Thursday, January 5, 2012

estonia Scratching Where It Itches

In an effort to grow the game, the capital city of Estonia wants to build a daily-fee golf course in one of its southwestern suburbs.

I don’t know if it’ll be a nine- or an 18-hole course, and I don’t know who’s going to design it. Pretty much all I know this: It’ll be located in the suburb of Nõmme, on property known as the Pääsküla swamp, and construction could begin this year.

I also know that the city is taking some heat as a result of its proposal. The course is expected to cost about $1.6 million, and some residents would rather see the money spent on schools. Also, some animal-rights groups fear that the habitats of reptiles living on the property -– in particular, snakes, frogs, and lizards -– would be endangered.

On the other hand, Estonia is clearly lacking when it comes to public golf. Tallinn has a population of more than 413,000, and it currently has just one public course, a five-hole pitch-’n’-putt at Niitvälja/Tallinna Golfiklubi. Outside Tallinn, as best I can determine, the nation has just two public courses, in Pärnu (Andru Golf Course) and Haapsalu (Haapsalu Golf Course). Both have nine holes.

The situation is somewhat troubling, because Estonia isn’t a golf wasteland. Besides its public course, Niitvälja/Tallinna Golfiklubi has an 18-hole private course, and there are also two private courses within a short drive of the capital: Estonian Golf & Country Club in Jõelähtme (27 holes) and Suuresta Golf Club in Tallinn (18 holes). Elsewhere in the nation, there are private clubs in the cities of Otepää (Otepää Golf Club) and Pärnu (White Beach Golf Club), plus one on the island of Saaremaa (Saare Golf Course).

This may not be the best time for Tallinn to build a course, and the proposed location may not be ideal, but it just may be that Estonia has a golfing itch that needs to be scratched.