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Restoration of the Kabul Golf Club (Afghanistan)

Restoration of the Kabul Golf Club to include Book Project
by Roger Bacon

Mohammad Afzel Abdul showing a passing Pershmerga fighter the proper grip on the golf club.

Local Golf Pro Mohammad Afzel Abdul showing a passing Pershmerga fighter the proper grip on the golf club.

[Editor’s note: Is it better to live in a nation dedicated to war and civil conflict, or is it better to live in a nation dedicated to growing strong communities?

Sport, whether it’s cricket, golf, football or any other sport, provides a bridge between different cultures and gives humanity common-cause.

One only needs to remember the heart-warming story of the Jamaican bobsleigh team of 1988 Olympics fame to see how sport can enthrall a nation — with millions of people from all over the world cheering for them — even their competitors cheered for them at one point.

It was a moment in time that displayed the best in humanity and inspired Jamaicans with self-confidence, and was the basis for the 1993 hit film, Cool Runnings.

We also note the excitement that the sport of cricket brings to countries, citizens, and world leaders, with Presidents and Prime Ministers from formerly warring nations sitting together at games cheering their respective teams on. Sometimes, billions of people are watching those matches, from almost every timezone in the world.

The same can be said for football (called soccer in North America) where practically every person on the planet knows the teams, Real Madrid, Manchester United and FC Barcelona.

Sport must play a central role in our continuously evolving civilization, and whether that sport is one of the Olympic sports, cricket, football or golf, or any other recognized professional or amateur game, sport unites nations and celebrates the friendly competition between teams and between nation-states. — John Brian Shannon, Editor]

Kabul Golf Club. Located in Qargha, near Kabul. Image courtesy of af [dot]worldmapz [dot] com

Located in Qargha, Afghanistan, a short drive from the Capital, the Kabul Golf Club has served the ex-patriot community in Kabul since its inception. Image courtesy of af.worldmapz.com

Roger Bacon, through his American consulting business HudsonPlatte has embarked on a crowdsourcing effort with Kickstarter.com to fund a book chronicling the history of the Kabul Golf Club from its founding in 1967 through the present day struggle in Afghanistan.

“It has opened and closed with the rhythms of history that have plagued Afghanistan. The communist regime; Soviet invasion and departure; the rise of the Taliban and its association with Al Qaeda; the fall of Kabul to the Northern Alliance and its American Allies and the subsequent international effort to defeat the Taliban and rebuild the country have all taken place on the doorstep of the Kabul Golf Club.”

“It is a symbol of peace and tranquility that perpetually faces existential challenges, and yet it survives. I have made two trips to Afghanistan and played the course many times. It is an amazing story, and one which I want to share with the world.” — Roger Bacon

The Kabul Golf Club has provided a regular game for golfers working in and around Kabul. Most players have had affiliations with Embassies, NGO’s, the press and international military contingents, supporting the course and community financially. Since re-opening in 2004, there have been regular large events, and a steady flow of players.

Kabul Golf Club, Afghanistan

‘Zabi The Caddie’ at Kabul Golf Club, Afghanistan.

Recently however, most of the course’s patrons have been forbidden travel outside of the city, citing security concerns. Once again, the Kabul Golf Club faces a threat to its very existence.

The non-fiction book will highlight the career of Mohammad Afzel Abdul. Abdul teaches golf and manages the scruffy course with sand greens. He began working at the nine-hole (now six-hole) course just prior to the 1979 Soviet invasion, and has survived more than 35 years of constant warfare. His brother Khan, who also worked at the course, was killed by the Taliban in 2012 for his association with foreigners.

The ambitious goals of the funding campaign reflect the complicated and dangerous task of returning to Afghanistan to finish research and writing.

The book will be a visual piece that includes local history and stories from players, most of whom have also participated in the war and subsequent reconstruction efforts. With funding, it is scheduled to be finished and printed in mid-2016.

This project is a critical component of the effort to keep the historic Kabul Golf Club from disappearing into the mist of Afghanistan’s sad history. The licensing, royalties and publicity generated from the book are intended to supplement income lost as a result of the deteriorating security situation.

We believe that peace will eventually come to this starkly beautiful country and its golf course in the shadow of the Hindu Kush. The Dari word on the club’s logo and flag means “peace.”

The Kickstarter Project runs through October 5, 2015, and offers various rewards for participation, all featuring the club’s US Trademark logo.

Please visit the web sites:

Roger Bacon has worked for more than 25 years in the golf business, specializing in corporate renewal and project management. Success in these areas has brought him the title of “fixer.” His work has taken him around the country and his sense of adventure has taken him around the world. He has spent time in two war zones on two continents. The project to restore the Kabul Golf Club to financial security has been self-funded, without assistance from and government or private agency. Eating, drinking, sleeping, working and playing golf as an unescorted guest in Qargha in 2010 and 2011, Roger was always safe, secure and surrounded by friends. Now it’s time to go back.