A Western Rush to Judgment on Tiger Woods Dubai?

The story's been seized upon by western scribes of every stripe ... and it's still being rehashed and retweeted with surprising regularity.

It started with a piece by Lawrence Donegan which appeared Sunday,  in the Observer and

However,  here's the thing: prosaic and engaging as the Lawrence Donegan's story is, it still strikes me as somewhat facile.  At times the tone is judgmental... almost sanctimonious... with undertones of "how the mighty have fallen" directed at both the golfer and the emirate.  One could almost come away with the impression that the struggling Tiger Woods Dubai is an anomaly cause by the irresponsible behavior of a few when in fact it's just one of a multitude of overly ambitious golf projects all over the world - conceived during "the bubble" and now on hold.

Like luxury golf development projects across the US and Europe, Tiger Woods Dubai may be stalled for a while... perhaps it'll be scaled back or maybe it will actually fall by the wayside.  We got no definitive answer from the Donegan story, because as yet, there isn't one.  What we did get was a trite retelling of "Tiger's demise" and multiple swipes at Dubai's unbridled excesses... as though the desert kingdom had the market cornered on conspicuous consumption. 

Perhaps I've just grown ultra-cynical but I can't help but think that this particular spin just made the most buzz-worthy retweetable marketable story.  As a writer myself, I know that's what I look for and I certainly don't reproach the talented Mr. Donegan.  What I found unsettling was the way this story was relentlessly rehashed, repeated and retweeted.  While Europe and the US face their own debt and unsustainability issues, it seems some are taking solace in the much more distant reversal of fortune happening in post-boom Dubai.

But I think it's important to keep things in perspective. To that end, have a look at this recent video taken by a tourist a week or so ago in downtown Dubai.  Despite the stagnation of certain projects, the city appears vital and exciting.  The country's commitment to golf is ongoing and effective as well, judging from last week's Dubai World Championship anid the impressive tournaments coming up.  And as far as Tiger Woods Dubai, I think it's premature to write it off just yet.


  1. .

    i apologize in advance for the lenght of the NYT excerpts below about designer museums (as compared to designer golf courses) being constructed in the middle east

    and not to make any political judgements,i am posting it just as a frame of reference

    it is not just the financially hurdles on the surface the middle east have to contend with, deep down IMHO, it's can they be trusted

    .....["It is an audacious experiment: two small, oil-rich countries in the Middle East are using architecture and art to reshape their national identities virtually overnight, and in the process to redeem the tarnished image of Arabs abroad while showing the way toward a modern society within the boundaries of Islam...........As comprehensive as this vision seems, however, questions still linger, as in Abu Dhabi, about whom it will speak to. Few fundamentalists are likely to distinguish between one approach to modernization and another. Even many educated Arabs in and outside Qatar — among the museums’ target audience — see a disturbing inconsistency in these grand plans. “Some have lived here 50 years,” said Fares Braizat, a Jordanian professor at Qatar University who has been working on a census of foreign nationals. “They speak Arabic with a Qatari dialect, but they are still not allowed Qatari citizenship” or any of the enviable perks that go with it: free education and health care, interest-free government loans, preference in hiring, a sense of equality. Mr. Braizat’s point zeroes in on what could turn out to be the great flaw in the plans of both cities. Leaders are investing enormous amounts in these projects, and they are likely to leave behind some extraordinary buildings and institutions. But if they can’t get over that final hurdle and persuade enough people that they have a shared stake in this future, they will never realize their most ambitious goals. Worse, they may end up reinforcing the cynicism about engagement with the West that brought down Western-style modernism in this part of the world decades ago.] NYT

    anyway back to golf

    ftlauderdale soFLA

  2. I've wanted to visit Dubai and the Arabian gulf for a while now. I think the blending of traditional cultures and beliefs with modern ones is part of what makes it fascinating. The issues pointed out in the NYT article are due to this rapid development and I think over time much will be resolved. As for the Tiger Woods course, how different is the story from the many abandoned or deteriorating courses here.

  3. I appreciate your honest journalistic efforts to post an un biased report, thank you very much. I am so sick and tired of the media whores that everytime they mention Tiger's name they have to rehash all the stories we have heard time and time again. It just blows my mind that they cannot leave sleeping dogs lie.So again let me thank you for your efforts.

  4. This is a pretty good article. It seems to hit on one main problem, which is pretty common in sports media. Basically, is Donegan a writer? Or a journalist?

    He should be a journalist, and not leave out facts or draw unnecessary parallels. If he's just a writer, and telling a story, that's fine but it shouldn't be presented as a news piece.

    That said, I'm sure the truth lies somewhere between what he wrote and Golf Girl's explanation.

  5. Actually Mr. Donegan is a journalist, and as such went out to the site of the development and attempted to get statements from the the current owners and various representatives.

    He's also a writer and author of several really wonderful golf books.

    These days, in sports writing and elsewhere, I suspect most of what we read is is somewhere between pure journalism and storytelling. It the way media has evolved.

  6. Just about a year ago I recall reading an eerily similar story of a Nicklaus golf course that was "on hold" on the island of Anguilla. I haven't heard anything about it since, and I don't know what finally happened to it. It does seem like Tiger Woods and Dubai make a much more tempting target for many people than Jack and his Caribbean Island.

  7. I've got to get to Dubai one of these days. Sure it was hit hard by the world recession look at Las Vegas and From what I've read/heard it's still a great place to visit.

  8. There are very few places to see pure journalism anymore. Patricia's explanation of that and and storytelling evolution are on the mark.

    Even "opinion columns" labeled as such go beyond that and can be spun into pure storytelling. I guess it's up to the reader to decide how much they want to believe. Of course, hidden agendas abound. Then again- much of this has existed for years. Look back at the "golden (or yellow) days" of W. R. Hearst.

  9. Most of today's writers are obliged to generate page views / traffic. I'd guess it would be difficult to get those with most of the names in golf today simply because they're not known beyond the sport. Tiger is the exception.


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