Thursday, December 22, 2011

Banning the game . . .

If I had my act together I would have merged into the entry about Vietnam Golf the recollection that James banned the game back in 1457 . . . casting about for a link to said data, I found this old story (2009) . . .


If you Outlaw Golf, only Outlaws will Golf!


And, of course, oncet you talk about Outlaw Golf, no bunch of polychrome-polyester-wearing effete decadent running dogs comes to mind, but instead the image of some swashbuckling free-booters appears . . . cept that Willie Nelson is probably the real manifestation of Outlaw Golf, with results such as on the golf course he owned, where he said, “That hole was a par 9 yesterday . . . .” Hardly the Calvinistic approach that enables the character-building aspects of The Game . . . just IMVHO, of course . . .  


Chávez Takes a Swing at Golf

A 'bourgeois' sport? Or a forced march spoiled?




Scots must be shaking their heads. Fresh from nationalizing almost every capitalist enterprise that yields a profit (or used to anyway), Latin American strongman Hugo Chávez has found a new class enemy: golf. Declaring it a "bourgeois" sport, the Venezuelan leader has ordered the shut-down of some of the country's best-known golf courses.


For a socialist like Mr. Chávez, banning golf might be considered, ahem, par for the course, even if he is a bit late to the game. The likes of China, Russia and Cuba banned golf decades ago although today they all enjoy practicing their swing. Perhaps this is exactly the historic precedent Mr. Chávez fears. The Soviet Union built its first golf course in 1988 and a year later the Berlin Wall fell.


Or maybe Mr. Chávez known for his paranoia about alleged Western plots to overthrow him has read up on Scottish history. In 1457, King James II of Scotland banned the game from the hills on which it was created. He argued that golf was a danger to national security as it distracted his soldiers from practicing their archery.


It turns out the king's fears may not have been entirely unfounded. Believing the threat of war had dissipated, his grandson, James IV, a keen golfer, lifted the ban in 1502. Eleven years later, in the Battle of Flodden against the English, Scotland suffered its worst ever military defeat. James himself was killed on the battlefield, along with a large contingent of Scottish nobles (many no doubt golf enthusiasts as well). Superior English archery played its part in the battle's outcome.


There could also be another reason a socialist like Mr. Chávez might dislike golf: The game is rich with religious overtones. Golf prompts many players to think about God and not merely because his name is so often (blasphemously) invoked on the course.


Players surrounded by the natural beauty the Lord created are reminded of the limits of man's ability to conquer it. Consider the elusive hole-in-one, the wind that ruins the otherwise near-perfect swing and the bunkers that upset a quick recovery.


"The Calvinists' ideal testing ground" is how the late British-American journalist Alistair Cooke once described it. "The bunkers, the scrubby gorse, the heather and broom, the hillocks and innumerable undulations of the land itself, were all seen not as nuisances but as natural obstacles, as reminders to all original sinners that in competition with the Almighty, they surely would not overcome."


In that sense, golf threatens to undermine a dictator's personality cult by reminding people of the true ultimate power. That's not the kind of message el presidente would probably like Venezuelans to hear even if he once described Jesus as the world's first socialist.


Par Value: Vietnamese Investors Sink Savings Into Golf Memberships

Coveted Club Slots Are a Hot Commodity; Official Disdain for Sport Drives Up Prices



HANOI Some Vietnamese government officials are teed off over golf. Transport Minister Dinh La Thang recently banned his staff from playing the game because he said it encourages gambling and makes them late for work.


Vietnamese are snapping up golf club memberships as investments. Pictured, the plush Van Tri Golf Club near Hanoi.


Other Vietnamese see golf rather differently: as a way to hold on to their money after years of booms and busts.


With property prices sliding and the local stock market in free fall, some people here are investing in golf club memberships in a last-ditch bid to protect their savings from being ravaged by soaring inflation and a fading currency.


Prices for club memberships around Hanoi have risen from around $6,000 in 2004 to roughly $30,000 now, with some of the plushest, complete with swimming pools, villas and tennis courts, reaching $130,000. That's not as expensive as top clubs in Japan or Singapore, but it is still a large slice of change in a country where the average income is around $1,200 a year.


"Buying a membership is better than putting cash in the bank, better than putting it in the stock market, and better than putting it into gold," said Do Dinh Thuy, a 48-year-old management consultant, amid the steady thwack of balls being driven out onto a local range here in Hanoi's suburbs. He recently bought a third membership, "and that one's not for playing, it's for investment."


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Golfer Bobby Gates finds some magic after Disney World collapse

"Some of our friends got together and did some research," Lauren Gates said. "I don't know how much time it took them to arrive at this, but they said that had Bobby finished just one stroke better in any one of the tournaments where he made the cut, he would have ended up No. 125."

Had there been any doubt about Gates' final status Monday, there was none after he played the 11th hole. He had gone four under on the front nine and stood 218 yards away for his second shot on the 528-yard hole. Then he hit a six-iron to 10 feet and sank the eagle putt.

Lauren, a former Aggies golfer herself, whom Gates calls "my rock," watched the putt drop, knew full well that there was little chance any more bad luck could intervene and responded with tough love.

"Don't give him too much credit," she said. "It was downwind.",0,4206672.column