Chasing the sun

By | Category: Travel destinations

Not being a golfer, I hadn’t paid much attention to golf tournaments on my visits to Australia.

Cindy and Brian Bushfield from Canadawhom walked the entire course nine yeas ago, two of the few golfers who have done this.

But I was intrigued last week to learn that the Nullarbor Links had reached its tenth anniversary. I was more intrigued to know why anyone would want to build or operate a golf course on the Nullarbor – a stretch of land that runs for a bit under 700 miles. So denuded of human population is it that when they built the Indian-Pacific railway line, the engineers were able to build a 297 mile section that is completely straight. And really boring if you are watching it from a train window because you see the same emptiness for miles.

The Nullarbor links (excuse the pun) Australia’s east with the west and, for well over a century was a hazardous journey. You needed spare tyres, some spare engine parts, water and food if you  were going to drive the dirt-track journey. When the dirt was replaced with tarmac, the journey became a little easier but still tough and, even today, my brother-in-law who has travelled the road a few times is surprised by how many travellers are unprepared for problems that they face.

Given all this why would you have a golf course where even finding grass is a problem some years?

The answer, I am told, is tourism. According to the Nullarbor Links website, the course was built “to complement and enhance the tourism industry…by providing travellers with an additional attraction and hence a reason to spend more time and money in the region.”

In reality it is a gimmick but a tourism gimmick and one where, although it is an 18 hole, par 72 golf course, you play one hole and then drive for a n hour or two before the next hole. You continue like that until you complete the long, long journey. That is why it is claimed to be the longest golf course in the world.

As I mentioned, ten years after it opened, last week was its birthday and the Chasing the Sun tournament was played attracting a field of players and tourist from around the world. That’s not quite true! It had players from a few countries and there was the odd bystander but it certainly wasn’t like Augusta or St Andrews!

On the last ten years about 17,000 paid green fees but how many didn’t? Does it matter? What the Links has done has brought some more tourists to a part of Australia.

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