America's Golf Shame
If you are thinking about going to America to play golf, let me tell you, it is not like Australia.
We Australians are proud of our magnificent golf courses. We have some of the world's best and at any given time, if you are an overseas visitor, you can call any of our best and arrange a game there. There is no need for a 3 act play to get onto our golf courses. Just ring and organise a game. This is not the story in america.
Having been to the United States numerous times and played some of the best courses there, I can tell you from experience, some of these golf courses will NOT let you play. Not only will they not let you play, but they will not answer your emails, they will not honour their own rules, they will do everything in their power to prevent you from playing. From what I can tell, after trying to get onto some of these courses, they do it because we are from another country. Basically, they are golf racists.
Case in point, Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles. After 3 emails to the club and getting no response, I sent a fourth asking why I had not even so much as received a reply from them. The reply I got, from Don Emery, was very short and rude. "As a private membership club we do not permit non member unaccompanied play." No further explanation was given. The problem is that Riviera DO allow this to happen. I know several people that live in Los Angeles and have been reliably informed that not only do they allow it, but they charge non members $900 each for the game. Why was I not told I was allowed? Why was I not offered this $900 deal? Because I am not an American. These racist, high walled, backward thinking, monogramed blazer wearing morons host tournaments with the PGA of America and boast how great their facilities are. How great their course is. How wonderful it would be to play there. But under no circumstance will they allow you on, unless you are an American or are with a member. Let's get one thing straight Riviera, you are not Augusta. Your golf course is not ranked in the elite of golf courses. Of the 2016 list of the world's top 100 golf courses, you are not even in the top 50! From speaking to people who have played there, the response I always get is "It's ok, but nothing special." Anyways, after calling Don a liar and asking for an explanation as to why I was not offered the $900 option, there was only silence. Still waiting for your reply Don! I suspect nothing will ever be sent though, as nobody likes getting caught in a lie.
Riviera is not the only place that does this. There are golf courses throughout the entire United States that shun all visitors, no matter how far you have come, no matter how much you want to play. The people that want to travel the world and play the best courses should take a wide detour around America. They are not a country that wants visitors to play there. Not only do they not want you to play there, the head of the American PGA actually endourses this action. Derek Sprague, who is the head of the American PGA, talks about how it is the "duty" of all those in the industry to help grow the game globally, but if you ask him if you can play at Liberty National, where he is also the managing director, you will get the same answer you get from many courses. A solid resounding "NO!" I actually even asked if I could just come there and take a few pictures for an article I want to write on the President's Cup that will be held there later this year. His answer; "Send me your article, and I will read it, then decide if I will send you pictures." Not even can I get admission to the course grounds to take even a single picture! But hey, he wants to grow the game, so we should give him a break. Hypocrite!
The PGA of America's website even boasts Australian golf trips where you can play the best in Australia, especially the sandbelt region of Melbourne. Here's a news flash for you PGA of America, residents can't play there, but overseas visitors can, because we treat visitors with respect. We want to grow the game globally here in Australia. That is why overseas visitors get the prefferential treatment. We want you to come and play our best, so you can go back to your own country and rave about how great they are. It is the absolute perfect way to grow the game globally. Why does America not see this? And especially, it's governing bodies leaders.
Yes, America is the land of opportunity. A wide land with many great golf courses that are paraded in our faces week after week on the PGA Tour telecasts. But that is as close as you will get to ever playing these courses. Unless it's public, America says "NO" to visitors. There are of course, exceptions to this rule. There are many American golf courses that do allow play from overseas visitors and I applaud them for that, I really do. Please keep allowing overseas players onto your courses. It is a great way to bridge the differences in our humanities.
I have forged great friendships with Americans through playing golf with them while travelling. Sport has always been a great way to level people of any nation and golf has played a massive part in this. Why do these people not see what good could come from just letting down their guard for a little while? My entire ideal of the American people was forged by the playing partners I have come across while playing their golf courses in my travels. This ideal was unshakeable after several trips to the States, where I played with some of the nicest people I have come across on the golf course. This ideal, now, has been rocked to it's foundation and perhaps even forever tarnished, by the selfish, arrogant, rude, backward thinking people who sit in judgement of any overseas visitor who has the audacity to want to have a game of golf at their sacred golf course. A single game of golf on a course that perhaps each day, gets about 50 members through it. I have never asked to play on the weekend, where I know it is busy. I always ask to play on the quiet times of the week. These courses not only have times available, but they have it in spades! They would rather say no to you, than fill 1 single spot on a golf course with nobody on it. Ridiculously infantile behaviour!
Australia will allow overseas visitors onto any of their golf courses, because we are a welcoming nation of golfers. We understand that you have come a long way to Australia and we want you to be able to experience everything that we have to offer. We stand proud of our golf courses and want you to play them. It's about time, the PGA of America does something to change these horrible rules that some golf courses have been allowed to adopt for far too long. These courses sit behind their gigantic gates and turn back every attempt to get anywhere near their grounds. Yet, at the same time, they allow their own residents access. It's just blatent rascism, and it should not be allowed to happen in this day and age. Get with the times PGA of America. For just as the rules of golf change for the better, so should the rules regarding access to these walled in institutions. Derek Sprague, you want to grow the game globally? Then you should be letting overseas visitors onto your best golf courses. It just makes sense. Wake up to yourselves America. Shame, shame, shame!
As the Llama says, "Gunga galunga"