in the former NGF Board as the vice-president and we did our best but weren’t able to achieve much in terms of what we are seeing today.
“You see all our captains, as well as other stakeholders,
coming together to cross fertilise ideas and chart a new course for the sport.
“Indeed, so many things were discussed and there are lots to take home,” he said.
Tony Philmore, the Executive Director of Professional Golfers Association of Nigeria, said the summit was a new dawn and has helped to make things easier for a professional body such as the PGA of Nigeria.
“This is a wonderful development and has really gone a long way to make it easier for professional bodies like ours to scout and source for tournaments.
“You will agree with me that in recent times it has been very difficult for us, even though we had launched the Naija Tour which is the commercial wing of the PGA of Nigeria,” he said.
He said that the WHS was a welcome idea which would help in the unification of all handicaps in the country.
`You find out that from club to club, the characteristics of the course differ and so people tend to carry different handicaps, but with this development there will be a unified handicap system,” he said.
Juliet Monyei-Inyere, the President, Ladies Golfers Association of Nigeria (LGAN), praised the organisers of the summit, adding that it has helped her to network and acquaint herself with the process of the WHS concept.
“The summit has been a success and I want to congratulate the NGF for putting this together because we have learnt a lot of things in this summit, especially with regards to the WHS
“It has also afforded me the opportunity of getting to know other club captains and at this summit. I have been able to appeal to them to support the lady section which is a body of LGAN.
“For those of them who do not have LGAN at their various clubs, we have also urged them to encourage the ladies who play in their club to be part of LGAN,” she said.
Ogechi Osuagwu, Captain of Arsenal Golf and Country Club, said the summit would help golf’s growth in Nigeria.
“I think this is quite a very good one, having all captains come together to share ideas and to look at all the challenges they have and see how they can resolve and proffer solutions to them.
“I want to say that this will indeed help the growth of golf in the country and we also believe that as we leave here, we will get back to our respective clubs and pass the message to our members.
“We want to see how we can key into the new WHS concept once it takes full effect in Nigeria and move the game of golf forward in the country,” he said.
Ahmed Sabo, the Captain of Calabar Golf Club, said the summit was a commendable development which has gone a long way to show that NGF was really interested in coordinating the affairs of golf in Nigeria.
“Honestly, it is a wonderful development and worth commending.
“The NGF and the President have done marvelously well. You can imagine the turnout we recorded, especially this being the first-of-its-kind in the history of golf in Nigeria.
“The massive participation of the various club captains was proof that the NGF enjoys the full support of all stakeholders and will have no problem in coordinating the affairs of golf in the country,” he said.
He noted that the WHS was also a welcome development, adding that it would harmonise all the players’ handicap in the country and eliminate a lot of discrepancies in the game.
Anthony Oboh, Golf Captain, Ikoyi Club 1938, Lagos said: “It’s the synergy we are looking at as one tree cannot make a forest. Yes, we are numero uno because of our proximity, age and membership strength.
“But coming here has indeed shown me that there are other golf clubs beyond us. I am surprised that there are up to 70 golf captains that came here.
“Although some other golf clubs are not as big as we are, but the idea is for us to come together as one, synergise and move the game of golf in the country forward.
“However, it is not for only golfers but for the rest of the country because golf is a game for everybody and not for the elite alone,” he said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)