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A man with lofty ambitions over a green golf club

Air Vice Marshal Md Badrul Amin, President of the Shaheen Golf and Country Club in Patenga speaks about the facilities of the green golf club and the challenges of maintaining the course in a freewheeling interview with TheGolfHouse magazine. He also spoke of his vision about golf, his lessons from life and other aspects. The excerpts of the interview are given below:

Tell us about your personal golfing history; when and where did you start playing golf?
We started playing golf around 15 to 16 years back at the Army Golf Club. Initially, we did not understand how to start the game. But the golf enthusiasts and the seniors were there, who pushed us to become members.
Thereafter, we filled up the forms and started playing. I started playing around 10 years ago and gradually became addicted to golf. You can call me a keen golfer now.

Which are your favourite golf courses?
The golf course at Shaheen is my favourite, but Kurmitola is also a favourite because It is an international standard course.

Do your family members play golf too?
My wife sometimes participates while my daughters also try sometimes but due to their studies they cannot give much time. But certainly, they are interested in golfing. And I try to promote all the family members to at least walk on the green and enjoy the scenic beauty.

How can we encourage young people to start playing golf?
Golf clears your mind and keeps you physically fit. Young people may think that it is a sport for old people, but the reality is that golf is not about physicality only, it is also about passion as well as technique.
So we try to motivate youngsters to come and enjoy the game and the atmosphere. We also try to facilitate their practice by making the field free and providing them with golf kits and gears. Members of the Army or Air Force also play here.

Did you pursue any other sport before coming to golf?
I used to play squash, volleyball, basketball and sometimes even cricket. But once I started playing golf, I can’t play any other sport because golf takes two to three hours. But we also patronise other games as well in a different fashion at our club.

What is your golfing routine?
I try to make time to play golf in the midst of my commitments at the Air Force. Normally, I like to be on the golf ground in the afternoon onwards and continue till sunset. After that we have a small gathering for a meal and have a chat with the others. It is about making friends and spending good time with family members at the club.

I would hope everyone comes forward to sponsor and patronise the sport for the professionals

Who are your favourite golfers?
Talking about favourites, certainly Tiger Woods comes first. If you talk about our local stars, obviously Siddikur Rahman and Jamal Mollah are there. If we patronise them, certainly that is going to encourage the others to excel or to earn fame and name for the country.

Any memorable or nightmarish experience in golf?
When you’re on the golf course, you must wear the cap, not just because it protects your face from the sun but also from the ball and other objects. I don’t have any nightmarish incidents but once I got hit by a ball on the ankle. There are incidents when you see crows flying in and snatching the ball like a fighter plane. These are interesting experiences.

Give us a lowdown of the Shaheen Golf and Country Club.
Out of the 14-plus golf courses in Bangladesh, Shaheen Golf Course is the only one beside a river, the Patenga. It is managed by the Bangladesh Air Force. The course was under a mushy land and a shallow jungle. We are very much grateful to our seniors who started beating the ground around and pushed this ground to become a golf field over the last 15 to 20 years. It has been given a good narrow shape, making it a challenging golf course . So I really appreciate the effort that has been made in the past. We are carrying it forward, and we are trying to improve the fairway and the green, and all the spaces around. We are also trying to plant some fruit trees.

What are the challenges that you face in maintaining the course?
In case of weather issues or any depression, water logging takes place due to high tide and low tide conditions. For that we have selected some grasses which can actually take the load of the salt water around and sustain. Despite that the grass gets disturbed due to the saltwater from the river, which makes golf course maintenance very expensive. Due to financial constraints,we cannot prepare everything the way we want to.

There has been some development work in recent times. Kindly elaborate the different amenities of the club.
This is a narrow but challenging one as far as the golf courses are concerned. But we are trying to improve our golf greens day by day because greens have. Last few years, we have been trying to do top-soiling, grass protection and grass levelling in different places, but due to continuous rain it sometimes becomes very difficult. to be a standard one.

What is your vision regarding this golf course?
The vision of this golf course would be to make it a narrow and challenging one, placing some trees, considering the index numbers.

Say something about the facilities of SGCCP.
We have almost 1200 to 1300 members, some of whom are regular. We have members from civilian society as well as defence forces. We have a hall where they arrange programs and we have an accommodation facility which we call Nilkonthi. Members can avail the swimming pool facilities. We have a cafe and a restaurant and we are trying to establish a bar for our foreign guests.

What facilities does the club offer for caddies and ball boys?
One unique thing about our club is we pay our caddies and ball boys on a monthly basis. We also give some of them permanent jobs in the Air Force. They are also given festival allowance and other allowances. We have ensured these things from the beginning of the club. We are in the process of introducing a Provident Fund and incrementing their salaries with the passage of time and according to their capacity. At the same time we take care of their medical services as well. We organise various events for them too.

What do you think is  the prospect of golf tourism in Bangladesh?
I believe there is a good prospect for golf tourism in Bangladesh. We are trying to set up a minimum four-star hotel beside our golf course, so that people can come and stay and enjoy the greenery apart from playing golf. We are also planning for one such golf course in Shamshernagar in Sylhet where there is already a good hotel.

What is the future of golf according to you?
The future of golf is certainly very bright. But as you know golf is a very expensive sport and we struggle to run professional events regularly. I would hope everyone comes forward to sponsor and patronise the sport for the professionals.

I believe there is a good prospect for golf tourism in Bangladesh. We are trying to set up a minimum four-star hotel beside our golf course so that people can come and stay and enjoy the greenery apart from playing golf.

Do you have any message for the members or those who want to join the club as members?
I would ask those people to just come and have a look around and see the green and feel the atmosphere. I believe two things are enemies of golf: hesitation and giving up. So I would say do not hesitate to start and do not give up after a few astray shots. This sport can keep the young generation away from their digital devices.

What is the secret to the success of your career?
The secret to the success of my career is that I believe in work. Whatever task I’m given, I never shirk or shy away from that. And I do it graciously and honestly. I never hesitate.

Do you have a life’s lesson that you would like to relay to youngsters for their careers?
For the last 35 years, I’ve been in the Air Force. I’m here because I’m alive; I’m here because I am serving. So just believe in yourself and do things graciously. Do what you are supposed to do, you don’t have to do extra. Just do it properly, do it with honesty and you’ll be successful.

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