LOL,,,,I'm a (post round) beer man myself but I hear ya!!!!
Why dont we see more russians in pro golf? - Page 2
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I went on a teaching exchange to Russian in 1995, about six years after the Soviet Union disbanded. At the time, the country had Moscow City Golf Club (circa 1988) and Moscow Country Club (1994) and a couple of other private clubs. No public courses to speak of in the early days.
I was there during the summer, in the "Golden Ring" region about 150 miles northeast of Moscow. This is pretty far north, so during the summer you get between 17 and 19 hours of sunlight. In summer months, the Russians have blackout shades on their windows to block the sunlight in mid-evening and early morning so they can sleep.
If the region had golf courses, you could play 18 holes and still have time for sight-seeing. Lots of gently rolling grasslands and forests in the region. Remember, the Swedes play golf, and Sweden is as far north as Russia.
Drawbacks to golf in 1995: During 70 years of Communist rule, golf was vilified as the ultimate capitalist sport. In post Soviet days, the people who promoted the early country clubs were the "New Russians," people who got rich quick and didn't do much to help their fellow countrymen. Also, golf courses required a lot of capital investment in a country which was struggling economically at the time.
Today, Russia has maybe 15 golf courses. Here are some web links on Russian golf:
- Russian Golf Courses: http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/russia/
- Rich Russians build own courses: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/6921016/Russian-super-rich-build-their-own-golf-courses.html
- Ernst & Young - Analysis of Russian Golf Industry:
EY Russia Golf.pdf 1,560k .pdf file
Enjoy, and see if you can get some good air fares to Moscow!
As a Russian golf pro, I feel like I may chime in.
In no particular order the reasons are:
- no history of game, no traditions and a bad perception of golf in the masses. As others have said, golf was considered a bourgeois sport during the USSR and this hasn't changed yet.
- very few golf courses (around 10 in the whole country now) which are also very upscale and expensive, actually closed to public
- as a result very few people play golf, especially youngsters, who prefer more aggressive and dynamic sports in general
- climate is also part of the reason, but it ain't too bad here, as you may think, our golf season is somewhat similar to PA, OH etc
So, all in all, the masses don't play golf and in fact they dont' even want to. Even if they wanted, they would have almost no opportunities.
As an Olympic sport, golf has more financial support now, and you can see our best golfers playing and practicing in Orlando, FL. Check foretheplayersgolf.com and hjgt.org to see the results.
Since I happen to be living in this part of the world for the last few years (Former Soviet Union - Ukraine and Kazakhstan), I might be able to chime in a bit...
I wrote about this a little bit in my introduction, but in my two years in Kyiv, Ukraine, I found only two courses in the country, and only one that was actually "somewhat" playable. The price was over $200 for a single round, so I never did try to actually play. There was one driving range in town, but the range was only about 200(ish) yards, and was often closed when someone was playing the "course" -- which also happened to be on the range, a 7 hole layout with no real greens. Cost was about $15 for a bucket of 40 balls...
In Kazakhstan, same story...only one course, 9 holes, costs around $240 and a bucket of balls costs about $22 equivalent. Since one round of golf is more than a typical monthly salary, you can understand why not many people play. There are plenty of blacked-out Range Rovers, Mercedes G-Wagons, S-550s and such in the parking lot, but no one on the course...probably more of an oligarch meeting point than anything else...
In neither country are you able to find ANY store that actually carries clubs, balls...anything at all. No surprise at all that there are no junior programs!
I can't wait to get back to the States and tee it up...I am even looking forward to hitting off of mats (THAT is how bad it is over here!!).