Senate President David Mark, hits the ceremonial tee shot, at Hole One during the Otukpo Golf and Country Club versus IBB International Club Matchplay in Otukpo, Saturday
By Olawale Ajimotokan
A new vista was opened in the history of golf in Nigeria Saturday, when the Otukpo Golf and Country Club, Akpegede, held its maiden interclub matchplay competition with the famed IBB International Golf and Country Club, Abuja.
Twenty eight double matches were held Saturday, firmly setting the stage for Sunday's single matches that will pair 56 players from both side against one and other .
Senate President David Mark, performed the ceremonial tee off.
An impressive churn out of amateur and business golfers, embarked on the trip from Abuja to feature in the competition, creating national unity and solidarity.
Chris Shaiyen led out IBB Club, while the Otukpo 'Red Lions' were led by Ogwiji Inalegwu.
Senator Mark said that the friendship between Otukpo and Abuja had come to stay in the light of the comradeship and bound between the two clubs.
The average age of Abuja team is about 50 compared to that of Otukpo which is 21.
Former Governor of Osun State Olagunsoye Oyinlola and a former captain of IBB Club, Dr Peter Deshi, described the occasion as a landmark development in the annals of golf in Nigeria.
Oyinlola said the competition would lead to co-operation between the members of the two clubs and go in a long way in promoting the game of golf in Nigeria.
He said he believed that the relationship between the two clubs could be sustained despite the historical gap between the two golf clubs.
Oyinlola noted that if the trend was sustained, the clubs stood to gain from each others as the players from IBB Club would readily share experiences with the younger players from Otukpo.
Deshi, who described IBB Club as the best golf club in West Africa and south of the Sahara, contextualized the match play as the first time an older club would be taking on a new club that is less than 10 years old.
He hoped the new found tradition is sustained as Otukpo has come to stay and envisaged to grow bigger and better.
Deshi similarly noted that golf as a tourism associated sport has helped in transforming the rural Otukpo into Nigeria's main golf destination due to the number of pro-am tournaments it has staged.
''This tournament has created national unity and friendship through sports given the quality of the participants. But beyond that, golf has been driving the economy of the host community through an increase in the volume of commercial activities by encouraging new businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector'', Deshi said.
Deshi said that the popularity of golf in Otukpo is underscored by the availability of a golf academy, where the Senate President offered the facilities free to children and other enthusiasts to learn golf.
Resident professionals are at hand to impact knowledge while the products are provided with free golf kits and balls after they are certified at the end of the training.