The dawn of golf in the Russian Federation

By Peter Holland

On the 15th September 1987, it is recorded that the first foundation stone for the first golf course in Moscow was laid by Sven Tumba, one of the most prominent Swedish ice hockey players of the 1950s and 1960s, an accomplished golfer, a course designer as well as an ambassador to the game. For many it was he who officially introduced the game of golf to the former Soviet Union through his ‘Golf Club Tumba Moscow.’

This historic moment was attended by various celebrities including the great Brazilian football Pelé,  the actor Sean Connery of ‘James Bond’ fame who represented Scotland, the acknowledged home of golf, and Alexander Ragulin, a famous Soviet hockey player. They graced the ceremony with practice swings to celebrate the occasion.

The first driving range was opened in 1988 and the first nine holes at ‘The Moscow City Club’ were subsequently opened in 1990. In 1992, ‘The Russian Golf Association’ was created and two years later the first 18 hole course was formed at ‘The Moscow Country Club’ in Nakhabino; the home of many Russian golf champions. In mid-2000, ‘Golf Club Tumba Moscow’ was renamed ‘Moscow City Club.’

The development of golf in The Russian Federation has continued apace. The future for Russian golfers is exciting, with increasing numbers taking up the game with the help of more accessible clubs such as the creative indoor ten simulator facility ‘City Golf’ located on the Balchug Island. This is a perfect venue for the winter months to sharpen up your golfing skills in preparation for the summer season.

Russian golf professionals are completing education courses and in doing so enhancing their knowledge to groom the army of new golfers – local and expat – living around Moscow. Golf fitness nowadays is also proving popular, and will contribute to longer drives and extending golfers careers.

One notable Russian golf performance was delivered by Maria Verchenova during the final round of the 2016 Olympics golf event in the final round of competition. Verchenova shot 62. Yes 62! This also included an incredible hole in one on the Rio Olympic Courses fourth hole.

The severe extremes in the Russian climate are no longer a deterrent to the development of the sport. Clubs enterprisingly expand the activities available to their members in the white winter months. Thus, in addition to excellent indoor practice quarters, ice rinks, ski-lifts in some areas enable you to glide effortlessly down snow drift golf fairways in winter which you may have struggled with in the summertime using a golf club (Klyushka) and a ball (Myach)!

Times have moved on since the early records of golf and for those historically minded it is worth noting that in 1457 an act of Parliament was passed by the Scottish King, forbidding young men to pursue the sports of golf and football, as such activities would distract them from their prime military duty, namely to practise their archery skills in defence of the homeland!

With no such restriction over half a millennium later, the development and continuity of the game which we strive so intensively to master, continues.

Up and coming 2017 events at Agalarov Golf & Country Club to pencil into your diaries:

Women’s Golf Day – Tuesday 6th June

Women’s Golf Day is a global event where women and girls can experience golf for the first time and where current players can play and engage with women interested in golf. It is being hosted at golf clubs around the world on the same day; Tuesday June 6th, 2017.

Royal Launer Invitational – Saturday 8th July

The 3rd Royal Launer Invitational event is being held on the 8th July. This is where the glitterati socialise surrounded by impressive displays of companies and their luxury products.

As part of the event, golfers can compete for grand prizes presented at the impressive gala dinner.

British Business Club – Friday 15th & Saturday 16th September

After a recent meeting with creative minds Don Scott OBE, Luke Conner and Pete Dick, we are honoured to announce a couple of yearly events under the leadership of the British Business Club and its new president.

One event in Russia in summer and one in Dubai in winter will be a sure test of courage – 19th hole stamina – and most of all a good old bit of fun. Everyone is welcome to take part.

Details will be released soon but the dates for the summer event in Russia are confirmed, so please pencil in the 15th of September for practice day and 16th September for the 2017 official event day.

My next article will focus on where to take up or play golf during the summer season May to November along with a swing tip or two!