Hi, I’m Erik, and this
is Adventures in Golf. For this episode, we traveled
to Egypt, where it turns out, there are more pyramids
than golf courses. And this is the oldest one. [MUSIC PLAYING] We actually traveled
to Egypt thinking that we were going to
play Mena House, which is that famous
sort of golf course at the base of the pyramids. But between the time when
we booked our flights and when we arrived,
we learned that it’s closed for renovations. So with that not
being available, we decided to come
to Gezira Sporting Club, which is something that
kind of exists all over Egypt. Sporting clubs are the
only places in Egypt where budding and professional
athletes can practice and participate in
championship sports, offering football, basketball,
tennis, squash, croquet, horse riding, cricket,
and of course, golf. Founded in 1882, the
Gezira Sporting Club is the oldest and
largest club in Egypt. Hi, I’m Afra. I’m a member of
the golf committee. Nice to meet you. Iman Afra, a
lifelong club member, invites us into
the committee room to learn more about
this historic course. Established in 1882
for the British Army. Wow. Originally the sports
club was exclusively for high ranking British
military officers and foreign aristocrats. Membership was elected
by a committee, selecting only those
from the Egyptian elite. The club maintained
its exclusivity through World War II. After the 1952 revolution, half
of it was taken, of the land. So now we have nine tee
boxes and 18 greens. Oh, wow. So you go around twice. In 1952, the club was
nationalized for the benefit of the poorer majority. And as a result, the
course was cut in half, giving nine holes to
the Gezira Youth Center to promote sports
among all Egyptians. Since then, the course has
remained relatively unchanged. So we’re going to play with
two of the pros here at Gezira. Maybe get a little game going. We’ll see. This is the scorecard? The scorecard. Very good. All right, there we go. Simple out and back there. This is awesome. Who’s better? [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] You? [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] Sa’eid, Sa’eid, Sa’eid. Egypt, upper corner. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. How do you say good
luck in Egyptian? [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]? Egyptian, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. Good luck. [MUSIC PLAYING] Oh. That came pretty close to
dunking, I’ll be honest. It came right across the stick. It’s the closest I’ve been
to a hole in one in a while actually. Can we talk about golf in Egypt? Is it popular? I think yes, now. We have many golf courses now
around Cairo and the suburbs. [MUSIC PLAYING] Are there any actual
public courses in Cairo? No. No. Winding down. But here you can pay your
ticket and come and play if you’re not a member. Wait. So anyone can come play here? Yes. You play a little more
extra when you pay ticket at the door to come in. And you come and play. So that means it is a
public course, kind of. Kind of. It’s open to the public
in the sense that. It’s open to all golfers. [MUSIC PLAYING] It’s so cool being out here. Even just on the first couple
holes, you come out here, you really get to see
why golf is so special. I mean, where else is there
a huge open park with, you know, nothing
crazy going on. It’s very peaceful. And like, golf kind of
always has that with it. Hopefully that becomes, for
the people of Cairo and Egypt in general and all
the countries where golf is not a major sport,
an attracting factor to play. We’re trying to get young
children and juniors to play, because we know they
are the future for golf. Because we are getting older
and we are getting more injured. So we need fresh blood,
new blood, to make it. That’s important, I
think, to growing golf especially in a culture
that relatively speaking, there are very few golf
courses here, to the world. To the world, yes. Nice ball. This guy can play. [MUSIC PLAYING] Both on opposite sides
of the green, 2 down. I think we’re playing a match. If I go 4 down, we’re not
playing a match anymore. So that’s how it works. [MUSIC PLAYING] Seems to be some type
of cemetery for pets. It’s a nice resting place. Be nice to be buried
by a golf course. Have you played Mena House? Yes. What’s it like? It was amazing, because you
have the pyramid behind you. [MUSIC PLAYING] Fortunately, Mena House
is not the only course to feature one of the seven
ancient wonders of the world. Opened earlier this
year, New Giza Golf Club allows golfers to tee off
with views of the Great Pyramids of Giza, which is
where I’m meeting Tim Lobb, one of the course, architects. Before we’re even
going to see the golf course that he designed,
New Giza, we’re going to see the old Giza. Is that kind of how you
refer to the two of them? Yeah, exactly. The New Giza’s about six
kilometers away from here. Perfect. So we’ll get a view
of the pyramids when we get to the site. [MUSIC PLAYING] While walking in the shadows
of the Great Pyramids, Tim tells me how
inspirational they were in the design
of the golf course, not only as an amazing backdrop,
but in the course itself. You see, New Giza’s situated
within an old limestone quarry, which was likely
used in their construction. And with that history
in mind, their goal was to keep the
features of the quarry as much as possible to,
in Tim’s words, quote, tell the story of the land. A story that I’m
excited to hear. When we start to lay
out the golf course, we knew we wanted to get in
this valley through here. And we saw a connection
there, but couldn’t work out how to get down there. So we decided on doing
a big drop par-3. It’s actually about 24
meters of drop, which is what, 70, 80 feet of drop. Yeah, this is a pretty
extreme version of a par-3. This is the kind of hole
where fourth hole, starting to find the center of
the club face maybe. You walk up and you’re faced
with a lot of questions. Also, your first
view of the pyramids. On the property, we
knew certain places that we needed to get to,
and this was one spot we knew had a great view, and
really make it hopefully a standout point
for golf in Egypt. Let’s hit a shot. OK. Nice hit. Back. Oh, back of the green, OK. After checking the
course out from above, Tim brings us down below to see
more of its unique features. Tried to keep as many of the
vertical walls as possible. You can see some left,
some right up there. Yeah. And we tried to put
in the strategy. The one in right is actually
the second landing zone. So instead of putting a bunker,
we tried to keep the rock and jut it into the fairway
as much as possible. We’re kind of in a huge bunker. Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. I think, Tim, he used
all his experience to create such a lovely
golf course here, where he used the natural of the
place, which is a rocky place, you know. And use this to build, let’s
say to engrave the golf course inside the rocks. It’s really fantastic. It’s a piece of art. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think definitely the
landscape was something we really got involved with. And we were very
passionate that it had to be a semi sort
of arid landscape. So there is still
sand out there. And I go to a lot of
courses in the desert where there’ll just be
green grass everywhere. We’ve tried to create some
waste areas in between the tees. I’d love people to come here
and go, this was a quarry. How the hell is this
a golf course now? That would be fantastic,
if somebody could still see that this is a quarry. As I wrap up my
time here in Egypt, one thing is for certain. Whether you’re teeing off on
the oldest course for birdie putting on the newest, the
goal of each is the same. To create an environment
to foster growth in the game of golf. And ultimately, that’s what
these adventures are all about. [DIGITAL EFFECT]

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Dennis Veasley

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