The coffee is different, and the plastic parmesan doesn’t remotely resemble the fresh cheese from what used to be my local Italian markets. After spending four years in Europe, filled with cappuccino and brioche breakfasts, shopping at the local Orlando market or eating at the nearest diner had become a bit more depressing.
Of course, there is more to life than food, even though people-watching at the mall reveals that many are still unaware of that truism. But at least I had come back to chicken fingers and Cracker Barrel. And hey, we Americans, well, we always have hot dogs. Wieners and cappuccino aside, my reality changed in Europe, and it allowed me to see everything differently. I had never noticed how big our portions were, how cheap our gas still is, and how common sense had either never been preached, or had made a mass American exodus.
There are so many examples of inanity, especially when government is involved, but one of my recent favorites concerns the Air Force and its golf course in Niceville.
My husband Riccardo recently played golf with a friend who lives near Eglin Air Force Base. During the round, Riccardo asked if he had played Eglin’s Eagle course recently.
“Can’t. It’s closed for green reconstruction. They can’t afford to send decent boots or armored Humvees to our troops in Iraq, but they can afford to ruin the best greens in the panhandle. And all because the members wanted them flatter.”
I decided to do a little checking, not about the boots or the Humvees, but about the golf course and its planned remodel. With a struggling economy and a very expensive war, it seemed unlikely that the government would be spending money to renovate a golf course.
My first step was a Google search. Nothing. Never had my search pages come up as empty. Next, posing as a college student writing a term paper on golf course construction, I phoned Eglin Golf Course and spoke to a couple of people. They confirmed that the renovation had begun on all eighteen greens, but when I asked how much the project would cost, they clammed up. Eventually, I was able to squeeze the name of the company responsible, but the budget—it was classified.
Luckily for me, I was able to reach a higher-up in the golf course design firm, and believing he was helping my research, he let loose with the embargoed info. The project was running upwards of $1.8 million. “Normally, the time frame is shorter,” he advised. “But the Air Force has rules about days and hours we’re not allowed to work. They also have consultants which has made the process lengthier.”
The Air Force has golf course consultants? Any guess as to how many other nations have golf course consulting as a part of their military program? And God bless our troops and retired military, but can’t they learn how to put on undulated greens?
I suppose some congressman snuck an ear mark in some farm bill, or perhaps they didn’t even try to hide it. It doesn’t matter. Almost two million dollars to fix a golf course that didn’t need fixing is just one of the many nonsensical decisions that appear more glaring and feel more frustrating, since my return from a place whose citizens can’t afford to neglect common sense.