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Crossing the world, one BadGolfer at a time

Matt PaulsonBy Matt Paulson,

Let's head to Thailand, where the word misfired takes on a whole new meaning. At Field Marshall Plaek Golf Course, a section of the track is located on a military base in Lopburi Province. The base owns a shooting range, on which Thai police practice their marksmanship "with varying degrees of success," reports Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times. This range just happens to run next to the 15th hole at Field Marshall.

Course Manager Col. Bavornrat Maitreeprasat said bullets will frequently ricochet off something nearby or on the shooting range and fall on the course. Until now, no one has been hurt, but officials wonder whether the streak will continue. Reports Perry, "If golfers keep pressing their luck, officials fear, it's just a matter of time before there's a hole in one."

It's not very often that a golfer can reflect upon a round just played, and no matter how well he played, revel in the fact that he didn't get shot.

Recently, a rare flower was stolen from Silverdale Golf Club in Lancashire, England. The flower, which is said to be worth up to 2,000 pounds – or more than $3,600 – on the black market, is believed to be the rarest flower in the United Kingdom. British authorities are on the case.

In a related story, a British double murder remains unsolved as hoards of police force have been reassigned from homicide to foliage theft. Also, on a course nearby Silverdale Golf Club, suspects remain at large for two counts of failure to replace a divot – on the 14th fairway and the ninth tee box – in addition to one count of failure to fix a ball mark on the 15th green.

Back on the domestic front to beautiful Temecula wine country in Southern California: In June 2002, a police raid on a tournament at Hidden Valley Golf Club found two suspicious tents that had been temporarily set up on the golf course. Upon further investigation, authorities discovered that the tents contained two prostitutes providing favors for the members of the golf tournament. As a result, Jason Wood, 38, and Darren Bollinger, 30, pleaded guilty to two counts of "conspiracy to corrupt the public morals" after permitting the prostitutes to set up at the tournament.

With Pete Dye's Whistling Straits playing to just more than 7,500 yards for the recent PGA Championship, many forecast that courses will continue to lengthen with the perpetual advances in equipment technology. Andre Tolme, a civil engineer from New Hampshire, must be way ahead of his time. His recent round of 18 holes on a course he designed in Mongolia took him considerably longer than four hours. Tolme's course transverses the entire country of Mongolia, covering 1,234 miles – or 2,171,840 yards – with a par of 11,880, which Tolme incidentally set.

With a Jeep as his golf cart, Tolme carried just a 3-iron that not only served as his entire bag but also aided him as he fought off Bubonic plague-carrying marmots. In addition to the black death-inducing critters and his caddy, Khaatanbaatar, Tolme's only gallery were the wolves he heard constantly howling in the distance, a sound he deemed "unsettling."

When finished, Tolme shot 290 over par, which he lamented could have been 289 over par had he not lipped out that two-footer on 17, a 196,000-yard par 309. Tolme's quest does raise one question: When setting his own par, why would Tolme end up shooting 290 over?

To Fort Wayne, Ind., where 40-year-old Danielle Swope was recently denied entry to a women's tournament because her birth certificate does not list her as female. Her Mississippi certificate falsely deems her a male. But this is not just some nurse's clumsy mistake. Technically, it should have said "All of the above."

Swope was born a hermaphrodite, which means that she possessed both male and female reproductive organs. Raised as a boy named Daniel, Swope eventually underwent gender-reassignment surgery from 1995 to 1997 to become Danielle.

The LPGA, USGA and the Ladies European Tour all have policies that players must be female at birth. After Swope entered the Indiana Women's Open last fall, the Indiana PGA and the Indiana Women's Golf Association adopted similar policy. So this year, the newly-adopted rules barred Swope from entering the Fort Wayne Women's City Golf Tournament.

In response to Swope's denial to play in the Women's tournament, Linda Franze, president of the Fort Wayne Women's Golf Association, sounded off: "I feel sorry for her all-around. I can't imagine what she's going through. But there are rules and they apply to all of us." Franze's interview actually took place in her office, where posters of Annika Sorenstam and Susan Whaley hung proudly.

As a result, the Fort Wayne Men's City Tournament recently allowed Swope to participate in a qualifier. Danielle Swope, listed at 5-foot-4 and 160 pounds, has only been playing golf for two years.

Now let's conclude with a few announcements. Recently, the Fuhrer Invitational took place at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. The tournament, run by Frank B. Fuhrer Jr. focuses on the Tri-State PGA members and has a purse of $125,000 – or more than 197,000 Deutsche Marks. Seemingly a friendly event, everyone stops their round to wave every time Fuhrer passes by.

The Second Annual Gold's Gym Charity Golf Classic also took place recently. For lunch, players had their choice of three packages of bacon, a protein shake and a raw egg or the vegetarian platter: a handful of creatine with a glass of andro-tinted water.

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