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Around the world of golf in 80 days

Matt PaulsonBy Matt Paulson,

Let's start at the Quarry Hill Golf Club in Australia. The latest victim in a series of golf course vandalism attacks, Quarry Hill regulars were disenchanted to find their fairways torn up nearly beyond repair on a recent Saturday morning. Golf Club Captain Rex Nancarrow said the golf club has incurred thousands of dollars of damage over the years, and this latest attack has seriously irked the Australians.

As the story, entitled "Hoons hit fairways," reports, "Destructive hoons have again hit a Bendigo sporting facility, doing wheelies, shredding up grass and creating a general mess."

American police were contacted on the matter. Their response: "What the hell is a hoon? And is his name really Captain Rex? Are they making this up?"

Ian Woosnam recently found his swing at the French Open at the Le Golf National near Paris to open with a 4-under-par 67. Woosnam, the 1991 Masters champion who hasn't won since the 2001 World Match Play at Wentworth and is currently ranked just shy of the Top 100 in the European Order of Merit, discovered a 21-year-old 1-iron in his garage, and credits part of his early success in the French Open to the newfound stick.

Woosie has since reveled in the fact that he can now take four of the five drivers out of his bag.

Now let's head to Toronto and an exclusive Toronto golf club, where anti-semitism is as rampant as the questionable French fries and gravy that happily clog the arteries of our northern neighbors. Recently, Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel awarded damages in the amount of $267,000 to Michael Geluch, declaring that Geluch was fired without cause.

In 1997, Geluch was dismissed as general manager of the Rosedale Golf Club after 12 years of service.

In the 43-page decision, Himel wrote, "Mr. Geluch, as a long-serving employee, was not treated fairly by his employer and was not afforded any opportunity to tell his side of the story or respond in any way."

And guess what? The plot thickens. Geluch made claims that in 1996, George Cohon, founder and senior chairman of McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Ltd., tried to join the club and was blocked because his involvement would open "the floodgates to have more Jewish members at Rosedale," as reported by the CanWest News Service. Soon, Geluch was summoned to a meeting and dismissed without explanation.

Himel ruled that "certain prominent members" had a personality conflict with Geluch, and his dismissal was a direct response to this conflict. The board, which recently met, will decide soon whether to appeal the decision. At the conclusion of the meeting, the members of the board walked stiff-legged away from the conclave and were sporting an usually high number of thin black mustaches.

Now to Oklahoma. If I had a dollar for each time I heard of a country singer and a former college football coach attempting to buy a country club, I'd be a rich man. Toby Keith and former University of Oklahoma Football Coach Barry Switzer are joining forces to attempt to buy Belmar Golf Club just north of Norman. Keith and Switzer, who have already partnered on four housing developments and three mini-storage sites, have planned to turn semi-private club into fully private within a year and add locker rooms, an enclosed events pavilion and a swimming complex.

In a related story, Gary Barnett of the University of Colorado and R. Kelly have expressed interest in buying a Deju Vu, their fifth.

Let's head to Manchester, N.Y., where the O'Coynes have begun begging for a cease-fire. Danny O'Coyne, who built his home in 1977 on land his father in law once owned, has survived a barrage of golf balls from the Clifton Springs Country Club for the past 10 years. Every year, O'Coyne and his wife Dorothy collect 2,500 to 3,000 golf balls off their front lawn and
out of their windshields, as they've had to replace four of them.

"I've had golf balls bounce around me when I've been working in my garage, and my mower has been hit when I've been on it cutting my grass. I' ve had them land in my pool, and they've almost hit my little nieces who were visiting," O'Coyne told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

But the O'Coynes are laid-back folk, and until last year, they simply bore the onslaught because the club picked up the bill for whatever damage was incurred. But recently, new Club Pro and Manager Jeff Pulli told the O' Coynes it wasn't the club's problem, and the mild-mannered O'Coynes have fought back.

The O'Coynes have enlisted the help of a lawyer and the respective officials in the towns of Hopewell, where the club is located, and Manchester, the city where the O'Coynes reside. And the criminal justice system is helping as well. Dorothy O'Coyne recently had Pulli arrested for trespassing after she saw him collecting golf balls from her front yard.

Finally, to end with a little more blatant stupidity. Greg Couch, a columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times, sounds off about golf: "(Tiger) Woods has been called the world's most popular athlete, its most influential athlete and at times its greatest athlete. I have a little problem with that. He is surely popular, influential and great. But an athlete? You have to play a sport to be an athlete. Golf is not a sport. It's an activity."

Couch continued to spew ill-conceived logic and ignorance for about 30 inches before finally arriving at his loose point: Golf does not tax the cardiovascular system; therefore, it is not a sport.

Couch then downed a protein drink and shuffled off to view the sedated manatees of Major League Baseball sit on the bench and eat for three hours behind the shield of playing America's pastime, a game Couch, in all his illogical glory, deemed a real sport.

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