For every golfer, the golf section of Ikoyi Club 1938 is the place to be. The atmosphere, the facilities, the razzmatazz and most of all, the five-star like Club House are some of the things many want to be associated with.
While its alluring outlook, enticing environment makes the club an envy of many, some insiders are actually unhappy with the state of the course until recently.
Their discontent, Golf Nigeria investigation revealed, stemmed from the inability of the succeeding Captains to implement the laid down plans in revamping the club’s golf course.
It would be recalled that until 2003, the only golf course that boasts of grass putting surface was IBB International Golf and Country Club in Abuja and Mobil Golf Club in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.
The golf section of Ikoyi Club, with its reputation as one of the busiest club around had brown putting surfaces. But all that changed during the reign of Ayinde Sanni/Uyi Akpata, who started what was then referred to as the ‘green revolution’. That revolution was completed within two to three years under the leadership of Fred Coker, who took charge after Akpata.
The next phase, according to the master plan was the re-grassing of the course.
Fourteen years down the line, nothing happened. Thus, in 2015, Akpata came hard on succeeding Captains, accusing them of killing the Ikoyi course dream by their refusal to move into re-grassing stage in the Club’s plan.
Uyi had taken a look across border to Ghana, where Achimota is being rated ahead of Ikoyi Club and felt bad.
However, Bayo Alli, the immediate past Captain took up the challenge. Today, Hole 1 and 2 have been redesigned, re-grassed and opened for play.
It is in that regard that many are commending Alli for championing a brand new course for his high networth colleagues at the golf section of Ikoyi Club 1938.
That Bayo Alli was ready to leave a mark when he eventually chips out as Captain of the club first came to the fore in 2016 when as the chairman of the famous Nigeria Cup Organising Committee; he decided to impact the life of any Caddie that win the caddie’s category in the Nigeria Cup.
True to his promise, Alli plucked Ganiyu, the winning Caddie from the caddie shed, to the pro shop where he is being trained to join the professional golfers’ class.
With a monthly stipend for his upkeep from this same committee, Ganiyu in a year or so from now will finally be a man of his own; a man who can feed himself, pay his bills and a proud professional golfer, taking far away from the caddie-shed where he seemed destined before Alli came his way.
While history will forever be grateful to Alli for this gesture, his decision to champion the re-grassing of the course will be the story that will forever be told.
The new look Hole-1, a Par 5, 484 in distance, a dogleg left, with undulating greens welcomes you to the course. The closing Hole-18, a par 4 bordered on two sides by bunkers relieves you of the stress you must have encountered on the course. Not forgetting the ladies’ tee on Hole 3, perched on a lake.
“I have been a member of the Ikoyi for quite a while and have been very active on the golf course. I am aware of the original plan for the course, but there was nothing I could do at the time,” Alli explained.
“Yet, I told myself, ‘it is not always right to sit on the fence and complain’, I have to get involved in a way. So, I decided to serve in some committees and thereafter I put myself up for the Captainship, but I didn’t make the first time. I gave it a trial for the second time and the outcome was overwhelming victory,” he stated.
“The question then was what do I do to pay back this loyalty especially that Nigeria was at the time I became Vice Captain and eventually Captain deep in economic recession. I then told myself that my members would be very active throughout the 12 months of my stay as Captain and if you check very well, you will realised that we did very well in that area.
“And we also started the re-grassing and the redesign of the golf course. If it worked out as planned, we should be done with it in five years or less. The major challenge has always been who would take the initiative, the moment that was done, every succeeding Captain followed through,” he concluded.
Truly, Alli should hold his head high. He didn’t just past through as a Captain; he allowed the section to pass through him.
That Alli’s effort was well appreciated was better explained by the turnout of golfers during the 2017/18 Captain Day tournament.
Top on the roll call were Admiral Toye Sode, former Captain and Chairman of the club; General Muftau Balogun (Rtd), former Chairman of the club; Ebiyemi Pinnick, Lawrence Amu, Tunde Imoyo, Demola Mumuney, Dapo Akande reigning club Chairman; Akinleye and his vice chairman among others. The list, to put it simply was endless.