4 months / 4 continents / 4 golf stories

Peru – waiting for Godot

Chicken on stereoids serving the Peruvian hunger of three chicken per person and week, rapidly increasing wealth through copper mines and industrialized fishing creating greed and criminality, traffic chaos where the weak one better stays home, fenced ghost towns where the rich hardly dare to put their feet on the outside, cops gilding their teeth with bribe. Peru has challenges to master in order to make the next step towards welfare.

Right there in the southern outskirts of Lima in this deserted, barren land a bumpy dirt road gave me an uncomfortable feeling whether this really was the right place. I had been looking for golf fields on Google Maps. This one was weird: the whole campus was brown except for one little green piece of land. My curiosity had taken overhand and finally at the end of the road I was able to perceive a sign: «Cruz de Hueso Golf Club» – Cross of bones Golf Club, odd.

Driving into the parking lot I could already see about 40 kids swinging clubs, hopscotching and fooling around. There only grass area was filled with cones, hula hoop rings and a bunch of kids hitting balls from small artificial grass squares. A mid age man came walking towards me and laughing out: «We just don’t have water for more than one!» The man was Luis Villegra – director escuela de menores – the man behind the first public golf academy in Peru. «It’s a pilot project, the government wants to bring Peruvians to western schools through scholarships. In two years golf will be Olympic!» I was amazed. «The kids have to learn all the skills, strength, balance, coordination and in the end, most important they need to have fun!» The academy started only 18 months ago and Luis is very proud of his two best pupils, Andres and Victor. Andres is 13 and has played Golf for a year and a half. He is easily the most talented kid I have witnessed. A natural rhythm and elegance in his swing, that may even exceed Tigers. He loves golf and whishes to play every day to someday get a scholarship for an American college. He just needs an English teacher and somehow a little money for all the shoes he trashes so his parents will let him play every day.

Andres ends up beating me by a shot and is more than overjoyed over the buffalo bill balls I have for him. I leave the academy with a mixture of feelings. Inspired by the passion, joy and dedication these young kids bring up for the game, just like I did and still do, and that binds me so close to them and puts us on the same level. On the other hand the powerlessness I feel, that the big majority of these kids will never get a real chance to leave their dreams and passion and make it all the way. I leave the place convinced that I want to help, deliver them shoes, balls and clubs – a tiny drop and a huge burning stone. Andres and Victor step onto the putting green for another practice session on the only grass area for miles. Here they can prepare for the national tournaments, the few chances they get to prove their skills and open the doors to a different world.


Text and Photos: Andi Ahlm