Cuba Teeing Up for Golfing Revolution

Once in a while, you find a news report about how golf is starting to gain a foothold in some far flung place in the world.

I’ve read about a golf course at the foot of a volcano in Indonesia, people yelling “fore” while negotiating landmines in Cambodia and a crude form of the game in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

Now we have Cuba. In a report from Reuters, Communist Cuba is gradually opening up to the bourgeois pastime with Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul, now at the helm.

Still, this is not one for the locals. Apparently, Canadian and European investors are proposing a gated communities, villas, condos and luxury hotels around expansive golf courses all over the island. One of the projects features Norman Foster, the top British architect.

Mark Entwistle is the former Canadian ambassador to Cuba. Nowadays, he advises foreign companies wanting to do business with Havana. He said in the report:

“Old-school objections to golf on ideological grounds have fallen away. Golf is seen as important to develop a more sophisticated and repeat tourism beyond sun and sand.”

The newest golf course in Cuba is the 18-hole Varadero Golf Club on the grounds of Xanadu, a sprawling seaside manor.

In the capital, Havana, there is only a nine-hole course with sticks as flagpoles, where former Argentina football captain Diego Maradona used to play when undergoing treatment for cocaine addiction.

There are a handful of projects in the pipeline which have yet to be approved because Cuba is not that keen on giving foreigners long leases on land.

But if Cuba want to compete with neighbouring countries in luring tourists, then the government might need to rethink its police. And with Raul now in charge, anything might be possible.

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