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Let's get lurid: The best/worst of golf and travel writing

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

It's time to get nasty again. I know The Golf Channel is the big rage right now, but there are still those who enjoy the written word, especially when it comes to golf and travel.

Golf and Travel Writing
"Step away from the keyboard now!"
Golf and Travel Writing

The problem is, combining the written word with golf travel can sometimes be excruciating, especially when one considers the incestuous relationship between many travel/golf writers and their subjects.

So it's time to revisit the best and worst of golf and travel writing. As always, there are many candidates for the former and precious few for the latter.

Some of the particularly bad selections are dateless, because truly bad writing has a timeless quality, and we shan't be constrained by the moment.

First, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Shannon Hurt Lane, who once declared in a post to the travel-writing resource site WrittenRoad.com, "I'm a press-trip prostitute and I'm proud of it."

At least she's honest enough to give us a little glimpse into her lifestyle.

Hurt Lane's story on Dublin, Ireland, is filled with just about every teeth-clencher in the Great Cliche Handbook.

"Dublin is a cosmopolitan city that basks lovers in its warmth with its history and charm," she writes, as she basks the reader on the head with improper verb usage.

And this: "The sumptuously decorated rooms at the Fitzwilliam [Hotel] are complemented by the serenity of the bathrooms, made just for decadent soaking."

Decadent bathroom to sumptuous room: "Nice sumptuousness."

Next we have Tim Nolan, writing about courses in Hawaii on TravelClassics.com. Some random, blood-curdling selections:

"... as the sun fell behind Bali Hai in long spindles of mauve and lurid orange ..."

"The treetops again reach across and embrace one another in lovely ligatures of leaf and wood that imprint the road below with a soft intaglio of sun and shadow."

"[Poipu Bay] pleases the eye with explosions of bougainvillea in hot pinks and purples and silver button trees whose foliage shines in the sun."

As the sentence unfolds in overwrought adjectives and forced metaphors.

Please, please, please don't be put off going to Hawaii by the fear of seeing intaglios, lurid orange and long, sharp spindles.

Better to consider Turk Pipkin's excellent story on Lanai in Golf World:

"When I get lucky enough to make the long flight to Hawaii, I don't like to think I'm headed to a beach jammed with tourists, a high-rise hotel that could be Anywhere, USA, and especially not to a slow round on a busy course. I like Hawaii as I imagined it as a boy dreaming of the newest state in the union. When I go there, I don't want to find what I left behind at home. I want to get lost in Paradise."

Back to the bad.

Karen Misuraca writes about Caribbean golf on her Web site:

"Beloved for a tropical climate and beaches caressed by warm, translucent seas, the islands of the Caribbean are world-class golf destinations."

First of all, few Caribbean islands could be considered world-class golf destinations, no matter how caressed by translucent seas. There are some spectacular resorts and great golf, but at the moment only one course, Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic, could be considered truly world-class (although a handful of others are not far behind).

While we're on the subject of the Caribbean, consider this: "Like the lazy rhythm of island music, Jamaican vacations are meant to be easygoing and worry-free. You have to look for trouble."

Actually, you won't have to look too hard if you stick your head out of your relatively safe golf resort: Jamaica has experienced "increased civil unrest, including gang violence fueled by the drug trade," according to the CIA Factbook. Even the relatively safe havens aren't completely safe any longer - ask the friends and relatives of the Australian tourist stabbed to death last year in Montego Bay.

Another example of golf/travel writers glossing over - which is to say, ignoring - anything negative connected to their topic.

Oh, and this just in: That last excerpt was written by Dale Leatherman when she used to work for TravelGolf.com. No one is safe, not even us.

And by the way, why is it you never hear from most travel writers about the horrendous service so many tourists experience in the Caribbean? Why is it the only place you're likely to hear about it is from the many disgruntled travelers writing personal reviews on the Internet?

We'll end with the good, since I like to leave you readers with good karma and smiley faces. It's the opening paragraph from John Krich's story on Thailand from Travel and Leisure Golf's November/December 2006 issue.

"It feels like the end of a jungle expedition. As dark clouds threaten a perfect afternoon, I'm the only one battling the Kirayama Resort's vast course, hewn from low-lying rain forest. The surrounding limestone peaks of Khao Yai National Park tower over elephants and the occasional tiger, although the creatures are not actually visible from the course."

Here's hoping that, along with the tigers and elephants, some golf and travel creatures are less visible in 2007.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Thank you for the tips!

    Shannon Hurst Lane wrote on: Feb 18, 2007

    Tim – I know my sensitive feelings should be hurt by your comments, but I have to say that I am flattered to even be in your radar. Yes, after all these years, I am still a press trip prostitute. I will continue to be one until I get that call from a magazine offering to pay my travel expenses.
    Also, many thanks for pointing out my “compliment” error. I should have caught that. I feel suitably chastised. Now the world knows the truth, I am not perfect (sigh). But Tim, you’ve ousted yourself. There is no way you are really as nasty as you portray yourself. You did stumble onto my Romantic Getaways article. Flowery words and clichés are the order of the day in that genre.
    Sadly, I omitted describing my round of golf while visiting Ireland.
    Hugs to you, dear man.
    Shannon Hurst Lane
    PS - I won't fault you for spelling my name incorrectly in your article. I know how easy it can be to make a mistake.


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