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Introduction to golf

Golf’s Ryder Cup, with European pros pitted against the best in the US, is now watched on television by around a billion people worldwide. TV has helped create golf icons across the globe with increasing tournament coverage and advertising endorsement. But professional golfers are not just aloof celebrities. Any decent handicapped golfer can play alongside their favourite heroes at corporate pro-am competitions. Many businesses invest huge amounts in this unique opportunity for sponsorship and executive perks. And celebrity endorsement is encouraging more and more amateurs into the sport. Golfers can play all the famous championship courses they’ve seen on TV by booking golfing vacations, tours or tuition programs.
Living on golf courses has become a trend, too, over the past two decades. Golf course real estate has been spawning course developments across Europe, North America and Asia.


Fashion is increasingly infusing golf attire with funky fabrics and detailing, pushing the limits of clubhouse etiquette. And golf clothing is no longer just for the golf course. Argyle-style diamond print sweaters became city chic back in 2008, reinforcing golf’s street cred. The polo shirt, immortalized by Lacoste and adopted by golfers, has morphed into a sport/fashion item in technical fabrics far removed from the original cotton pique.


Golf retail has expanded, too, burgeoning from small golf club collections to big box chain stores. Even catwalk designers such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Burberry are making golf bags. Golf superstores such as Forzani-owned Nevada Bob’s now feature multiple designer brands and virtual driving ranges as well as extensive putting practice areas to try out equipment before buying. Golf carts are becoming high tech, too, with integral GPS units that take the guesswork out of distance estimates.


Golf is becoming less corporate and more sport for all. Families world over are looking to golf as a generational-spanning game and specialized family courses are multiplying with affordable fees and lessons. Some schools in Canada are even introducing golf as part of the Phys Ed curriculum. The World Golf Foundation’s First Tee program is encouraging youth from every background into golf both for the sport and for the associated life-enhancing values. Women are increasingly attracted to golf, with clubs developing female-only instruction and tournaments and pro shops luring them with pink and purple clothing and equipment.


Golf tourism is big business, enticing millions of holidaymakers worldwide, contributing over $20 billion annually. Travellers are now seeking experiences, activities, enrichment and education. Golf neatly falls into these categories, and destinations worldwide are providing golfers with tuition for the whole family, multi-activity packages blending golf with arts or fitness, and the opportunity to play diverse terrain along dedicated golfing trails.


At Fairmont’s Jasper Park Lodge (Alberta, Canada), Marilyn Monroe famously posed for pictures on the 18-hole, Stanley-Thompson designed course, adding Hollywood glamour to the sport. What was traditionally the preserve of the retired, the ritzy and the rich is now open to all.