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Dave McCollum

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Opulent Golf
« on: February 24, 2012, 06:46:38 PM »
Just returned from playing some resort golf in Palm Springs.  Beautiful weather and, Iím trying to be objective here, a couple of beautiful courses.  Wide, beautifully maintained courses winding through even more beautifully landscaped areas overflowing with a cacophony desert flora and fauna.  No housing, just the elegant, sprawling clubhouses overlooking the finishing holes with their perfect greens and pulse-inducing, lovely lakes and water features.  Every hole seemed like a beautiful portfolio piece for the landscape artist, all set against the background of rugged, towering, snow-capped peaks.
         
However, I was bothered by something while playing that I couldnít really figure out at the time.  The rounds were slow, so we had plenty of time to look at the design and apparent playing strategies.  Instead of marveling at the wonders of these fabulous golfing landscapes, it was almost as if I was looking for things to criticize:  too much eye candy, containment mounding, rakes hidden in underground dispensers, excessive bunkering, so much shaping to hide the cart paths, on and on.  The golf was fun and challenging enough for our rusty winter games, the service impeccable and friendly, the conditioning perfect for that style of golf, and we lacked for no conceivable creature comfort as we cruised around in our GPS equipped golf carts (required, I think).  So why my attitude and nitpicking?

Later, I decided it was the opulence of it all.  The perfection so dramatically visible throughout our five hour journeys through these golfing Xanadus.  And these were just public golf courses, one a municipal course for the communityís well-healed residents and affluent tourists.  Nothing wrong with places like this for those who enjoy and can afford them, I reasoned on reflection, but why is it necessary?  Would the golf not be just as much fun in lesser circumstances, lower maintenance standards, vastly lower expectations, and all those subjective things we argue about and discuss on this site?
 
I donít post much here, so I should confess I havenít played golf all my life, donít get much into rating or critiquing golf courses, havenít played many great courses, and am just an average player who plays for fun.  I think I may know a little bit about what makes a golf course fun to play, but not enough to spout off about it here with a great deal of passion or certainty.  Also, I suspect my interest in GCA may be influenced by delusional thinkingóperhaps a pseudo-intellectual justification for my addiction to a stupid game.  I will say this about my participation on this site:  it is the best place I know to look for recommendations of where to play when I travel and that Iím very grateful to the folks here for steering me to some of the choices Iíve made.
 
So what do you well-traveled golf addicts think?  Was my reaction warranted?  Was I being a golf snob or a reverse snob?  Are courses like this temples or travesties?

I donít think the courses are important to this discussion.  They are popular and are apparently doing well.  But since someone surely will ask, Iím talking about a course like Desert Willow Fire Cliff.  Like I said, a lovely, friendly place and well worth the fees charged.

Garland Bayley

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2012, 06:56:05 PM »
Let me guess. You paid 3x what it takes to play your course? And, you have just as much fun playing your course as you do these? If so, how do you conclude "well worth the fees charged?" Leaves me to ask what do you prefer, golf, or creature comforts? It seems you are willing to pay 2x for creature comforts as you are for golf.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Tom_Doak

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2012, 07:14:03 PM »
Well, it's California, so everything costs 2x as much as home.  But 3x is pushing it a bit.

Dave, I wish I'd known you were in Palm Springs, I would have tried to get you out to Stone Eagle.  Of course, you might have had the same reaction as to Desert Willow.  We toured one of those two courses when we were working on Stone Eagle, but I can't even remember which one it was.  Most of the golf in Palm Springs just blends together in my memory; somehow despite all the opulence they fail to produce very many memorable golf holes.

Garland Bayley

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2012, 07:53:38 PM »
Well, it's California, so everything costs 2x as much as home.  But 3x is pushing it a bit.
...

So I checked the web. Dave's course, $25. Dave's California opulent course, $99. Guess I was wrong. ;)
EDIT: Ooops. The $99 is twilight. $185 is prime rate. So lets give them a break and call it 7x.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2012, 08:13:48 PM by Garland Bayley »
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Anthony Gray

Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2012, 09:00:24 PM »


  Opulent is what comes to mind when I think of Dave McCollum.

  Anthony


Mac Plumart

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2012, 09:01:42 PM »
Low-key is what comes to mind when I think of Anthony Gray.

 8)
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

David_Tepper

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2012, 09:16:34 PM »
Dave M. -

As long as the people out on the course are enjoying themselves, I would find more important things to worry about! ;)

DT

Garland Bayley

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2012, 09:49:41 PM »


  Opulent is what comes to mind when I think of Dave McCollum.

  Anthony


Low-key is what comes to mind when I think of Anthony Gray.

 8)

You guys are hilarious.

Dave M. -

As long as the people out on the course are enjoying themselves, I would find more important things to worry about! ;)

DT

Sorry David, Can't say the same about you.
 :'(
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Mark Saltzman

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2012, 10:01:59 PM »
Dave,

Sadly, I think you (and I) are in the minority in not wanting this. 

When I ask most people "how was X course?" the two things I always hear about are 1) the conditioning and 2) the difficulty, and sometimes the price/value.

So, yeah, if someone is paying $100, or $185 as is the case here, they're usually looking for eye-candy, mounding, conditioning, water, a gimmick like a rake placed underground, fountains, waterfalls, wall-to-wall cart paths, hero shots and a slope that is 140+.

So, the answer to the basic question of "why is it necessary?" is, based on my own observations, to attract the public golfer. 

I agree it is not necessary for all of these things, but I believe that most golfers would prefer to play photogenic holes than good ones.  Just don't have any forced lay-ups!  ;)

Dave McCollum

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2012, 12:26:13 AM »
OK, I to go away after starting this thread. 

Garland,

The money paid wasnít the problem.  I have no trouble imagining the price being fair given the maintenance required to present the course as it was.  It was indeed beautiful, especially the ďnativeĒ areas which didnít remotely resemble the actual native desert, but were spectacular nurseries of desert flora.  The course, a lush, over-seeded, poster child of what most golferís desire was perfect.  The rack rate was much more than 3X to play my course.  Like us, they have to make their revenues during their season.  Thatís OK, itís a tough business.   

The golf was OK, too.  Not spectacular, in my limited experience, but, all things considered, a perfectly good day of golf.  What troubled me, I suppose, is why there is this demand for such over-the-top golf?  We have a lot of discussion on this site about playing this wonderful masterpiece of a golf course, a lesser light that is well maintained and interesting, or a very good track with woeful conditioning (Apache Stronghold?) and I sometimes wonder what game these folks are playing.  Arenít all three of these examples the standard bearers of the good golf that we have appointed ourselves as torch bearers of good architecture?  My post was meant to be different.  What is about a perfect golf experience, at whatever price, regardless of the absolute quality of the golf, that attracts us as golfers?   The perfect presentation of an art form?  I donít know, thatís why I asked.\
   
Tom,
 Stone Eagle is at the top of my wish list for PS golf.  Iíve tried to play it several times because I love your courses.  At least the few that Iíve played, and because your comments on this site seem to approach what I love about golf and golf courses.  Unfortunately, my timing has been bad, usually around the time of the Hope.  The folks at SE have always been nice when Iíve asked.  No big deal that they didnít buy into my requests.  Resort golf is OK for me and the guy who invites me to stay at his house down there.  Iíve dragged him along to some great courses in Scotland and Bandon and bored him thoroughly about the charms of links golf.  He gets it, but heís still a retail golfer, meaning that golf is a game, not an addiction or a quest for trophies.  He keeps me grounded.
 
I seriously doubt that I would have had the same reaction at SE.  Iím passionately moved by great golf, even if I canít play it very well, explain it to ordinary golfers, or debate it with the elite addicts on this site.  Obviously, I donít care much about anything but the golf.  I wouldnít bother anyone to play their course unless offered a sincere invite because they wanted to offer it.   Exclusivity and ďopulenceĒ are not the things that twill my beanie.  I like to golf and am eternally curious about all of its various attractions to all types of people.

Example:  I took three absolute hacks to RCCC a few years ago.  I had an inkling of what to expect:  really an exceptional golf course beyond anything they had imagined.  Of course, I had to warn them they would have to buck up and told them that it would be a birthday cake, a one time of the year excess.  They basically went along because I asked them.  Strangely, they all got it.  They didnít know why, but they all got the fact that they had played something really special and that they will talk about it for the rest of their days (not to me, of course).  Didnít matter what they shot.  They played a cool golf course; they know it; they will remember it.

Thanks for the offer.  Iíll do it next year if itís no bother.
 
Anthony,
You coon-dog, southern, tongue-talking, Bible-beating, snake-handling, faith healer.  I may not be ďopulent,Ē but I can talk white trash to the likes of you.  Much as I may sympathize with you current infirmity, and as much as you may say you canít play golf, I say get your sorry ass out west and visit me.  May do no good, but you at least you can jump in the hot springs with lovely Leah, the masseuse, and see what happens.  Marry her if you have too.  Not my problem.  If you play again, you owe me.

Dave               

Tiger_Bernhardt

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2012, 12:28:36 AM »
There is no sin in liking nice and great service. I like that myself. That is sometimes a challenge to separate your opinion of the course from the creature comforts the place and course provides. This site is about architecture, therefore you do not see a lot of talk about how nice the place was. I think you will see a note about great condition or if in bad shape it is noted as a negative. You might see a comment of thread about incredible clubhouses or half ways houses. But that will not make an average course better or a good course great.

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2012, 01:32:45 AM »
I can't help think that what David is talking about is not so much the golf or the money; more an instinctive aversion to opulence.

I've not played golf at such a place, but I've certainly felt the same way when I've stayed at a super swanky hotel or eaten at an uber-posh restaurant. Give me a comfortable simple B&B with great character any day.

I'm sure I'd feel the same about golf courses. I blame my Methodist upbringing...
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 01:37:22 AM by Duncan Cheslett »

John Kirk

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2012, 02:53:29 AM »
I am still stuck on "rakes hidden in underground dispensers".

Kalen Braley

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2012, 10:22:07 AM »
First things first,

I dont' recall seeing many posts by this Dave fellow, but after seeing him talk down Anthony, in Anthonys own words.....sounds like a chap I need to play a round of golf with.   ;)

As it pertains to the topic, at first I wasn't really relating to the original post, but when I thought of the Couer D' Alene resort right here in the PNW, I think I got it.

Sure its not a course I play very often because it does have a lot of the over-the-top type stuff.  But every now and then, its fun to have a totally pampered golf experience with the corresponding price tag mind you.  Pretty much all my golf here in the PNW is less than $50, but at the Resort sometimes you just gotta fork over that $175 to get some extras like:

1)  Free warm-up massage on the golf range.
2)  Free Range balls on one of the most beautiful ranges in the world
3)  Your own personal fore-caddie for the group who actually hustles.  (I've never heard of a bad caddie at the resort)
4)  Absolutely perfect and pristine fairways and greens.  Its Augusta-like, you struggle to find even one piece of grass out of place.
5)  No noisy mowers or maintainence guys...they do all that work at night.
6)  A wonderfully secluded location where all you see if golf course and the lake.
7)  Perfectly ranked bunkers, with the in-ground rake holders.
8)  Fantastic views of the lake.
9)  Playing the worlds only floating green and taking a boat out to the  green after hitting your tee shot.
10)  Overall fantastic customer service from the caddie to the cook in the kitchen...its all first rate.

Sometimes, you just need to have a "Calgon take me away" experience on the course...its fun!!
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 10:23:47 AM by Kalen Braley »

Garland Bayley

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2012, 11:50:48 AM »
First things first,

I dont' recall seeing many posts by this Dave fellow, but after seeing him talk down Anthony, in Anthonys own words.....sounds like a chap I need to play a round of golf with.   ;)

...

Dude! He lobbied hard for us to hold GRUDGE MATCH II at his course in Twin Falls. He hopefully thought it would give the course fame to bring it to the forefront of American Golf. After all, the ratings for Wine Valley have gone nothing but up after GRUDGE MATCH I. But, alas, you moved back to Spokane and put Walla Walla between us again, instead of Twin Falls.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Garland Bayley

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2012, 11:55:11 AM »
...
Anthony,
You coon-dog, southern, tongue-talking, Bible-beating, snake-handling, faith healer.  I may not be ďopulent,Ē but I can talk white trash to the likes of you.  Much as I may sympathize with you current infirmity, and as much as you may say you canít play golf, I say get your sorry ass out west and visit me.  May do no good, but you at least you can jump in the hot springs with lovely Leah, the masseuse, and see what happens.  Marry her if you have too.  Not my problem.  If you play again, you owe me.

Dave              


LOL! Again!

This is one of the best threads around today.
(Translation, three occurrence of milk snorted out the nostrils break out laughing experiences.)
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 04:22:50 PM by Garland Bayley »
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Garland Bayley

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2012, 12:27:46 PM »
I suppose I should should comment on opulence at some point, and I think now as good a time as any.

I learned to play "cow pasture pool" at well, a cow pasture. If it hadn't been fenced off to keep the cows out, it would have been exactly that. The local rule was that if you were in the "fairway", a sometimes mowed area, as opposed to the "rough", a never mowed area, you could use your club head to drag the ball to a tuft of grass if available. The greens were actually blackish brown, being sand with oil mixed in to keep the wind from blowing them away.

As a result, I am turned off by opulent golf. To paraphrase the USGA's Golf is a Walking Game. If you need opulence to play golf, you might be playing something called self-indulgence ball, but you're not playing golf.

I can't help but think that Melvyn would agree with that. ;)

If you need to hide rakes under ground on your golf course, then perhaps you have a display garden rather than a golf course.

Then of course, there are those of us that think a bunker should be a hazard, and no rakes should be provided.

Whatever happened to that course where I learned to play? It's now grassed and now named Jawbone Creek Country Club and uses the emblem of a cow skull for it's symbol and it's tee markers. An emblem that has been ripped off by some obscure place in the same state known as Dave calls it, RCCC.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Joe Stansell

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2012, 08:09:13 PM »

Dude! He lobbied hard for us to hold GRUDGE MATCH II at his course in Twin Falls. He hopefully thought it would give the course fame to bring it to the forefront of American Golf. After all, the ratings for Wine Valley have gone nothing but up after GRUDGE MATCH I. But, alas, you moved back to Spokane and put Walla Walla between us again, instead of Twin Falls.


Would that course in Twin Falls be Blue Lakes Country Club? Good fun can be had there.

Dale Jackson

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2012, 10:41:58 PM »

9)  Playing the worlds only floating green and taking a boat out to the  green after hitting your tee shot.


Not to hijack the thread but I know of at least one other floating green, the 17th at Amata Springs near Bangkok.  Amata Springs has hosted the Royal Trophy (Ryder Cup style competition between the European Tour and Asian Tour) 4 times, as well as other high profile events.

The boat ride to and from the green is notable because of the handsomely attired "nautical hands" appropriately dressed in British Navy styles togs.
I've seen an architecture, something new, that has been in my mind for years and I am glad to see a man with A.V. Macan's ability to bring it out. - Gene Sarazen

Tiger_Bernhardt

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2012, 11:48:30 PM »
The funny thing is as nice a place as Couer D'Alene is, I do not even toss it in the opulent club basket. Palm Springs has a dozen that would make the private jet class feel at home. Brother Fazio has built a few too that have nothing short of in the slightly bastardized words of Lewis Black " private ball washers for the players to enjoy during their stays".

Garland Bayley

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2012, 11:54:26 PM »

Dude! He lobbied hard for us to hold GRUDGE MATCH II at his course in Twin Falls. He hopefully thought it would give the course fame to bring it to the forefront of American Golf. After all, the ratings for Wine Valley have gone nothing but up after GRUDGE MATCH I. But, alas, you moved back to Spokane and put Walla Walla between us again, instead of Twin Falls.


Would that course in Twin Falls be Blue Lakes Country Club? Good fun can be had there.

No, it would be the adjacent Canyon Springs.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Dave McCollum

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2012, 12:49:54 AM »
Thanks guys, for your perspective.  I was feeling pretty low-down about my reaction to a really nice course.  The course was very memorable.  I found myself constantly staring at the landscaping in the ďnativeĒ areas.  As for the golf, that too was visually attractive and well presented.  We played the blue tees at about 6700 yards.  It wasnít difficult, except it was long for me.  Lush Palm Springs golfóno roll, an aerial game.  Lots of long approach shots into the 4ís.  Didnít lose a ball and scored reasonably for a rusty snowbird.  We had fun.  Iím an average golfer and I could easily see why an average golfer would see this place as golf heaven.
   
I have nothing against this kind of resort golf.  I love it just like every other golfer seeking to escape the winter up north.  I guess what bothered me more than anything was that the city (Palm Desert) must have spent something like 50 to 60 million creating this place, millions a year to maintain it, and, spectacular as it is, the actual golf course was so ďabove average.Ē  As Tom D. said, ďblendsĒ into the memory banks as another big, fancy Palm Springs course.  Thatís not to say itís bad.  Itís not.  Quite good, in fact, and probably one of the better public offerings in the Coachella Valley in my limited experience.   Itís just that for such a vast investment, shouldnít the golf be great?

To be more precise, I thought of the experience as an example of how golf in America has lost its way.  So much presentation, so little substance.  Sustainable?  I donít know.  If your tax base and your tourists are rich enough, anything is sustainable.  Enjoyable?  Sure, a big, brawny, golf course that tests all golfersí games and pumps up their egos if they are hitting it well.  A work of art?  Yes, landscape architecture.  Is it a great golf course?  No, it is product for an affluent clientele.
     
Some folks here have implied that my reaction was perhaps a product of country bumpkin wondering into the glitter of Hollywood and SoCal.  Thank you, that is exactly the voice I wished to convey.  Itís just golf, so what is all this other stuff so lavishly on display?  Is this important to people as reward for a life well lived?  Is this a course I want to travel to, in a perfect winter climate, and enjoy a pleasant round or two?  Iím genuinely interested in these questions and answers and want to examine them on a pretty simple level.  The country bumpkin or shepherd is exactly who invented this game and, in whatever permutations have evolved in the centuries since, still has a modest foothold in its attraction to us all.  I believe that most golfers undervalue the very simple, basic appeal of spending a few hours wandering around a natural environment with their like-minded pals.
 
Now, not too many folks are going to wander around with their pals in the Mojave (Sonoran?)  Desert for four hours.  So what do we have to do spruce up that environment to take advantage of its blessings, mitigate its discomforts, and make it appealing?  Maybe that is the essence of Palm Springs:  an unnatural oasis plopped down in the middle of a harsh, brutally beautiful landscape sitting atop a huge underground aquifer.  Got the dough?  Make it bloom.   God bless America.

In the most general way possible this thread is about architecture.  Is all of this fancy shit more important than the architecture?

A few other responses.  First, thank you all again.  If you want to ask real golfers a question, there is no better place.

Mark, sadly, I agree.  Most golfers think conditioning is architecture.  For me, architecture is about what happens when the ball hits the turf.  For most golfers, that is root of most complaints.  This course, however, was not a 140+ slope.  Rather the opposite:  scooped out, concave bowling lanes with beautiful bumpers on the sides, and gobs of bunkers that looked cool but didnít seem to make any sense as to their purpose.

Tiger, I agree with you too.  The service and facility were superb, a beautiful clubhouse.  Why not spend some of that money on the golf and scale back these amenities just a bit?  This was no County Down.

Brian, yes.

Kalen, the comparison to Couer DíAlene is apt.  Havenít played up there, but I live in Idaho and appreciate this great state as much as anyone.  If I headed up there for golf, Iíd probably want to play Gozzer or Circling Raven first (if I could get on).  Iíll sure give you a call, if I do.  Youíre invited here as well.  The difference is that Desert Willow is a muni, built with massive public funds.  I guess my disappointment was that the golf should have been the public work of art and the other stuff the accessories.
 
Garland, youíre right, Iím a hick.  Also a hack.  Iíve got some other baggage as well, some of it pretty highfalutin.  Iím not opposed to opulence per se.  I donít have much use for it, but itís fine with me for those folks that enjoy it.  I just donít think it has much to do with golf.  Funny, I was thinking of Melvyn when I wrote the initial post.  I almost said something like ďMelvyn, donít jump in here, this is for other folks.Ē  Especially that bit about driving around in GPS carts.  Yikes, heíd break out in hives at that joint.

Joe, you are damn close.  We are a 7 iron away, just across the river in the same glorious canyon.  Canyon Springs is the name.  Good fun can be had here, too.  Some would say more, and at a lower price.       

Dave McCollum

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2012, 01:03:15 AM »
Oh, I forgot a confession.  I was discussing these things with my pro.  All very much in the context of what is golf?  Personally, I donít think you can talk about architecture without getting down to some basics about golf and golfers.  Heís the one that told me to throw it out here.  Heíll enjoy your replies.  Iíll thank you in advance for him.

Mac Plumart

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Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2012, 01:12:06 AM »
Oh, I forgot a confession.  I was discussing these things with my pro.  All very much in the context of what is golf?  Personally, I donít think you can talk about architecture without getting down to some basics about golf and golfers.  Heís the one that told me to throw it out here.  Heíll enjoy your replies.  Iíll thank you in advance for him.

Totally in my own words and without any help for anyone else or any outside source whatsoever, I'd say...

Golf has no other justification for existence than to heighten the joy of living, to diminish this is to defeat the purpose of golf.  

But those are just my thoughts.   ;)


FYI...Dave, I think your pro is correct and Nuzzo's three classifications of golfers might be something for your pro to review.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Dave McCollum

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Opulent Golf
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2012, 03:28:38 AM »
 How the hell do I find that Nuzzo comment?  I searched the words and the topic.  Nada.  Youíre helping the digitally handicapped here.  Your time must be considered as some sort of community service and tax deductible.  Please, send the link.

My feeble mind is trying to grasp the meaning of your words about the purpose of golf.  I sense brilliance.  Shouldnít there be something about ďsufferingĒ and ďovercoming adversityĒ in there somewhere?  Never mind, Iím just wasting time now, drifting toward sleep, waltzing on quicksand, whatever.  My brain checked out awhile ago.

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