John Barton, writing at the Golf Digest blog, recently posted a recollection of his participation in the first “North Korean Open” in 2004. The game itself is of little interest, and is barely touched upon by Barton, but the post gives some insight into how North Korea’s upper crust entertain themselves and their guests.
Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, boasts of two courses: the 18-hole Pyongyang and the 9-hole pitch-and-putt Yanggakdo. As one might expect, the courses are little-used.
But the best course in North Korea is reserved for making money from South Korean tourists:
And there’s the extraordinary “six-star” Ananti Golf & Spa Resort in the scenic Kumgang tourist area, whose 7,454-yard course boasts a 1,016-yard par-6 hole and a 252-yard hole with a “funnel” green that ushers approach shots toward the hole.
Alas, the course closed only a few months after it had opened in May 2008. The South Korean government declared the resort off-limits to its citizens after a South Korean tourist was shot and killed by a North Korea in the resort area in July 2008.
The site of Mr. Barton’s “open” will apparently host the real thing in April (although the web page dealing with the tournament is suspiciously thin).
If you are at all interested in golf, North Korea, or golf in North Korea; check out a fuller account of Mr. Barton’s game and related shenanigans at Golf Digest.