Friends of ours told us this anecdote recently about their five year old son, who is an avid Ski Dubai skier. They were planning a skiing trip to the Alps or the Rockies in the USA. They showed some pictures to their son, the avid skier.
He was startled and asked:
"You mean you want me to ski outdoors?" He didn't look too thrilled by the idea.
This is the controlled environment of Dubai! We think, I included, that sending our kids indoors to ski, is good practice for their skiing. Don't I always gloat about living fifteen minutes away from the ski slopes?
My son and I have never, for that matter, played golf anywhere except for the manicured desert courses of Dubai, and of course the Beirut Golf Club, but that goes without saying. This morning, we tried an alternative to Dubai's "controlled golf environment".
A fellow player and close friend drove us to the French border. It took half an hour to reach our destination, through a landscape of fields and trees. The "golf house" was more of a chalet, with a single employee taking cash payments. There were no buggies, no caddies. Almost self service.
In this French border town, everything is green. Nothing is artificial. There is very little landscaping. Except that the grass may be shorter on the fairways and the greens. The ponds have water lilies. There are very few bunkers. The obstacles are the surrounding forests and the scattered trees. Many a times, the ball will hit a trunk, bounce and hit another trunk like a pin-ball flipper game.
The course wasn't the luxurious course of Dubai, where obstacles are designed, where landscaping is deliberate. I felt out of place in this natural environment but was glad to have tried "outdoor golf".
All things said, Dubai's "controlled environment" has proven to be a good place to practice for the "real thing". I had sent my daughter to ski regularly at the Mall of the Emirates and had never seen her ski till I put her on skis in the Alpes. She fared very well. And by the same token, my son scored well on the French golf course today.