Monday, September 17, 2007

First Fed ex cup completes at East Lake

East Lake Golf Club was virtually unknown when I played it as part of my quest to play the Top 100 Golf Courses in America. Tiger decimated the field yesterday at the first ever Fed Ex Cup and it brought back memories when I played there as part of my quest several years ago.

I had never heard of East Lake, except for it's place on the Top 100. But what I learned from going there was very exciting. One thing I have noticed, is that TV and radio coverage rarely tell you about the course where a tournament is being played or much about its history.

East Lake was designed by the late great golf architect, Donald Ross, and it is where the great Bobby Jones cut his teeth on golf. The house where he grew up , is right across the street from the club. (I got a picture through the fence and stopped to have a better look when my round was finished). It is an inner-city neighborhood in Atlanta GA that had since fallen into severe disrepair and blight. As a youngster, maybe 11 or 12 years old, Bobby beat his father in the finals of the East Lake Club Championship and he was on his way to becoming the greatest amateur golfer of all time.

After the neighborhood took its downturn, Tom Cousins came along and started the East Lake Foundation, with the intention of turning a blighted neighborhood in a success again. Lemons into lemonade, as the say. The course has been restored, the club house is now a glorious tribute to the great Bobby Jones and it was a fantastic place to play. At the time I was there it was $250,000 to join and $50,000 of that went to the club and $200,000 of that went to the foundation. If you weren't willing to support the foundation, then you weren't welcome to join.
You should read about it at The world would be a better place if more golf course developers would put forth a vision that Tom Cousins put forth.

I got there in my usual way of networking till I found a connection. My friend Dan Demuth, a golf pro from Minneapolis, introduced me to a friend who was the head of the Tiger Woods foundation at the time. He called Sam Puryear, who ran the inner city junior golf program for the East Lake Foundation and Sam invited me to play as his guest. The program Sam ran was a big success and so turning the neighborhood around was not only about real estate development, but about improving the lives of at risk kids. It is only coincidental that my connection to East Lake was through the Tiger Woods Foundation, and then Tiger steps up and makes history there.
So there is a little bit about East Lake for you. Keep this in mind when you watch the tour championship next year at East Lak

You can read more about this in my book, A Golfers Dream: how a regular guy conquered the Golf Digest list of Top 100 courses in America. Visit

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hello from Switzerland again,
It is day 4 . The first days were wonderful.. Day one was in Chamonix where we took a fantabulous cable car ride up to see the Mt. Blanc Massif beautiful day seeing this from every direction... Chamonix is a wonderful resort town tucked in the French Alps-- skiing and hiking and mtn climbing abound
Day 2 we took a lift ride up about 1000 feet and hiked to a small very adorable village of Argentiere- still in France it was another 1500 feet of elevation gain and 2500 feet down 8 miles altogether over rocky and tree root filled terrain.. beautiful though exhausting through the valleys and passes of the alps .Our hotel was Hotel Montana and it was charming. Dinner and a bed were a welcome site.

There are 10 guys on this trip with 10 different personalities but I really like them all. a terrific bunch. 3 of us from Mpls try to team up against the St.Paul seven but its no use.

Day 3 took a van 3-5 miles up past Trient and over the Swiss boarder.. It is a small road but there was no guard at the boarder station Our driver just sluffed it off as though it is a regular occurrence. It made me think about the enormous effort the US now goes through to protect its boarders-- fences, security --on and on and here they are very lax-- It was similar on the bus trip from Geneva Switz to Chamonix France.

This was a very challenging day of hiking 10 miles over 7 hrs and lots of footing challenges over boulder fields--but magnificent scenery. we went up 4500 feet and down 5500 feet to the village of Champeax and a less wonderful hotel. Belvediere

The next day looked to challenging for me after my bicycle accident of 14 months ago so I went with the baggage to the next hotel in the van.

Let me tell you a bit of hist of Switzerland--- I has 4, yes 4 official languages, Italian, French, German and Romanch. Romanch is spoken in very few small villages. but official non the less.
Switz has always done its best to be neutral.. thus they were the original home of the League of Nations, and even though they have chosen a limited form of membership in the UN, Geneva is home to the European HQ of the UN.

Neutrality also motivated the founding of the Red Cross here in Switz. The symbol and name come from here. The red cross is the reverse of the Swiss Flag (white cross on red flag).

They did not join the EU and subsequently their Swiss Frank goes up and down with the US dollar.. The vote to not join was close, but one motivation was the secret Swiss banking system
The EU was going to make them disclose everything.... terrorist money is so important that they are losing their grip on that too. Might joining the EU be long off?
Well, more later.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Off to the alps

I made it to Europe safe and sound Mpls- Amsterdam then on to Geneva-- a beautiful French style city in Switz on the shore of Lake Geneva----- walked the town, found the flower clock and the jet d"
the water fountain that must be as tall as the one in Fountain Hills AZ... The next day I found that Circus Knie is in Geneva.. So I found it and went to the Sunday matinee. This was the Natl Circus of Switz at one time-- it is one ring and in its own tent... The Juggler was like noone I have ever seen before, and I have seen most of the best jugglers in my day...
Then it was the 5:00 bus up into the mtns of France to Chamonix--- our hotel is teriffic... Mon morn meat up with my group of 8 guys and we took the tram to Midi-- to a fantastcio view of Mt Blanc the highest mtn in the alps..

Tomorrow our hike begins and it will be off to Argentiere--
more later
Larry B