Golf has been drawn into Turkmenistan’s ban on imports of gas-guzzling cars.
The gas-rich Central Asian state has extended the clampdown because of the rising cost of maintaining low retail fuel prices and restrictions on the movement of people to battle a new wave of Covid-19.
According to a copy of the latest ban that was made available to independent internet outlet turkmen.news, cars by German manufacturers such as Mercedes and BMW, as well as several popular sports utility vehicles and mini-vans made by Volkswagen, can no longer be imported.
Large vehicles made by General Motors in the US and Japan’s Toyota have also been banned.
The authorities had already prohibited residents from owning and driving cars with engine sizes bigger than 3.5 litres, saying such powerful vehicles may be used only by government officials for state needs.
The updated list even includes fully electric vehicles, such as the Tesla Model X and — bizarrely — the Club Car Villager 4, a four-seat buggy that is often seen at golf resorts around the globe.
As with fuel, the cost of electricity is heavily subsidised by the government. Otherwise, reasons for the golf buggy edict are not immediately clear.
Even more intriguingly, Turkmenistan offers tourists access to a single golf course, near the capital, Ashgabat.
It was inaugurated in 2017 by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. “The nation’s leader hit a hole from 75 metres despite windy conditions,” according to state television.
Witnesses report that the course has remained mostly deserted since then, and has been used by Berdymukhamedov for pursuits ranging from horse riding to throwing daggers and singing rap songs with his grandchildren.
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