Chief Patrick Chidolue, the man who sits atop Chelsea Group of Hotels, hold Membership card No 34 of the IBB Golf Club. Without much ado, this is enough proof that the man is one of the foremost members of this prestigious Club.
But the snag here is that Chidolue did not set out to play golf. He was into tennis, a game he picked up at the FHA Sports Centre in Lagos. Even when he arrived Abuja, he ensured a tennis court was built in his sprawling compound so he could play the game with his numerous friends. He was only going to the IBB Golf Club to socialize without golf coming in the way.
On one good day, his close friend and son of Dame Etiaba, the first and only Lady Governor in Nigerian, Ben Etiaba, visited Chidolue in his house carrying a brand new golf set and other accessories of golf along. They were gifts to Chidolue. The he begged that they go to the IBB Club and play golf. It could be out of pity that his friend had gone through much to drag him to the course but he agreed to follow him.
On arriving the course, a Professional was called to show Chidolue that art of swinging the golf club. To Chidolue, the whole thing was similar to swings he was used to in tennis. He adapted perfectly. Then he moved into the course with Ben Etiaba to have the very first golf round of his life. Then a miracle happened. He outscored Etiaba in that very first round. So, golf could bring forth such joy and fun? He got hooked and started playing regularly. He worked really hard at his game and in no time, he was playing a single Handicap. He could beat the ball seriously fat like a Tiger Woods would do it. With a 3-Wood, Chidolue could cover some 265 metres. And just move over to his vast office inside Chelsea Hotel in Wuse 2 and you will be confronted with a big shelf littered with trophies and silverwares he has won in golf tourneys.
‘Golf could be addictive, though’, Chidolue confessed. ‘But is a game that brings forth endless joy and a sense of fulfillment. Besides, golf creates avenue for friendliness and affords you the opportunity to know who the other fellow is really is. Golf drives you to total commitment and says a lot about your ability to lead. For instance in Japan before you clinch a top job, your employers must take you although a round of golf. This will be enough to judge the man they are about to put in a position of authority. And note this, this is a game you can play when you are over 80 years. And watch kids who play golf, they are always at the top in their schools’.
Patrick Chidolue has taken his love for the game a notch further. Only weeks back, the man, all alone, decided to replace those dilapidating bridges across the many waterways of the IBB Golf Club with real concrete. The whole project cost him over N30 million and he is even willing to dole out more.
‘The IBB Club is pretty and its design precise. People talk about Smokin Hills and the course in Uyo, but they can’t compare with IBB. Naturally my joy will be to see the course in pristine condition at all times. This is reason I decided to move in and build those bridges. The idea of taxing members to pay to pay for such project did not occur to me. I mean most members of the Club are retired people from the Military and Civil service who go to the Club for relaxation. I mean these men have served us and the country enough and we need not tax them further to get their place of relaxation in good shape.