Cuba Takes a Swing at Golf

The tiny Communist nation hopes tourists will come back to the island
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Feb 23, 2008 12:17 PM CST
Cuba's acting President Raul Castro points toward journalists after attending a ceremony with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, unseen, in Havana, in this June 13, 2007 file photo. Raul is widely expected...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Nearly a dozen tony golf-resort projects funded by Spanish, British, and Canadian consortiums are under way in Cuba as acting President Raul Castro tries to lure foreign tourists—and their cash—back to the struggling island nation by creating a new Caribbean golf destination, reports the Wall Street Journal. Castro took over for his ailing brother, Fidel, in July 2006; he's expected to be named president tomorrow.

The island once boasted several top-notch 18-hole layouts, but courses were converted to other uses after the 1959 revolution—and especially after Fidel lost on one of them to Che Guevara, the Journal notes. One obstacle to bringing golf back: with no private property, investors in thousands of condos and villas will have to settle for 75-year leases. "Cuba is the sand trap from hell," says one economist who has followed entrepreneurs trying to develop projects in Cuba.