Monday, June 09, 2008

Golf Freek



I am always on the lookout for new ways to gain access to a course I have not yet played. I also like to keep up on the activities of my fellow golf enthusiasts.

It was in this vein that I recently read a copy of Golf Freek by Stephen Eubanks. I was enticed by the sub-title of the book, One Mans Quest To Play As Many Rounds of Golf as Possible, For Free. The last two words in particular caught my attention. For Free. I set about reading it looking for some new tricks and some short cuts.

Bottom line, there are none. Eubanks is a golf writer and is really connected in the world of golf. A former golf professional, he is a member of eighteen golf clubs and has written twelve other golf books, including Augusta: Home of the Masters Tournament. Eubanks was also a friend of Mark McCormick, the former chairman of IMG, agent for Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, etc.

As a golf writer he gets compted, or as he explains in the book, takes "FAM" trips. "FAM" standing for familiarization trip. Or as he accurately describes them: "expensive bribe, free junkets, all expenses paid trips". This is why you will never see a negative article in a golf publication about a new course or a resort being reviewed. It would be extremely rude to insult your host after they paid for your trip and golf. Why bite the hand that feeds you?

Your trusted blogger here has never taken a "FAM" trip in his life, something I state with both pride and irritation, as it keeps my opinion pure. But who wouldn't love a free golf junket all expenses paid.

Eubanks was comped for a fabulous trip he took to Ireland to get P.R. for Doonbeg. He raves about the course and you have to wonder about his motivations. I have talked with a half dozen very well traveled golfers and they universally thought Doonbeg was over-rated and tricked up.

Overall, I liked the book. Eubanks goes to some interesting locations including China and Switzerland. The book really shines at the end when he starts to get personal about himself and pays tribute to our brave men and women in the armed forces. He visits Guantanamo Bay to play the nine hole course there and it is quite interesting. His story of the Wounded Warriors at Camp Lejeune helps keep golf and life in perspective and is well done.

Eubanks also recounts his rounds with Alice Cooper and Arnold Palmer, both of which are amusing.

The area where I strongly disagree with Eubanks is with his assessment that "the best links golf in Scotland is in Ireland and the best in England is, well, not very good". Although I would agree that Birkdale is not worthy of many of the worlds great links, Royal Liverpool and Royal St. George's are two of the unquestionable finest links courses in the world and arguably, when your throw in Sunningdale, Walton Heath, Woodhall Spa and Ganton England has better golf than both Ireland and Scotland in total. Perhaps a "FAM" trip to England would enlighten him?


2 comments:

Will said...

Interesting that the premise of the book seems to be connected with the "fam" concept, as if he's not concerned about the appearance of impropriety? In any case, I agree that the premise is misleading.

(you have a typo in the 2nd para)

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