Thursday

Golf in Afghanistan - Two Years Later, Little Changed


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Almost two years ago I wrote the post below on the beleaguered Kabul Country Club, and how it had tenaciously persevered through the worst of times.

Through decades of war and a Taliban imposed ban on sports, the once thriving course had continued to serve a transient population of golf-obsessed expatriates.

Yesterday when I came upon Jay Busbee's post at Devil Ball Golf describing a successful effort by Canadian military personnel to create their own version of the recent RBC Canadian Open on their base in Kandahar, Afghanistan I thought of that proud little Afghan golf course.

I looked back with some trepidation, and when I found that the website no longer active I wasn't surprised. The url, kabulgolfclub.com, active in 2007, now led to a generic place holder announcing that a "website was coming soon". The message rang shallow in light of the current situation in the country. Stability seems as far off as it was two years ago when I penned the original post.

Believing that Kabul Country Club had finally closed its gates in defeat, I scanned the internet for any recent posts or photos. To my delight I came upon the photo above, taken...yes...at Kabul Country Club, and dated July 17, 2009.

Photo above by / Rafal Gerszak


Golf Lives on at Kabul Country Club

Despite monumental challenges, the scrappy and spirited Kabul Golf Club lives on.

Today's New York Times featured a front page story on the course's implausible survival and its tenacious director's struggle to keep it alive.

I've long been fascinated by this once thriving golf course, situated perilously in harsh, beautiful Afghanistan, a country that's been torn by war and occupation as far back as I can remember.

On this nine hole course the greens are called browns. Abandoned tanks and discarded weaponry litter the landscape, but the young locals who take lessons and play at the Kabul Golf Club are apparently passionate about the sport. They regularly scramble up up craggy hillsides to retrieve their few balls for practice, and in addition to clubs, these guys carry around a section of artificial turf to simulate fairway shots. We talk about being golf obsessed; they've taken that to a whole new level.

I urge you to read Kirk Semple's NYT article. It's touching, sad, inspiring and hopeful...all at the same time.