This Week at TravelGolf.com: March 21, 2006
America is desperate for an
international triumph - now it's
up to golf to make it happen
It's getting tougher and tougher for us Americans to proclaim athletic dominance over the rest of the world. Sure, we still think we're the best and act like we're the best, we just tend to lose most major international competitions.
The World Baseball Classic is the latest example of the U.S. falling flat on its face in a sport they should dominate. Needing a victory over Mexico with Roger Clemens on the mound, U.S. bats turned into soggy newspaper while Cuba and Japan advanced to the finals.
Combine this with a U.S. basketball team that can only score a bronze medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics and the problem becomes more and more glaring. If the U.S. can't come out on top in baseball and basketball, what sport can we be the best at?
How about golf?
In 2006, the U.S. will be involved in two massive international sporting events. In the World Cup in June, Americans aren't expected to win it all, and they won't. But when September rolls around and brings the Ryder Cup Matches with it, the U.S. needs to dominate. And they will.
Since the American team's dramatic 1999 Ryder Cup victory, Europe has twice more taken home the trophy, and has won four of the last five competitions, including a thorough drubbing in 2004 on American soil.
But in 2006, the Americans will regain the Cup. Why the confidence? Two reasons. One, sport has long been a catalyst for American rebounds. Remember how lousy things were in 1980 before the U.S. Olympic hockey team shocked the world? That victory seemed to start a national upswing in the U.S. Well, a spiraling national debt, a president with an approval rating of 34 percent and an unpopular war have the national mindset similar to what it was in 1980. And if ice hockey can get Americans together, so can golf. And it will.
The second reason for this confidence in a U.S. Ryder Cup victory is that Americans are just better golfers than their European counterparts. Maybe that didn't matter in basketball and baseball, but Tiger Woods, David Toms and Phil Mickelson aren't uber-spoiled and selfish NBA or MLB stars. They are professionals who see the importance of their quest later this year in Ireland.
And they won't be denied. Mark it down, the U.S. will win the Ryder Cup Matches and American domination in international sports will no longer just be something from the past. It will be part of our present and future, as well.
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Few states take their basketball more seriously than Indiana. And this year the home state of the Hoosiers is also the venue for the NCAA men's basketball Final Four. After a major revitalization of Indianapolis' downtown in the mid-1990s, the Circle City offers some big-city entertainment served with a hearty helping of Hoosier hospitality. And surprisingly, Indy also offers some of the highest-quality, most accessible golf courses of any major metropolitan area in the Midwest.
Also: Justin Timberlake fans coming to rescue of golf blogger Chris Baldwin
SilverRock in La Quinta, Calif. works hard to leave an impression as an interesting and unique golf course. And at more than 7,500 yards, this new Arnold Palmer creation in the Palm Springs valley will more than challenge most golfers, as the GPS system aboard your cart will let you know. And while the course has some conditioning issues, many should be up for the challenge. Still, how will SilverRock rank in an area known for resort courses?
Also: Affordable golf in Palm Springs? You betcha!
If you enjoy par 3s and par 5s, Bartram Trail Golf Club near Augusta, Ga. should be the course for you. With five of each, the course was created a little differently than many area courses, but the quirkiness isn't what should get you playing a round there. With low green fees and a picturesque course named after naturalist William Bartram, this newest addition to daily fee courses in Georgia is worth a play.
Also: TravelGolf.com ranks Georgia's 10 best golf courses