An article in the Belfast Telegraph describes Cuba’s plans to get into the golf resort business. Perhaps the island’s Communist revolutionaries think they have a kindred spirit in the White House in President Obama. Certainly his early political education was conducted by Marxist revolutionaries like Frank Marshall Davis.
But I digress.
The article covers some of the difficulties golf developers would face in Cuba—especially the lack of private property rights—but the part I found most interesting was a bit about a round between Fidel Castro and Che Guevera:
… in late 1962, shortly after the missile crisis threatened to engulf the world, Fidel Castro made a grand gesture aimed at mollifying US public opinion. He invited his fellow revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara for a game of golf intending to send a signal of friendship to President John F Kennedy.
Fidel and Che showed up in military fatigues and boots with photographers and reporters in tow. They stomped around Cuba’s historic course at Colinas de Villareal, but their efforts to thumb their noses at the bourgeois sport turned serious as the competitive juices flowed. Both men were sons of privileged families and Che had worked as a caddy in his native Argentina while going to medical school.
The Cuban journalist Jose Lorenzo Fuentes, Fidel’s personal reporter, was to cover the game. It would be his last day at work. Now in exile in Florida, he told The Wall Street Journal: “Castro told me that the headline of the story the next day would be ‘President Castro challenges President Kennedy to a friendly game of golf’.”
But neither man liked to lose and the game became intensely competitive. He said Che “played with a lot of passion”, and he felt obliged to truthfully record the game’s outcome. He wrote for the communist party daily Granma that Fidel had lost. The next day he was sacked and fled the country.
It was all downhill for golf after that ill-fated game. President Kennedy, the best golfer to occupy the White House, did not take up the offer. Instead, he tightened the already tough economic blockade, which to the fury of Cubans remains in force. Fidel ordered military barracks to be built on most courses, although the scene of his defeat by Che was earmarked for an arts college, which never got off the ground.
Of course, for golfers, the best news would have to be that Americans finally can sample those Cuban cigars.