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Friendship of Champs:
When people daydream about becoming the best of the best, the top of their chosen field, few pause to consider the potential drawbacks that such elevation may bring. Yet, for those who are truly remarkable within their own discipline, being so vastly superior to all the other competition can be surprisingly difficult to comprehend. Being the best has its perks, but one must also concede that it can be worryingly lonely.
It is therefore little surprise that two champions, who have dominated their respective sports for much of recent memory, have forged a friendship based on understanding how lonely being the best can be.
In golf, Tiger Woods has been there and done it all. The king of the greens, he is so vastly superior to most other players on the golfing circuit that few bother to even imagine success against him.
In tennis, Roger Federer has very nearly – with the exception of the French Open, which proves elusive – been there and done it all. The king of grass, he plays with the grace of a ballet dancer and many opponents know they have lost before the first ball has even been served.
Woods and Federer have become close friends, these two giants of their own sports. The two were brought together by Nike, who saw the potential of these two living sporting legends and united them for an ad campaign. They have since starred, together with footballer Thierry Henry, in advertisements for razor brand Gillette alongside their Nike commitments. Before the 2007 Wimbledon final – in which Federer played his tennis arch-rival Rafael Nadal – Woods recorded a video message for Federer, via Nike, encouraging his friends to win his fifth title. Both men confess to a friendly rivalry as to who can win the most majors in their respective sports; currently, Woods holds the record at 14, with Federer on 13.
Their friendship has extended beyond the advertising suite. In 2006, Woods was photographed supporting Federer from Federer’s own players’ box as he bid for the US Open title. Both have also openly talked of their friendship in interviews and how it has helped them; citing that only each other, out of everyone on the planet, can really understand the position they are in.]]>
Joining a golf club is actually surprisingly difficult in many cases. There has been no small amount of controversy in the past over people seeking to join one and being refused on what seemed like either very arbitrary, or possibly heavily discriminatory, grounds. One of the world’s most famous clubs, the Augusta National (home to major golf competition the US Masters), first had a black member in 1990. As of yet, it has never had a female member, although it does allow women to play the course as guests of its members. The Augusta National is far from the only club not to have female members, but it is – as the current permanent home of the Masters – the highest-profile club with single-sex membership. Its chairman, Hootie Johnson, says that the club may well have female members in the future, but that he will not be threatened into making a change.
In general, though, most golf clubs have a far more relaxed membership policy than the Augusta National or Scotland’s Muirfield, although in many cases membership policy is dictated by the club’s current members whose own opinions and motivations are theirs and theirs alone. The best way to ensure you can get membership of a club is to be friends with someone who is already a member. A little light lobbying on their part, and if you are lucky, you’ll be given the call.]]>
To “chunk” a shot is to drive your club into the ground before, or in (accidental) lieu of hitting the ball. Coming from the sound that such an impact makes, it is something horribly familiar to a great many golfers. And it could lead to a Mulligan, which is a replay of the shot without any stroke being counted. This is not allowed in competition golf, but is allowed to pass in most casual rounds. From your Mulligan, could you end up on an apron? You certainly could. Assuming you were aiming for the green, if you ended up on the slightly rougher patch of grass around it, that’s exactly where you would have ended up.
From such a position there would be two options. Firstly your sober friend could try to chip the ball from the “apron” towards the hole, or secondly they could attempt a putt. If the ball rolled around the outside of the hole and stayed out, this is described as “lipping out” – from where the ball can go anywhere, sometimes heart breakingly a few feet past. When the ball rolls past the hole, you must rely on a putt coming back the other way – or, as the terminology has it, a “comebacker”.
There are a great many other golf terms which may be considered impenetrable and arcane to the uninitiated. The best advice that one could possibly pass on to a novice trying to get a handle on the terminology for the sake of a relationship is to watch with a notepad and learn as you go along with some help from the Internet.
Why Put Things Off When You Can Go Off Putting?
For many of us, a holiday is an opportunity to get away from things and sit by a pool, catching some sun and having a quiet period of relaxation and contemplation. Some of us do not deal so well with staying still all the time and need to have a bit more to do with our time. These are the people who benefit most from golfing holidays. You still get the time away from things – perhaps more so, because there are few places more suited to splendid isolation than the far end of a golf course – but you also get to have a bit of gentle exercise rather than getting bored on a sun lounger.
There are some great destinations for a golfing holiday in the US. Florida in itself is home to several fabulous courses, with very limited prospects of having to cut short your game due to rain if you go at the right time. Check with your travel agent to see where and when you could go and play a few rounds, and especially ask them about Naples – the famed golfer’s paradise – and the world renowned Doral golfing resort. Arizona, too, is home to some great courses, and both of the above states have a lot more going for them than just (!) golf, so the whole family can come along.
If you fancy stretching your search a bit further than US courses, there are some excellent golfing holidays to be had further afield. In Europe, there is a love for golf that challenges that of the American golfing fraternity. Britain, for example, is home to some of the most famous old courses in the world, including the Belfry (four time host of the Ryder Cup) and St Andrews, while Ireland has the legendary K Club. Meanwhile, if you want to get a bit more sunshine while you play, the Portuguese Algarve is dotted with excellent courses. Further afield again, you might consider Dubai for a golfing break. There are courses springing up all the time there, while the hotels simply have to be seen to be believed.]]>
Watching golf can be a very confusing way to spend time if you are a novice to the sport. Like any sport, it has its own scoring system, but that is a little idiosyncratic in itself.
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Then there is the way the players dress, which in some cases is enough to confuse anyone in possession of a working pair of eyes. But perhaps the most confusing element of watching a game of golf is the seemingly arcane terminology used to refer to different elements of the game. This can make the whole sport seem like some sort of prank being played on an unsuspecting novice. So maybe some of the terms need to be explained better.
Firstly, what is with those terms used in the scoring system? Well, “par” had been used for anything that was considered an acceptable standard for years before its application in golf. So in this respect, it was a new application of existing terminology. But why “Bogey” for a bad score? Well, the story goes that a song of the late 19th Century had the lyric “I’m the Bogey Man, catch me if you can”. This led to people seeing the “bogey” on the golf course as something to be aimed for – and among amateurs, who still tend to play off a handicap, it still is. But the term was used interchangeably with “par” for many years, only adopting its current meaning in the early 20th Century.
As for “birdie”, this comes from further back than “bogey”. Early in the 19th Century, the word “bird” was used in much the same way as people nowadays would say “cool” – something that really stands out and impresses. Playing a hole in one shot fewer than is expected – now that is cool, surely? Hence the term “birdie” came to be used in reference to people doing just that. So why an “eagle” for someone playing a hole in two shots less than the par? Well, it’s obvious, is it not? It’s a kind of birdie, but it is bigger. And as you may have guessed, the use of the term “albatross” to describe playing a Par 5 hole in two shots is simply a continuation on that theme.]]>