The Professional Golfers’ Association of Nigeria has absorbed 22 former amateur players into the elite class after five days of rigorous test for 93 applicants that ended at the Kaduna Golf Club last weekend.
Festus Makelemi, director of the PGA said that the just concluded ‘Qualifying School’ was the most transparent in the association’s history.
“We are aware of the growing interest in PGA activities, especially from corporate Nigeria and one of the ways we can showcase the values of the association is by displaying this measure of openness. None of the players that missed out can tell you the process was not clear enough” he said after the event.
Izang Ayuba a multiple medal winner in golf at the National Sports Festival for Plateau state finished atop of the players seeking professional membership at the Qualifying School. He is a protégé of Samson Lawal Lamingo Golf Club’s resident professional,
“Turning pro is the peak of my career as a golfer and I am very glad to have achieved that here” he told journalists after the event.
The PGA had set out to admit twenty best players at the event only to be faced with three players finishing in the joint 20th position.
Okoromi James of Benin Golf Club finished as the second best qualifier, ahead of a clutch of golfers, including Emmanuel Agwom also from Lamingo Golf Club and Bako Kamalu from Kano Golf Club.
Anyebe Odoh also became the fourth member of the prominent Odoh clan to join the professional rank – toeing the path of Paul (now deceased), Martin and Oche. Anyebe, who learned how to play golf at Minna Golf Club, finished in 11th position.
One of the main casualties at the Q-School was Bawa Umar, a highly regarded low handicapper, who suffered a meltdown in his third attempt to join the elite pack of professional golfers.
Aside from ability to play golf, the other parameters which the PGAN committee used to evaluate the participants were knowledge of rules and ethics of golf, speech making, golf equipment mending and for the first time in the Qualifying School history the players had written test.
Femi Olagbenro, the Operations Manager at Lakowe Lakes Golf Estates in Lagos headed the examination panel and said that the PGA had no choice but to raise the stakes.
“We had a lot of talented players, but we need more than talents now. Again I am proud that this was very transparent and the players themselves can attest to it.”