It is anathema in the modern setting, an utter anachronism -- much worse than Test cricket. Standing in lush green surrounds with leaf rustles and bird calls providing the sonic backdrop, staring down at a white sphere nestled in the grass leaves, not much bigger than a ping pong ball but a hundred times heavier.
Then with a rock back and a pendulum swing forth, you hit that idly resting ball hundreds of yards into the blue and green yonder. You hope as the white missile swerves this way or that that it avoids the pond or the sand trap. You march to its temporary resting place with kit in tow for five minutes. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Anathema it may be but who can say that the game of golf, though not the most exciting of spectator sports by a long stretch, with all its tranquil trappings is not an attractive pastime? The art of swinging a club from a standstill position and projecting a ball with precision towards a small target hundreds of yards away is not an easy one. It is a skill acquired through long hours of practice, and is immensely rewarding when mastered. Talking of rewards, golf is also a very lucrative sport for those who can make it to the highest level -- ask caddy-turned Asian Tour champion Siddikur Rahman.
In that regard, golf is a yet untapped sport to which parents with big ambitions can hitch their children's futures. Competition is minimal and therefore the possibility of rewards is much higher. For those with the time and money, there are a few options around our country, some well-known and some not so.
Golf in the capital
The capital of golf in Bangladesh is spread over 126 acres in the Cantonment area of the capital city -- the Kurmitola Golf Club. It is a high standard 18-hole golf course, meeting all of the requirements of this specialised game.
If you have been there, you would have seen that golfing introduces you to another way of life -- one born of another, more genteel time. A serious golfer goes there early, before the children have set off for school. You get in nine holes of golf through wooded lands, nine holes that bring you back to the clubhouse where you can have breakfast with your fellow members. The club restaurant is a fine one, offering high quality food in a serene setting overlooking the greenery. If you are a serious enough golfer, you can finish the back nine in another two hours, or you may head over to the pristine swimming pool area and enjoy a dip to cool off. Quite possibly the best recreational pool in Dhaka, the KGC's swimming pool is one of its better attractions.
There is also a fully equipped gym and a state-of-the-art driving range. With the clubhouse providing a comfortable venue to sit and chat with your fellow members.
To become a member, you need to be recommended by a member, and the golfing lifestyle does not come cheap. But remember that it is a healthy lifestyle you and your family are buying into, as well as entering a close-knit community.
Membership fees and green fees (through which non-members can enjoy a round of golf) are subject to change. A list of phone numbers of golf clubs in Bangladesh is provided at the end of the article.
The Army Golf Club is an affiliate of the Kurmitola Golf Club, and located inside Dhaka Cantonment on the Western side of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. It is a 9-hole course spread over 40 acres. While not in the same category as Kurmitola, it has its highlights, such as a well-equipped convention hall and a quality restaurant looking out onto the winding courses.
Aspiring golfers outside the capital need not despair; there are plenty of options. Leading the way is Chittagong's Bhatiary Golf and Country Club, covering a massive area acres and boasting 18 picturesque holes. It is quite a challenging course, situated as it is on a landscape of hills and valleys.
Perhaps the most challenging course is the one in Comilla Cantonment, Mainamati Golf and Country Club. It also boasts some beautiful water bodies and a suspension bridge, making for an exciting day out for the keen golfer.
Closer to the capital are the Bangladesh Ordinance Factory Golf Club (BOFGC) in Gazipur and the Savar Golf Club in Savar Cantonment. The latter was upgraded to 18 holes in 2001 and is spread over 68.8 acres.
The Jessore Golf and Country Club is a beautiful stretch of green located far away from the noise and nuisance of cities. The nine-hole golf course, spread over approximately 80 acres, also offers classy accommodation for its members and their families, with activities like barbecue nights to delight while away the hours after sundown. Further north is another nine-hole course in Bogra, the Bogra Golf Club.
Last but not least is the Rangpur Golf Club, which has been growing in size and stature since the early 1990s, when it was just a three-hole course, to a nine-hole course spread over 25 acres.
Golf is a sport that will appeal to anyone who values the qualities of persistence and perfection, and also to those who treasure a bit of peace, quiet and green respite amid the harshness of the grey concrete. It offers not just recreation, but an idyllic way of life you can immerse yourself and your family in.
Contact numbers of golf courses around Bangladesh -- Kurmitola Golf Club:9835125-6; Bhatiary Golf and Country Club: 0312780423-4; Mainamati Golf and Country Club: 08173044; Savar Golf Club:7791839; Army Golf Club: 8871234; Bogra Golf Club: 05182092; Jessore Golf and Country Club: 042168675; Rangpur Golf Club: 01769662534; BOFGC: 9204613.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed