Why Cubans don’t play golf

Golf is the sport of Kings, or at least one of them. You don’t even break into a sweat. You can’t even get your clothes dirty even if you tried. One can have a caddie, which is just another word for a butler. If you can afford a caddie, then you opt for something that you can’t afford, like a golf cart. You walk around manicured green lawns and ponds. You’re out there exposed to the elements, but not really roughing it, unless you hit the little white ball into the area they call the “rough”. The forest is really more like an arboretum, each tree placed perfectly – in fact, most golf courses from around the world have been designed by a famous player.

Cubans don’t play golf. It’s as simple as that. I’ve tried, but quite frankly, I found it boring, like watching grass grow. Unfortunately, the folks that run golf courses don’t give the grass enough of a chance to grow, so you can’t even derive any pleasure from that.

Cubans don’t see the point in hitting a little white ball around with clubs and making “birdies” or replacing “divots” (thank God for spell-check). They much rather prefer to do that at home. They can’t see the fun in following after the ball with group of (usually) guys, especially when there is no music to be heard, with or without conga drums.

What got me thinking about golf and Cubans is that I just heard that the Castro regime, after many years of prohibiting golf courses on the island, because of the capitalistic, elite and regal connotations associated with the “sport”, has finally succumbed due to its desire for even more tourism.

So if anyone has an inkling of going to Cuba for a round of golf, keep in mind that the incredible fertile soil of Cuba, which can grow anything from a chirimolla to a watermelon, is going “green”, in the sense that thousand of acres of potentially cultivated land that would otherwise feed the hungry, will be converted instead into manicured golf courses which will be frequented by clueless foreign tourists.

Cubans don’t play golf. It’s both boring to somebody like me, who has been away from the island for almost 50 years and unavailable to those there, since they are not permitted to enter the resorts, except with an “escort” – but we’ll leave that discussion for another day. No food, no liberty, no Coca-Colas, no free press, no free elections — and worst of all, no golf.

Ah, Cuban ingenuity! I can just picture golf carts transformed into taxis all over Havana.

Mariano Vidal

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