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Brandon TuckerThis Week at Jan. 10, 2007

South Africa is the real deal for golf as nation prepares for World Cup in 2010

South Africa is set to host the 2010 World Cup, easily the grandest international stage the country has ever seen, and while the country has become an increasingly popular tourist spot known for its natural wonders and wine routes, it will be the first time the world's eyes gaze upon the "new" South Africa post-Apartheid. The buzz is already in the air, and additions and upgrades to the city's infrastructure and tourism are in full swing.

Having just returned from a two-week excursion yesterday, I would have to say South Africa is sure to impress by 2010 if not already, and my reasons go far deeper than the abundance of foosball tables found on Long Street bars in Cape Town.

For starters, South Africa won't break your bank like Europe and the UK will. While your basic fast, cheap, "Americanized" foods are more miss than hit (national chain Wimpy Burger might sound like a good idea, but it never is. Trust me on this), you can feast on upscale patios and balconies overlooking any beach, game reserve or towering mountain backdrop with a bottle or two of wine for about the cost of a basic meal at Applebee's back home.

Golf-wise, you're in good shape. The Western Cape is littered with courses and growing in number, all with stunning scenery and wildlife at every turn. Goose Valley Golf Club in Plettenberg Bay, a stylish beach town near George on the Western Cape is a Gary Player-designed links course just off the Indian Ocean, where you can get on for as low as 190 rand in the peak season ($28). You can't find that kind of bargain in North America or Europe, not to mention peacocks lounging on tee boxes. Afrikaaners are also a real treat to spend a round of golf with. If you've got room in your foursome to pair up with some, don't miss out.

And the people are great. I didn't feel like I was in harm's way once (I should also point out I followed the "stay out of Jo'berg" rule followed by most tourists who hear stories of "don't go out at night in groups of less than eight" etc. Anyone who has seen the Oscar-winning film Tsotsi might as well). After staying in about a dozen hostels from the Drakensburgs to Cape Town, the closest thing to jeopardize my group's safety was a wild baboon who chased me for our cookies - which was more funny than frightening, and it wasn't long before a ranger had scared him off us. Poverty is present, sure. But I would say it inconveniences and guilts tourists less here than in many islands in the Caribbean. The large, seemingly unordered ghettos that lie on the outskirts of most towns and the flocks of hitch-hikers on every highway won't do much to hinder your holiday, but will remind you the country still has a long way to go to equality. I didn't encounter any poor white people there.

But after my maiden voyage south of the equator, I'm sold on South Africa as a destination. It offers so much on so many levels. In two weeks, I golfed, rode ostriches and hurled myself off the world's highest bungee jump at the Bloukrans Bridge, and I'm convinced there's plenty more I missed out on.

As always, welcomes your comments.

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The Wolf at PaiuteLas Vegas has golf that
will demand the best
luck Sin City has to offer

Think golf is easy in Sin City? Well, just look at the names of some of Las Vegas' top courses: the Wolf, Badlands, the Falls. You just know you're in for trouble. The craps table isn't the only place in Vegas you're liable to be reduced to a dribbling spectacle. The town has golf courses that could rival any in the nation in difficulty.

Also: Las Vegas golf packages abound

Golf Tampa Bay! Florida's hottest new golf destination has gorgeous sugar-white beaches and an intriguing collection of first-rate courses.

Golf For BeginnersGolf For Beginners podcast:
A golf tip from Sam Snead
will improve your game

This week on Golf for Beginners, Barry borrows a quote from the great Sam Snead to describe why Stacy's first-ever possible even-par round (over five holes) turned into a mediocre event. Snead said that the golf game is 70 percent mental and some golfers think it's even more. Here, the Golf for Beginners podcast takes a look at the mental side of the game.

Also: Reader reviews at

Palm Springs - La Quinta Resort and Spa

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Natalie GulbisWilliam K. Wolfrum wants to
see sexy PGA calendars

While female golfers like Natalie Gulbis and Sophie Sandolo excite their fans with sexy calendars, their PGA counterparts do little to show off their sex appeal. So for 2008, the PGA needs to consider a calendar that presents the unique attractiveness of Tour stars like John Daly, Tom Kite and Jim Furyk.

Column: A morning golf masterpiece

celebrates niche dating
service's fourth marriage was launched in May 2004 by Omaha-based entrepreneur Scott Kroeger, who, after setting up a handful of friends on dates, decided that the golfing community needed an online dating service. Today, has more than 13,000 members in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The philosophy behind is simple: Golf is the perfect first date. Why? It's a sport men and women can enjoy playing together.

Also: Get daily golf-industry updates via e-mail

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