You might think that the busiest man in the country would not have time for a nice round of golf, but you would be mistaken. Ever since Taft’s presidency in 1909, all but three men in office have played golf. Mike Trostel, curator and historian at the USGA Museum in New Jersey, reports that many presidents have used golf to cope with the pressures of having one the most stressful jobs in the world. However, golf may be the name of the game, but politics is often the goal. Many commander-in-chiefs have also used golf as diplomacy, as being out on the course can alleviate the tension and conflict of more formal politics settings.

President Obama is no stranger to golf, even teaming up with his political opponents for the sake of the game. In June 2011, Obama teamed up with Speaker of the House, republican John Boehner. They played at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, against Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Unlikely victors, Obama and Boehner beat Biden and Kasich, winning them a whopping $2. Sign of the financial crisis—I don’t know. The scores of the players, like most important things in Washington, are “classified”. It is likely that Boehner, who is #43 on Golf Digest’s ranking of Washington’s top 150 golfers with a handicap of 8.6, outperformed his teammate. Obama is #108 on the list, with an estimated handicap of 17. The most noted golfer out of the bunch is Vice President Biden, who ranks far better than his boss at #29 with a 6.3 handicap.

Maybe we can learn something from Golf Summit, as the game was later dubbed. Although a round of golf may not solve all our problems (or our country’s), it can create a better atmosphere for later conversation and dialogue.

These guys are good – part 2

Following up on our Every Shot Imaginable post, the European Tour has come out with a new promo video, this time defending Scotland against imaginary pirates.

Every play “hit the target” on the golf range? Well, it’s a bit like that, except you are aiming for the 3 foot mouth of a barrel, bobbing in a dinghy 150+ yards out to sea in high winds.

These guys are good.

$500 M for the World’s biggest Water Hazard!

If Jules Verne were a golfer, he would have imagined this course. Floating architecture specialists Dutch Docklands Company, in collaboration with golf course developer Troon golf and Waterstudio are in process of developing the world’s first floating golf course. Located in the Maldives Islands, The Royal Indian Ocean Club, will be an 27-hole golf course built on 3 separate floating island platforms, connected by underwater tunnels.

The floating islands will also be linked to an underwater clubhouse, as well as a series of hotels by more underwater tunnels. It has a number of innovative designs to deal with pesticides and construction in order to minimize its impact on the surrounding ecosystem of Maldives, whose highest point is only two meters above sea level.

We told the president of the Maldives we can transform you from climate refugees to climate innovators

– Paul van de Camp, CEO of Dutch Docklands

The state-of-the-art golf courses are expected to bring new wealth, investment and tourism to the country (tourism already being the top contributor to the country’s GDP). The artificial floating islands will incorporate technologies such as water cooling, water desalination, and the use of floating solar blanket fields. The budget of the project is $500 million and is expected to be completed in 2015.

A Golfing Safari?

What would it be like to have giraffe and an elephant in your foursome? Can a golfer ever experience nature in its most raw and vital form? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, then the Hans Merensky Golf Course is just the right stop for you.

The Hans Merensky course, designed by legendary Robert Grimsdell, is ranked as one of the top 20 golf courses in South Africa (also the best walking course in S.A.). Located just minutes from the gates of the Kruger National Park, it has the privilege and honor of having hosted many professional and amateur tournaments.

What makes the Merensky unique is that a golfer playing on the golf course not only has to navigate the large bunkers and bushveld trees that line the fairway, but also needs to watch out for ball-loving crocodiles, hippos and other wildlife. In fact, since the course is bordered by the Kruger National Park, during the drier winter months, elephants, several species of antelope, giraffe, warthogs and even big cats can be found on the course.

Bring your binoculars because playing this course is a real safari experience – on the 16th, a pulled or hooked drive could well land in Kruger National Park. It is hard to imagine a better place to play eighteen holes that also provides an oasis of leisure and elegance. Do not miss your expedition!

Nullarbor Links: The world’s longest golf course

Disclaimer – Do you get tired easily if you walk 18 holes? If yes, this post is not for you.

The Nullarbor Links golf course in Western Australia’s Golden Outback is long enough to wear out a new pair of shoes. This unique 18-hole, par 72 golf course stretches 848 miles and is undoubtedly the World’s longest golf course. Walking obviously isn’t an option here and neither are golf carts! Players need to bring their automobile and drive to the next hole since the average distance between holes are 66 kms (in fact two of the holes are 200 km apart).

The course, dreamed up over ‘a couple of beers’ and five years of effort was developed to enhance tourism along the highway, providing travelers with a most unusual added attraction. Each hole showcases a local attraction, including ancient fossil beds, a giant kangaroo statue, whale-watching and more. In addition camels, kangaroos and wombats give players the company but you will have watch out for the crows – they have a habit of stealing balls (around 200 balls had been lost so far). The course takes three to four days to complete and at the end each golfer is awarded with a certificate of completion. Playing the Nullarbor is a real test of determination and patience, but is also an experience you might never forget.

Northern Ireland – A Golfing Wonderland

Northern Ireland has a population of less than two million people – roughtly the same number of people as Nebraska – and covers the same amount of land as Connecticut. But this tiny place has produced three major champions in the past 13 months. With Darren Clarke’s recent victory at Royal St. George, Northern Ireland has garnered the attention of the golfing world. So, how does Northern Ireland do it?

When McIlroy tweeted his congratulations to Clarke, he added: “Northern Ireland…Golf Capital of the world!!” The credit goes not just to the golfers but also to the links they play. The courses at Newcastle and Portrush are listed two of the best in the world. Throw in Royal County Down, and a number of others and you easily have a golf trip that will be remembered for a long time. With the win at Royal St. George, Clarke has moved to No. 30 in the world rankings (ranked 111th before championship) giving Northern Ireland three of the top-30 players in the world..

We have fantastic golf courses, we have fantastic facilities. But to have three major champions from a little small place in a short period of time, it’s just incredible

– Graeme McDowell (2010 U.S. Open Champion)

After Darren Clarke’s astounding Open win and Rory McIlroy’s mesmerizing triumph at the US Open, Tourism Ireland has pumped in £1.8m promotional campaign to bring thousands of golf fans to Northern Ireland. “The time is now right to bring a major international golf tournament to Northern Ireland,” Arlene Foster, the NI tourism minister said. “Golfers spend more money than normal visitors,” Clair Balmer from Tourism Ireland said. “They spend an average of £400 per day, whereas a normal visitor spends about £37 per day. It’s that high end which would be really great for us to have.” If the campaign goes well, it is believed to bring an astonishing £ 80M to the North Ireland Economy.

The Montgomerie, Dubai, where you can putt for miles

The Montgomerie Dubai golf course is one of the most luxurious golf resorts in the Middle East. Designed by Colin Montgomerie in association with Desmond Muirhead, it is consistently ranked as one of the top golf courses in the Gulf.

Montgomerie is spread over 265 acres which includes 123 acres of turf, 14 man-made lakes, 93 acres of landscaped gardens and 81 extremely large bunkers. The course has a number of distinctive holes, including the 656 yard par-5 18th – with water guarding the green, it challenges even top players to reach the green in three. But the hole that steals the show is the par-3 13th, which claims to have the single largest green in the world, covering a total area of 58,000 sq. feet (equivalent to nine greens).

Hand-shaped bunker on the 17th hole

The Montgomerie, Dubai was voted “Dubai’s leading Golf Resort” in the 2006 World Travel Awards. Colin Montgomerie, Scotland’s most successful golfer has clearly embraced the traditions of a Scottish links course making it a unique experience in this part of the world. If you happen to be in the area, it is definitely a ‘must play’.

North Korea has its first ever golf tournament

This April North Korea held it’s first ever amateur golf tournament (for foreigners only). The organizers were swamped with applications from Korea, Japan, and the US. Over 200 golfers applied for 30 spots in the tournament.

The tournament was be held at the Pyongyang Golf Complex (18-hole par 72), the only course in the country open to North Koreans. British businessman Richard Shears was one of the players. He writes about his experience:

When the day came for the golf tournament, fortified by a breakfast of pickled cabbage and sauteed pork, we set out in groups for the first tee. There, we were amazed to find we’d been provided with a number of attractive young Korean women dressed in formal blue and white uniforms who would serve as our caddies.

The fairways were like light rough and extremely narrow. By the end of the day, I had been left way down the field – in spite of the attempts by my caddy, Miss Nim, to suggest in her very limited English what club I should use on each hole.
And as I missed each easy putt, she smiled sweetly and clapped politely.

Continue reading “North Korea has its first ever golf tournament”

Golf Dreams in the Slums of Mumbai

If you are looking for a little inspiration, watch the video below which tells unique story of caddie Anil Mane and his dream to someday become a pro golfer. Narrated by his sponsor, venture capitalist Ashish Kacholia, the video captures the dichotomy between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in modern India. A putter made from rebar? Amazing.

If you liked the documentary, you’ll enjoy this photo essay of golfers in the mumbai slums by Tomasz Gudzowaty, which served as the inspiration for the video. Our thanks to our friends at for turning us on to this video.

The World’s Largest Golf Club

In spite of the ban for golf for being associated to British colonialism, golf in China is becoming immensely popular and is growing exponentially. China’s first golf course was built in 1984 and the country presently has only 600 courses – that’s 1.5M people per course (talk about a long round) – targeted mainly to the wealthy provinces such as Beijing, Jiangsu, Guangdong and Hainan. Hainan in particular has been exempted from the ban by the government and is seen as an international tourism hub. However, golf’s inclusion in the 2016 Olympics is expected to drive significant demand for more courses and greatly expand the game’s reach.

The biggest attraction in Chinese golf is the Mission Hills resort/Golf club. With twelve immaculately manicured courses and nearly 10,000 members, Mission Hills is dubbed the “World’s Largest Golf Club” by Guinness World Records. The twelve courses are designed by a number of famous pros including Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Annika Sorenstam, Ernie Els, Jose Maria Olazabal, David Duval, Nick Faldo, Vijay Singh, Pete Dye, David Leadbetter, Jumbo Ozaki and China’s Zhang Lian-Wei.

As golf becomes more popular in China, Mission Hills is the center of the action. The club has already brought the world cup to China, acting as the host for Asian Amateur Championship 2009. It also hosted the first European Evergreen PGA tour event, in collaboration with the European Seniors Tour and the China Golf Association, from March 11-13 this year, with total prize money of US$ 35 million.

Playing a round at Mission Hills costs $148 US on a weekday and $200 on a weekend. The club’s features includes three world class spas, a 317 room 5-star hotel, golf academies from renowned instructors David Ledbetter and Cindy Reid, around 51 tennis courts, and of course the world’s largest club house.