The Ibori Golf and Country Club, Asaba two weeks ago held theÂ 2nd edition of the Governorâ€™s Cup Pro-Am Golf tournament andÂ the tourney attracted some of the best professional and amateur golfers in the country.
Senate President David Mark, Osun State governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, General Patrick Aziza (rtd), General C.K Emein (rtd), General Enahoro, Uche Okpunor, and many others made the week-long tournament memorable.
IGCC captain Hon. Daniel Mayuku, could not hide his excitement with the quality of golfers who attended the event but he was not happy with the purse of the professional golfers.
He stressed that there is need to up the purse of the pros, a feat he said would bring out the best in the players and also assist them train themselves outside the country.Â In this interview, MayukuÂ revealed his plans for professional golf in Nigeria and IGCC.
Here are excerpts
What is your impression of Nigerian professional golfers?
I ve always known that we have very intelligent, hard-working pro golfers in Nigeria. All that is required is motivation and encouragement and that is just what is lacking.
Like I said, the purse of the pro tournament to a large extent is too small.
A pro that played four days and wins should be able to take home something very reasonable.
So that others will be motivated to play well and win. I have noticed that all the pros play for is to make the cut, so that theyÂ get their transport and accommodation money back to their base, which is not got enough.
For instance the purse for the Governors Cup is five million, four for the regular and one million for the senior tour, and you can see that the regular tour winner will go home with N350,000 and that is not good enough.
I thinkÂ professional golfers should be made to win at least a million naira. With a million, a pro can travel out to Europe for better training. From what I have noticed there are two classes of pros, those who travel out for trainingÂ and the ones that remains static here in Nigeria.
And whenever the once that travel out comes in, those at home feel inferior and allow them to outshine them due to the fact they have trained with professional teachers abroad.
For instance, when these pros came to Asaba, they called them South African pros, initially I thought they were South African golfers but later realized that they are Nigerian golfers who traveled out to South Africa for training.
At the end of the tournament the South African-based pros finished first, second and third. Not that these players are better but because of the motivation, encouragement and exposure they got. We have to think of how to raise the purse.
A situation where somebody plays four or five tournaments to make a million naira is not good enough. And I think we should do better. There are individuals in this country, who can help bring out the best in professional golf. This will also help our youth to shun robbery and other social vices and truly bring out the talent in them.
My fear is that if nothing is done to bring professional golf out of the woods in Nigeria, it may go into oblivion like professional boxing in Nigeria.
The course now have huge bunkers all over, rough and other hazzards, what is your plan?
The professionals should work hard for their money. They play golf for money. We play it for the fun of it. Those that play golf for the money should work hard for it.
So what I did, was to extend the tee boxes, so that the professionals will have to drive hard to catch the green for one and that is almost impossible. There are also bunkers in specific areas which make it difficult for poor hittersÂ to get to the greens.
So if you drive hard, you beat the bunkers but if you do not, you will be in the bunker. The new bunkers are designed to make the course more challenging. I realized that most of the professional players came to Asaba believing that they were going to play the same course they know but they were shocked.
Abuja based Umoh Edet who won the tournament shot 74 on day one, 73, 69 and 74 on days two, three and four respectively. Recently, the sum of N35m was approved for the club so that we can play a no prefer line tournaments. We will not extend the greens any more.
Itâ€™s a small green and its our style. We will have more bunkers and hazzard. Our desire is to have a championship course.
There were talks about setting up golf academies in the state . . .Â What is happening?
Already we have something like that but not a full time academy. What we have is a State-sponsored golf training for youth and competitionsÂ under the Directorate of Youth in the Delta State government and the person in-charge of this is the Commissioner for Youth.
And Lady Captain of the Club Rev. Sola Williams. There have been three editions of the clinic and the turn out has been tremendous. She introduced this programme and it has been wonderful. She provided golf kits for them and they had a great time.
They come here three times a weekÂ for training under the watchful eyes of the professional and Sports Council coaches. You cannot believe the quality of talents that were spotted at the last edition.