Lieutenant Colonel Khandaker Abdul Wahed recently took over the responsible as the elected president of Bangladesh Professional Golfers’ Association (BPGA). As someone who has been involved with golf for a long time and someone who has been contributing to the sports in various capacities, he knows what needs to be done for the development of our professional golfers. As one of the high management advisors of the Bashundhara Group, he played a key role in bringing a prestigious Asian Tour to Bangladesh in 2015. Now that the fifth edition of the event, this time named Bangabandhu Cup Golf Bangladesh Open 2017, is being held here, Col. Wahed shares his expectations from the tournament and his overall plans regarding professional golfers in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Professional Golfers’ Association (BPGA) is working hard to improve professional golfers and golf overall in Bangladesh. As the newly elected president of the association, how do you see its activities?
The association was set up with the idea of nurturing and helping professional golfers who represent Bangladesh locally and abroad. As the current president, I want more professionalism in our golf as we look to bring more young pro-golfers in our institute. We want to augment the works that our predecessors have been doing. We believe that golf has the scope to match the success of cricket.
Which areas is the current committee emphasising on?
The utmost priority is on training of golfers as well as referees, administrators and other officials. We are giving emphasis on the rules of the game as well as the play itself. Secondly, our golfers have learned the game on their own. We want this learning process to be institutionalised. The way they have learned golf, it is difficult to go on to a high stage, but our target is much higher. We want teaching, training and, physical and mental fitness first.
Sponsorship is a big issue for professional golfers. Many of our pros don’t have regular sponsors. Does BPGA have any plans in this regard?
To be honest, the focus of sponsors is firmly on cricket because they get a lot of mileage by sponsoring cricket and cricketers. Golf and individual golfers do not get that much attention from the sponsors. However, we are trying to convince corporate houses through various methods so that they come to golf and help golfers. We have reached banks and business leaders in this regard. There is a success in golf that we are trying to present to the business community for their attention. We hope we would afford sponsors for individual professional golfers.
Mental aspect plays an important role in golfers’ success. Do you have any plans to improve the mental strength of golfers?
I strongly feel that tournament temperament is a big matter for a success in golf. If we don’t have mental stability, you would not succeed in the long run. We are trying to bring in psychological counsellors for mental balance and stability. We would follow up on how responsive our golfers are to the counselling and training. Another serious problem of our golfers is physical endurance, stamina and fitness. I don’t think five percent of our players have the endurance or fitness to withstand the rigours of high-level golfing for four days on a tour. The physical and mental aspects of the game are closely interrelated. When you can’t cope up physically, it adversely impacts you’re the mental state. When we improve our physical fitness, our mental strength would automatically increase. So, our plan is to improve the physical fitness as well as mental fitness of the golfers. We want to set three categories for players: a golfer will graduate to the next level only after he passes the previous level. We also have a plan to run clinics in universities and colleges in Dhaka so that we can recruit young potential golfers from there.
Bangabandhu Cup will be held in the first week of April. This is the most important event for our golfers. What is your expectation from this tournament?
I wouldn’t say I have very high expectations because the reality is that some of our golfers have already aged while some of them are still very young. The important thing is we need to ensure the golfers get the facilities that they need to get good results. We are trying to develop the facilities that they need. To answer your question directly, I would be satisfied if we have five local golfers among the top 20. I hope 15 to 20 golfers would make the cut.
Which five golfers from Bangladesh would you expect to be among those top 20?
We can all count on Siddikur to be there. Sohel might be there as well. Zamal has won the Bengal Open recently. So, we can expect him to do well. Sajib Ali is in good form. Dulal, Badal are also pretty good. I expect all of these players to be there or there about. However, I would be happy if we find some young blood among the top 20.
You were talking about coordination between BPGA, BGF and Bangladesh Golf Academy. Please elaborate on how this coordination is going on.
There is an inherent problem with the BPGA. Most of the clubs in our country are members’ club while most of the pros are non-members. So, we face a lot of difficulties when we try to improve the state of the pros because it would deprive the members from their practice and playing. We need to work through it. We want our pros to play in different clubs so that the pressure on a specific club is reduced. I’m trying my best to keep everyone on board in our development endeavour. Another thing is, most of our pros are not that solvent financially. So, what I am trying to do is to bring in small sponsors in big numbers so that the expenses of the golfers are met with from small tours. Another thing I want to do is to publish a BPGA chronicle which will document what our golfers, administrators and golf officials are doing. We would also document what success the players are bringing and what mistakes they are making in different aspects of their game. There will be tips for golfers, on both mental and physical aspects of the game. I wish to start publishing this chronicle from April and hopefully it will be a fortnightly publication. If we can send these copies to all the clubs and all the golfers, the community will have a better understanding of what is going on around and our golf will be benefitted by this.