The Democratic Republic of Congo. Wars. Corruption. Ebola. Power problems. Crazy traffic. Water scarcity. Poverty.
But there are also other things: generous, kind and helpful people, music, art, culture, nature, history and so many more beautiful things that are often overlooked.
One of them will surprise you.
It is the Lubumbashi golf course.
I recently spent a few days in Lubumbashi for work (and golf) and I must say. Wow.
I have been pleasantly surprise by this wonderful city and glorious golf course.
It is a haven from the dust, the traffic, the poor infrastructure, the business, the stress and the hardships seen on the streets. It is an unreal escape in the middle of Africa.
You step onto the first tee and you are immediately greeted by a stunningly cut and manicured fairway.
As you step onto the greens, you notice that they are blisteringly fast and challenging.
Can you chip it onto the green? If you don’t and you are greedy, you will be heavily punished by the water behind or maybe your ball will sit at the root of a tree. Good luck chipping it back on the green in one shot.
You were about to make a birdie? Well now you have to hole it to damage control with a double bogey.
This course demands respect.
The amenities are also stunning. There is a wonderful clubhouse with a great restaurant, the Green Tee.
Golfing in the Congo must be the weirdest experience ever, in a country where you must drive past townships, begging kids, overloaded buses and hungry police men and women to get to the course, you can’t help but feel guilty.
Why can you go onto a golf course and others battle for a meal? This place puts you squarely in front of the inequality, the injustice of life. It is impossible not to realise your luck.
What will you do about it?
The place asks you, demands of you, to write these wrongs. But how?
But you forget it all when you’re on the course.
What a powerful escape and a great time with friends if you’ve had a long day or week.
It really is worth seeing at sunset and having a walk around the course. Dogs are allowed. You can go for a run in the morning.
The weather is fantastic, always around 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, but it’s best to play a morning round as it heats up a bit in the day – with bright blue skies almost everyday.
I personally enjoy playing the game here. Kinshasa is nice, but this course is on another level. It is a personal preference of course.
The people and the company also play a huge part, and I have been extremely lucky to share the experience with my father who also adores Lubumbashi and the course.
I thank him for introducing me to this wonderful game at an early age and always encouraging me to improve even if I hated it sometimes.
As some of you golfers know, it is a horrible and miserable sport sometimes, but it’s like a drug to which we get addicted to and want to improve. It can take over your life and be your obsession.
However, it really is a blessing to be alive and experience this.