Zanzibar, sounds exotic – well it is! A tropical island off the east coast of Africa with a rich history dating back centuries. Early native tribes were the first inhabitants, then following the 16th century, the Portuguese, the Omani (who built palaces and forts under the direction of the Sheikh of Oman), the Germans and the British were subsequently involved. Most of the action centers around Stone Town with its colourful, crowded and narrow streets. The narrow streets help to lower the temperature.
Zanzibar, an ideal location for trade was also the home of the notorious Slave Trade – nasty stuff! Impelled by the British, this practice was halted in 1873. The present economy revolves around spices and tourism. We visited a spice farm…did you know turmeric is from a root, cinnamon is from the bark of a tree? and cloves are from the buds of trees? Spices are not indigenous to the island, however ideal growing conditions encouraged entrepreneurs to import seed and this industry is very important to the local people.
Now for golf?? There is only one golf course on the island – Sea Cliff Resort and Spa – of course aimed at tourists. Enjoy the culture and the beautiful beaches and leave your clubs behind.
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Tanzania!….on safari!…daily trips through 5 major National Parks in a topless Land Rover…saw 107 lions (yes! someone was counting!), Cape buffaloes, leopards, elephants, and rhinos (the Big Five), as well as countless giraffes, zebras, warthogs, hippos (that sleep in the water most of the day!! etc! …the parks are also a bird-watcher’s paradise!
Now, about the golf…..there are only 14 golf courses in this large East African country…and most of them are 9 holes. A couple of newer courses are 18 holes, the Arusha Gymkhana Golf Club and the Mt Kilimanjaro Golf and Wildlife Estate. …both offer other amenities as well …like swimming pools, and spas! We did pass a couple of courses on our travels, however…with the relentless sun and being so close to the equator, we were not sorry to pass up the golf!
Off to Zanzibar…now known as “the spice island” and also remembered as the largest slave market in the world from 1500’s til 1850.
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I confess I did not come to Africa to golf…..I came to see the animals, the people and experience the cultural differences.
Let me share some Africa experiences…..Rwanda, a country that, 20 years after the horrific mass genocide, is charting a new course: the country is immaculate, the local folk are always smiling, education is compulsory till Grade 11 and is free. The gorillas,, brought to our attention by Dian Fosey, are protected and can now be visited by hiking up into their conservation area.
Guess what? There is one golf course in the country! I stopped by the Kigali Golf Club, later in a day, and spoke to Patrick, the Caddy Master. The course; ……was opened in 1987, 18 holes, catered to Ex-Pats and NGO’s, very inexpensive to play, lots of young locals willing to carry your clubs. The heat however may be a deterrent, as it is usually in the 90’s (30’sC) with very high humidity!
Left Rwanda….off to Tanzania….see next blog!
Sorry I have not been able to blog for a while…my excuse…I am in Africa. Unfortunately access to computers, wifi, and continual power are in short supply where we have been. I did visit the one and only golf course in Rwanda however and had a long conversation with the Caddy Master. Will bring you up to date when electronic conditions improve. Stay tuned! Check back in a few days!
I have just had the pleasure of meeting Roberto and Laura Balestrini at The Lights at Indio Golf Course in California. Roberto is the founder of the American FootGolf League, and introduced FootGolf to North America…….and you are still wondering what is FootGolf!
Well….think of golf and soccer meshed together as a new sport played on an existing golf course – ideal on a Par 3 course. The soccer ball is kicked from the tee box down the fairway. It is probably kicked once more to get to the green – a special area to the side of the golf green with a flag in a very large hole – think a laundry basket – 21″ diameter.
Eighteen holes are played and each hole measures approximately 200 yds. The score card is very similar to a golf score card and a game will take about 2 hours.
A tournament was being held the evening I attended. As the golf course is night-lit, it was an ideal situation for the FootGolf tournament and a shotgun start. The flights for the competition were Men, Women, and Juniors. Lots of chatter and laugher!
FootGolf originated in Holland in 2008. It then spread to several European countries, then to South America, and finally… thanks to the Ballestrini’s, FootGolf arrived in the US . In the US there are 279 clubs in 43 states offering FootGolf, in Canada 20 clubs thus far.
A wonderful feature of FootGolf is that all ages can play and that it can help familiarize young people with a golf course long before they can master the game of golf (who does that???) if they are keen to do so later.
Happy New Year everyone!
Golf is played year round in the desert. However varying seasonal temperatures dictate a change of grass on the course. Following is what happens at Sun City Palm Desert, CA
In October, the summer grass (Bermuda) starts to brown and a process called “scalping” starts. It involves reduced watering (re-cycled!) and the application of environmentally friendly chemicals. Then the course is overseeded with Rye grass which is cold resistant. Heavy watering (again re-cycled water!) follows, and in 5 days the seeds germinate, in 7-8 days the Greens are mowed, and in 10 – 12 days the Fairways are mowed.
In April the Rye grass dies and the Bermuda grass, which is heat resistant, comes back naturally.
Tyler Truman is the Golf Course Superintendent at Sun City Palm Desert. He grew up on a golf course his Dad built, was involved in landscaping businesses, and after countless turf management accreditation courses, now manages 2 golf courses and all the parks in one of the largest California desert communities. His staff of 65 work daily from 5:30am til 2:30 pm …..15 of these people are continually on mowers. Greens are cut daily, Fairways Mon/Wed/Fri,, and the Rough 1X/wk.
Thanks for the info Tyler! I have simplified the various processes however… now we can better appreciate the work that goes into maintaining a golf course in the desert!
I am delighted with this new website!….and thanks to the people who have contacted me. Among them is a man in Rhode Island who met me on a ferry when I first started writing the pink book, a woman from Minnesota, a woman from the Philippines , and a group from the UK.. Pleased to hear from anyone…please contact me.
The aim of this blog is simply to share some interesting news from the golf industry. I shall try to update the blog on a weekly basis…please return.
Recently in Calgary Alberta, Kerry Watkins, the Grounds Superintendent at the Glencoe Club shared his information on the critical process of preparing a golf course for winter. Similar processes will be carried out wherever a course is blanketed with snow.
Kerry stressed that superintendents must make decisions based on history, types of grasses, weather, and amount of money available. Fall is an important time in preparation for winter, so that minimal time will be needed in the spring for the course to be playable. Procedures as follows;
1. Mower heights are raised and the frequency of mowing is reduced.
2. Irrigation system must be blown out.
3. Fertilizer and Fungicides are applied – anyone using these products must be certified.
Fertilizer will maintain a strong dormant season and be easily available to the turf in the spring.
Fungicide is critical to prevent SNOW MOLD which will kill the turf.
4. Accessories on the course are removed and refurbished.
***Special care must be given to the GREENS, as it is the condition of the greens by which a golf club is judged! The general practice is as follows;
a. Aeration to relieve compaction and help with drainage.
b. Fungicide spread – to prevent the dreaded Snow Mold!
c. Top-dressing done with a heavy layer of sand
You may have heard of other covering methods such as straw or tarpaulins. — this will depend on a superintendent’s decision.
To winterize an 18 hole course would take from 5 – 10 days. And… often in the end, despite the planning and the labour, it may be Mother Nature who has the last word!
TopGolf – Look it up! This is a new entry into the golf world which started in the UK. It is a cross between a driving range and a sports bar – world class and very inviting! I was fortunate to be in Austin TX and was delighted to tour this facility. The motto seemed to be – No skill needed, just have FUN!
An impressive entrance and reception area (manned by a greeter!) leads you to an expansive multi-storied area of hitting bays – around 100 bays on 3 floors. The computers at each bay are state of the art – and tell you how far the ball has gone etc…..however, TopGolf encourages groups to use the facility and each bay has comfortable living-room seating with coffee tables just behind each bay. Snacks or drinks anyone?
Did I mention the many huge TV screens? the music? the bars? the food (delicious!)? the pool tables? and the meeting rooms? and that you are surrounded by first class furnishings at every turn? The day I visited TopGolf nine organizations had booked parts of the facility for an event.
Lessons are available for all groups and for all ages…If you are in Austin, look up Tina Bradley Mayers who is a PGA Teaching Pro and the Director of Instruction at that location.
There are presently 5 TopGolf franchises in the US with 10 more to open soon!
Distinctively Different? Hurrah!
Met a wonderful teaching pro in Tucson, Jim Kirwan, who tells me there is a secret to golf! Hmmm I wonder???
The 3 keys he tells me are…
- 1. proper placement of the hands,
- 2. proper stance and posture
- 3. a consistent, repeatable, and trustable routine with a good finish.
Sounds easy!! Now comes the dreaded PRACTICE part!!! but with a different spin! Only 15 – 20 minutes/day with your focus on the 3 keys above. When you commit to this routine you will be …
***Swinging with a ‘consistent pace of swing’ that creates effortless power.
Now, pick your target – a positive target – generally above the horizon, a cloud, a tall tree, a crane, aim at it, and swing away!
This could work for you! TRY IT!!
And if you are in Tucson, look up Jim for a lesson!