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Delhi envoys tee up on Farooq’s greens

Srinagar, May 16: Guns in the Valley will have competition from golf if the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister has his way.

After wooing Bollywood with year-round snow and spring flowers, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is ready to spring the 18-hole Royal Spring Golf Course on the world.

He has invited eight ambassadors from New Delhi to tee off at the course on Sunday and put Valley tourism on the upswing.

According to official sources, representatives of Argentina, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Spain, Turkmenistan, Brunei and Uruguay have been roped in for the Ambassador Cup championship. They arrived today along with 18 executives of the country’s leading corporate houses.

Located by the banks of the Dal Lake, with the popular Cheshmashai (Royal Spring) overlooking, in the foothills of Zabarwan, the course is said to be a golfer’s dream-come-true.

The dream has certainly turned Mufti’s head for he had earlier trashed the course when his predecessor, Farooq Abdullah, was pouring money into the greens.

Keen on leaving no scenic spot and sport complex unexploited, Mufti is taking a leaf out of Abdullah’s book from last July when he had organised a national golf tournament here.

Some of the country’s top golfers had played then and described the course as a “dream for any golfer”.

Abdullah had said in his inaugural speech that one day, Tiger Woods would play at the course and put it on the world map.

Tiger Woods may still be some way off, but on Sunday, the ambassadors and executives will tee off early in the morning and receive their prizes from Mufti himself — a not-too-avid golfer — in the afternoon.

Spain’s Don Raffle Conde, Kazakhstan’s Askaro Shakarov, Brunei’s Ismail Abdul Gaffar, Singapore’s C. See Chak Mun, Morocco’s Mohammad Louafa and Argentina’s Britos Gerardo will swing clubs with TSM’s Sujoy Ganguly, Swarovski country head Sanjay Sharma, South Asia Bax Global Ltd vice-president Ashok Jaidka, Steelage India director Shiv Nath and managing directors of Navision Software Yash Nagpal and Alfa Laval Satish Tandon.

Senior state tourism officials believe once the ambassadors play, tourists and golfers from around the world will follow to find out more about the international-standard course. Sport and tourism in the state will get a boost in the process.

“The weekend tournament will help our efforts to woo domestic and foreign tourists to Kashmir. This will be a big boost for the tourism industry,” tourism development corporation managing director Abdul Aziz Wani said.

In keeping with the coalition government’s healing-touch policy, the chief minister had recently proposed organising the next Inter-State Council meeting in the state.

A Bollywood team, too, had been invited to find a way back to the scenic Valley.

After staying at the health resort of Gulmarg, popularly called the “meadow of flowers”, the team of filmmakers had promised to return soon to Bollywood’s dream destination of the 1960s and ’70s.

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