Salman Aslam

Candid Schmooze

Punjab Open Championship 2014

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The grand finale of the PGF Golfing Calendar 2014 was the prestigious Punjab Open. Ironically for the first time the venue was shifted from Gujranwala to Raya Golf Club DHA after a long time. The well nestled and ensconced golf course itself was a challenge for all. Undoubtedly this course reigns supreme as far as maintenance and degree of difficulty is concerned. Its lightning fast greens measured by the strip meter were in range of 12. Design parameters of the course have been set at international standard.

The setting of the event cloistered and beset with a labyrinth of obstacles and merciless rough proved to be an acid test for golfers of all stature/abilities. For most it was the proverbial Waterloo. They vanquished into total disarray. 3-4 putts on greens werea common feature for even the most adept. Pin placements were treacherous coupled with massive undulations which were hard to cope with based on my own experiences. The event was spread over 4 days from 18-21 December 2014. Additional day allocated for subsidiary matches, senior amateurs and pros. By all reckoning course was well maintained as per international standards.

This event was the culmination point for the pros. Those exhibiting mastery in surmounting the slopes, cunning greensand Bermuda grass remained in the hunt. Rest perished ignominiously. Layout and configuration of the course warrantsexplicit detail.Course is encapsulated within the boundaries of residential houses at the periphery. From tee to the green it meanders in a zig zag manner interspersed with undulations and slopes. Gradient and incline at places is pronounced. To cater for the slopes alterations in stance, ball position and type of shot favoured have to be kept in mind. Fade and draw adjustments have to be made. Wind factor also comes into play. Lateral hazards skirt the fairways to entrap the errant shot. To add to the litmus test fairways are studded a straddled with deep bunkers. Further on the greens are jealously guarded by a maze of red an and circumvallation type of bunkers. Ultra-fast greens with grading speed 12 further compounds the misery of the average golfer.

In the backdrop of this scenario Punjab Open commenced. To steal the honours players of vintage level required forte in all facets of the game. This entailed hitting maximum fairways, hitting greens in regulation with deft irons, mastery in green speed reading and drilling putts. Apart from this scrambling pars and sand saves.The finishing hole 18th is indeed the toughest nut to crack with a most intricate pin placement on final day.

With 2 back to back emphatic victories in his bag Shabbir Iqbal was the front runner for the event. Yet again he proved his mettle by some stunning golf entirely mesmerising the field. He cemented his position as number 1 golfer of Pakistan. The year ended for Shabbir on a triumphant note as he completed his hat trick of victories on the trot. He remained unruffled, composed and sedate. Shabbircommitted minimum cardinal errors. Lest a few fauxpas. Shabbir course management was flawless as he finished the closing stretch unrattled. Nearest contender was Matloob of Garrison in second slot followed by Asher Masih of Gymkhana. To be rightly crowned as the undisputed champion of 2014.

Other main feature was an ace by ex-cop Qayyum Rashid who uses a driver on all par 3 holes. Honda had to again part with a car for the amateurs.In amateurs category Ghazanfar Mahmood continues to dominate the circuit. Senior pro was clinched by ab ex-champ Imdad Hussain of garrison. Close at his heels was champion of the nineties Ghulam Nabi. Senior Amateur section was won by Asif Mehdi. Ghazala Yasmin yet again completed her hat trick of victories in style and can proudly claim to be the ladies champion of 2014. Event was planned and conducted with precision par excellence. [Ex-Treasurer PGA 2000-2008.]

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posted by Salman Aslam @ 12:00 AM,


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