GOLF IN UKRAINE   
     

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GOLF IN UKRAINE
 
IS UKRAINE READY FOR GOLF?
 
By Walter Prochorenko
 
 

Mr. Prochorenko has been actively working for the past 7 years to introduce golf into Ukraine. He has been involved, directly or on a consultancy basis, in such golf projects as: "12 Oaks at Koncha Zaspa", "Kyiv Country Club", "King's Island Golf and Tennis Club", and most recently in "Golden Gate Golf Club". In the past, Mr. Prochorenko worked on golf projects in Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Guam, Saipan, Philippines, Rota, and UAE.

The question often arises as to why Ukraine remains as one of the last countries in the region without a golf project. Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and even Moldova already have one or more golf courses. In actuality, these countries combined have a total of some 61 golf courses while Ukraine, which has the best land and the biggest golf tourism potential, has none.

This is a strange development (or lack thereof) for a country that is agro-based and which has sportsmen that would love the game once it would be introduced. But the elusiveness of golf in Ukraine is becoming something of a paradox.

It cannot be said that the reason is the lack of desire or of attempts. Such notable figures as Former Prime Minister Victor Yuschenko, Oligarch Ihor Bakay, Hrehorij Surkis, Kyiv Mayor Oleksander Omelchenko, Former-Health Minister Spizhenko, Boris Nepomyashchyj, Ihor Didenko, and many westerners, have all tried their hand at establishing the first golf club in Ukraine. Unfortunately, so far - all without results. Some have come close and some (like the author of this article) are still at it, but the results still need to be seen.

Bureaucracy and corruption are said to be the main reasons why golf in Ukraine is not yet a reality, but lack of leadership, lack of rules and land laws, and lack of serious investment are other important factors. Until there is a serious attempt by the country's leaders to broach the subject, golf will remain an enigma.

The other unfortunate aspect of the golf business is that in Ukraine it is still viewed as a game and not as a venue for attracting investments. In the world, golf is viewed as both a sport and as a serious place for business people to gather for private discussions, conversations, meetings, and dealings. In Ukraine, it is often viewed as a misunderstood pastime and as a sport for the very rich, both very erroneous concepts.

The seriousness of golf as an institution can be realized by the great number of world political and business leaders that participate in the game. The fact that golf will soon be an Olympic event, will also enhance the game as a serious sport. Many corporations, embassies, and business people in Ukraine complain about the lack of golf facilities, but complaints can only accomplish so much.

If Ukraine does not come to terms with the above concepts, it will not only lose the opportunity to develop the next generation of Olympic hopefuls, but it will also lose on many investment opportunities from countries and corporations that view golf availability as a necessity for conducting business and providing their management with this most important pastime.

The other day, I heard that some Embassies view countries without golf facilities as "hardship" areas. Far from being humorous, this statement shows that golf and the golf club atmosphere have become important social concepts in today's world. Ukraine needs to come to terms with this and provide all means necessary to make golf in this country a reality.

 
 
Other issues:
 
    • Golf isn't just a game, it's a way of attracting capital
    • Ukraine lags behind neighbors in developing golf
    • Ukrainian Golfers in the Next Olympics?
 
 
 
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