Kabul Golf Club, Afghanistan
This is Mohammad Afzal Abdul, and he is entirely dedicated to bringing the game of golf to one of the most unlikely places on Earth: the war torn country of Afghanistan. His course, the Kabul Golf Club, is the first one featured on our Worldwide Virtual Tour of impressive courses. Believe it or not, golf was first introduced to the country in 1911. Unfortunately, Afghanistan’s turbulent future made the sport more and more rare (in fact, every sport other than volleyball was forbidden under Taliban rule). Now, Kabul Golf Club, located just outside the capital, is the only golf course in the country, and Abdul has been fighting for almost four decades to keep it alive. The oxymoronic nature of the course would seem to point to absolute failure for any other course owner: dirt and rock Fairways, black sand Greens, etc. But after decades of invasions by multiple world super powers and rule by a totalitarian terrorist State, the Kabul Golf Club still exists. Abdul and his course persevered through some of the worst situations imaginable: Tanks and mines turned his course into a war zone, he suffered unjust jail time on multiple occasions, and The Taliban murdered his brother, beat Abdul, and burnt his house burnt down for supporting a ‘western’ sport.
The Soviets set up a small base on the course in the 80’s, and Abdul was sent to jail after demanding the military officers remove their tanks and artillery from the fairways. After six months in jail, Abdul moved to Kashmir and did not move back until 2003. He returned to find that his beloved course was in total disrepair. And by ‘disrepair,’ we mean ‘turned into a No Man’s Land.’ Landmines and other dangerous items had been placed there by the Taliban (just in case anyone thought a round of golf would be a nice way to spend a morning), and a few Soviet tanks still remained. The course was repaired as much as possible, and although you don’t need to worry about land mines, it is still very broken. Even after Abdul’s small revival of golf in Afghanistan after 2003, the course is actually shrinking. New roads have cut the course down to just five holes, power lines have gone up through the middle of fairways, and fighting in Kabul has scared many away. But to some, that’s a reason to play the course: to play on, what many call, the most dangerous golf course in the world. In fact, when the occasional tournaments are held, a couple dozen guards armed with AK-47’s protect the course. The adventure travel agency Cavalry and Company offers trips to the Kabul Golf Club, for those who are interested. But there’s no official Slope for this course (it only has five holes open), so don’t expect to see many hard-core golfers in Afghanistan popping up in our Worldwide Tournaments anytime soon.
Nothing less than extreme violence can characterize the history of his country, but Mohammad Abdul just wants to play golf, teach golf, and get his fellow Afghanis interested in the sport. His course is definitely not visually impressive, but the world history and violence that surrounds it, it’s location, and Abdul’s dedication to the sport we all love makes the Kabul Golf Club one of the most impressive courses in the world. ▣
To read more great information and stories about Abdul and the Kabul Golf Club, go here: http://www.kabulgolfclub.org/
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