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Bad golf around the world... again

Matt PaulsonBy Matt Paulson,

All right, here’s the dillio: Life is funny. Golf is funnier. Here’s why:

To Peachtree City, Ga. This city of about 35,000 boasts approximately 80 miles of paved cart paths that Peachtree dwellers typically use for mundane errands. Michael Johnston, 47, and Samuel McClain, 35, took a golf cart through the streets one night for an extraordinary journey. Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber drove the vehicle about two miles before crashing into a parked car. Of the passengers – Johnston, McClain and McClain’s SEEING-EYE DOG – none was hurt.

Aye, there’s the rub. The cart driver, McClain, is blind and was driving simply through instructions from his admittedly inebriated buddy, Johnston. Johnston claimed to have had six or seven beers, which in drunk-but-trying-to-act-sober-for-the-cops talk, means anywhere from 10 to 24.

Now on we go to Bandi Qargha, Afghanistan, and the Kabul Golf Club. As expected, playing golf here is out of the ordinary. Robert Trent Jones does not have a Taliban Golf Trail. Nor is Pete Dye itching to construct an island green out of rocks and sand. But club pro Muhammed Afzal Abdul is proud anyway.

At Kabul GC, the hazards are much truer to the actual meaning of the word than the hazards we Americans are used to. Afzal scoffs at the wimpy 3-foot-deep lakes we whine about daily. He glares down his nose at the inferior “bunkers” of the states. Afzal has hazards here.

As the London Free Press reports, “The dirt-and-scrub fairways are rippled with tank tracks, littered with shell casings, dotted with craters, bordered by ruins of war.”

But that’s not all. In addition, one must be careful of the red-painted rocks in the fairways. No, it’s not ground under repair. Well, it could be if you step near one of these rocks. For those that don’t know, red-painted rocks are the international sign for landmines. How’s that for an interesting story? You no longer have to bore your friends with lackluster tales of a sore back. They’ll listen intently when you limp into the 19th hole without a left leg. And the titanium of which you’re most proud is not your 460cc driver. It’s the titanium alloy shaft holding up the left side of your body.

But Afzal insists there is no trouble. “Golf course no mines,” he says. If it’s all the same to you, Afzal, I’ll take a rain check.

To Townsville in Queensland, Australia. At about 11 p.m., neighbors of Willows Golf Course noticed two suspects driving around the golf course. Alarmed upon seeing two full-size cars tearing around the track, neighbors contacted police, who apprehended and charged two youths, ages 16 and 17, with willful damages and a myriad of other traffic offenses. But as the context expands, course officials estimate the damage to be around $20,000, which could be increased five-fold if it affects the Queensland Masters to have been played at Willows.

Now into Lurgan, Northern Ireland, where dissident republicans decided to vent their frustrations on the links. Instead of breaking a few clubs or dropping a few choice expletives, these deviants dropped a 50-pound pipe bomb on a golf club in Co Armagh. But the plot thickens.

Speculation that the bombers were attempting to lure and murder police has now been triggered. Security officials stated that they were called to the scene to investigate damage to the windows. Fortunately, the bomb exploded prematurely, and another bomb found on the property did not explode at all. Now these are some bad golfers: To get so frustrated that they have to blow things up. Take a lesson. Call Dr. Bob. But don’t just start blowing stuff up. It’s just plain bad etiquette.

On to Durham, N.C., where the inside of Hillandale Golf Course may look slightly altered in the morning. In fact, about $15,000 different. Police reported that burglars broke into the club at around 2:45 on a Wednesday morning and made off with 52 drivers worth a total of $15,356. Police have not apprehended any suspects. At press time, they were too busy congratulating themselves on pinpointing the time of the burglary.

Finally, to end on a lighter note, we venture to Banff, Alberta, where a sign reads: “Any ball striking an elk may be replayed with no penalty.” At the Stanley Thompson 18 on the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course, the elk always play through. In fact, they have the right of way, as the course is situated in a national park in the Canadian Rockies.

“Our maintenance staff’s hardest job is to repair damage caused by the elk,” said head pro Miles Mortensen to the Newhouse News Service. “But the course is in very good shape, considering the number of rounds played on it.”

On the 27 holes, the course averages 33,000 to 35,000 rounds throughout the year, which in Canada, lasts from about mid-May to mid-October, or whenever the first snow hits. Part of the reason for the large number of rounds is the wildlife. Not only can one find elk at Fairmont Banff, but wolf and bear enjoy snooping around the track as well. In addition, people enjoy course for its surrounding aesthetics, as it lies in a valley surrounded by three mountains and two rivers.

Cool. Elk, wolves and bear: sounds like fun. And that Canadian landscape actually sounds rather enchanting. One thing about Canada, though, the beer sure sucks.

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