The Politics Might Be Bad, but the Ancient Game is Popular
Mention Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in southern Africa, and golf in the same sentence, and you are likely to be greeted with a puzzled stare. Because of the political golf courses remain unknown to many outside Africa.
You might be surprised to know that golf has a long and distinguished history in Zimbabwe.
It was introduced by the Europeans in the 19th century, and first course was constructed in the provincial town of Bulawayo in 1895. The game spread quickly, and today there are more than 50 courses scattered throughout the country, from the capitol Harare to Victoria Falls.
The political and economic turmoil of the late 1990s through 2009 caused a fall off in the pursuit of the 'ancient and honorable' game, but with dollarization of the economy in 2009, which brought back a measure of economic stability, golf came back with a vengeance. While the political situation in Zimbabwe remains unsettled, it has not had an impact on the intense love of golf here.
In early 2010, the Africom Zimbabwe Open, one of Africa's premiere tours, returned to the Royal Harare Golf Course in Harare. Golfers from more than 13 nations competed for the cup, and plans are already being made for the 2011 tournament. In a country where the normal work week comes to a halt at noon on Friday, corporate golf outings are the rule rather than the exception, and high level government and corporate executives can be found 'on the course' most Fridays and weekends.
Golf in Zimbabwe has a unique character, reminiscent of the age of the British Empire. The first time golfer is often taken by surprise by the obligatory 'tea break' at the turn. If you've played courses in Europe or North America where you lose your turn if you stop for refreshments after the first nine holes, this can take some adjustment.
Following are some of Zimbabwe's top courses. please continue at Golf Courses of Zimbabwe
Photo credits to Charles Ray, the author.