Thursday, August 18, 2005

Golf in Belgium

Golf in Belgium is summarized nicely at Golf Sport Boom in Belgium, an article written by Jill Suetens and Catherine Lee Peters (approver: Christopher Quinlivan) at the website of strategis.gc.ca.

More Info in detail can be found at Golf.be. Especially useful for finding the golf clubs of Belgium is the clickable map of Belgium, with all Belgian golf clubs located upon it and information given in English, French and Dutch languages.
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Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Russian Open challenges the PGA

As you can read at PGATOUR.com, at the same time that the PGA is being played at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, the Russian Open is being played in Nakhabino, Russia. Nakhabino is a suburb of Moscow and home to Le Meridian Moscow Country Club, Russia's best golf course. As written at Vedomosti.ru:

"Golf is yet another pastime attracting an ever-increasing number of fans. At the same time Russia suffers from an acute shortage of golf courses, experts say. According to estimates by the Russian Golf Association, one golf course can offer facilities to 25,000 players, meaning Russia needs at least 5,000 courses that meet world standards. So far Russia has embarked on a ‘modest' program envisaging the construction of 500 courses over the next 15 years. According to reports from the Russian Golf Association, five golf clubs operate in Russia today, two of which are located in Moscow. The best one, Le Meridian Moscow Country Club in Nakhabino, is included in the list of the world's best golf clubs. For comparison: across the globe people spend $2.5 billion on golf balls alone."

Interesting from a celebrity and golf viewpoint for this year's Russian Open is the participation of Yevgeny Kafelnikov, a former Russian internationally well-known tennis star, who managed an 88 and 96 to place last in the field. See Yahoo report for background. However, one can be sure that his participation brought fans to the course who otherwise would not have been there. It is an interesting marketing concept to make golf more popular in Russia and very courageous of Kafelnikov to take part. Well done. Besides, an 88 and 96 are not bad for a former tennis player.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

How to Beat Tiger Woods - Bring him to Stromberg

Grouchy Golf Blog has got it right. The way to beat Tiger is to put him on shorter courses. Current stats show Tiger at Nr. 2 in long driving among the pros, so the longer the courses, the more that is to his advantage.

I myself am a very long hitter averaging about 300 yards a drive on my good days at other courses, but, unfortunately, I play on a home course - Stromberg Schindeldorf in Germany - with probably the narrowest fairways in the entire golf world.

Making things even more difficult, we have 8 par three holes (most about 170 to 210 yards) with brilliantly placed very hard to play bunkers around tiny greens, 4 par fives that can all theortically be reached in two but which are designed in such a manner that well-placed long drives almost always land in the trees, and 6 par fours where driving long can put the player into all sorts of difficulty, if the drive does not hit the trees getting there first. The course consists almost entirely of fairway, trees and uncut grass, and a level lie is a rarity, since the course winds around on the side of a hill and because many of the fairways were left as slanted as they were found. Hence, any errant shot, i.e. off the fairway, generally costs two strokes or more. Numerous holes have out of bounds or hazards directly behind or to the side of the green, making long hitting dangerous. The course has to be played to be believed.

In addition, when the greens are properly prepared, they are as fast as Augusta. To my knowledge, no one has ever beaten the course par of 68 in an official tournament, although a pro recently is alleged to have shot a 67 in a friendly round, under benign conditions. Our former greenkeeper, a superb player, never broke par while he was at Stromberg, even though he could read the greens perfectly, and even good players are known to exceed their handicap by 20 strokes at Stromberg when they first confront this deceivingly "short" and "simple" course.

As one Stanford grad to another, Tiger is always welcome for a challenge round at Stromberg. Just for fun. On paper, he should shoot a 59. In reality, he might not break 80.
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