29 November 2008

Nigeria: Golf is My Retirement Companion-Gen. Emein

One intriguing aspect of Brigadier-General Cletus Komena Emein (rtd) is his simplicity and humility. Virtually all the golfers who attended his 60th birthday tournament, chorused this fact. As Niger State governor, he was noted for not going to work with security operatives. He drives himself to work and

ensures that the work is done. Some of the officials then saw him as a hardliner but few years after, they have come to realize that he meant well for them.

General Emein turned 60 last week and the attendant ceremony was like a carnival. At that age, he still hits the golf ball longer than most younger men. The Golf Course caught up with him in Warri and in this brief chat, he reveals so much about himself and the game he describes as his retirement companion.

Hear him:

"I started playing golf few years ago and in the process made lots of friends and today I feel highly honoured. It is a great privilege to have people from every part of the country to come here, to be with me on a day like this.

"As a golfer and a human, I could not have asked for anything more. I feel greatly honoured" General Emein said.

The handicap 16 golfer revealed that his 60th birthday tournament was not the first time he played as a veteran golfer. "Nigeria is a peculiar place. The uniform age for veteran is 50 in other parts of the world but in Nigeria things are different, I played as a veteran in Ikoyi club at age 50 but the age bracket keeps moving up. It used to be 50, it moved up to 55 and later to 60. I hear some clubs are planning to move it up again to 70. The truth is that it feels good to be 60".

Even at age 60 his drive does not go unnoticed. "Now I have slowed down. When I was younger I used to drive longer distances using my 3 wood. But now I hit that long with my driver. Hitting long is about technique not power. That is why you still have some older men who hit longer because they have the correct technique .

"The strongest point of my game is my long game. If my short game is as good as my long game, by now I would have been playing a lower handicap. I hit well but my putting needs a lot of work.", he said.

Golf as a game has as many definitions as there are golfers. Some say it is a game of life. Others say it is life itself but General Emein says golf to him is his after retirement companion. The retired general plays golf as many as four times a week depending on where he finds himself. What puts him off is slow play.

"The whole essence of golf is exercise. I like to play the ball and move on. Weather you play well or not is secondary to the fact that it is an exercise. Slow players put me off", he said.

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