If there's one thing wrong with the modern world, it's that golf and communism are mutually exclusive. For a variety of social, cultural and economic reasons, very few communists play golf and very few golfers identify with communism. Can you imagine Jordan Spieth flicking through a few pages of The German Ideology before teeing off at the ninth hole? Or Rory McIlroy blasting L'Internationale from an old-school boombox attached to his golf buggy? No, no you cannot. There's a reason they have green jackets at the Augusta National, not red. In the world of golf, communist sympathies are a major taboo.
Until this week, the same applied for golfing sympathies in the world of communism. Especially in China, golf has a long legacy of prohibition and censure. Chairman Mao famously banned the activity, calling it "a sport for millionaires". As far as Mao was concerned, only wreckers, Western lackeys and the capitalist bourgeoisie knew the difference between a sand wedge and a pitching wedge. We assume he had all existing golf courses collectivised, and caddies forcibly re-educated.
Nonetheless, golf made a tacit comeback in China throughout the 1980s and '90s. As proper, hardcore communism made way for fun, businessy, looks-quite-a-lot-like-capitalism-but-without-the-needless-individual-freedom communism, the political elite began to indulge in everyone's favourite club and ball sport once more. Sadly for them, come 2015, it was banned all over again.
As part of Xi Jinping's anti-corruption drive, it was decided that China's golf courses were hotbeds of profiteering and bribery. "Like fine liquor and tobacco, fancy cars and mansions, golf is a public relations tool that businessmen use to hook officials," one party newspaper declared. Much like private industry, reading the works of Trotsky and generally bitching about authoritarianism, golf became an inherent vice overnight.
Now, though, the Chinese Communist Party has relented. Via an article in the Discipline Inspection and Supervision News, the official newspaper of China's anti-corruption agency, they have announced that "since it is only a sport, there is no right or wrong about playing golf." They're not encouraging communists to play golf, mind. The golf course is still politically ambiguous territory. However, "there is no right or wrong" about going to the driving range every now and then. This can only be a good thing.
In a cultural exchange that can only benefit world stability, golfers and Chinese communists may now mingle with relative freedom. Should he so wish, Danny Willett could go and play a few holes with the party officials of Xinjiang Province and – who knows? – maybe learn something interesting about nationalised tractor production. Likewise, Xi Jinping and co. could visit The Wentworth Club and practise their putting technique with Jeremy Corbyn. Now that, that is a fucking photo op.
Perhaps, through mutual co-operation, golfers and communists could eventually come to understand each other. Picture a world in which all the golf courses are swamped with Chinese communists, and China is deluged with cardigan-wearing golfers. If that's not utopia, we don't know what is.