Washington: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was "out of bounds" by suggesting that golf was a bourgeois sport, the US State Department has said, defending the sport as a "truly global" game played by people with a variety of backgrounds.
Chavez railed against golf during his weekly Sunday television show last month, saying it was only accessible for the wealthy. His comments have reportedly prompted officials to begin closing two of the country`s most well-known golf courses.
For years, the United States and Venezuela have had tit-for-tat verbal diplomatic exchanges, but this time State Department spokesman PJ Crowley employed some humour on Wednesday, calling himself the "self-appointed ambassador-at-large for golf”.
"The suggestion by Mr Chavez that golf ... is bourgeois is a mulligan," Crowley said. "And once again Mr Chavez, one of the hemisphere`s most divisive figures, finds himself out of bounds."
Crowley noted that Argentine Angel Cabrera won the US Masters tournament in April over "good-old-boy" Kenny Perry, who had built a publicly accessible golf course in his home state of Kentucky. He also pointed out that Tiger Woods`s family heritage "literally spans continents”.
Chavez, in his live marathon broadcast, rejected golf as a legitimate sport and said the use of golf carts demonstrates its laziness, according to the New York Times.
"Let`s leave this clear," Chavez said. "Golf is a bourgeois sport."
"I respect all sports," said Chavez, a baseball fan. "But there are sports and there are sports. Do you mean to tell me (golf) is a people`s sport?"
The Venezuelan government will reportedly build low-income housing in place of the golf courses to address the country`s housing problem.
Chavez`s tirade against golf is a break from communist ally Cuba, which is working with European and Canadian firm to build more golf courses to attract tourists.