Venezuelan golf fairways, bunkers and greens have become both the stage of an ideological war headed by President Hugo Chavez and a showcase for the Bolivarian revolution's internal contradictions.
After a 70-year presence in the country, golf is now the target of criticism and attacks by Chávez administration leaders and organizations.
Official measures may result in the closing of more golf courses. In the past five years, the number of courses in Venezuela has gone down to 22 from 28, and three more courses may be in line to be closed as well, according to directors of the Venezuelan Golf Federation (VGF).
Among the closed courses is one the famous designer Robert Trent Jones built on Margarita Island — the only Venezuelan course certified by the U.S. Professional Golf Association.
The other five courses no longer operating are located near oil fields in the states of Monagas, Zulia and Falcón. The courses remain inactive because the government does not consider their maintenance a priority.
Chávez describes himself as a sports fan, and he frequently plays softball. During a visit to India in 2005, Chávez broke with protocol and teed off at a golf course in New Delhi, but he leaves no doubts of his aversion to the sport originated in Scotland.
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