Saturday, 26 November 2011

Monty Drives Troops in Camp Bastion

PHOTO: Christine Kearney

Colin Montgomerie has helped transform firing ranges into driving ranges on a trip to Afghanistan to support troops and promote golf in the country.

The Scot gave golf lessons and donated equipment to troops and Afghan children on a three-day stay in the country.

"These kids were born into and grew up in war, it's been very difficult," said the former European Ryder Cup captain.

"It is great to promote the game here to encourage the Afghans to have a team [at the Olympics] in 2016."

Montgomerie, 48, said he had helped turn a 300m firing range into a makeshift golf driving range at Camp Bastion, the main British military base in Helmand.

"We used the long-range firing range," said Montgomerie. "It was quite good to get the lads out and to have a go."

Later, Montgomerie showed off his golfing prowess on a football pitch at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters. He gave swing tips to army personnel and about two dozen Afghan children who had never picked up a golf club before.

Masoma Alyari, a 15-year-old Afghan schoolgirl, hit the ball after several airshots and said she hoped to play again. "It's the first time that I've played golf, and it's really interesting," she said.

Montgomerie is travelling with the Ryder Cup trophy his team won at Celtic Manor in Wales last year on the trip planned by the Professional Golfers' Association of Britain and Ireland.