A perpetual rough: sand, shells, 'browns' of Libyan golf

Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:09am EDT
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Among the rubbish-strewn bushes and occasional bullet shells on the rocky ground, nine flimsy flags flapping in the breeze mark the holes of a golf course along Tripoli's Mediterranean coast.

The occasional volley of automatic rifle fire in the distance is yet another of the unique "hazards", and a reminder of the chaos that still reigns in many parts of Libya.

The course is mostly empty except for a few workers building what one day may become a clubhouse and a dog sniffing discarded water bottles, fish bones and trash peppering the fairway.

This is not the lush greenery of Augusta or St Andrews but for Libya's golf fans the small course in the capital's upmarket Gargaresh area is one of a handful where they can get a game.

Libya, a desert state apart from its coastal north, has no grass courses, just sand ones where the distinction between fairway and rough is extremely tenuous.

A wilderness of rocks, bushes and rubbish - and now empty bullet shells following the 2011 war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi - the course could be described as one perpetual rough.

"The first time I played after the revolution, you looked for your ball among pieces of metal, scrap, bullet cases," said David Bachmann, former commercial counselor at the Austrian embassy in Tripoli.

"It was all kinds of weird things you would not normally expect in the rough of a golf course."   Continued...

Ahmed Habara, 11, plays golf near the beach in Tripoli September 17, 2013. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori