Thai writer Pira Sudham wrote a short story once about a farmer who lost his rice farm to a golf course developer because he didn’t understand the terms of the contract. I can’t remember which book the story is in, but for anyone interested in understanding the lives of Thai farmers, Pira Sudham is an excellent place to start. Monsoon Country is the novel that marked his literary success. After reading Sudham’s story, one of my students at the time, a 10th grader at the Singapore American School, said that he would never look at golf courses in the same way. When a guy I once worked with said that he loves golf courses in Asia because they have the best views, I almost choked and kept myself from shouting out, “Haven’t you ever read Pira Sudham?”
However, there is one golf course in Asia that I just read about in a New York Times article by Kirk Semple, that I so want to succeed. In Kabul, Afghanistan, one man started the Kabul Golf Course three years ago in anticipation of its success. The golf course business has not gone as well as he had hoped for, but he refuses to hang up his clubs for good. The course is a symbol to him that things will get better in his country. The description of the currently grassless golf course reminded me of a golf course I went to in Jos, Nigeria with a banker that I stayed with as part of a Rotary Club exchange program. Instead of the greens, it had the browns. I don’t think my friend who likes golf courses would have liked the view from that one all that much. Personally, I was happy to see that water wasn’t being wasted turning the brown to green. In Afghanistan though, a little green wouldn’t hurt.