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Par for Peace

FAR HILLS -- Two stalwart allies in the fight against terrorism have united on yet another front in a unique and novel effort to bring peace and stability to the strife torn Middle East through the spread of good sportsmanship.

"It is no coincidence that the two greatest democratic superpowers of modern history, England and the United States, have a strong tradition of and deep cultural roots with the game of golf," explained Bently Hooker, Director of USGA International Affairs. "We have surveyed the Middle East and found a definite golf gap in their societies, which we conclude underlies the on-going hostilities in the region, and it is high time we do something about it."

The United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews have joined forces to develop hundreds of golf courses and driving ranges from Syria to Oman.

Golf, unlike almost any of the trash-talking sports you can watch on television nowadays, is a game where sportsmanship is paramount. The game relies on the integrity of the individuals to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules, with all players conducting themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be.

Critics maintain, though, that Arabs and Muslims are not ready for golf and that Islam is not compatible with the sport.

"Forcing golf onto a society that isn't ready for it is dangerous," said Digby Dalhaber of the Coalition for Leaving Arabs in Peace. "It smacks of imperialism and westernization, which will only increase Arab resentment and resistance, leading to further acts of terrorism against our country."

While bunkers, commonly known as sand traps, will pose little problem in the development of new courses in the region, USGA Green Section agronomists are frantically working to develop hybrids of turf bermudagrass species that will thrive in the hot, arid and sandy conditions of the region to provide playable fairways and putting greens. No one expects quick results, but the USGA and R&A are prepared for a long term effort.

"Golf has been around for over five centuries," said Hooker. "And to date, there have been no credible al Qaida threats against golf courses."



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