Reform-minded new mayor plans to turn exclusive golf course into an urban garden

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THE lush fairways of Madrid’s exclusive golf course, Casa de Campo, have become a symbolic battleground between the left and right political parties. Recently appointed Madrid mayor, Manuel Carmena, has big plans for the golf course, which despite being on city land, is a members-only affair.
The golf course has an illustrious history, once serving as a battlefield in the civil war before being gifted by Franco to the cavalry officers of the Royal Equestrian Society. The Royal Equestrian Society still maintains an equestrian centre on the grounds, where Elena de Borbón, King Felipe VI’s eldest sister, stables some of her horses.
Membership at the club is elite, with new members paying a steep one-time fee of €3,000 and a waiting list of thousands of hopeful names. However, the new mayor has proclaimed that public spaces must be accessible to everyone, instead of ¨serving the interests of the few.¨ Her goal is to transform the elitist club into a park to be used for environmental education and as an urban garden.
The idea to turn the golf course into a garden came from suggestions in the online forum of the left-wing political party, Ahora Madrid. The idea garnered much support, especially in light of the 2013 investigations proving corrupt use of the club for political gains, with nearly 2,000 secret VIP pass holders discovered.


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