As I sit in my hotel room looking over the rolling hills of Celtic Manor's 2010 Ryder Cup course, I can't help but feel that I am about to have my second surreal golf experience in the space of only a week!
I'm about to join the other 300 delegates or so attending the annual KPMG Golf Business Forum, in listening to one of the greatest golfers of all time – and another one of the “Big Three'' – Arnold Palmer.
For decades, Arnie's been a true hero to the game and for millions of golfers around the globe. Many even say he was single-handedly responsible for dragging the game into what we know as the modern commercial era of golf.
It's been a dream of mine since boyhood to meet the swashbuckling superstar and, well, it's only an hour or so away – pretty cool I have to say!
Arnie was one of the first clients of the IMG legacy and it was in the early days with Mark McCormack that through his unmissable swagger, unique golfing style and beaming personality that he put the first commercial stamps on what we know today as the multi-billion dollar global golf industry.
He is renowned for his astute business acumen and for his unique marketability in the eyes of the golfing public and corporate world. In many ways he represents the true essence of why many of the industry's key players are gathered here in Wales this week – and that is to continue to do business and to drive the game through these turbulent times.
For one, it will be interesting to hear his views on the current state of the US golf market. Arguably at the cutting edge of the golf business for the past 50 years, the US golf industry has played a key role in leading the revolution in opening up the game to a wider demographic.
However now there are more US golf courses closing per month than are opening – a trend that has been present for some time. It is certainly a changing game and, in order to survive, clubs and resorts across all regions will have to drastically rethink their operational strategies and the future of their businesses.
Even though Dubai has been fairly robust in dealing with the recent economic woes, we cannot stand still and wait for the good times to roll again – clubs have a responsibility to the local economy and the community and without them the world would be a much sadder place to live in.
Hats off to KPMG for having the foresight to develop such a dynamic conference and hats off to Arnie for recognising his rightful place in the game and his responsibility in driving it on.