Swede's Dock

Kabul Golf Club

This appeared as a slide show of the New York Times on October 15, 2007.
(It's reproduced here because I admire the pride,
tenacity and resilience of the Afghan people.)

All Photos: Max Becherer/Polaris, for The New York Times

Afghan01.jpg Originally a six-hole golf club on the western outskirts of Kabul that catered to ambassadors and scions of the Afghan royal family, The Kabul Golf Club was reopened in 2004 by Mohammad Afzal Abdul.

Afghan02.jpg Mr. Abdul, 48, learned the game at 10 and had caddied on the original course. When he returned to the club in 2003, after the Taliban had been removed from power, he found the course littered with abandoned tanks and other heavy weapons.

Afghan03.jpg Mr. Abdul received donated clubs and balls from a United Nations worker when the club was reopened. Since then, the ball supply has dwindled to seven.

Afghan04.jpg Mr. Abdul is the club's director and golf pro, offering lessons to young students. When it opened in 2004, scores of foreigners came every week to play. Now, only a handful do so.

Afghan05.jpg There is no delineation between the fairways and the rough; the greens are "browns," a concoction of sand and oil packed with a heavy roller and smoothed with a makeshift broom. "I want the people to come help me, to make good grass, because I don't have the money," Mr. Abdul said.

Afghan06.jpg Handmade flagsticks fashioned with rebar and tattered swatches of fabric dot the course. During the initial interest, Mr. Abdul dug a grid of ditches across the course in anticipation of a modern irrigation system. Three years later the ditches remain empty of pipes.

Afghan07.jpg Paul King, of Canada, watched his drive on the fourth hole.

Afghan08.jpg John Jedryk, left, chipped past one of the course hazards, a functioning water well.

Afghan09.jpg Ant nests are another hazard on the course.

Afghan10.jpg Caddies are paid five to 10 dollars and work in pairs to a player -- one carries the clubs and a swatch of artificial turf for shots from the rocky fairways, and the other keeps an eye on the ball.
(Geez, that's a lot better than when
I caddied at the Manasquan River Golf Club.
$1.50 a bag for nine holes. $2.50 for 18.
- in the early 1950's {grin}
Afghan11.jpg In the early morning, Mr. Abdul directed his caddies to remove trash from the course.

Afghan12.jpg "Hopefully with better security, Afghanistan will improve and golf will improve," Mr. Abdul said. "I won't close it. I'll be patient. People need to play golf."
Photo: Max Becherer

* I highly recommend * two books about Afghanistan
by Khaled Hosseini:
The Kite Runner
A Thousand Splendid Suns
If you can read (especially the second) without tears in your heart,
you're a better man than I.

(see Alibris.com for used copies as low as $3)

End Afghan Golf Course

"He can compress the most words
into the smallest idea of any man I know."
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

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