Golf tourism is big business. People come from all over the world to play on the windswept links of St Andrews in Scotland, the carefully manicured fairways of the southern USA or the tropical tees of paradise destinations like the Island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. But what about Russia – what does the country have to offer the world’s jetsetting golfer?
Until recently, the answer was … not much. And even today, Russia is hardly known as one of the world’s great golfing nations. But courses are springing up – albeit slowly – and the game is developing more of a following with each passing year.
Here are a few facts and figures for our golfing readers…
- Golf in Russia isn’t yet widespread, not just because of adverse natural conditions the further north you go, but mainly because building a golf course requires a huge amount of money.
- In 1988, the first driving range was opened at the Moscow City Golf Club, followed soon after by the city’s first 9-hole course.
- In 1992, the Russian Golf Association was created. It is now recognised by the Russian Olympic Committee, the European Golf Association, and the Golf Club of St Andrews.
- The first 18-hole course was built in the suburban area of Nakhabino in 1993/94.
- In 1994, Russia’s second golf course was built − the Moscow Country Club. It was the only 18-hole championship course in Russia for more than a decade.
- It was followed by the "Dunes" course near St Petersburg, with another course built in the Belgorod region.
- Pitch and putt facilities also gained in popularity. Such projects were created in a mini-golf club named "Green Tee" in Moscow’s Pokrovskoe-Glebovo residential complex.
- Over the last 10 years or so, a number of new 18-hole courses have been built or are currently under construction. The Pestovo golf and yacht club is particularly popular with Russian golfers.
- The first professional golfers in Russia were Denis Zherebko and Alexander Strunkin. After winning the championship of Russia in 1997, Konstantin Lifanov also turned pro.
- Svetlana Gounkina was the pioneer in the women’s game, becoming the first Russian golfer to participate in a qualifying tournament for the US Open.
The best golf courses are, unsurprisingly, all members-only, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. And for all your travel and accommodation needs … well, you know where to go – RNTO!