Clockwise from top left: An Iraqi soldier tees off outside Basra; Golf balls issued to U.S.M.C. troops; U.S.M.C. soldier being trained on-site by U.S. Army officer; Al-Qaeda issued helmet.
| United Kingdom
|| Iraq (under Saddam Hussein)
| Tony Blair
|| Saddam Hussein
Golf balls misplaced
Golf balls misplaced
The Golf War is an ongoing military campaign which began on the 20 March 2003 with the multi-national coalition of the Allied nations who know how to play golf (and therefore exempting Australia). Dwarfing most tours, the Golf War is the biggest and most controversial of golfing events.
Prior to the war, Iraq's alleged possesion of illegal clubs was claimed to pose a serious and imminent threat to Western national golfing laws, an assessment supported by U.K. intelligence services, but not by other nations such as France, Russia and Germany (which is fair enough, none of those nations have any golf courses). When no evidence of such clubs were found in Iraq, the Allies then accused Saddam Hussein of disrupting international golfing events in general, but the war has come under widespread scruntinisation and cricitism, as no-one likes having their favourite show being cancelled in favour of boring golf on the TV.
The situation in the Middle East is already known to have been explosive in the past. The introduction of golf to Afghanistan by the British in the 1800s brought death, worry and fear to the Muslim nations. In the 20th century, the hostilities were just as rife, with the U.S.S.R. losing awfully in their ill-fated attempt to challenge Afghanistan to a round or two. Initially, the U.S. had been supportive towards the Middle Eastern nations in their exploits of the game, but then turned against the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda when the latter organisations were found to have been using the game of golf to execute women, even their wives. President George Bush Sr. was vehemently against this, claiming that golf is a game to get away from their wives, other than simply using the clubs to behead them. The resulting war of words turned followed the unfair defeat of Kuwait by Iraq (Kuwait lacked any golfers and Saddam Hussein claimed a legal victory), into a un-casual golfing tournament between an Allied coalition and the Iraqi forces in control of Kuwait.
The Allied forces were successful, not only in removing Hussein's golfers in Kuwait but teaching the Emir of Kuwait the principles of golfing, to ensure that such a defeat would not happen again. It would be fair to say that the Iraqi bombing of Kuwait also helped create a few bunkers for the nation's new golf courses. Saddam Hussein, described by many as the "Iraqi Tiger Woods", found his ranking amongst the best golfers in the world go down. He was embittered towards the U.S., blaming them for his decline in golfing credentials.
September 11 attacks
On the early morning of the 11th of September, 2001, the New York City golf course officials received complaints from members about disruption being caused by several "shifty looking turbans" on the fourteenth hole. These disrupters were in fact, Islamic extremists. The complaints were waved away and the disruption persisted and within the hour, the first golf ball hit the North Tower of the World Trade Centre. The second golf ball was mis-hit and crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC, but the third ball hit the South Tower and the two towers collapsed (a fourth ball somehow landed in a field near Pennsylvania).
The worldwide reaction was sympathetique (as none of the Islamic extremists were registered members at the NYC club), the general consensus of opinion in the Middle East could roughly be summed up as: "hole in one!". President George W. Bush immediately labelled the blame on the Middle Eastern nations, and picking a nation at random (by putting one hand over his eyes and using the other hand to point at the map), ordered the American forces to invade Iraq. He then immediately went back to putting practice in his office.
Presence of alleged illegal clubs in Iraq
In 2002, it was revealed that the Iraqi golfing maverick, Saddam Hussein was in possession of specially manufactured combat golf clubs, which are made illegal under Section 23 of Royal and Ancient's Golfing Laws. It is not understood when Hussein's insurgents began stockpiling the super golf clubs, but it was understood by governmental intelligence that they could hit balls from the teeing ground, to the green, in just 45 minutes. Given the hostile nature towards the 9/11 attacks, the Allied forces would not tolerate such clubs in the hands of Iraqi insurgents.
Bored with the Ryder Cup anyway
The pairing nations in the Allied coalition, the U.S. and the U.K. had expressed reluctance to "do the whole America vs. Europe thing again" and decided they wanted to take their game elsewhere in the world. They attempted to take on Afghanistan in 2001, but met very much the same resistence as the U.S.S.R. encountered during the 1970s and 1980s, and the Afghans have been active in golf ever since. The continuing speculation over Iraq's interest in golf (not to mention 9/11 and the illegal clubs) attracted the U.S. and the U.K. to approach Iraq once more. It was proposed that America and Europe would be the coalition, but the remainder of Europe, other than Britain, were not eager to comply. Despite the lack of major European participation in the new tournament, in fact even Iraq had no idea about them being the opponents, the U.S. and the U.K. went ahead with their plans. The return to the old format of the Ryder Cup, of which featured only the U.S. and the U.K., and none of the other European nations (anti-war then, anti-war now), was well received by golfing fans as fervent nostalgia prevailed.
On the 20th of March, 2003, the combined forces of USMC and SAS invaded Iraq, sweeping through course to course in various tours. However, the geographical terrain came as a hindrance to progress. The desert, not to mention the heat, slowed the advance, the usual Condors, or four strokes under par, were rare. More common, the Allied golfers struggled to even get a Bogey, or one stroke more than par. The average scoring, however, in the first few months of the invasion is assumed to be an Eagle, or two strokes under par.
By April 2003, the major city of Basra came under British control. The Basra Tour '03 was a whitewash victory for the S.A.S. golfers, and it exposed the poor training routines of the Iraqi insurgency. It was later revealed by the BBC news sources that the reason for this was that the Iraqi forces had mostly been trained on seaside resorts on the southernmost point of the nation, where they were prepared for golfing combat on mini 'crazy golf' courses, a vast difference to the lavish training grounds of the Allied troops.
Despite their heavy defeats (over par) at Basra and other important cities, the resistence of the Iraqi forces was persistent. The injection of prominent golfers from the Al-Qaeda came as a boost to Hussein's forces. However the advantage was lost when the Al-Qaeda extremists preferred to use the golf clubs on on themselves rather than use it for golfing purposes. In result, they were disqualified from the scoreboard for blatant misuse of their golf clubs and Bin Laden received a letter banning him from future major golf tours. He has, however, become the most feared figurehead in golfing since, now assumed to be driving in the mountains of Pakistan or thereabouts.
The Iraqis were not only badly trained, they were also poorly equipped. They were short on ammo, given only one extra golf ball which were easily lost amongst tall grass in rural venues. The main driving club used by the Iraqi soldiers was the AK-47 Wood, a club first used by the U.S.S.R. in the 1960s. It proved to be highly inaccurate choice of club, often misfiring balls into the out-of-bounds zones or missing the target by clear miles.
Needless to say, the Iraqi forces were overwhelmed by the U.S.M.C. and S.A.S. and struggled in the nationwide tournaments. Their fans lost hope for them and were quickly smitten by the promise of golfing liberation by the Allied forces. In result, Saddam Hussein could not keep up with the onslaught of Allied coalition golfers, and soon retreated into hiding. He lost points in the PGA rankings for not turning up for the Tour of Baghdad 2003.
End of major conflict and capture of Saddam Hussein
Soon after the fall of Baghdad, the major scale of golfing in Iraq had calmed down, two months after the conflict's start. The Allied forces relaxed their advance and set about forming clubs to accomodate the nation's vast infrastructure of golf courses across the nation, and the search for the leader of the Iraqi forces, Saddam Hussein, began. President George W. Bush was on hand to commemorate a "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq and promptly celebrated with a round of golf.
On the 20th of December, the U.S. Administrator in Iraq was golfing at the ad-Dawl golf course near Tikrit when he was bemused by the curious nature of hole nine. After successfully attaining a delicious bogey, he attempted to retrieve the ball from the hole, but instead found a underground dwelling, albeit small. An armed investigation of the suspicious hole found inside Saddam Hussein, about to bite into a sandwich with golf balls (of which he had a plentiful supply), of which he had mistaken for eggs in the darkness of the hole. A search for the illegal clubs in the hole could only find a snapped putter, Saddam's only weapon. On the 30th December 2006, three years later, Hussein was told his golfing membership was permanently annulled.
Despite the capture of Saddam, the Golf War still rages on. The Shia Militia are not short of keen golfers, but are currently struggling to keep up against the odds of the the Allied forces. However, there is still hope for the Shi'ite troops, as the contingent of decent golfers in the Allied forces are being sent to compete in the Afghanistan tours, as the Taliban has been noted as "the next big thing" in the world of golf.
It is widely accepted that Iraq will soon become a
democracy defeated golfing nation. The Allied coalition have prepared to set up a new golf organisation for Iraq, with a new leader at the helm. However, whether or not Iraq will again rise to prominence in the world of golf remains to be seen.
- Quote from American hostages in Iraq
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7639492.stm Retrieved on 20-10-2008
- Quote from Nick Faldo following another European defeat at the Ryder Cup
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/funny_old_game/1327026.stm Retrieved on 20-10-2008
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1556919.stm Retrieved on 20-10-2008
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6218485.stm Retrieved on 20-10-2008
- Another quote from American hostages
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