Jhonattan Vegas’ rise to success has not been easy.
However the golfer is now preparing to become Venezuela’s first player on the prestigious US PGA Tour.
After just two years playing as a professional, this 26-year-old is going where no Venezuelan golfer has gone before.
“Well, it’s actually one goal I had for my whole life and to achieve it is something terrific,” Vegas told SBS. For Vegas it wasn’t always this easy.
Growing up in the oil fields of the Orinoco Basin his father was the local course groundskeeper teaching his son from the age of two, the game that he loved. “I was always playing golf. Since he was a baby he saw me playing golf and practicing, and he was always with me in the field,” his father Carlos Vegas said.
What should be a celebration in Venezuela will fall on deaf ears from the government in Caracas.
President Hugo Chavez, has taken to golf in a way that leaves Vegas and his father fearing for the future of the game.
Chavez has labelled it a ‘Bourgeoise sport’ The notions seems at odds with his own socialist heroes – Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara grew up playing golf in Argentina and was captured on film having a hit on one of Cubas last courses in Havana with President Fidel Castro.
Chavez has threatened to expropriate private courses across Venezuela to make way for public housing complexes whilst he has already closed many public courses including the one that Carlos Vega once maintained.
A mere 17 courses now remain in Vegas’ home nation severely limiting the reach of the sport, but Vegas could be the beacon of hope, not just for would be golfers, but also for the poor.