Chris BaldwinThis Week at TravelGolf.com: December 13, 2005

Poker-playing wussies
could not handle golf bets

Guys who sit around a table for hours at a time, trying to intimidate each other with junior high stares, as they wait for their card, have become American TV heroes. Getting a full house is becoming akin to threading a touchdown pass through a crowd of defenders or soaring to finish an alley oop over a 7-footer.

Which just may be the most ridiculous concept since New Coke.

For all these poker "stars" do not hold the guts of your average weekend hacker. They have less skill than the worst golfer ever.

Think about it. Every two-bit, shank-happy duffer in the universe has made a bet on the golf course, actually put his skill up against another man or woman's skill. Even if he's much more likely to rattle golf-course-bordered house windows than the bottom of the cup.

Now that's guts.

Sitting in a comfortable room, getting free drinks brought to you as you fold hand after hand, waiting for chance to shine on you is about as daring as knitting for money. Though far less difficult.

Give me the courage of a middle-aged middle manager with the putting yips playing for a $2 Nassau any day.

Why are you more likely to see Matt Damon in a celebrity poker tournament than a celebrity golf match these days? Because Damon's learned that golf is infinitely more likely to cause you to embarrass yourself. No matter how many comped rounds at Las Vegas celebrity hangout Shadow Creek you get.

Golf's tough. Poker's so embarrassingly easy, they've built modern folklore around it to make it seem less lottery fluky. So you have the MIT nerds who flunked out of school delving into the statistical analysis to justify every turn of the cards. This way they can play by rote rather than actually having to even make a decision while sitting on their butts all night long.

The statistics were against me, nothing I could do, they'll whine to explain away a loss.

Can you imagine a golfer who sliced one into the pond on 17 with the money on the line, trying the same defense? His buddies would dump a bucket of beer - beer he bought - over his head.

This is why poker is destined to always be more hip than golf. Golf takes too much work, requires too much personal accountability to ever be as mainstream sizzling as poker is now. No matter how much this must pain PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and his straw grasping ways.

Real golfers know that poker's something to pass the time in the non-daylight hours of a golf trip, another excuse to drink beer. Poker devotees have never seen daylight hours, spending more time in front of a computer in their underwear than Hugh Hefner's content programmer.

As always, TravelGolf.com welcomes your comments.



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Falls DownSaddled with a golf - addicted spouse?
Vegas could be your vacation full house

Golfers know that making a pitch for a golf vacation to their spouse requires a well-thought-out plan. Pitching a trip to Las Vegas is usually more than enough to keep both the golf-addicted and their spouses more than happy. Sure there's the gambling, but there's so much more to do an see in Sin City for the non-golfer, while their golf-obsessed spouse is playing on some of the best courses on the West Coast.

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Wigwam Blue CourseNewly renovated Wigwam Blue
golf course: A quirky shot-maker's pal

Following a $5-million renovation, Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz. is once again ready to stand atop the burgeoning West Valley golf scene. West Coast Bureau Chief Chris Baldwin was one of the first to play the reworked Blue Course at Wigwam, and found that an already quirky course is now that much quirkier. While big hitters will find their driver collecting cobwebs in their bag, shotmakers, and original designer Robert Trent Jones Sr., will be delighted.

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Twin Isles Country ClubTwin Isles fights diversity
to produce worthy golf on Gulf

Twin Isles Country Club, on the Florida Gulf Coast, has a bit of a schizophrenic history. Originally built about 30 years ago, it underwent a major renovation in 2000 under the brush of golf architect Chip Powell. Then Hurricane Charley had its "input." Through it all, one of the better courses in the Punta Gorda area - named one of the top metro areas in the U.S. by a nationwide golf magazine - somehow emerged.

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