Saturday, July 2, 2016

Golf in Palestine


            


Issam Khalidi


   In 1920, the British administration in Palestine established the Jerusalem Sports Club. Golf in Palestine was popular among British army and administrators, who in the 1930's, established three golf clubs: Jerusalem Golf Club, Palestine Police Golf Society, and Sodom and Gomorrah Golfing Society.

    Palestine Post brought few news about golfing tournaments throughout the period 1939 - 1945, "The draw for the Wauchope [High Commissioner] cup presented by the last High Commissioner to the Jerusalem Golf Club took place at the annual general meeting held on Friday the 24th ultimo. Twenty-eight members decided to enter for the competition this year and the draw is given below. The holder, Mr. G. Wadsworth, with a handicap of plus one, should find it a little more difficult to win the trophy than on past occasions. Brig. Gen. B. O. Hutchison who has been given a handicap of one is a strong favourite, and generally speaking, some keen matches are anticipated."[1]

"Playing their first match of the season, the Palestine Police Golfing Society were beaten by the Jerusalem Golf Club on the latter’s course by eight points to six, after a most interesting game."[2]

 "The Palestine Police Golfing Society turned out a good competent side against the Sodom and Gomorrah Golfing Society this week.  Eight single matches on handicap were played over the Jerusalem golf Club course, the Police beating their opponents by four matches to two, the remaining two being halved. "[3]

"Jerusalem Golf Club members held their tournament for the Wauchope Cup during the first fortnight of the month, R.F.B. Crook winning the trophy with a score of the 75nett. K.H, Joly, last year’s winner, and S/Ldr. C.B. Webber tied for second place, one stroke behind the winner. The competition was conducted under Medal Play over 18 holes. Entries showed a surprising increase over those, of last year; a very encouraging sign in view of the difficulties of wartime golf. The Jerusalem Golf Club will hold monthly competitions throughout the summer. All members, including temporary Service members, will be eligible to participate."[4] 

   In 1968, a decision was made by the PLO to form the Palestine Supreme Council for Youth Care (in 1974 it became known as the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports - SCYS). In 1969, few branch committees were established in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.  SCYS organized different sports federations. The Palestine Tennis  Federation included golf along with table tennis and squash. At that time, a special committee for golf was formed by the golf player Mohamed Ahmed Ali. In 1989, SCYS - Lebanon branch - assigned Khalid Ejjawi - activist and author - to form a federation for this game. He became its president in 1991.

  The first Arab tournament in golf was held in Beirut in 1975. It was organized by the Lebanese Golf Association which was headed by Salim Ali Salim - President of the Arab Golf Association and a former chairman of the Middle East Airlines MEA. Some Palestinian golfers working at the Lebanese Golf Club took part as representatives of Palestine in this tournament. In order to achieve good results at the Arab level, Salim supported them financially, and gave them the opportunity to develop and improve their skills at this club. [5]

Palestine took part in the third Pan Arab Golf Tournament in Cairo in 1977. It was represented by Muhamed Ahmed Ali. It also took part in the fourth (1979) and the ninth PAGT in Dubai where Farouq Tahhan and Salim Melhim represented Palestine. Also, Palestinian golfers took part in the tenth PAGT in 1989, the eleventh in Alexandria  in 1990, and the 14th in Cairo in 1993. [6]

   Few Palestinian practiced golf in the diaspora, among them Dr. Bashar Khadir, a political science professor at Leuven University in Begium. He became a golf champion in this country.  [7]

References:



[1] Palestine Post, 6 March 1939.
[2] Palestine Post, 2 May 1941.
[3] Palestine Post, 18 July 1941.
[4] Palestine Post, 18 April 1945.
[5] Khalid Ejjawi,  Al-haraka al-Riyadiayya al-Falastiniyya fi al-Shatat, [Palestine Sports Movement in Diaspora](Damascus: al-Dar al-Wataniyya al-Jadida, 2002), 516-518.
[6] Khalid Ejjawi,  Al-haraka al-Riyadiayya al-Falastiniyya fi al-Shatat,p. 516 -518.
[7] https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=527822637283775&id=156822244383818

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