Abu Dhabi-based Indian expat Saleem Baji Image Credit: Supplied

ABU DHABI: Everybody needs a hobby but when your hobby makes you a celebrity of sorts, then you’ve taken it to another level.

Meet Abu Dhabi-based Indian expat Saleem Baji. The health, safety and environment Coordinator at Gasco (Adnoc Group Company) has become the talk of the town for his enviable collection of golf balls.

In the three years that have passed by since Baji embarked on his unlikely avocation, he has managed to collect 500 golf balls, most adorned with logos of different golf courses.

“It all started in 2014 when I stumbled upon a branded ball while playing golf in the capital,” Baji recalls. “Soon I began collecting golf balls from wherever I could find them,” adds Baji, who is an avid golfer himself with a 14.4 handicap.

Today, his house is filled with these collectibles. They adorn not just the cupboards, coffee table, showcase but even the coffee pots.

Besides golf balls from the US Open (2010) and the Azerbaijan Open (2017), his prized collection also includes golf balls bearing the logos of Lamborghini, Ireland ADEPC and DHL.

Baji considers his hobby a fitting tribute to the game of kings. “What started as a fancy has now become a passion. I am hoping to collect 1,000 golf balls,” says Baji who is married with two sons, both sports enthusiasts. His son Sah’l is a qualified rugby referee while the younger one, Sabiq, is a member of Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) and the Indian Golf Union (IGU).

Top 10 balls in Saleem Baji’s collection:

1. Pinnacle/Nike/Bridgestone Golf Ball with GASCO Logo (which are his own creations produced with the employers logo)

2. Golf ball from US Open 2010

3. Golf ball with DHL Logo

4. A Rugby Ball shaped golf ball from Golf Cross – New Zealand

5. Golf ball with Lamborghini logo

6. Golf ball with Ireland Logo

7. Golf ball with ADEPEC Logo

8. The Azerbaijan Open 2017 golf ball

9. Golf ball from Tuniberg Golf Club – Germany

10.Golf balls with brands like Hankook, TNT, Volvo, Adidas.

The writer is an Abu Dhabi-based freelancer