3rd Ghazala Ansari Challenge Cup tees off at Lahore Gymkhana from March 5

The prestigious 3rd Ghazala Ansari Challenge Cup will be hosted by esteemed Lahore Gymkhana Golf Course from March 5 to 7, celebrating the legacy of one of Pakistan's golfing greats. 

Dr. Asma Afzal Shami, chairperson of the organizing committee, alongside key figures including Gymkhana Golf Convener Mr. Shaukat Javed, referee Ms. Munazza Shaheen, and Mrs. Bela Azam of the event's sponsor, Julke, shared insights into the tournament's inception at a press conference held here on Monday. "The inspiration for the Ghazala Ansari Challenge Cup was sparked by a simple yet profound encounter. I asked a young golfer about Ghazala Ansari, only to discover she was unaware of this towering figure in our sport's history. This realization propelled me to establish a championship in her honor," Dr. Shami recounted. 

Ghazala Ansari stands as an emblematic figure in the realm of Pakistani women's golf. As a distinguished single handicapper, she dominated the ladies' golf circuit in the country for more than two decades. Her illustrious career is highlighted by six National Championship victories, alongside numerous other titles over the years. Fifty years since her departure from the competitive scene, her legacy continues to inspire. “Today, we are witnessing a resurgence of single handicappers and an increasing number of young girls taking up the game, aspiring to reach international standards,” she remarked.  

Dr. Shami highlighted the inclusion of the Ace Junior Golf League as a new feature of the Ghazala Ansari Julke Challenge Cup. “The integration of this league represents a significant milestone, symbolizing not only the pride of Ghazala Ansari herself but also the collective pride of the organizing team. This initiative underscores a commitment to nurturing and expanding golf in Pakistan, particularly by encouraging the participation of young girls in the sport,” Dr Shami expressed.  

This year's tournament is also noteworthy for its inclusion in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), offering participants the opportunity to earn valuable points and gain international recognition.  

Mrs. Bela Azam, representing Julke, has been a steadfast supporter of the event, ensuring its success year after year. "It's a privilege to sponsor the Challenge Cup in remembrance of Ghazala Ansari's remarkable achievements. We aim to inspire a new generation of female golfers to follow in her footsteps," she said.  

Mr. Shaukat Javed, the Gymkhana Golf Convener, expressed his excitement about hosting the 3rd Ghazala Ansari Julke Challenge Cup, emphasizing the golf course's historical significance as Ghazala Ansari's home turf. He extolled Dr. Asma Shami's dedication to the advancement of ladies golf in Pakistan, attributing its development to her relentless perseverance and effort.  

Mr. Shaukat Javed commended Mrs. Bela Azam for her influential role as the lady captain at Gymkhana and lauded Munazza Shaheen for her commendable achievement in earning the rigorous Level-3 certification in refereeing. He assured Gymkhana’s support for women's golf, ensuring that the golf club's fairways continue to be a welcoming and competitive arena for lady golfers. 

Munazza Shaheen emphasized the critical role of qualified refereeing in the sport of golf, underlining its necessity for maintaining the integrity and professionalism of the game on the course. She pointed out that there has been a significant surge in interest among both men and women in understanding and applying golf rules. This heightened awareness contributes immensely to the seamless and professional organization of golf events.

Azhar Khan is an accomplished senior sports journalist with extensive experience in the field. He can be reached at azharmasood786@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @azharmasood786

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