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Today's NY Times ran an article on a new set of real estate developments in Bulgaria that mix new, modern real estate developments and golf courses.
This news, in conjunction with recent news that Bulgaria has its date set to become a new EU member, may mean heady times for the former Soviet country. Course design notables, such as Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, are involved in the courses noted in the article. The country is scheduled to go from its current count of three courses to nine in rapid time.
Golf as a pastime has really taken off in many areas of the former Eastern Bloc. Immediately following the collapse of communism, it was low on people's list of favorite sports in many areas because it was seen, like hunting, as a sport for the Bolsheviks. And communists themselves--at least officially--had frowned on it as "bourgeois." During communism, many courses were left fallow or even destroyed. While popularity is now skyrocketing, the sport is retaining an elitist feel in most of Europe; and most courses are private, requiring at least a handicap card to play as an outsider.