By Richard Animam
For some years, three factors drewÂ top amateur golfers to Asaba, the Delta State capital. Then, BarristerÂ Moses Odibo, former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs,Â spent so much to promote golf and the club. He was described as the moving spirit behind the young golf course that came into being,Â less than six years ago. There Uba Attoh, who, as captain for two years, ran the business withÂ his personal finance. He donated furniture to the club and built the first IGCC Club house, which is now used as a Pro shop.
Then, the new captain of the Ibori GolfÂ and CountryÂ Club (IGCC), Honourable Daniel Mayuku, who showed so much promise even before emerging as captain. Mayuku, the golfer,Â is new to the game. But within the periodÂ he picked up his golf bag, he has been a tremendous force in the club. His passion for the game is awesome,Â and his love to get the game and club moving is admirable.
For IGCC, itÂ was not the golf course that attracted golfers,but the large expanse of land. Though, the course,Â then a sprawling desert,Â was challenging,Â the bamboo trees, the tough roughs, the heat from the open sky, and large expanse of land, provided enough challenges for golfers. But with all these,Â it still lacked the characteristics to compete amongst some of the best in the country. It, however, lacked the capacity toÂ attract quality golf action.
But there appears to be a new dawn at the sprawling 18 holes golf club with the emergence ofÂ Mayuku as captain and chairman of the Finance and Appropriation Committee in the Delta State House of Assemblies.
Attempts to get the club look serious some years back were said to be muddled up by a select few.
The former executives before Mayuku stepped in also did not get it right. A massive clubhouse was built by the state government. But the course did not reflect the quality of the clubhouse. They had funds budgeted for the club in the state budget but some people amongst them ensured that the funds were not accessed, forcing many to go the drain.
The golf club located on Awai Road,Â few metres behind the government house in Asaba today is gradually emerging as one of the best golf clubs in the country. The Golf Course spent sometime with the new IGCC captain, Mayuku, who revealed his master plan for the club.
â€œMy dream for the Ibori Golf and Country Club is for it to become the best golf club in the country. I am aware thatÂ there are clubs like IBB Golf and Country Club in Abuja, the Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort in Uyo, Benin Golf Club and few others which have standard greens. As soon as we came in (new IGCC executives), we told ourselves that we would not play any major tournament on the course till some measure of work is carried out. That was in December 2008. Today, I can tell you that there is a lot of improvement on the course. Unlike in the past, we now have new bunkers all over the fair ways. The greens are also coming up as there are renewed efforts to getting the putting surfaces come alive. The biggest job on our hands is to redesign the course and the contract has already been awarded to a good course designer. I can tell you that before our tenure expires, we will have a golf course that will compete favourably with the best in the country. Then, I am sure we would be able to attractÂ major tournamentsâ€, Mayuku said.
â€œWhile redesigning the course, some of the holes will be adjusted. We now have new tee boxes for the professional players, longer bunkers on some of the fairways. The entire course is being irrigated. Uche Okpunor would have sponsored the irrigation but we told him to stop because we have irrigation of the course included in the budget. Apart from the new bunkers, the bamboo trees which are a traditional feature of the course will remain. But it will be trimmed down and more trees planted. The fairways will also be clearly paved and the tee boxes reconstructed.Â By the time we finished,Â the Ibori Golf and Country Club will be the cynosure of eyes in the countryâ€, he went on.
Looking back then, the course worked better for routing galleries than it did as an aesthetically pleasing, cohesive test of golf. Today, thanks to a number of helpful tweaks by Mayuku, IGCC might become a really fun track. The hardest par on the course has always been the par-4 hole nine, which now measures 446 meters and has three big bunkers round it. The best hole has always been the 159meters, par-3 8th, which demands a perfectly placed drive,Â followed by an approach over a bunker, with bamboo trees trouble lurking on both shots. But probably the most thrilling change is the 18th par 5, with its amphitheatre green complex flush against a huge clubhouse.
The property, which is a few minutes drive from the new Asaba airport, which is still under construction, will also offer â€œresort getawayâ€ ambience, which includes a five star- hotel and other amenities when it is completed. The whole package feels like a luxurious business hotel blended with an exclusive country club.