Sport, without spin, from around the world. Matthew Hall considers the issues behind the headlines and tells the stories that others don't.
Hugo Chavez and my war on golf
Matthew Hall teams up with the Venezuelan President in a bid to abolish a 'bourgeois sport'.
Full disclosure: I've been banned from a golf course.
It occurred some years ago, in Sydney, Australia, when some friends and I were attempting to play a round on a public course during an otherwise quiet Tuesday afternoon.
Somewhere near the fourth hole, we were approached by a man driving a buggy who claimed our time was up.
We were no longer welcome.
Or, more specifically, I was no longer welcome.
You see, I wasn't very good.
In fact, as this was one of the first games of golf I'd ever played, I was terrible.
Allowing those behind us (this course was all but deserted) to "play through", as golf protocol suggests, was not good enough.
I was still not welcome.
"But he's new to the sport and we're teaching him," claimed one of my friends.
This was not reasonable for golf course cop, a chubby old fellow who didn't get off his cart throughout our negotiations.
I was banned, and that was it.
Remember – this was a public course. So much for recruiting new converts.
So, embarrassed, humiliated, stunned, and indignant, we did what any reasonable people would do in such circumstances.
We went to the nearest pub, and spent our equipment deposit on several jugs of happy hour beer.
Oh, and I also declared war on golf.
Which puts me in great company with Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's idiosyncratic president.
"Let's leave this clear," Chávez declared during a regular Sunday TV broadcast last month.
"Golf is a bourgeois sport."
Chavez, comrade, you got that right.
But while I run my guerrilla war against this so-called "sport" through beer and a keyboard, Chavez has gone up a few gears.
According to a report in the New York Times, Chavez and his government want to shut down two of the country's best-known golf courses, in Maracay and in the coastal city of Caraballeda.
Where do I sign up?
In all seriousness, Chavez claims a housing shortage is part of his motivation.
The Times report said he questioned "why Maracay had so many slums while the golf course and the grounds of the state-owned Hotel Maracay, a decaying modernist gem built in the 1950s, stretched over about 74 acres of coveted real estate."
"Just so some little group of the bourgeois and the petit-bourgeois can go and play golf," he said.
He has a point.
Australia, you've been warned.
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