By Steve Oma-Ofozor
The 2022 golfing season was no doubt is a special and successful one for the Professional Golfers’Association (PGA) of Nigeria with new developments that has placed it commensurably with its counterparts in Africa just as it is working hard to be on the global stage.
In the first instance, the number one position in Order of Merit (OoM) for men has been taken over by Sunday Olapade of Ikoyi Club, while Bola Mustapha, also of Ikoyi Club leads the women’s pack.
However, one major development that interestingly elevated and socialised the PGA of Nigeria as enshrined in the R&A charter is, “women inclusiveness in golf” which it achieved through the Confederation of Professional Golf (CPG).
PGA of Nigeria as a signatory to the R&A charter however, took the advantage to bolster ladies membership of the association after a rigorous Qualifying School (Q’School) examination which held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital between May and June, 2022.
Invariably, only 10 ladies qualified out of the about 30 candidates that participated in the exercise, haven satisfied the examiners requirements to become professional golfers.
The ladies include Bola Mustapha and Favour Efenedo, of Ikoyi Club, Lagos; Celina James, Henry Seriake Golf Club, Yenagoa; Valentina Manteau of Benin Golf Club and Hannah Obadina of Ibadan Golf Club.
Others are Helen Alechenu and Blessing Abdul of Otukpo Golf Club; Laura Nyam of Lamingo Golf Club, Jos; Stella Kadiri, and Obiageli Asogwa of IBB Golf Club, Abuja.
Since turning professionals, however, the ladies have participated in three major PGA of Nigeria events viz: Investiture Golf Classics; Chief Ikenna Okafor Open Golf Championship, and Plateau State Governor’s Cup.
Within the year under review, however, the PGA of Nigeria was able to organise six major tournaments successfully with total prize money of N62.5 million.
The major tournaments are:
Ola Sa’ad International Golf & Country Club, N5.5 million.
Rayfield Golf Club Tournament, N10 million.
1st Arsenal Open Golf Championship, N5 million.
Investiture Golf Classic, N7 million.
Chief Ikenna Okafor Open Golf Championship, N20 million.
Plateau State Governor’s Cup, N15 million.
Source: PGA of Nigeria.
Among the six tournaments, Chief Ikenna Okafor Open Golf Championship – Plateau Gov Cup – have the biggest prize money and both tournaments in recent years have presented cars as star prizes for winners only in 2023.
Interestingly, Sunday Olapade won the Chief Ikenna Okafor Open Golf Championship which was held at Python Golf Club in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, while Mike Ubi, won the Plateau Governor’s Cup title which was held at the Lamingo Golf Club, Jos.
While for the ladies, Bola Mustapha won at the Investiture Golf Classics in Aba, Abia State, and also the Plateau Governor’s Cup; at the Chief Ikenna Okafor Birthday Golf tournament, it was one field and no lady made the cut.
Johnbull Dongofa, the PGA of Nigeria Tournament Director commenting on the year under review affirmed that the 2022 golfing season was the best in recent years, adding that the 2023 season would be exceptional but noted, “there is need for synergy with foreign associations to expose our professionals.
“PGA must look beyond Nigeria and see how it can put its professionals in the global space; the association must also go beyond tournaments that cannot improve the worth of its professionals; hence it must synergise with corporate organisations that can provide it with the enablement to realise the goals ,” the tournament Director reasoned.
Corroborating the Tournament Director, Jide Bolaji, Secretary, PGA Nigeria posited that the association was beginning to benefit from its articulated programmes over the years, but affirmed that it would take some time for it to be fully realistic.
“The results that the PGA of Nigeria is getting today is from the progamme laid down over time; we’re not going to rest on our oars, but we will build on the existing structure to attain the international best practice and it will take some time for this to be realised though,” the Secretary said.
Recalled that Bola Mustapha in her victory comment at the Plateau Governor’s Cup commended the PGA of Nigeria for the opportunity given to the lady golfers aspiring to make career from golf.
“I want to thank the PGA of Nigeria for elevating Nigeria lady golfers to the professional status,; we will do our best at all times to justify this opportunity; Nigeria has good lady professionals that can also compete very well at the international levels,” Bola Mustapha said.
PGA of Nigeria Order of Merit (OoM) First 10.
1) Sunday Olapade
2) Kamalu Bako
3) Mike Ubi
4) Francis Epe
5) Andrew Oche Odoh
6) Abubakar Mustapha
7) Vincent Torgah
8) Francis Onuh
9) Francis Christopher
10) Stanley Omenuko
source: PGA Nigeria