A platform for competition and goodwill

Fadhil Yunus

With its strong appeal across all ages, golf is widely considered as one of the most popular sports in the country. The golfing scene has witnessed a surge in popularity with its increased demand and strong turnout of participants in both competitions and recreational activities.

There has been widespread interest among competitive golfers in every corner of the population. Over the years, fresh faces have been transformed to rising stars having helped raise the standard and quality of the competition, reinforcing the view that there is indeed an abundance of talented and skilled players at domestic level. The emergence of youth has also been apparent as young talents cemented major scores in the country, before catapulting into the national team.

As the country is gripped by COVID-19 outbreak, the sport was hit with a hiatus in March. However, golf has since emerged as one of the sports allowed to return under the first phase of the de-escalation process.

With a strong following and a diversified golfing base in Brunei Darussalam, a domestic calendar filled with competitions has kept golfers from all levels hungry for success.

While there is no disputing the significance of the Baiduri Masters due to its rich tradition and storied past, there are several local meets where players are just as eager to get their hands on the trophy.

The Pantai Mentiri Amateur Open staged in the popular Pantai Mentiri Golf Club is a much-anticipated competition among local golfers. The difficulty of the 6,105-metre course makes it a challenge even for the experienced golfer but it still does not stop them in their search for glory.

And then there’s the Pusat Ehsan Charity Golf Tournament at the Royal Brunei Airlines Golf Club, which constantly draws the top names in the country. Usually held at the start of the year, this popular tournament is often billed as a precursor to the Baiduri Masters.

It has proven that golfers who triumphed in the Pusat Ehsan event would go on to win the Baiduri Masters, as was evident in 2017 and 2018 with Qawim Aslimon and Johari Ahmad.

The three major tournaments are naturally the best events in the Brunei’s golfing calendar. While two out of three wins from these meets can translate to a successful season, a place among the greats on the domestic scene could be cemented if they land the Baiduri Masters top prize.

The Baiduri Masters remains every local golfer’s dream with its prestige and has undoubtedly been the biggest tournament in the golfing calendar.

President of the Baiduri Masters 2019 Organising Committee Andrew Young said during his opening remarks last year, “The Baiduri Masters has grown and is undeniably the largest and most prestigious annual golfing event in the country.

“The organisation is transparent and is professionally managed for the good of the game in line with strict tournament rules.

“The winners who emerge every year are worthy winners. They hold aloft the Baiduri Masters Challenge trophy as champions and they don the coveted Baiduri Masters Green Jacket.

“They set a fantastic example to the younger generation on the character of sportsmanship, hard work, determination and most of all how to be a gentleman.”

The expansion of the domestic golfing calendar is also apparent with tournaments in the name of charity being held such as the Rotary Golf Tournament and the Women Business Council Golf Tournament.

While competition may be fierce as golfers on varying ends of the spectrum, in terms of their age or talent, look to reign supreme, most of the local tournaments are also centred towards goodwill and charity.

Over the years, golfing tournaments have successfully raised donations and funds for the beneficiaries with the rise in the number of participants providing the level of support from the country’s golfers.

The Baiduri Masters marked its 24th year of hosting last year with the aim centred towards supporting the community and making a difference.

Andrew Young said, “We always try to raise funds for local organisations particularly those catered towards differently abled individuals with special needs in the hope of improving and alleviating their burden.

“Over the years, we have raised funds for organisations such as Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei, Learning Ladders Society, Children’s Cancer Foundation, Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam, Child Development Centre and Community Development Department (JAPEM).

“Just last year, we added Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital (RIPAS) Hospital Dana among the recipients of the donation. This year, we have identified yet another area which we intend to channel the funds to which is Demensia Brunei to help them their mission towards a dementia-friendly community.”

BSB Rotary Club President Klaus Tomalla said during the Rotary Golf Tournament last year, “This is our 18th annual charity golf tournament. We donate money to the students to give them good opportunities and platform for a well-educated life.”

Chairman of the 18th Pusat Ehsan Charity Golf Tournament 2019 Seruji bin Setia and also the tournament’s winner, said in his remarks last year, “Pusat Ehsan is a non-government, non-profitable charity organisation which derived its funds totally from donations and contributions from the community. Raising funds for the centre is the key objective of this tournament.”

Meanwhile, Women’s Business Council President Datin Hajah Rokiah binti Haji Zakiah said during her remarks last year, “We are indeed proud of hosting the tournament as it does not only provide funds for our organisations but also acts as a charity drive towards the betterment of organisations of our choice.”