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IS THE FUTURE OF GOLF IN THE RIGHT HANDS?

Last week Tiger Woods announced that the first course he`ll design will be in Dubai. It will not only be inaccessible to most golfers location wise but, one imagines, the cost of playing the course will be out of the realm of most players too.

When Tiger announced the formation of TW Design, I wrote a note hoping that his first priority would be to build municipal courses (like the ones he learned the game on) that would draw new players to the game. Affordable courses bearing the title Å“Designed by Tiger Woods would be a boon to the game of golf. When he burst onto the golf stage in 1997 everyone (including Tiger) figured that he would attract new golfers to courses. Has that dream dies or was it just lip service?

Tiger will take the pay day and walk away quite happy and the game will not be in any better shape then when he turned pro. Indeed, when Tiger came to the world`s conscience, tee sheets filled up around the planet. Teachers found their schedules getting crowded with novices. But as the new players showed up, a strange thing started happening, more and more executive courses were being built and reasonably priced public play tracks were disappearing. Money changes everything. Golf was once an elitist sport that the common man shied away from. Then came Tiger and we all played. And then the $130 green`s fee became the norm and golf became an elitist sport again.

How exactly did Tiger expect to change the game? Clearly, his mere presence wasn`t enough.

And now comes another announcement by one of the game`s great lovers and promoters. Donald Trump never does anything small and his plans to build Å“the greatest golf course in the world at Menie Estate near Aberdeen, Scotland shouldn`t come as a shock to anyone. But Donald, come on, is it always about building the biggest and the best or is it about building the most expensive?

Tell me that Donald Trump doesn`t have the means to build the best affordable golf complex in the world? I bet a chain of Donald Trump courses priced at $60 per round would be a sound business move. It would take the name to the people. Even the best clothing designers in the world have a line that Joe Public can afford.

Guys like Tiger and Donald have the means and profile to really grow the game and yet they choose to take a different path. It really makes me wonder if the future of the game is in the right hands.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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