The president of the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan says he's going to build the first golf course in this desert nation.

The country's state-owned Neutral Turkmenistan daily said on Thursday President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has met with an American former professional golfer to discuss plans to build Turkmenistan's first golf course. The firm founded and run by Jack Nicklaus designs and constructs golf courses around the world.

The Karakum desert occupies about 80 percent of the territory of this former Soviet republic, which is ruled by the authoritarian, sport-obsessed president known for sinking in millions of dollars into sports infrastructure.

He famously ordered three ice arenas built in the country where temperatures in summer routinely hit 50 degrees Centigrade (122 degrees Fahrenheit.)