Historically, discussion on sports in Bangladesh mostly missed out on golf, till the emergence of trailblazing golfer Siddikur Rahman, who among other feathers in his cap became the first athlete from the country to ever qualify for the Olympic Games in 2016, earning himself the honour of carrying the national flag at the opening ceremony in London.
Many know the story of country’s two-time Asian Tour event winner Siddikur, who earned his chops as a caddie at the Kurmitola Golf Club (KGC), before going on to singlehandedly put Bangladesh on the golfing map.
KGC is a member-club in Dhaka Cantonment area operated by Bangladesh Army, where high-ranked army personnel, government officials and elite class civilians of home and abroad come to furnish their golf skills or often just for leisure or to work out some corporate deal.
KGC has its own history, first traced back in 1950 as Dhaka Golf Club at Suhrawardy Udyan, before it was shifted to abandoned Kurmitola Airfield in 1955 due to increase of interest in golf in the Pakistan era. Finally the golf course shifted to its present location with an area of around 126.20 acres in 1966.
KGC is organizing events on a regular basis after the independence of the country and got international recognition with the Bangladesh Amateur Golf Championship (BAGC), a tournament being held at KGC since 1982.
KGC’s 18-hole course comes with different facilities for its members and non-members, including pro shop for golf equipment, a well decorated restaurant having natural view for relaxation with open space, mini restaurant, bar, a banquet hall with the capacity of 600 people, a mega conference room, a mini conference room, a fitness centre, a swimming pool, 2 KGC Suites and 18 KGC Deluxe rooms.
Lt Col Mohammad Abdul Bari (Retd), General Manager of Golf Operations of KGC and coordinator of Bangladesh Golf Federation (BGF), told UNB that the club has around 5,000 members while 50 percent of them are civilians.
However, the club with its natural scenic view and modern facilities for both amateur and professional golfers not only attracts the golf lovers of Bangladesh but also the foreigners visiting the country.
The most frequent visitors, including professional and amateur golfers, are citizens of South Korea, China, Japan, England and Poland while occasionally gets other countries’ visitors, who enjoy the course for some added leisure to their tour.
“The overseas golfers prefer the KGC due to its cheaper cost compared to other courses,” MA Bari added.
The club is whole heartedly ready to serve its members and non-member golfers. The location, though, is still a major challenge as the access of road and transportation in cantonment area is not easy for everyone, said M A Bari.
A member of the club told Dhaka Courier that the club offers its members with many facilities while the opportunity to develop golf skill is better here than other places.
“The golf course of Kurmitola Golf Club has more level of difficulties than other courses of the country, which makes the game more challenging. As a result this club is more preferable to develop the skill,” said the amateur golfer who has been practicing the game for the last five years at this club.
However, the non-member golfers have access to the KGC for just two days a week with stipulated fees. Mentioning the club as member friendly, the amateur we spoke to said the club also offers more opportunities for socialization and interaction with other members, which is a good way to enjoy the leisure time for its members and get connected with others among army personnel and civilians.
The club has a course with four kinds of tee boxes for --Professionals, Amateur, Senior [above 60] and Lady Golfers.
The front and back nines combine for a par score of 72 usually, but this varies as per tournament requirements. The length of the holes are stipulated as 6579 yards for professionals, 6291 yards for amateur, 5494 yards for seniors’ and 5090 yards for ladies.
The club also has a Driving Zone for the beginners, who want to bring their handicap down to zero to get the tag of professionals. The course’s fairway with green and sandy surface on sunny days has got a combination of local and diversified trees that themselves deeply attract visitors’ attention.
Benches and washroom facilities are also there in the course to make the members feel comfortable. One can also enjoy watching deer roaming around in an open space at one corner of the club.
Having several entry points with strong security, this club is also soothing to the eyes having greeneries of different shades with smooth passages for the spectators. A good amount of staffs remain busy all day long to maintain the preferred grass-length and keep the area clean and sophisticated.
Small pools linked with each other through small foot bridges throughout the green course added beauty and offer cool breeze to the visitors as well.
Brig Gen GM Quamrul Islam (Retd), Secretary General of Bangladesh Professional Golfers’ Association, said there are many talented golf players in our country, but there is a lack of support for them.
Physical and mental support must be ensured while financial problems are still a big challenge on the way of improving the opportunities of the game in the country. The Secretary General also said that professional golfers of the country have potential to represent as individual ambassadors.
“You saw besides Siddikur, how many local golfers made their cut in the recently concluded BTI Open, an Asian Development Tour, where Zamal [Zamal Hossain Mollah] finished 2nd,” said the Secretary General of BPGA.
Till date, KGC hosted around 35 international amateur and professional golf tournaments, including two Asian Tour, one Asian Development Tour (ADT) and Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).
The KGC is going to host the Bangladesh Open, part of the Asian Tour (AT) for the 4th time from May 9, where so far 143 golfers from 25 countries, where apart from 34 professionals, six amateurs of Bangladesh are taking part with wildcard entries. Signifying the higher level of the tournament from what usually takes place at KGC, par for the course during the Bangladesh Open has been set at 71.