The Kabul Golf Club
The Kabul Golf Club
The adventure in Afghanistan isn't over, it's just beginning.
The adventure in Afghanistan isn't over, it's just beginning. Read more
What do an EU Ambassador, a mysterious Norwegian Soldier, a Punk Band from Belgium, a former Mujaheddin Commander, an American Country Club Manager, a NGO Director from New Zealand and EVERY SINGLE BACKER OF THIS KICKSTARTER PROJECT all have in common?
Together they are winning a tiny battle in a big war; playing a part in the miracle of the Kabul Golf Club in Qargha, Afghanistan. Now that's a great story!
The Kabul Golf Club has gotten great press from around the world. Our ability to tell this story to a global audience has been a driving force behind this project. Click on any of the logos below to go to our web site's Press Page:
This is an opportunity not to be missed. We have assembled many hours of interviews and hundreds of photographs. But truly priceless are the stories of golfers from around the world who have played their game on that scruffy piece of no-man's land near the end of the Qargha Road.
The process of organizing it all into a vibrant, flowing story is well under way. Great drama with a fascinating and irresistible cast of characters, set against one of the epic conflicts of our time. I wouldn't have missed it for anything. Neither should you.
This project will also provide the resources for us to include Afghan writers and photographers. We will pay royalties from the book - and who knows...maybe from the movie - to the Kabul Golf Club, supplementing their current meager revenue stream. I have been sending money to Abdul for years because he is my friend and brother, but also for the privilege of being allowed to tell the story. After all it is his story, not mine. The book and ensuing publicity will certainly bring more attention and money to this small business on the very edge of the golfing world.
Barreling down the Qargha Road, heading west out of Kabul, I stared out the window, pretending to watch the civilian side of the war go by. I listened to my driver talk to himself, and tried to gauge just how much he hated me. Or rather the idea of me. There was a pistol bouncing around on the floor below his legs as the car endured the contours and faults of this road though no-man's land.
I knew he was a hater from his eyes, but also because he had told me about an hour earlier:
"I don't honor holidays now." (it was Eid) "I won't be ready for holidays until every single foreigner is gone from my country. We hate you, really, can't you see that?"
Me? Seriously? I just stared at him, incredulous, without a clue how to act (hint: not tough).
"Do you have something to say to me?" he asked, now more agitated and sweating.
"Actually, I'm leaving on Sunday." When he narrowed his eyes I grinned and added, "so it's a start."
And then he showed just a hint of a smile, as if perhaps we were brothers after all. When we got to the golf course, he put the gun in the trunk, threw my stuff on the ground, drove off and left me. On foot.... abandoned and alone .... in Afghanistan.... wearing a Yankees cap. Salaam alaikum, baby.
Yes, there really is a golf course. And that's what all the fuss is about. The first time I played golf in Afghanistan, I was a little nervous. There was a Halo Trust team removing live Soviet artillery shells just left of the 7th fairway (two days later, one went off). Heavily armed helicopters swooped down to see what we were up to. Playing the final 9th hole I was on the green (sand and oil) when the shout came: “toss me a grenade!” I froze momentarily, then looked up in time to see a green cylinder being lobbed in a slow motion arc a few feet from my nose. It was a Tuborg beer. Seriously.
Obviously, we need to talk about the Taliban. Whatever happens down the road - war, peace, stalemate - the Taliban will be a part of the continuing story of Afghanistan, and so the story of the Kabul Golf Club. "Talib" means "student," though here the metaphor is vicious school-yard bully. You probably won't enjoy getting to know them. They don't have tanks any more, so that helps.
There a lots of cute kids with great stories - and pretty decent golf swings. But this isn't a tug-at-your-heartstrings-feel-bad-then-feel-good kind of story. In many ways it is so funny, in others it is crushing. We are going to opt for (mostly) happy and touching chapters, and include the tragedies when the story can't be told without them.
Be generous with your caddie!
Legal * Licensing / Royalties / Permissions * Kickstarter / PayPal Fees * Travel to Afghanistan & India * Translation * Accounting * Creating Rewards * Shipping - Rewards * Writers * Photography * Research / Fact Checking (I do need this) * Copy Editor * Book Designer * Printing * Marketing * PR * Security and an Occasional Small Bribe (it's a fact of life - sometimes literally.......)
We Are Going To Do This and Do It Right!
The rewards - other than the book and travel - have been designed, and the best manufacturers chosen. I have US Trademark protection for our name and logo.
The emphasis here is on quality and pride of ownership. You are part of something unique, and our rewards are designed to help you tell that story. The Dari word on our logo is Peace.
In addition, those of you who have a book coming, will receive a copy unique to the Kickstarter campaign - it will be stamped with the words "Member Copy." on the dedication page.
The book will be very visual in its telling of the story of Kabul Golf Club. It will be hard cover; cloth with embossed logo and a beautiful dust jacket. We plan on about 150 pages with beautiful photography and compelling text. Chapters to include stories set in Paghman, Qargha, Kabul but also Brussels, Greenwich, CT, Carefree, Arizona, New York, Norway, London and other places touched by this little piece of Afghanistan. They are personal stories told by people from around the world.
The Book Is The Point; Here Is Some Stuff To Enjoy While You Wait:
Army helicopters are scary!
Here is a Qargha story:
"In my professional life, the experience of working at a golf course has always been brightened by becoming, in a temporary or transient way, part of the surrounding community. For me, it has been the desolate beauty of the Nebraska Sand Hills; the lush and majestic neighborhoods of Greenwich, CT; the stark and stunning Sonoran Desert of Arizona.
And, if only for a moment, Qargha, Afghanistan.
Qargha is one of those places that offers a natural welcome. If hospitality is a defining element of the Afghan character, it is best experienced in Qargha. The war seems so far away. Even the armored columns coming up the road or the helicopter gunships flying low over the golf course veer off toward Paghman and the mountains before they get to Qargha. There are days when this little hamlet seems empty and is so quiet that it does not seem possible the most frenetic city in Asia is only 10 kilometers away.
But Qargha is at its best on Friday afternoons in the summer. Families fill the cabanas overlooking the lake. These structures are open, sturdy and comfortable; the only reminder of war is the camouflage netting left by the Soviets, which provides shade. Ironically, no golf is played on the most glorious summer afternoons – the course is overrun with picnickers, cricketers and footballers. The games are everywhere. And so, the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood is irresistible, even for an intruding American.
The first stop has to be the fish farm located along the first hole. Years ago the fish were harvested by undisciplined soldiers who threw grenades into its ponds. Now it is clean, well stocked and productive. Located at the base of the Qargha dam, the fish farm is a gift from France. Water flowing through the farm toward Kabul also supplies another local business – a car wash. Stationed at the base of the dam is a contingent of soldiers guarding the discharge infrastructure. They are neither smiling nor frowning, but make it clear it would wise to move quickly past their post. They have facilities for cooking and napping and, if necessary fighting. They also have, of all things, a billiards table.
The “back road” up to the lake winds past a bakery and butcher’s stand. There is a humble Mosque that resembles a store front church near my son’s apartment in Brooklyn. Up on the dam road the view is remarkable – to the east is the golf course and in the distance, Kabul. To the west is the lake, dotted with brightly colored paddle boats in the shape of massive swans. And all along the road are stands and bazaars selling anything one might need to complete a perfect summer day. The road continues through a grove of tall pine trees – this is a tragically unusual sight in deforested Afghanistan – and leads to an area resembling many lake-front resorts in the northern United States. Guest houses, cottages, a small hotel, a beautiful lakeside restaurant.
As a visitor in 2010 and 2011, this place seemed to me to represent the hope and optimism which would compel someone to, say, build a golf course before the war ends. Near the restaurant entrance is a prominent sign: “No Guns or body Guard Allowed.” Sitting at a table by the lake, discussing the country’s future with some of the people who will shape it was a defining experience in my life.
For a while, I was provided with a cottage near the water where I slept comfortably and unafraid. Every morning I would wake, step out the front door, and gaze across the lake and up to the mountains. It was chilly and absolutely quiet, the air full of the smell of baking bread that would soon be brought to my cottage for breakfast. It seemed impossible that such a place could remain untouched by the war.
And, of course, it was just that….impossible.
Shortly after my return to the States, on the longest day of the year, a group of Taliban cowards dressed as women entered the enclave in Qargha, where I had slept so peacefully in my little cottage. Under their burqas they carried automatic weapons, explosives and suicide vests. They murdered more than twenty people."
Thank you for visiting! We hope you will join us. We wish you peace.
Risks and challenges
The permissions to do the book have been granted by the Afghans, including the patron of Qargha, Mr. Atif. Federal Trademark protection for the Kabul Golf Club logo has been granted by the US Government. The vicissitudinous nature of an active war zone stamps the project with a certain amount of risk. I have managed this risk by maintaining strong relationships with the Afghans I met in Kabul and Qargha during my trips there in 2010 and 2011.
I have managed many large projects during my career, including more than $12 million in Capital projects. Responsible for budget, schedule, quality, relationships and risk, I have never missed a deadline, never exceeded a budget.
Projects fail for a variety of reasons - most often because of under-funding and inappropriate spending caused by poor planning and an ambiguous scope of work. I have been meticulous in determining the budget, and have already invested well over $50,000 of my own money into the resurrection of the Kabul Golf Club. Now its time to tell the story.
Publishing a book is a collaborative effort, involving editor, designer, printer, marketing, etc. The services of these professionals have been included in the budget.
Of course the biggest risk is also the most obvious. We will make arrangements to ship all rewards - except the book of course - prior to departure for Afghanistan. The rewards listed - except the book - are in inventory with more in the the pipeline - manufacturers have been chosen, shipping arrangements made. Stocks can be ordered and reordered quickly.
This project has been years in the making, and most of the ground work has been completed. Our associates in Afghanistan are absolutely committed to the production and success of the book. It's a story that needs to be told! If you believe in me, I will make that happen.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)