Archive for October, 2018

Thoughts from Afar on the Ryder Cup

Monday, October 29th, 2018

I love the Ryder Cup, one corrupt empire battling another corrupt empire. But enough about politics. I’ve lived in America for over 22 years and became a US Citizen in 2008. However, my heart remains in Wales and my economic head resides in the USA. Therefore I always want Europe to defeat America, not just beat them by a couple of points but annihilate them. There’s no question that the US PGA Tour is far richer than the European  Tour, and naturally the best players in the world, including the top Europeans, gravitate towards America.

The American media, public and players expect to win the Ryder Cup. Most of the public don’t know half the players in the European Cup Team. Brooks Koepka won the US Open and PGA Championship this year while Patrick (liar, liar, pants on fire) Reed won the Masters. Europe’s only Major winner this year was Franco Molinari who won The OPEN in July. There’s an arrogance around the US Ryder Cup Team which really grates on my senses. The US PGA knew several years ago that the 2018 Ryder Cup was to be played  in France, but the only American to play the course prior to the competition was Justin Thomas who ironically went 4-1. The others were too busy polishing their egos and making millions playing target golf on the American PGA  Tour.

I am not so naïve to assume that European players don’t have egos. Golf is an individual sport with millions of prize money at stake, and you have to be self absorbed to be successful. But the Europeans have the ability to put away their egos and come together as a team. One for all and all for one etc.

Take for example the rumor that best of friends Dustin Johnson (ranked No1 in the world ) and three times major winner Brooks Koepka almost came to blows on the flight over; allegedly caused by Johnson’s fiancée Pauline Gretsky who appears to wear as little as possible.

Then there was the controversy of Spieth opting to pair with his pal Justin Thomas when he had been so successful in previous Ryder Cups paired with Patrick (liar, liar, pants on fire)Reed. Reed said in the press conference that Spieth didn’t want to play with him, but in reality Reed pleaded  with Captain Furyk to be paired with Tiger Woods.

There’s another story: Tiger Woods and Phil “The Cheat” Mickelson were picked as wild cards. Tiger justified his selection having had a stellar season culminating in winning The Tour Championship at East Lake. However, nobody knew, least of all Tiger, that he was exhausted and in no shape to play the Ryder Cup. Mickelson was also a shadow of his former self and should have been put out to pasture.

Statistics can sometimes tell only half a story, but the results of the corresponding wild cards makes for interesting reading. Europe’s wild cards (Poulter, Casey, Garcia and Stenson) accumulated 9-4-1 points. In comparison USA’s wild cards (Woods, Mickelson, De Chambreau and Finu)  mustered a measly 2-10-0 points. Future hall of famers, Woods and Mickelson didn’t score a single point between them. Woods had no excuses, but Mickelson claimed he doesn’t like narrow fairways and extreme rough. Bite me!!!

Every European player secured at least a point while Francesco Molinari became the first European player to register a maximum 5 points. In contrast, three of the Americans did not score a point which included Tiger and Phil “the cheat” Mickelson.

On paper there should have been only team in the contest, but golf is not played on paper. Neither is it played on reputations. It is played on tees, fairways and greens with a little “hwyl” thrown in the mix. Britain may be leaving the European Union, but the European Ryder Cup will go from strength to strength providing there’s an evil empire waiting to be beaten into submission.



New Mexico-Land of Enchantment

Thursday, October 11th, 2018


Following stays at  5 hotels, 4 flights (including 2 connections) and 1 rental car we completed our wonderful trip to the Land of Enchantment.

“Tell me Dave, what were the high and lows of your trip?”

“Well thankfully, Sam, the highs outnumbered the negative connotations”

“Can you expand on that theme for your readers, Dave?’

“Certainly Sam, I’ll be glad to.”

Best breakfast: Hotel Garden Inn, Albuquerque (ABQ.) It was the only hotel on our schedule which had waitress service. Best lunch: a food truck situated to the rear of a bar in Las Cruces. Best dinner: sizzling beef fajitas served at an authentic Mexican restaurant, “La Posta de Milla” in the historic town of Mesilla minutes from our hotel in Las Cruces. Best dessert: a green chile sundae topped with pecans which was original and delicious from Caliche’s Frozen Custard.

Best shower: Hampton Inn, Las Cruces. It was walk-in shower and very spacious. Most comfortable bed: Hampton Inn, Ruidoso.

Worst night’s sleep: Hampton Inn, Carlsbad. The second floor of the hotel was being remodeled, a construction worker was prowling the corridor outside our room at 4.30am coughing his lungs out while a nearby store alarm joined in for good measure.

Best landscape: The Valley of the Fires is the youngest lava flow in the continental US and is located about 3 miles west of Carrizozo. It measures about 3 miles wide and 20 feet long, and suddenly appeared out of context with the surrounding desert on Highway 380.

Worst nightmare: Unquestionably flying with American Airlines. Our plane was delayed leaving Atlanta. We were not given any snacks or drinks during our three hour flight. On our arrival at Dallas we were informed we had 10 minutes to catch our connection. There was nobody at the desk when we arrived at the gate, and an employee ignored our pleas to open the door at the gate, so we could catch the plane. Luckily a gate attendant standing at the plane’s door saw my wife frantically waving her arms  to attract her attention. She mercifully returned and opened the door and told us to run down to the plane as they were just about to close the door to the main cabin. They must have known there were passengers attempting to make the connecting flight, but made no attempt to accommodate us until we took matters into our own hands.

Most spectacular experience: There are two candidates for this category both of which can be considered two of the most outstanding natural wonders of the world you are likely to see. Carlsbad Caverns are home to 500-800 thousand bats which every evening at dusk emerge from the caverns and spiral up into the sky and return next morning. The caverns themselves resemble a fantasy land of wondrous shapes and colors. Our 31/2 hour visit barely scraped the surface.

Most disappointing experience: New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo at Las Cruces. We originally planned to spend two days there, but it was very hot, the State Fair was mediocre saved only by the “Frisbee dogs,” and the rodeo was like watching Double A baseball which on occasions resembles watching paint dry.

Best historical places visited: Chloride, a genuine Western ghost town; The City of Lincoln where Billy The kid and Pat Garrett had their little dust up; Fort Stanton features more than 155 years of history ranging from its initial creation as a military garrison to its significance as the first tuberculosis hospital in the state, to an internment camp for German sailors during World War 11., and the 400 year old San Miguel Mission in Soccoro.

Most scenic route: The drive from Las Cruces to Cloudcroft where desert merges into mountain greenery.

Most Bizarre Moments: Excuse my ignorance, but I didn’t realize that New Mexico was a substantial oil producing state. Situated in a very industrialized area dominated by oil we passed through a little town called Artesia on our way to Carlsbad and it reminded me of Port Talbot, South Wales. Apparently Port Talbot inspired Ridley Scott to film “Blade Runner.”  Win, Place and Show Tap House was a bar recommended by a local guide pit, and only receives a mention because  the barmaid didn’t know how to make a margarita, and there were several different brands of tequila sitting on the shelves obviously resigned to being ornaments.

Memorable mention: White Sands Monument which has 275 square miles of gorgeous white sand complete with 40 feet high dunes.

Surprising delights: Dave’s Café in Cloudcroft where they served a splendid beer, wine tasting New Mexico wines also in Cloudcroft, and strolling through the farmers & crafts market in downtown Las Cruces on Saturday morning.  It was lively, colorful, and entertaining highlighted by a parrot that could imitate a dog or cat and play dead at a stroke. We attended the Manhattan Short Film Festival in Mesilla in the evening which more than compensated for the hapless rodeo.  Since our trip to California in June, we have become short film aficionados probably because they only require a short attention span.

Off Key Moments: Hubbard Western Museum in Ruidoso was okay, but I was expecting more on the Wild West considering its location in New Mexico. The Booth Western Museum in Cartersville, Georgia is far superior. Almorgordo’s  Museum of Space History was a little ragged around the edges, and is in need of an update. Dusty Boot’s Café in Cloudcroft had great reviews in Yelp, the BLT was good enough, but was the overall ambience was overrated. Smokey Bear Historical Park near Capitan is a waste of time.

“Do you have any other memories of the trip you would like to share with us Dave?”

Two factors spring to mind. I was impressed by the sheer size of New Mexico. The desert rolls on for hundreds of miles until they hit mountain ranges. On our way to Cloudcroft the desert scenery gently merged into green forest and orchards. The transformation from grey and spartan scenery to cultivated pastures and pine trees was breathtaking. It’s the fifth largest state in America but sparsely populated. Total population is only half the size of Los Angeles.

The roads that run through the heart of Southern new Mexico are long and straight with very light traffic, and were a welcome relief from the congested highways and byways where I live and work in Atlanta.

“Thanks again Dave for sharing your travel experiences with your loyal readers.”