Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spanish Golf

Maybe it's because the Volvo World Match Play Championship is under way, or because I've be watching a cooking show that features nothing but cuisine from Spain, that I thought to myself, "man, I wouldn't mind going there." I loved the food and the people and the golf courses in Portugal, why wouldn't I enjoy Spain just as much?

The Marabella region in the southern portion of the country has a number of layouts including some with views of Gibralter and Africa. Now that has to be something, looking at another continent while playing golf.

Finca Cortesin Golf Resort is hosting the World Match Play and I'd surely tee it up on the Cabell Robinson design if the opportunity arose. The event is raising money for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, which aids in brain cancer research.

Looking around the web, I cam across the La Manga Las Lomas Village on the southwest coast and that appears to be a wonderful spot. The resort has three layouts including the South Course that was reworked by Arnold Palmer and has hosted the Spanish Open. I'd love to try out all three.

OK, now I just have to figure out a way to get over there!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Golf and Gambling

For so many golfers, the game can’t be played without a little side action, say a $5 nassau and $1 birdies. For others, though, it has to be way more involved than that and they partake in a game like Wolf that is so complicated, I really don’t have a modicum of understanding of the rules even though I’ve played it a few times.

For me, a straight match-play contest is good enough and if there is a want to pay out for greenies and sandies, I’m good with that. If there's no desire for a "game," I'll still tee it up.

On the other hand, my friend who I'll call Keith (because that's his name), can't just enjoy a round of golf. "I have to play for something," he once barked in his gravely voice. "I don't care if it's a stick."

He's serious. During one of my trips to the Old Course, I brought him back a branch broken off from a gorse bush on the famous layout that he used to carry in his golf bag as the designated "stick."

During one of our more memorable rounds, we decided to complicate it about as much as we could. Besides me giving him shots and playing for sandies and birdies, we also paid out on each hole for Hogans, par or better while hitting the fairway and green in regulation on each hole, Watsons, hitting the fairway in regulation but missing the green while making par or better and Seves, missing the fairway and green in regulation while still making par or better.

I think we also threw in barkies, making par or better after hitting a tree, and had we had the chance we would have played for Alexander Graham Bells, that's making par or better after bouncing a shot off a telephone pole or overhanging wires.

Then there are those who love golfing and gambling, but not at the same time, which explains the popularity of golf and casinos. If your looking for places around the world to gamble, and possibly get in some golf, check out this casino guide.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Take Me to Teeth of the Dog

It's turning cold in Connecticut and I'm not ready for it. The forecast of temperatures in the 40s, accompanied by wind and rain, makes me want to take a crash course in hibernation. Pretending, for a moment, that I had the money, I was perusing the Internet for a place I'd jet off to for golf and sun when it gets really cold. The answer I came up with was, Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic and Pete Dye's Teeth of the Dog Course.

I have Dye on the brain after speaking with him a few weeks ago for a piece I wrote for Golfdom magazine about the role of architects in helping golf courses conserve water. At 84, the design genius is still opinionated when it comes to all topics golf and it was pure joy to talk with him on a variety of topic for close to 30 minutes.

Ranked as high as 34th in the world by various magazines, Teeth of the Dog is now complimented by two other Dye designs -- Dye Fore and The Links. Teeth of the Dog might not have the audaciousness of Dye's later work, but it is replete with his signature style of options and angles that appeal and challenge players of all skill levels.

"Casa de Campo has been my life," he has said. "I always say Casa de Campo is my favorite place. The courses are as good as I can build."

Hey, maybe that's just an architect hyping his work like he should but, if I had the money, I'd take a trip there and find out for myself.