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I was reading the Glasgow Herald newspaper yesterday when one article leaped out of the page at me. The initial reason was that it was all about golf in Scotland, but what was strange was that the new course being built was just outside Dallas in Texas in the U.S.A.. The article then went into great detail about how good the tribute course was. It included such details that you are to start at the first hole of a faithful recreation of the first hole of the Old Course at St Andrews. You will then play seventeen other memorable holes from a variety of courses which include such diverse courses as Royal Troon, Carnoustie, Machrahanish etc. The article painted a fantastic picture of how even the clubhouse had Tennants Lager and Irn Bru (A distinctive soft drink from Scotland) on draft in the, again faithful, recreation of the clubhouse at Muirfield.
This article saddened me and I hope many others around the world. What were the builders of this facility thinking of ?
Do they not understand that visiting Scotland or any other country for whatever purpose, involves a whole experience. The preparations, the travel, the new accommodation, the different accents, the different cultures, etc (I could go on). Take also what it is often regarded as a national pastime in the U.K. namely the weather. The weather I can assure you is completely different 25 minutes north of Dallas compared to the links courses in Scotland. I can recount several occasions where tramping round the links courses in the pouring rain you feel that your opponent is not the man or woman walking alongside you. It is the course itself and the weather and this affects your game in that you have to play low shots to lessen the effects of the wind to name but one. In addition will grass grow in the same way as in Scotland, will there be the same level of rainfall etc all of which affect playing styles and abilities?
Of course some may argue that golf is now the same no matter where it is played. In every country you will be able to play with pinggolf golf clubs or callaway golf balls or taylor made bags and so on. Also I realise that this blurring of national identity is not unique to Scotland. I was on a business trip to Poland last year when again this thought struck me. We were walking down a street in Zakopane which is a relatively small ski resort , when we noticed a familiar site. A McDonalds fast food restaurant greeted us with the normal posters, logos etc. This looked completely out of place amongst the traditional shop fronts which made up the rest of the street. Upon entering the shop (sorry - I was very hungry as the native food did not agree with me!! ) we knew exactly what we wanted and after much pointing at the posters on the wall we managed to order. However what happened then was the assistant asked us if we wanted to "go large". This was the only English he spoke during the whole exchange. Do you not find this sad ?
I realise all the arguments about progress, capitalism, free markets, freedom of choice etc. However are we really going to reach a stage where every country will look exactly the same. Is that truly what we want from progress?.