The lights go off and drums start beating. A giant dragon rises into the sky and the music gets frenzied. The dragon is swirling around and around. The dragon, on top of the jet lag and the scotch, is making me very, very dizzy.
Where am I?More important: Why?Not so important: What does this have to do with golf?
I am poolside in a place called Johor Bahru, which is in Malaysia, son. I am at the opening-night party of the 1998 Johnnie Walker Super Tour, which, by the way, will be the last Johnnie Walker Super Tour (JWST). The JWST was built for speed and built for fun, but it was not built to last. That it has flamed out after only three editions should surprise no one. That it lasted three editions seems, in hindsight, extraordinary. That no one got hurt--well, no one besides Woosie--is unbelievable.
The Johnnie Walker Super Tour is--was--the silliest of all Silly Season events. Silly Season is, you may or may not know, that officially unofficial bit of time between the last PGA Tour event and the Crosby, when the boys make hay in various shoot-outs, skins matches, exhibitions and "extravaganzas." Hokey stuff, but Silly Season does encourage imaginative promoters to some pretty colorful flights of fancy. Flights such as, "Ma-a-a-rtin, do you think you could get me a plane?" So asked Steven Foxcroft of his friend Martin Hare a few years ago as they sat sipping scotch on Martin's balcony overlooking Sydney's harbor.
"Certainly," said Martin. "Not a problem." Steven was the PR director for Johnnie Walker in Asia, and Martin ran the Event Factory, a Sydney-based firm that made things happen. So from the get-go, Steven's wacky idea--a tournament with a handful of stars, four rounds, five days, four different countries--had dangerous possibilities. Martin could get a plane, and did: a luxury jet that had once carried Michael Jackson on his Asian tour and that had subsequently been cleaned.
Thus was born, in 1996, the weirdest, most wasteful, most wanton, stupidest, diciest, cleverest, craziest, nuttiest event golf has ever seen--an event upon whose wall I was a fly last year.
Did I mention that the dragon is one of those paper deals on sticks?It is. I'm poolside on this hot, humid night--me and hundreds of invitees, all dolled up and sipping scotch. Thousands of yellow-and-black Johnnie Walker balloons float above the trees; scores of too young girls in too much makeup, each wearing a very little black dress, stroll the perimeter, serving as hostesses and ornamentation. And now, a dragon. A dragon. He's chasing a ball on a stick, trying to eat it. Finally he does, and the lights go back on.