As the second-largest Middle Eastern country, Iran is a highly diverse place: from its many mountain ranges to its miles of coastline on the Caspian and Red Seas and Persian Gulf and historic ancient cities, it is possible to find almost every climate and terrain imaginable. Countless cultures and societies have fought and merged here, from before the ancient Persians to the modern-day Islamic Republic. The country's many museums provide glimpses into this rich past, as do the countless ancient ruins and imposing mosques. It's certainly true that modern Iran has had problems with some of its neighbors and with Western powers, but the young and dynamic population is one of the best-educated anywhere, and the current leadership has shown greater openness to the outside world than was true only a few years ago.
Sports are an important part of Iranian culture and, as might be expected, the most popular is soccer; the national team is quite competitive, with three Asian Cup victories and four World Cup Finals to its credit. Golf, on the other hand, is not well known here. In fact, there is only one course in the entire country, located at the Enghelab sports complex in the capital city of Tehran. The original layout was full-sized, but the military appropriated part of the land, leaving the 13 holes that are now open for play. The scenery, at least, is impressive: the majestic Alborz Mountains loom in the north, while the sprawling modern city stretches away to the south. In any case, there is some evidence that golf is catching on, with some young Iranian women developing an interest. As a hint of future possibilities, the Iranian Golfing Federation has for the past couple of years hosted a pair of tournaments in which locals have played alongside foreign diplomats.