Hezbollah and Me

DOHAQatarArabGamesGolferYasminaAl-SharshaniShotsWomensindividualGolfCompetition-2In 2010, I visited Lebanon, my ancestral homeland – where, shockingly, there’s a golf course!  Who knew?  I mean, Lebanon – it just doesn’t scream golf.  It screams hummus and grape leaves, and maybe bombs, but golf?

But yes, indeed, in 1923 the Golf Club of Lebanon was opened right in the heart of Beirut, and I couldn’t resist playing it.

Just getting to the course was an adventure.  The cab driver spoke very little English and while I know a lot of Arabic words, they’re almost all food and curses.  But after a few animated swings and repeating the word “golf,” we made it to the course.

Was I expecting a beautiful masonry welcome gate here in Beirut?  No.  But I also wasn’t expecting the army check-point gate either… complete with a guard!  The driver said something to the guard in Arabic (I’m guessing “nut job American woman wants to play golf”), and the gate went up.

I was greeted by a man who turned out to be my caddie and spoke perfect English.  He led me to the Pro Shop, I paid my greens fees, bought a hat, and off we went.

This blog is supposed to be light and airy and hopefully funny, but on the first hole, the caddie told me that a few months earlier, a female golfer was raped on the 6th fairway.

WTF am I doing here?

Couple that with Hezbollah.  Hezbollah is a militant Islamic organization which, in the absence of a strong Lebanese political system, has moved into Lebanon.  It doesn’t control all of Lebanon, but it controls a lot of it, including the area where the golf course is.

I couldn’t keep thoughts of Hezbollah guerillas and rape out of my head.  Line up a putt, Hezbollah guerillas.  Hit a 9-iron, woman got raped.  Take out my driver – Hezbollah guerillas.  What a lovely day of golf this was going to be!

And actually, it was.  My round was Hezbollah guerillas and rape free, and truth be told, it was really cool.  For my entire childhood, I listened to my grandfather talk about how beautiful Lebanon and Beirut were and here I was playing the sport I love in my beautiful ancestral homeland.  Snow-capped mountains in the distance, the Mediterranean glistening in the sun.  And not only did the caddie read putts well, he taught me how to keep score in Arabic.

In fact, it was such a great day, I decided I’d play the course again – as soon as they move it out of Hezbollah territory!




  1. Stacy Doerler-Antonucci May 18, 2015 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    This was so great, Patty. You are an amazing writer. I loved it! I never knew you visited Lebanon. Glad you got to experience it and also play golf. Can’t wait to read your next blog.
    Love Your Cousin,

  2. Lori May 18, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    Awesome writing DAL. Just love it. Please keep ’em coming!!!!!

  3. Alison Suarez Segot May 18, 2015 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    Devastating what has happened to the beautiful country of Lebanon. I think once known as the Paris of the Middle East…not surprised that they have a golf course… And unfortunately not surprised about the 6th fairway incident… Hopefully one day you will be back on that fairway…and have a much more relaxing round. Xoxo

  4. Steve May 18, 2015 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Great blog! I’m pretty sure I would have walked off the course after the rape story, especially if there weren’t many people playing. How were the greens and fairways? Well watered? No craters?

    • Patty Ellis May 19, 2015 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Steve. The course was in just ok shape – but the layout was fantastic. Lots of elevation changes and doglegs. Each hole was interesting and different – I love a course where I can remember all 18 holes after just having played it once.

  5. Al JInete May 19, 2015 at 6:07 am - Reply

    No stuffed grape leaves or Kibbeh at the turn? Nice writing. Keep it coming. This one was a little scary for you.

  6. Margaret May 19, 2015 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Great post Patty. Funny and poignant in the face of sad and potentially frightening circumstances.

  7. Marilyn May 19, 2015 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Hi Patti, Loved the blog about golf and Beirut. I’ve been to Lebanon 3x in the early 70s, but have always, always wanted to go back. If I do, I’ll be sure to play the course.

    Lebanon was one of the most welcoming of countries I’ve ever been to — the people are warm, inviting and hospitable, the food superb and the scenery is beautiful — lots of interesting things to do and see. We visited our ancestral village in the mountains where life was slow and easy — lots of home grown food, water drawn from a stream coming down from the mountain, etc. We were treated like royalty by ALL of the villagers, not just our relatives whom we just met. We went with my Mother, Father, two brothers, and two aunts and met up with other cousins from the US. It was the trip of a lifetime. I’ve just been waiting until it seemed safe to go back. I guess you found it to be so. I’m glad you got to experience it and the golf course!


    • Patty Ellis May 19, 2015 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Oh Marilyn, it’s so great to hear from you!! What village? My family is from Baskinta.

  8. Diane May 19, 2015 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Your caddy took a great picture of you, Patty. I’ve never seen you in makeup. 🙂

  9. Ann May 19, 2015 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Keep writing Patty! Who knew the Copiage school system had such a good writer in the alumni! And brave and crazy at the same time.

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