Style | Swellboy

Swellboy on… Gadaffi’s golf buggy

Since when did the golf buggy become the vehicle of choice of despots?

Swellboy on… Gadaffi’s golf buggy

Image: Brijesh Patel

March 12 2011
Nick Foulkes

There is precious little light relief to be wrung from the situation in Libya, but the bizarre behaviour of Colonel Gadaffi can usually raise a smile. Take the state golf cart.

I would dearly love an insight into the thought processes that led to this choice of vehicle. Maybe it went something like this: “Mmh, I am courting the opprobrium of the world. Half the country I have been ruling for the past four decades is in revolt. My foreign assets are being frozen. Now, which vehicle should I choose to make the maximum impression both domestically and internationally? I know – the golf buggy.”

Well, it certainly has the virtue of being unexpected, and you have to admit that it does confound the stereotypical image of a bloodthirsty tyrant prepared to go to any lengths to cling on to power. Moreover, the Libyan colonel was clearly unconcerned about the risk of a rocket-propelled grenade attack or heavy machine gun fire; which would appear to be in contrast to our own leader, David Cameron, who, at about the same time as the Libyan leader was having the golf buggy brought round, was revealed to enjoy the use of a brace of armour-plated Jaguars, the Russian oligarch-spec XJ Sentinel that was launched at the Moscow Motor Show.

I rather like golf buggies; primarily they hint at a life of brightly checked trousers. But I have never thought of them as the vehicle of choice of despots, unless of course they happen to be despots living in retirement in Florida. Usually when an autocrat leaves his palace to harangue his people or take their plaudits, he does so in a barge-like open-topped car or a vast limousine, but the Libyan leader challenged such orthodoxy, choosing perhaps the humblest genus of powered vehicle. About the only thing more pusillanimous would have been a G-Wiz. Perhaps he ought to consider this as an ironic gesture vis-à-vis Libya’s oil deposits.

See also

People