Familiar Game In An Unfamiliar Land: Golf in the Middle East

Staff photographer Dom Furore details his experience chronicling golf in the Middle East.

Released on 2/18/2011

Credits

Starring: Dom Furore

Transcript

00:00
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
00:04
[Narrator] It's always interesting going to new places
00:06
but oftentimes you have an idea
00:08
of what a place is gonna be like
00:09
and then when you get there,
00:10
it's something totally different.
00:12
I really found it interesting on my recent trip
00:14
to Abu Dhabi and Bahrain,
00:15
the way two totally different cultures seem to coexist.
00:20
While I couldn't always read the writing,
00:22
I could tell that they often worry
00:24
about the same things that we do
00:26
and that no matter where you go,
00:28
some things are always the same.
00:30
It's always nice to see familiar places.
00:36
Although usually on trips like this,
00:38
we generally prefer something a little more exotic.
00:45
Despite the recent troubles in the Middle East,
00:47
the two cultures seem to mix together well.
00:51
That carried over at the golf course.
00:57
Sometimes I'd run across things
00:58
that force me to take a second look.
01:00
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
01:05
But I also saw some familiar faces
01:09
and some backgrounds that are a little different
01:10
than what I'm used to in the States.
01:12
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
01:20
But for the most part, when I was out on the course,
01:22
it looked like I was in Florida or Arizona.
01:24
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
01:31
Most of the spectators wore regular golf attire
01:34
but there were some exceptions.
01:36
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
01:41
For the Sunday award ceremony in Bahrain,
01:43
they literally rolled out the red carpet
01:45
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
01:50
and threw in a few rags for good measure.
01:55
The entertainment they brought in
01:57
was different from anything I'd ever seen before.
01:59
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
02:04
The course in Bahrain was a little more interesting for me
02:06
because it was built in the middle of the oil fields.
02:09
While you did see the occasional pumpjack off to the side,
02:13
there were above ground oil pipelines
02:14
running all around the course.
02:16
I tried to find a couple of spots
02:17
that tied the golf and the oil pipes together
02:20
and then I noticed a really good spot to shoot from.
02:23
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
02:33
While I was up in the tower waiting for the sun to come out,
02:36
I took a look through my long lens
02:37
just to see what was off in the distance.
02:39
I was surprised to see some guys out
02:41
working on a golf hole in the middle of the oil fields.
02:44
They tell me that's how golf got started in the Middle East.
02:47
A lot of petroleum workers from foreign countries
02:48
were golf nuts.
02:50
And since they had access to heavy equipment
02:52
and lots of oil, they'd shape the course
02:54
and then coat it with oil to keep it from blowing away.
02:58
The surprising thing to me was that when it rains,
02:59
there'd be standing water
03:01
and they'd have to close the courses.
03:03
I always assumed that the sand would drain
03:04
but the water table there is pretty high.
03:06
The really crazy part is that when you walk in it,
03:09
it's really not like wet sand, it's like mud.
03:11
The stuff is a mess.
03:13
I stopped by one really nice sand course
03:14
near the airport in Abu Dhabi
03:18
and another one in Bahrain that was overlooked by a fort.
03:24
For the most part, you don't hit your ball
03:25
off the hard sand, you carry a little mat with you.
03:29
As long as your ball is inside the stakes or the fairway,
03:31
you can use that.
03:32
If your ball ends up off the fairway, you can't use the mat.
03:36
Then after you hit, you're expected to clean up your mess.
03:38
You also need to make sure
03:39
you repair your ball marks on the greens.
03:42
Actually, it would be the browns.
03:47
While I was there, I decided I should do the touristy thing
03:49
and go on a desert expedition.
03:53
Once again, I found them mixing the two cultures.
03:56
We went to a camel farm and they seem pretty docile.
04:00
But I'm told they aren't always that way.
04:05
The guy in charge of camel rides looked pretty bored
04:08
so I decided to go over and give it a try.
04:12
You actually sit up pretty high on those things.
04:17
It was kind of a fun ride,
04:19
but nothing like the ride getting out to the desert camp.
04:23
They call it dune bashing, and that's a good name for it.
04:28
(engine revving)
04:37
(people laughing)
04:44
At sunset, they'd turn on the lights,
04:47
cooked dinner,
04:49
and put on a show.
04:53
But I took a pass on the hookah.
04:56
One night we stopped and had a few drinks at the hotel bar.
05:00
As it turns out, the balcony there
05:02
has an amazing view of the grand mosque in Abu Dhabi.
05:07
We watched the sun set and the lights come up
05:12
and decided the next day, that's where we were gonna go.
05:18
The inside of the mosque is almost spectacular
05:19
as the outside.
05:21
It's got gold-plated chandeliers
05:23
that are fitted with millions of crystals
05:24
hanging from the ceiling.
05:26
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
05:30
It's the size of five football fields
05:33
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
05:42
and it has enough room for 40,000 people to pray.
05:48
It's absolutely spotless.
05:50
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
05:59
And it's one of the most amazingly lit places
06:01
I've ever seen.
06:02
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
06:08
It's always fun to go to new places
06:09
and experience different cultures.
06:14
But sometimes it's good to look into what we have in common
06:16
instead of what makes us different.
06:19
Because when you visit new places,
06:20
it's always nice to make friends.
06:23
Even when they're walking around with really scary weapons.
06:26
(Middle Eastern instrumental music)
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