'There are more expensive sports': children and people with disabilities to be taught golf in Tatarstan

The Republic of Tatarstan set out with the aim to create 'golf industry' against the background of the pandemic and the focus on domestic tourism

The championship golf course with an area of 90-95 hectares near Kazan is part of the Sviyaga Hills resort, but, as it became known to Realnoe Vremya, it can be transferred to the ownership or long-term lease to Tatarstan. BASU Centre for the Development of Professional, Amateur and Children's Golf ANO, established by the republican ministry of land and property, has been registered in Kazan. It is expected that BASU will receive functions for the development of golf industry in Tatarstan. However, “the golf industry without a course is like a swimmer without a pool”, market players consider. The ministry has not yet disclosed by whom and what property will be included in BASU.

Sviyaga Hills Golf Club is out of competition

Golf, as a sport, remains very exotic in Tatarstan, but Kazan can always claim to host a full-fledged competitive tournament in this game. Inside the all-season resort Sviyaga Hills, there is an 18-hole championship-level golf course, which is considered one of the largest and most modern in Russia. The course was put into operation in 2015, but there is no official information about who invested in its construction and how much. Experts estimate the cost at $25-30 million at the prices of 2015. Sources of Realnoe Vremya recall that the course was built at the expense of the budget of the republic and was opened simultaneously with the golf course Gorki Club near St. Petersburg.

The more courses there are, the more interesting the game is. After two or three games, players try to change the court to enliven the game. For this reason, there are many golf courses in the country in Russian megacities, in the south of Russia (Krasnodar), golfers say.

But how popular the Sviyaga golf course has become is a difficult question. According to the calendar of All-Russian competitions on the website of the Russian Golf Association, this year, they will be held on the golf courses of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, Rostov and Tver Oblast. Tatarstan does not appear in this schedule. The regional golf federation is responsible for attracting golf tournaments to Sviyaga Hills. Its chairperson, according to the association's website, is Timur Zaynutdinov. According to SPARK Interfax, he is a co-owner of the KVART plant, associated with the business of the family of Ravil Ziganshin, the owner of Kazan production and construction association.

Did Sviyaga Hills apply for the All-Russian championships? According to the representative of the Tatarstan Golf Federation, Maria Artyukh, the calendar is an approximate schedule of tournaments and “everything can change at any time”.

According to her, the golf course of the Sviyaga Hills club regularly hosts three competitions that have the status of All-Russian. This is the charity tournament for the Cup of the President of Tatarstan, which is traditionally held in August, the All-Russian competitions Amateur Golf and the tournament Amateur League.

Let us add that the most striking event in this sport took place here 4 years ago. Then the strongest golfers of Russia, Great Britain and Uzbekistan came to the start in Sviyaga Hills, the Russian Golf Association reported. The organisers were the Russian Golf Association and the ministry of sports of the Russian Federation with the support of the Association's partners.

BASU ANO — the chief of golf?

However, the golf course can “play” in a new way. As it became known to Realnoe Vremya, just a few days ago, the Centre for the Development of Professional, Amateur and Children's Golf ANO was registered in Kazan. Its founder is the ministry of land and property relations of the Republic of Tatarstan. The main OKVED — 93.11 ('Activities in the field of sports, recreation and entertainment').

Vitaly Bolshakov, well-known hotelier in the city, has been appointed as the head of the company, who, in the status of director general, manages the Bauman Printing House PLC and the Nogay Hotel, owned by Svyazinvestneftekhim. Vitaly Bolshakov himself confirmed the appointment to Realnoe Vremya, but asked for a time-out for a week to “scrutinise the matter thoroughly”. He promised to tell us about the plans for the development of the new centre.

BASU ANO was created at the instruction of the government of the Republic. At the end of March, Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan Aleksey Pesoshin signed the decree specifying the functionality of the centre. The document says that it will develop both professional, amateur, and children's golf, that is, in all categories.

“The purpose of the creation of BASU ANO is the development of golf industry in Tatarstan through the development of professional golf in the republic," the press service of the ministry of land and property relations of the Republic of Tatarstan explained to Realnoe Vremya.

According to the ministry, the task is to create conditions for golf classes for different categories and groups of the population, including citizens with disabilities. It is planned to open a children's and youth sports academy on the basis of BASU ANO. As well as support for projects and programmes in the field of sports," the ministry stated in its response.

It should be noted that the preparation of the BASU ANO was carried out by a serious division — the Department of Strategic Planning and Privatisation of the ministry of land and property relations. It is headed by Marsel Minullin. His agency, as stated on the website, participates in the development and implementation of measures for crisis management, prevention of insolvency (bankruptcy) of state unitary enterprises and joint-stock companies with a share of the Republic of Tatarstan of more than 50% in the authorised capital. And he personally is a member of the audit commissions of a number of large companies with state participation.

Interestingly, the press service of the ministry of sports of the Republic of Tatarstan learned about this initiative from the request of Realnoe Vremya and found it difficult to comment on. “No comments on this topic," they wrote to our correspondent in response. Maria Artyukh also found it difficult to comment, as she has “no information” on this topic yet.

At tournament for the Cup of the President of Tatarstan

Last September, at the next charity tournament for the Cup of the President of Tatarstan, from which 2,3 million rubles were transferred, Minister of Sports of Tatarstan Vladimir Leonov spoke for its accessibility in an interview with Realnoe Vremya:

“When we first started developing this sport 3-4 years ago, there was a lot of skepticism that golf is a sport for the rich. But in fact, this is not the case, everything is quite accessible. There are more expensive sports, believe me. If you want, our doors are open," he said. “Today we say that the country is creating conditions for the development of golf, there is a lot of tournaments. The golf community grows every year. We hope that Russian golf will also reach a serious international level.”

In the same period, information appeared about Ravil Ziganshin's plans to build a second golf course, investing $10 million in it. However, in the programme of development of Innopolis, which was prepared by ex-Minister of Communications Nikolay Nikiforov, such object is not listed, the sources of Realnoe Vremya specified.

Golf — as an Olympic sport

The ministry of land and property relations' current interest in golf has emerged, to put it mildly, spontaneously. The press service of the ministry linked it to that golf has been included in the Olympic sports since 2016. That is, since the opening, the golf course of Sviyaga Hills club got carte blanche and could be at the peak of the rotation of the venues for hosting competitions.

“In 2009, the International Olympic Committee decided to include golf in the programme of Summer Olympic Games, starting from 2016," reported the press service of the ministry. “Taking this decision into account, among other things, the Russian government approved the Strategy for the Development of Physical Culture and Sports in the Russian Federation for the period up to 2020, and the order of the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation as of 18 September 2014 No. 779 approved the Programme for the Development of Golf in the Russian Federation until 2020. Thus, golf is included in the number of sports, the development of which is carried out at the national level. In pursuance of these programmes, the government of the Republic of Tatarstan has also adopted a number of decisions and planned measures for the development and popularisation of this sport in the republic.”

Organisational details are being clarified

By whom and what property can be made as a foundation contribution to BASU is not disclosed. “The organisational aspects are being clarified," the press service of the ministry of land and property relations of the Republic of Tatarstan reported. Sources suggest that the contribution may be the golf course itself, which has an area of 90-95 hectares.

According to representatives of the golf club, the course is now maintained by the contributions of its 60 participants. According to SPARK Interfax, the Kazan ski sports and recreation complex almost halved its revenue by the end of 2020 — to 116,7 million rubles. According to lawyers, the property transferred by the founders to the ANO becomes the property of the company, and the founders themselves do not retain the rights to the property. At the same time, the founders are not responsible for the obligations of the ANO, and it is not responsible for the obligations of its founders.

By Luiza Ignatyeva
Analytics Tatarstan