This Week at WorldGolf.com: April 26, 2006
PGA Tour returns to a city still finding
its legs after the storm of the century
Chris DiMarco has an angry lady named Katrina to thank for the fact that no one is talking about his epic meltdown at last year's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
With a W in sight at TPC Lousiana, DiMarco bogied 18 and then lost in a playoff to little known Tim Petrovic. At the time, some wiseacre wrote: I'm sure the PR hacks at the Zurich Open are wringing their hands with glee at the prospect selling the event next year. I can see the '06 media guide cover now: "The Zurich Classic, where even pizza guys get to bitch slap Chris DiMarco!"
But thanks to Katrina, the story's no longer about DiMarco, nor even about Tim Petrovic. The story, of course, is the ongoing recovery of New Orleans from the devastation of Katrina.
The same guy who cracked wise about Petrovic the pizza guy, also wrote skeptically in September 2005 about the response of the golf industry's biggest players in the wake of Katrina. I'll stand by what I wrote then but, at the same time, I'm finding it hard not to be caught up in the sense of opportunity and optimism that's part of this year's Zurich Classic.
Tournament organizers have worked hard to get new/old venue English Turn Golf and Country Club ready in time. And the players (minus no-shows Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh) and their families are pitching in and lending their support for recovery efforts all over the city.
Meanwhile, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and the big behind-the-scenes money guys gathered Monday for an economic forum. Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin reported on the city's recovery and investment opportunities to some 80 leaders from Fortune 500 companies, former NYC mayor Rudolph Guiliani and other guests. Clearly it was a room full of people whom Blanco, Nagin and others tasked with rebuilding New Orleans need to reach.
The sports fans of New Orleans, meanwhile, who lost the Saints to San Antonio and the Hornets to Oklahoma City, Okla., of all places, can't wait to get the action going Thursday. After all, this is the first major sporting event broadcast from New Orleans post Katrina. Box seats on the 18th hole are sold out and 12 more have been added on the 16th.
Now no one's saying golf is a salve for the tragedy of Katrina. But our game is helping to bring a spotlight to what's already been accomplished there and reminding the world how much still needs to be done. It's a feel-good story, especially if you care about the people along the Gulf Coast.
Oh, and for you skeptics who feel let down by my sense of optimism here, there's always a chance DiMarco will blow it again.
As always, WorldGolf.com welcomes your comments.
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More and more couples are enjoying a day at the golf course together these days and Hilton Head has long been the type of place that can easily cater to both sexes. Courses like the Golden Bear Golf Club at Indigo Run and the Robert Trent Jones course at Palmetto Dunes have both been applauded as women-friendly courses. Still, they'll appeal to men also, giving couples a chance to enjoy their day on the course.
Also: Here's help for planning the perfect Hilton Head golf vacation
Golf Tampa Bay! Florida's hottest new golf destination has gorgeous sugar-white beaches and an intriguing collection of first-rate courses.
The municipal Azalea City Golf Course in Mobile draws raves and repeat players, especially with green fees in the $30 range. Azalea gets more than 55,000 rounds a year from locals wanting to experience the best golf course the city has to offer. And no wonder: Conditioning here rivals that of a resort, country club or even upscale semi-private course.
Photo Gallery: See Azalea City Golf Course in full bloom
Bruce Stasch launches the Golf Gear Daddy Give-A-Way. He also reports on drunken cops vandalizing a driving range, Tiger Woods' stock car adventure and Dick's Sporting Goods opening a golf specialty store. In the Component Corner, learn about the Dancing Dog Golf Simulator and the Consumer Reports golf ball ratings. Bruce tells how you can caddie at the 2007 Masters. And in Golf Of The Weird, hear about a dog that's been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
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Perhaps no American destination is as naturally scenic as the Reno-Lake Tahoe area - at any time of year. The water, stunning mountains and greenery - or wintry snow - is second to none at this golf and ski destination. The High Sierra region of northern California and northern Nevada is a delightful summer retreat for golf and many other outdoor recreation activities.
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