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On Golf Bags, Bermuda Greens, and Good Hot Dogs

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

Random thoughts while wondering what ever happened to Paul Stankowski.

From the think-before-you-act department ... Delta Airlines appears to be reeling from a premature, not so premeditated announcement that the airline would only accept Club Glove brand soft-sided golf travel bags free of surcharge. All other bags would be hit with a $10 per one way trip "travel box" fee that would have in effect, added $20 per flight for the traveling golfer, while hard cover bags would still be admitted free of charge.

The soft-sided travel bag industry folks evidently came out of the woodwork and pelted the airline with livid phone calls and requests for preliminary rulings on the hardness (or lack thereof) of their bags. The point of contention wasn't necessarily the fee for the travel box, but that Delta had arbitrarily named Club Glove as it's only "conforming" soft-sided golf bag. Club Glove is the only soft-sided bag listed in the airline's onboard accessory catalog, SkyMall.

Coincidence? We think not. Delta is also the official airline of the PGA Tour, and those unfortunate Tour members who can't afford to charter private planes or buy their own birds are stuck on Delta with, you guessed it, their Club Glove bags.

One manufacturer who spoke with TravelGolf.com said the industry was sniffing out a lawsuit had the policy been implemented, and that Delta representatives were acutely aware the company's potential restriction of free trade violations. Delta has since backed off the proposed policy, but remains committed to recouping some of the money it claims to lose on damaged clubs each year.

From the it's-sweeping-the-nation department (or more like the great American southeast) ... Tidewater Golf Club (pictured) in Cherry Grove, S.C. (think Myrtle Beach, but north about a five-iron) announced this week that it would be swapping out it's A-1 bentgrass greens for the new Ultra Dwarf Bermuda grass, TifEagle.

Prestigious courses across the southeast are opting for the true rolling Bermuda grass because it possesses Emmitt Smith's durability and Lance Armstrong's heat tolerance. TifEagle is the new grass of choice at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, True Blue in Pawleys Plantation, S.C. and numerous other top shelf tracks in Dixie.

"After consulting with experts from Clemson University and the USGA, we decided to convert to Tif Eagle Bermuda Grass," said Archie Lemon, Tidewater's director of golf and general manager. "This grass has become the grass of choice for coastal region upscale golf courses. We will continue to deliver the best golf experience on the Grand Strand."

That deliverance comes while eating a small helping of crow, however. Just a couple of years ago, Tidewater closed to rebuild its greens and returf them with the A-1 bentgrass. To the course's credit, the course's ownership realized it couldn't push 40,000 rounds a year through 18 holes in the humid, hacker infested Grand Strand and expect to have something resembling a putting surface.

From the time is on your side department ... if you are looking to play 18 holes and still have time to mow the lawn, take the wife and kids out for a pizza, and catch a game from suddenly compelling NBA playoffs on the boob tube late afternoon, try golfing in Charleston.

A recent sampling of six courses in the Holy City by an anonymous TravelGolf.com writer revealed a pace of play unheard of in most sunny, warm, quasi golf destinations: 3.75 hours. Eat your heart out Myrtle Beach, Scottsdale and Hilton Head.

Doug Schmidt, President of Charleston Golf Partners, says most visitors simply don't think about bringing their clubs and locals tend to hide out at the $9 a round local municipal course. The result is a glut of open weekday and midday weekend tee times that results in ridiculously expedient rounds.

From the Muhammad Ali department of modesty ... Patriot's Point Golf Links director of golf Greg Ray has gone on record stating that his Charleston area course has the "greatest par three in the U.S." and the "best hotdog" in town.

The par three in question is the 17th hole - a nice one shooter with a pint-sized green that juts out into Charleston Harbor. The hotdog in question is served up in the southern styled clubhouse, replete with slaw, chili, relish, onions and peppers. In his defense, Ray says that the former assertion is opinion. But he stands by the later claim despite the fact that he lives right across the street from Charleston's most famous hot dog stand, Jack's Cosmic Dog.

"Our 17th has the history, with Fort Sumter in the background, the scenery, with the harbor behind the green, and the challenge, with the small green and the swirling winds," Ray says. "We like to say it is the best par three there is, but that is an opinion. Other things are fact, like the fact that we have the best hotdog in Charleston."

From the shameless plug department ... be sure and check out the redesign of our Carolinas section at GolfCarolina.com. We trust you'll find the scaled down, destination oriented site easy to use and insightful. Of course, we welcome your comments.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.

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