Kabul Golf Club – The Most Dangerous Golf Course In The World

It seems there’s hardly a day goes by when Afghanistan is not in the news.

Here is a nation that’s been gripped by the fear of war for more than a decade.

But lying right on the back door step of the country’s capital is the Kabul Golf Club.

And as www.golfbytourmiss.com discovered when three representatives of the club visited the recent Omega Dubai Desert Club, Kabul Golf Club is striving hard like any other golf club to continue as best it can to promulgate the ancient game.

There’s an Arabic word featuring on the logo of the Kabul Golf Club that in English means ‘Peace’.

The entrance to the Kabul Golf Club.

But mention Kabul and Afghanistan and most every thought turns to a tragic worn-torn nation at the forefront of fighting the worldwide threat of terrorism.

The golf club is located about 10 kilometres from the centre of Kabul.

It’s not your lush-green tree-lined lay-out but a harsh-looking rudimentary hilly course of nine holes, laid out on desert sand with oil-impregnated greens.

The clubhouse is also not the opulent surrounds we’ve all come to expect.  It’s a ramshackle old building looking much the worse for wear following numerous rocket attacks.

Local rules permit the use of a tee or a strip of artificial turf on the fairway that states:  “Pick, dust and place within two-club lengths but not nearer the hole”.

There’s a free lift also out of tree holes, ant holes and trenches.

And get this, there’s a free drop if your ball comes to rest in a crater.  And we’re not talking a natural crater but those holes left by rockets or tank fire.

However there’s another local rule you won’t find on the scorecard, and has to be also unique to the Kabul Club, and that’s guns of any kind are not allowed on the golf course.

Golf had been first introduced into Afghanistan by King Emir Hajibullah Khan in 1911, two years before the first American-born player won the U.S. Open.

But when you study the history the Kabul Golf Club is reads like no other sports club, let alone a golf club.

Youngsters enjoying the ancient club and ball game

The course was first opened in 1967 during the reign of Mohammed Zahir Shah, and was just nine holes.

It was relocated to its present site in 1973 after the King was overthrown and then closed completely following a 1978 communist coup.

In 1993 it reopened but closed three years later when the Taliban regime banned the playing of any form of sport.

After the 2001 Coalition invasion of Afghanistan, the course was used as an area for military training in the removal of land mines.

In the process of restoring the area to some sort of resemblance of a golf course, it was necessary to remove three damaged Soviet tanks and multiple rocket launches.

Unfortunately, the Soviet tanks had dug deep into the fairways.

There also was a time when the Afghan Army’s 8th Division was located in a valley and the golf course found itself caught in a cross fire of nightly battles between the Mujahideen attacking from the west and the Soviet and Afghan forces.

Years earlier there was the was a bizarre ‘golf’ story during the course of the war at Qargha in 1987.

It seems a truce was arranged informally by the Government and guerrillas so Western diplomats in the capital could go there to play golf.

Finally in 2004 the Kabul Golf Club was reopened again with a report from the Christian Science Monitor stating, ‘The final demining process was paid by US Military funds aimed at the disarmament of local warlords, but the profits actually ended up in the hands of a warlord, a Northern Alliance commander named Adbul Rashid’.

Bizarrely, herds of sheep that grazed in the region unknowingly contributed to the resurrection of the course by occasionally detonating mines.

Earlier this year three representatives of the Kabul Golf Club visited the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and provided this unique insight into their club.

Tiger Woods meets Kabul Golf Club members during the Omega Dubai Desert Classic – Hashmatullah Sarwery (closest to Woods).

For starters the three were hard not to miss as they ventured about the Emirates Course proudly wearing caps with the words – Kabul Golf Club, Afghanistan – emblazed on the front.

The smallest of the trio, Hashmatullah Sarwery is 20-years old.  He began playing off a handicap of 30 and now plays off eight.

Sarwery, who doubles as a Kabul taxi-cab driver, also is the Kabul Golf Club champion and holds the course record of 70 over the combined two nine holes of 5,522 yards that plays to a par 72.

Despite his size, he says he can hit a drive 240 to 260 yards on average but the best part his game is his short game.

He and his Kabul colleagues was brought to Dubai by the Desert Classic organisers and had the big thrill of being introduced to Tiger Woods and having their photo taken with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

Woods and McIlroy were presented with a shirt and cap and obliged by signing a few items.

Rory McIlroy meets  (from left to right) – Hashmatullah Sarwery, Mohammad Afzal Abdul, who is the virtual back bone to the Kabul club, and Mohammad Omersa.

Sarwery hardly speaks any English and he was never seen ever without proudly wearing his red Kabul Golf Club cap.

Joining him was Mohammad Omersa, a 28-year old who plays off 16, and Mohammad Afzal Abdul, who is the Director and teaching professional at the Club.

In fact, if it wasn’t for Abdul it’s safe to say there wouldn’t be a Kabul Golf Club.

Abdul began his relationship with golf more than 50 years ago after being handed a 5-iron by an American Embassy worked when aged eight.  He first worked at the club as a caddy, and was quickly promoted to Caddie Master.

He then was appointed the club professional but nowadays his work includes manager, barman, PR director along with dishwasher, handyman and greens keeper.

Kabul Golf Club

Abdul is the proud backbone to the Kabul Golf Club and is striving hard to raise funds and collect anything like balls, tees and gloves to help outfit the members.

He’s affable chap with one of those lived-in faces, and who speaks just enough English to get by.

In a country where the major sport is football and also cricket, the Kabul Golf Club can lay claim to some 120 members.

The majority of those being males but Abdul indicated:  “Girls will be coming into the club soon”.

Some 15 to 20 of those members are diplomatic staff from the various nations, including Australia, USA and Germany, involved in the on-going conflict.

However when the diplomats do take the course, it is usually with a bodyguard or two as company.   In fact, there is an area when you cross a roadway to play the fifth, sixth and seventh holes, that is prone to kidnapping.

A colleague of mine who attended the Desert Classic said he had spoken during the week of the tournament to a former road engineer who worked in Kabul, and who had been told he had been banned from playing the course for that very reason.

And it’s also not been uncommon remarked Abdul to see the sight of U.S. Black Hawk helicopters landing at the club with the personnel emerging sporting rifles over their shoulder and golf clubs in their hand.

The remaining members of the club are local-born Afghans.

No ‘gimmies’ on the Kabul Golf Club greens

‘Diplomatic’ members pay $US 500 subs a year that includes their families while the locals are asked $US 300 (15,000 Afghani).

But there is a proviso as Abdul explained:  “If I know that the locals are well off and have money, I charge them $US 300 a year but if I know they are struggling with money, then membership is free”.

Guests are charged $US 20 which can allow them to play all day.

Now there’s an offer?   All day golf for just $US 20.

When the Afghan conflict is over and the troops have all left, and it’s safe to cross the road to play the fifth, it would be nice to experience playing Kabul Golf Club.

And if only for the experience of seeing Abdul’s eyes light up.


The Kabul Golf Club would dearly love any donation of golf clubs, balls, tees, gloves, caps, shirts or whatever that could be packed into a box and mailed to the club.

You can send them to:

Mr. Mohammad Afzal Abdul,

Director  Kabul Golf Club, Bandi Qargha,  Kabul


‘Fly’ over the course…

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