Iranian Amateur Open - Golf Tournament Transcends Politics

Mehdi M Shanjani - 2012 Iranian Amateur Open Winner.
Dylan Harris didn't let the naysayers dissuade him.  From the time the idea of an international amateur golf tournament in Iran first came to him, the stalwart British travel and event planner confronted myriad obstacles, but this past weekend The Inaugural Iranian Golf Open took place on schedule at Tehran's Enghelab Golf Course.

Despite the endless political posturing that has pitted the Iranian Government against those of Europe and North America for years, despite a takeover of the British embassy by protesters and an errant US spy drone now in Iranian custody... and the resonant rattling of sabers that accompanied those and other events... Dylan Harris persisted ... and this past weekend, working with the Iranian Golfing Federation, he succeeded in staging the tournament.

We'll have more on this groundbreaking tournament, including interviews and commentary from some of the participants, later in this week, but according to Dylan's latest dispatches Iran's Mehdi M Shanjani, took home the trophy, winning the event by two strokes. In an interesting side note, Mr. Shanjani also happens to own the country's largest chocolate factory.

The real story here, and I think this will be revealed as we hear more from Dylan and other IAO participants, is that the vast majority of Iranians are very friendly and completely open to foreigners, that international travelers feel very safe on the streets of Iranian cities, and that despite tensions and animosity created by politicians and perpetuated by news outlets desperate for drama, people who are passionate about golf... whatever their national origins... can get together and enjoy the game.

I had planned to go to Tehran for the tournament myself but in the end had scheduling conflicts that... when combined with negative reaction from friends and family who surmised it would be unsafe... caused me to cancel.  I'm glad Dylan didn't back out... and I definitely plan to be there for the next event.