Archive for October, 2010

Fontana Golf Course, Austria

Oct 31st

Located to the south of Vienna, Austria, on the edge of the spa town of Baden lies the prestigious Fontana Golf Course; opened in 1996 this 18-hole course was designed by Doug Carrick and Hans Erhardt. From the beginning quality was the highest priority at Fontana, due to continuous improvements and its demand for high quality standards the Fontana golf course soon developed to become part and parcel of Europe’s elite where it prominently figures among the top 3 golf courses together with such renowned places like St. Andrews and Valderrama.

This 6021 meters length and Par 72 Championship course shows its American influence in its size large and  immaculate fairways and greens, the two finishing holes are lined by a huge lake and accompanying bunkers. When the wind blows, the course offers a serious challenge, but even those who struggle here can enjoy its perfection. Many of Europe’s top players, Jose Maria Olazabel for instance, are frequently seen playing here, providing evidence of the club’s international reputation.

Fontana Golf course is the annual host to the European Tour’s BA-CA Open, a golf course of the highest standard to satisfy the most demanding player; excellent and well designed training facilities: the chipping and putting areas complete the outstanding driving range. Claude Grenier teaches here – he is one of the best pros in the country. Only a few minutes away from Vienna, adjacent to the health and casino resort Baden you will find Austria’s most elegant recreational facility: the Fontana Golf & Country Club.

Golf Funny Commercial #17

Oct 30th

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Increasing Life Expectancy by playing Golf

Oct 29th

It is a well-known fact that Golf can be a good investment for the health; a team of researchers from Karolinska Institute has presented in 2008 a study of the health effects of golf a low-intensity form of exercise. The authors of this study compared the life expectancy of the general population with that of more than 300,000 golfers licensed with the Swedish federation. The two populations were similar in age, proportion of women and men and socio-economic development. Methodological rigor that makes the results of this study compelling, welcomed the news. So how can golf improve life expectancy?

The study showed that golf has beneficial health effects, scientists from Sweden claim death rate for golfers is 40 per cent lower than for other people of the same sex, age and socioeconomic status, which correspond to a 5 year increase in life expectancy. A round of golf means being outside at least for for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometers and that is known to be good for the health. People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help.

The benefits of golf

Golf and exercise – While playing a round of Golf you are burning up calories, reducing cholesterol and it can help to reduce stress. It is great for keeping you in shape as everyone knows that walking is the most fundamental of all exercise programs, so walking in a golf course would be considered good for you. Every round that’s played makes one walk between six and seven kilometers, and burns around a thousand calories. But wait, there’s more

La Cala Golf Resort, Spain

Oct 28th

The La Cala Golf Club Resort offers three fantastic golf courses, located in the hills just behind La Cala de Mijas, Spain, it is the only resort on the Costa del Sol with three 18 hole championship golf courses; set in beautiful landscape they require a good mix of accuracy and skill to negotiate your way round them. Designed by the renowned Cabell Robinson, a star pupil of the legendary Robert Trent Jones, the resort is also home to one of David Leadbetter Golf Schools.

Cabell Robinson stresses the difference between the three courses: “The three courses in La Cala Resort are all very different in character. They are three good challenges and none is over long. Yet they are all very different in character”. It gives a great option to golfers to have three 18-hole courses to choose from.”

Accommodating three courses into such a mountainous region is something of an exploit, and you need to be pretty fit to refuse a buggy. But wait, there’s more

Urban Golf (London, UK)

Oct 27th

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Golf Books #6 (Play Away Please: The Tale of the Sale of Golf’s Greatest Icon…)

Oct 26th

The St. Andrews Old Course Starter’s Box was sold in a controversial international auction on September 10, 2001, the day before the infamy of the Twin Towers attack. Play Away Please recounts the glory of the little building in St. Andrews, “the Home of Golf,” and tells the tale of those who used its services for 77 continuous years. Unlike many epics, the story does not center on a rich dynasty or a heroic quest for the truth.

Instead, it centers on the production of the perfect round of golf and the global marketing of the Box—one of the most celebrated buildings in the world of sport—as a brand and an icon. The book also chronicles the suspense and notoriety that greeted the Box after its voyage from Scotland to California, by way of the Panama Canal, and the role it assumed as an emotional balm for many in the aftermath of the September 11th atrocity. Alas, nothing is as simple as it seems and miracles are rare.

The businessman who bought the Box was imprisoned before it reached Los Angeles, accused of stealing millions from the real-estate development that was to be its home. Eight years later, a happy ending was finally brought about, but only after a healthy dose of fear, suspense, and gutwrenching became a part of the story. Supplemented with exclusive photographs, Play Away Please is also a personal story of patronage and odyssey to assure the Box’s preservation as the sporting world’s consummate symbol of integrity and fair play. Along the way, the author brings to life the unforgettable local characters of Fife, celebrating their customs, lifestyle and unique command of the English language.

About the Author

John Peter Hagen is the founder of the Friends of St. Andrews, which assists in the preservation and maintenance of the historic golf courses at St. Andrews. (source)

Bigwin Island Golf Course, Canada

Oct 25th

Bigwin Island Golf Course in on Lake of Bays, in the Muskoka District of Ontario, Canada, was designed by world renowned golf course architect Doug Carrick. Originally laid out in 1922 as a 9-hole course, by by Stanley Thompson it was expanded to 18 holes within a few years. Bigwin Island was the big swinging place to spend the summer back in the 1920s and 30s, built on a grand scale Bigwin was very much a symbol of the elegance and excess of this era in history. In the 1940’s, the resort welcomed a retinue of stars and celebrities, from famous Hollywood couple Clark Gable and Carole Lombard to such illustrious writers as Ernest Hemingway and H.G. Wells. It was a favorite haunt of the Rockefellers, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands stayed for a visit, and Canadian Prime Ministers including John Diefenbaker often summered there.

Bigwin Island Golf Club course itself is a par 72 championship layout measuring 7,166 yards from the championship tees. Bigwin Island Golf Club course is designed to provide challenge and enjoyment to golfers of all skill levels with a variety of tee locations measuring 6,742 yards from the blue tees, 6,287 yards from the white tees and 5,346 yards from the red tees. Each of Bigwin Island Golf Club’s nine is a par 36 consisting of two par threes, two par fives and five par fours. Every hole is surrounded by mature hardwoods, creating a sense of maturity and character typically found on the great classic courses built during the early 1900’s. The holes are routed in a variety of directions over the undulating island terrain, creating constantly changing shot values, wind directions and challenges.

The course was voted the “Best New Canadian Golf Course” by Golf Digest (Jan. 2002). #6 Best Golf Course in Canada by Score Golf (July 2004), #2 in Ontario by Bogey Man’s Best (Toronto Star Golf Guide 2005), The Most Thrilling Driving Hole in Canada 6th Hole, Bigwin Island Golf Club (Globe and Mail Golf Guide 2005), among other prestigious awards.

Golf Architects/Designers: Tom Simpson

Oct 24th

Tom Simpson is one of the unsung heroes of golf course architecture, whose deserved position is alongside Harry Colt and Alister Mackenzie as one of the greats. Simpson was one of the breed of gentleman amateur architects as opposed to a golf professional turned designer. From a wealthy mining family, he was always financially secure and went to Cambridge to study law, leading on to a place on the Bar, although golf rather took over. He was known to show up at the sites of new commissions in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, a not so quiet way to let his well-heeled employers know that he wasn’t some commoner to be trifled with.  Here’s how George Peper imagined Simpson’s arrival:   “From the backseat emerges what appears to be a fugitive from the Cannes Film Festival, sporting an embroidered cape, horn-rimmed sunglasses, a floppy beret, and an attitude.”

Simpson left his mark in Great Britain – at The Cruden Bay Golf Club (designed by Old Tom Morris & Archie Simpson) in 1926, together with Herbert Fowler, he redeveloped the course although many of Tom Morris’s original greens and basic routing are still in evidence; renovations at  Ashridge G.C., Sunningdale G.C., New Zealand GC, Byfleet, Surrey and many others. The design and influence can be seen on Belgium (Royal Antwerp), Ireland (a reworking of Ballybunion), and perhaps most notably, France.  Three of his greatest works are courses like Morfontaine, Chantilly and Fontainebleau – along with a number of other designs.  Like his fellow golden agers, Simpson championed the notion of strategic golf course design, where different approach options are presented to the player; more demanding options (successfully executed!) are rewarded with a better position in the fairway or on the green. James Dodson (an award-winning regular columnist for Golf Magazine for almost 20 years) said about Tom Simpson: “Most American golf architecture fans know Robert Trent Jones, Donald Ross and perhaps Old Tom Morris, but they don’t know Tom Simpson…, … as he’s one of the greatest architects of all time.”

But wait, there’s more

Golf Funny Commercial #16

Oct 23rd

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Cruden Bay Golf Course, Scotland

Oct 22nd

The Cruden Bay Golf Club is located north of Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland, there is evidence, in the form of a ballot box inscribed Cruden Golf Club 1791 that a nine-hole golf course existed before the layout of today’s links course. It may have been located at the Ward Hill near Slains Castle, and indeed the Cruden Bay Golf Club of today has in its possession a winner’s medal from a competition played on the Ward Hill dated 1883. However this unique links course was commissioned in 1894 by the Great North of Scotland Railway Company and fully opened in 1899 as part of the recreational facilities offered by the Cruden Bay Hotel, newly erected and opened in March of that same year. The inner nine hole “ladies course” was also laid out at the same time.

From the onset, golfers came from all over the world to play the championship golf course – designed by Old Tom Morris of St Andrews, with help from Archie Simpson. Its opening was celebrated with an inaugural professional two day open tournament on 14-15th April 1899, with prizes totaling £120. The Cruden Bay Golf Club was formed around 1900, the first Captain being the Rev B Alcock.   By 1908 the course had been extended to 5929 yards, and then in 1926 the partnership of Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler oversaw the redevelopment of the course, although many of Tom Morris’s original greens and basic routing are still in evidence; they also redesigned the St Olaf course which was opened at the same time.

We imagine Tom Simpson arriving at Cruden Bay, finding this incredibly convoluted piece of links land and on his mind the question was: “What to do?” remarkably, he built a series of holes that meander all over the place. Some are pure links land in character, one is on top of a ridge, one is in a bowl, one falls off a ridge and others are sandwiched between the ridge and the North Sea. There are blind shots, consecutive par threes, and two drivable par fours.

Cruden Bay

The result achieved? A course that inspires golfers the world over not only to come here for the first time but for many subsequent return games as well. By letting the land dictate the course, Simpson came up with an absolute winning ‘formula.’ He delivered on what some people point is the most basic element of good routing: that the holes follow the same path a person would take if he were to walk the property before the course was built.