Travelgolf.com vs. Walters Golf: The Battle Continues
There's an interesting fight that continues to brew in the U.S. golf community. Internet golf publisher TravelGolf.com has gone to war with Walters Golf, the owner and operator of several Las Vegas area golf courses (including Bali Hai, right on the strip). According to Walters Golf, a libel suit has been filed, so this isn't a fight that's likely to end soon.
The fight has centered around a course called Stallion Mountain that Travelgolf.com claims is in dire condition. Several articles have been published detailing the issues, a strange amount of coverage to give to a single golf course, even one with a $150 green fee. I haven't played it -- but I did play Royal Links and Bali Hai, two other Walters properties in 2003 and didn't find conditioning to be an issue. Neither course was compelling, but turf condition wasn't the reason.
According to Walters Golf, the reason Travelgolf.com has attacked the ownership group has little to do with the actual golf and more to do with the company's refusal to pay higher advertising fees.
"We've come up with one simple answer: When Walters Golf refused to buckle under to TravelGolf's pressure to increase fees, TravelGolf began its barrage of vicious, mean-spirited attacks on us. In fact, those attacks began one week after Walters Golf refused to be bullied into paying TravelGolf's exorbitant rates. No coincidence there."
Despite Walters Golf filing legal action, TravelGolf.com, apparently backed by the support of publisher Robert Lewis (who apparently writes as the so-called Rebel Blogger on the site), has continued to hit back at Walters.
Travelgolf's editor, Tim McDonald has gone as far as request Walters Golf owner Billy Walters, teamed with a local Las Vegas golf writer who has defended Stallion Mountain, take on a couple of writers from Travelgolf.com. Now that's a likely solution.
Hard to take McDonald too seriously, especially after his blog posts about Tiger Woods around the Masters. Read themhere.
Perhaps the most stinging indictment of the Stallion Mountain course comes from Travelgolf.com staffer Chris Baldwin. In an article on the course, he wrote:
"Walters Golf used to be an advertiser on TravelGolf.com, and we deserve some criticism too. Our publisher Robert Lewis now says TravelGolf.com should have been flogged for ever taking a dime of Walters' money. While never coming out and endorsing Stallion Mountain, we didn't diss it either (in large part because there did not used to be a full-time Vegas reporter on staff). I'm embarrassed to say this pox on the Vegas golf scene stayed in the dark for as long as it did."
Of course, this is the same Chris Baldwin who made a recent trip to British Columbia and came back raving about Furry Creek, arguably one of the worst-designed golf courses in history and renowned as a joke. Makes me wonder what Baldwin actually knows about course design if he liked Furry Creek and thinks it is "a scenic marvel of thrilling golf."
It will be fascinating to watch if the shots at Walters Golf from TravelGolf.com continue, especially in light of the legal action. In Canada, where libel laws are different than the U.S., continuing to write about a subject that is the center of legal action can cause more problems. Of course, if TravelGolf.com is telling the truth there is no issue here. Time will tell.