Lenin is Spinning in his Tomb
Located some 40 miles north of Moscow, the Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club hosted the M2M Russian Open 24-27 July as part of the European Tour, with a respectable purse of 1,000,000 Euros. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the course proved too challenging for the ten Russians in the field. They failed to make the cut, including former tennis champ Yevgeny Kafelnikov. England’s David Horsey won the tournament in a playoff over Ireland’s Damien McGrane, earning $225,000.
Here is the Tseleevo facility’s description on the Nicklaus website, which reads like a poor translation from Russian:
Ultra luxury country club Tseleevo invites the guests to dip into the world of golf on the unique course that is included into the best 5 golf courses of Europe: 18-hole of Championship golf, Golf Academy with 3 academic holes, and a driving range.
The private format of the country club allows you to revel in the play on the exclusive 18-hole golf course without thinking about publicity, strange glances and random journalists. A Tseleevo Golf Pro will refine your technique, share with you all nuances of playing on the course and help you in choosing golf equipment and accessories. The pro-shop presents collections of such well-known brands as Callaway, Ping, Titleist, Nike, FootJoy, Marie Valois.
There is also a luxury restaurant, a private ski slope, polo field, club house with fireplace and spa. Total area of the club territory is 400 hectares. The club is private and closed and also a member of GOST closed system of clubs, with limited number of members at 300.
“Ultra luxury” may mean running water, clean towels, and toilet paper in bathrooms. Anyway, I got to wondering how club management is able to insulate members and guests from “publicity, strange glances and random journalists.” Meticulous application of Soviet-era secret police tactics, perhaps? Recall that nobody could (or dared to) go anywhere near Stalin and his henchmen when they vacationed in Crimea. Photos of Uncle Joe puffing on his pipe never showed the massive entourage of security goons patrolling the woods. None of these gorillas were apparent in the crowd at Tseleevo; but then we’re not supposed to be able to spot them, right?
It must gall the communist old guard – in Russia, Europe, or the United States – that a place like Tseleevo exists in the former worker's paradise. Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko and the comrades who stormed the Winter Palace on 25 October 1917 would have considered golf a “capitalist perversion” and the club a “capitalist extravagance.” Incidentally, they were lucky the palace wasn’t guarded by a Marine battalion – sent by a president more farsighted than Wilson – or that would have been that. Antonov survived and prospered only to be shot by Stalin during the purges in 1938.
Tseleevo would be a perfect venue for a U.S.-Russia summit. Our president would jump at the opportunity to play another Jack Nicklaus design. This would be a working (ahem) vacation and less likely to raise an eyebrow. If Putin plays golf, he’ll have to wear a shirt on the course. Should Obama’s ball find a bunker, he must be careful not to draw a line in the sand. Rules of golf forbid improving one’s lie. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one of Putin’s shots, clearly headed for the woods, miraculously showed up in the middle of the fairway. He plays by his own rules and not just in golf. Whatever they talk about during the round, Putin won’t be reminding our president that many of his “initiatives” were first tried out by Lenin. That wouldn’t be cricket.