By Ibrahim A. El Mayet.
Tripoli, 17 April 2012:
A new . . .[restrict]generation of Libyan golfers compete on Tripoli’s links course as the Libyan Golf Federation host the first junior stroke play competition to be held since Libya’s liberation, and the first to be held on the old links course in four decades.
In post-Gaddafi Libya, golf is enjoying a?renaissance. New flags have appeared on the slick?oiled ‘browns’ of Tripoli’s sea front golf course and?for the first time in decades local golfers are playing?on the Tripoli links.
Watching the golfers playing the?barren sandy course taking shots from a strip of fake?grass which they carry throughout their round is a?surreal sight, but one that instantly captures the reality of Libya today, a country crippled by decades of dictatorship but home to a resurgent people free from repression and determined to build a better future.
Libyan sport received little funding under a regime that forced people to refer to footballers by number rather than name in order that no one other than Muammar Qaddafi would be famous in Libya. Golf was particularly disliked and marginalized by the regime, which saw it as a Western preoccupation. During the Qaddafi era the golf club was demolished and golfers were forced off the course which fell into ruin.
The tournament organised by Libya’s Golf Federation on Thursday, 5 April, 2012, was the first to be held on the course since the 1970s. Omar Hanishe, a member of the federation and one of the tournaments organisers, remembers playing the course during the 1960s when it was a well-maintained 18-hole course. The expansion of the city means that the site can only accommodate a 9-hole course. But it is his hope that the course can be rebuilt and the oily browns replaced with grassy greens.
Tripoli is currently home to just four golf courses.
Nadeer Khabarat, 17, the Libyan junior champion who has been playing since 2002 and has represented Libya in international competitions, expressed his joy at being able to play on the old Tripoli links course. As Libya’s young golfers hone their skills in the sand they look forward to a new future for their country and their sport. The golf course is one place where a green revolution would be welcome.