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David Wood's book, 'Around the World in 80 Rounds' puts golf, life in perspective

Mike BaileyBy Mike Bailey,
Senior Staff Writer
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Former comedian David Wood sold almost everything he owned for a golf journey around the world and wrote about it in his book, 'Around the World in 80 Rounds.' (Courtesy of St. Martin's Press)

Author, comedian and public speaker David Wood used golf to learn about the world and himself in his revealing and humorous travelogue, "Around the World in 80 Rounds."

Over the years, my perspective on my own golf game has changed. It could be healthier, but I really don't let my performance on a golf course define me anymore. Traveling around the country and parts of the world to review golf courses and resorts will change the way you look at golf. Heck, life's too short to get upset about what's arguably the most difficult and frustrating sport in the world.

In fact, I don't think it's a stretch to say that what you get out of golf might very well help you define the meaning of life for you. For those who believe it's always about the results, I dare say that they're missing the point; it's about the journey, just as it is in life.

David Wood has a good grasp on that concept. A couple years ago or so, Wood did something really liberating. He sold nearly everything he owned and took off around the world to play golf in some of the most unusual places on the planet. He carried a Sunday bag with 10 clubs, a backpack and a credit card, boarded planes, trains (buses) and automobiles and often hoofed it to destinations. He chronicled his journey in a book called "Golf Around the World in 80 Rounds – Chasing a Golf Ball from Tierra del Fuego to the land of the Midnight Sun." (hardcover, 282 pages, St. Martin's Press).

What makes this book so compelling are Wood's life experiences and his unique way of looking at things. Wood spent many years as a stand-up comedian, so you know he's a little whacked already -- but in a good way. His honest assessment of his own game throughout the book is something we can all relate to, but this book is about so much more than golf.

Though the tale is quite humorous, it's about the big picture -- the meaning of life, if you will. It's about taking chances and doing stuff that most people wish they had done when the time comes to say goodbye to this planet. It's about learning that people everywhere are human beings, and though our cultures may be vastly different, deep down we all have the same basic needs.

Wood's journey is also courageous. He readily admits fear when traveling to the politically turmoiled country of Uruguay, but finds out it's well worth it when he gets to play a wonderful Alister MacKenzie-designed course -- on free Monday. On his journey of six continents, he suffers food poisoning, experiences the terrors of reckless cab driving and gets altitude sickness in Argentina.

Wood often plays golf by himself during his journey, taking in the wonderment of his surroundings and reflecting on the global reach of the game in the most remote locations. More important, he most often shares the tee with strangers, learning about their cultures and their attitudes about the game. Those experiences undoubtedly helped shape his current perspective.

Having played golf with Wood post "Around the World in 80 Rounds," I know that he still gets frustrated from time to time, but he has an attitude toward golf -- and life -- that most of us can only envy. Much of the time, he doesn't even keep score; it's just not important. It really is about one shot at a time and taking in the thought process of the architect and the surroundings.

And the book doubles as a travelogue more than anything else. For every golf story, there are equal, if not better, descriptions of the lands and people he visits.

Perhaps author Turk Pipken put it best in the forward to "Around the World in 80 Rounds" when he wrote: "Jealous, that's what I am; Green with golf envy."

Pipken says that with a little tongue-in-cheek, I'm guessing. Wood took a big chance, both in terms of real-life danger and financially. He went with no guarantees he would be published, which is probably the most honest way to undertake such a task. He also had to come back to the real world. Ironically, Wood now finds himself in golf travel public relations. They couldn't have found a better spokesman.

You can order "Around the World in 80 Rounds" on Amazon.com.

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Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.

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