three golf courses

1. Nigeria

Among all the greens of the tropics, this particular green is found nowhere, except for one expanse of tightly clipped, oddly gleaming grass. Pale aging figures move tranquilly upon its surface, watching the little white orbs that arc through the air as they strike them. On the verge, beyond a line of swaying, whispering palms, runs a steel fence topped with razor wire. On the other side of the fence, black waves, thick and shining with oil, lap at an empty beach. Dead fish, like tarnished silver coins, glimmer on the slick, tar-stained sand.

2. Baja California, Mexico

At the foot of the red mountains, in one of the driest places on earth, there is another sward of tightly clipped, oddly gleaming, bright green grass. Pale, aging figures move about its surface; clean little carts hum contentedly on the white paths.

Down the highway a half-mile, a rutted road cuts off to a bald circle of dirt. On it sits a one-room house made of loosely joined planks topped with tin sheeting. A small child stands outside in a ragged tee shirt, flinging stones and watching them arc through the air and drop into the dust.

3. Luzon, The Philippines

The crown of the mountain will be shaved, and covered with a haze of clipped, gleaming, bright green grass that follows its sinuous contours. The valley below, where wide plains of rice bow to the breezes off the inlet, and water buffalo graze, will be dredged, and flooded, so that cruise ships may dock there. There is a scale model of the project in a glassine tower in Manila.

It does not show the scale model corpse of a local fisherman, found face down in the road, who argued because he did not want to give up his nets for a caddie’s job.

Now the village women, whose great-grandmothers tended these fields and cattle, are leaving their tasks. They march silently to the top of the mountain, where they form a line across an open dirt track. They are waiting there, an unbending line, as the earthmoving machines rumble toward them.