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    She’s back from the back, and just in time.

    Suzanne Pettersen returns to competition today in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at Lake Merced Golf Club in San Francisco – her first competitive round in a month after a back injury – just in time to ride the ever-growing wave of popularity the LPGA Tour is experiencing. Winners so …

    It’s Official: Buck And Norman In Fox Golf Booth

    Confirming news that first was reported last week, Fox Sports announced this afternoon that Joe Buck and Greg Norman will be its lead broadcast team when the network kicks off its golf coverage at the 2015 U.S. Open. In addition to calling the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, Buck and …

    Peter Dawson will retire in 2015.

    Dawson’s Eventful Era Coming To An End

    The R&A have announced that Peter Dawson, their CEO for 15 years, will retire in September of next year. His post is to be advertised as early as next week, with expressions of interest to be sent to TheR&A@SpencerStuart.com So much has happened on Dawson’s watch, with pride of place …

    Collegiate Coach Will Retire At End Of NCAA Season

    Florida’s Buddy Alexander, who led the Gators to national championships in 1993 and 2001, announced today he will retire at the completion of the current season. Alexander, 61, also was a two-time All-American as a collegiate player at Georgia Southern. He is the longest tenured coach on Florida’s campus, and …

    Peter Dawson will retire in 2015.

    R&A’s Peter Dawson Announces Retirement Date

    Update: Click Here To Read Lewine Mair’s Report on Dawson’s retirement Peter Dawson, the Chief Executive of the R&A, announced his retirement in the following news release: R&A’S PETER DAWSON TO RETIRE IN 2015 22 April 2014, St Andrews, Scotland: It was announced today that Peter Dawson is to retire …

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      Men’s Pro

      Taking A Hack At Golf’s Growth Problem

      GREENSBORO, GEORGIA | The irony never occurred to them. Just a little more than 12 hours after Bubba Watson won the most elite, tradition-laden tournament in golf at arguably the most exclusive club in the world, Sergio García and Justin Rose co-hosted an event designed to shake up golf’s staid and stodgy mores and make the game fun for a new generation of beginners. At Reynolds Plantation, a lakeside resort an hour’s drive from Augusta National, García and Rose, neither of whom played particularly well in The Masters, gushed over a new initiative called Hack Golf, a terrible name for an idea that isn’t half bad. The brainchild of TaylorMade CEO Mark King, Hack Golf provides course owners with the tools needed to create a 15-inch hole, complete with cup and flag, to make the game easier and faster. “Beginners need to feel as though they can make it,” García said after shooting 6 under for nine holes using the big cups. “I remember there was a sprinkler head in the middle of the putting green when I was a kid. Every once in a while my friends and I would say, ‘Let’s putt to the sprinkler head.’ It wasn’t 15 inches, but it was great fun because we all felt like we could make it. “That’s important. For young kids, for beginners, and even for some older people who have lost their touch, this is a great way to regain the sense of accomplishment that comes with making it.” No one is suggesting a replacement for the standard 4 1/4-inch cups that have been part of the game since Scotsmen began cutting holes with snuff cans. The idea is to offer both.

      Pinehurst Countdown Intrigue

      PINEHURST, NORTH CAROLINA | The greens are slow at the moment but if you have it on the back of the fourth green and the pin is in the front, you can still be chipping back with your next shot. You can hit a lot of greens but there will be only a few where the ball will actually stay on. Such is the beauty of Pinehurst No. 2, which isn’t a knockout on the first date but the longer you go out, the better acquainted you become and you learn to appreciate the subtleties and the quirks that make you fall in love all over again each time you visit. And even if it makes you lose your mind a little, the romance never dies. It just deepens. This is where 156 of the world’s best players in just seven weeks will try to avoid insanity trying to solve the riddle of some of the game’s most confounding green complexes. And complex is the operative word because there are some holes at No. 2 that in order to stay on the green with your approach, much less get it close, you have to get the ball to land and stop in an area the size of your breakfast-nook table. And those that don’t stay will run off into collection areas around the green where the combatants will have to make some important decisions. Do I chip? Do I putt? Do I try to bump a hybrid or a fairway wood? Do I punt?

      Learning From Losing

      HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA | Jordan Spieth remembers the one that got away. He had a two-stroke lead with one hole to play. Another kid birdied the 18th hole. Spieth made a double bogey and lost. Spieth was 10 or 11 at the time, he can’t remember. He just remembers the Young Guns Junior Golf Tour trophy he didn’t win was taller than he was. A week or two later, Spieth won a Young Guns event, the first victory in a golf career that glitters with trophies. That Young Guns event and the 2014 Masters now share a place in Spieth’s memory. When you lead your first Masters by two strokes with 11 holes to play and don’t win, it stays with you. In some ways, it hardly seemed to matter that Spieth didn’t win. Michael Greller, Spieth’s caddie, told his boss he’d never seen someone “get so many congratulations for losing.” But it did matter. Like unrequited love, missed chances – whether in a kids’ event or at Augusta National – can linger for a lifetime. The 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills is the one that stays with Davis Love III. “I wouldn’t say I’m over it,” Love said. “It still bothers me.” Nick Faldo remembers the 1983 Open Championship at Birkdale. “I led with nine to go and blew up on the back nine. I couldn’t handle it,” Faldo said. “That was sowing the seeds on the (swing) rebuild and all sorts of things. That was all part of the learning curve.” Tom Watson had the 54-hole lead in the 1974 U.S. Open but shot 79 in the final round to finish tied for fifth. In 1975, Watson tied the 36-hole scoring record in the U.S. Open but was 13-over par on the weekend.

      Golf’s Hamlet Without The Prince

      AUGUSTA, GEORGIA | Now we know. The man on the radio didn’t. He referred to the Mastersless Tiger. It was a malapropism, but we understood what he meant. Now we know what the first Masters without Woods was like. We know because we were there in 1995 when he arrived as a pencil-thin, quiet, unassuming amateur and finished tied 41st and we were there this year after he had withdrawn. Though he had missed at least one of each of the other major championships, this was his first absence from The Masters. Again and again last week the memory went back to 1997 when Woods stunned the world of golf with a runaway victory to become the 61st Masters champion. The Times (of London) carried the following headline on April 15, 1997: headline on April 15, 1997: “Golf wakes to the dawn of the Tiger era” and beneath it the subheading: “America hails player whose mastery transcended a tournament and captivated a nation.” In the accompanying story, I wrote: “Just after 5 am yesterday fingers of light broke through to brighten the first days of the Tiger era, golf’s sixth since 1896. … Woods … had broken half as many records as he had clubs in his bag and his smile was as wide as his 12-stroke winning margin.”

      Love Me Two Times, Bubba

      AUGUSTA, GEORGIA | The worry was that Tiger Woods wasn’t here, so would The Masters matter? On a perfectly sun-splashed day amidst the pines and the flowering dogwoods at Augusta National, golf’s future met its present face to face and it all made perfect sense. You can’t win The Masters twice until you’ve won it once and Bubba Watson, with every chance to give this one away, put the doubters to rest as to whether he was bound to be a one-off Masters champion. Watson’s second Masters title in three years came while paired on Sunday with golf’s next big thing, the 20-year-old Jordan Spieth. Behind early and often, Watson doggedly stayed in the game and shot a final-round 69 for a total of 8-under-par 280 to win by three shots. “It’s overwhelming,” Watson said Sunday night. “A small-town guy named Bubba has two green jackets.” And that puts him in elite company with the likes of Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, José María Olazábal and Ben Crenshaw, all of whom have won two Masters. But in Bubba’s world, that’s not how he sees it. “I’m still trying to keep my card,” Watson said. “I got lucky enough to get two green jackets. If people say I’m a good player, that’s one thing. I don’t play golf for people to say I’m one of the greats of the game. I play golf because I love it.”

      Women’s Pro

      Koch Will Insist On Solheim Good Manners

      Carin Koch, who has been selected to captain the Europeans in the next Solheim Cup, says that good golfing manners are high on the agenda for the match that will take place Sept. 18-20 of 2015 at St Leon-Rot. It was after the contest of 2013 in Colorado that Paul McGinley commented on the way some of the women had been walking off greens before the opposition had putted out. “I would be furious,” said this year’s Ryder Cup captain, “if my players were to do that.” Koch, a 43-year-old Swede whose selection was announced last Friday, says that McGinley’s concerns will be addressed when she and US captain Juli Inkster have a meeting in advance of what will be the 14th match in the series. “I didn’t,” she said, “see any of the incidents for myself but I heard about them. “Everyone knows that players in a Solheim Cup are going to be more excited and nervous than at any other time. In many ways, that’s what brings out the best of them but they do need to be calmed down.” they do need to be calmed down.” Overall, the match of ’13 made for riveting viewing as the Europeans won to the tune of 18-10 under Liselotte Neumann’s captaincy. “Lotta,” said Koch, “created a great spirit within the camp. She was relaxed, she was fun and she was very easy to be around.”

      Whan Emphatic: ‘This One Is Not Going Away’

      RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIFORNIA | As golf’s first major came to a close in California and all eyes turned toward Augusta and the second, the future name of the tournament formerly known as The Dinah was still up in the air. But its status in the pecking order and place on the LPGA calendar remained as sturdy as the San Jacinto Mountains. Four days before Lexi Thompson approached the edge of the 18th green and made the traditional leap into Poppie’s Pond, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan invited a small group to sit down for coffee where he made that very point. “In my commissioner tenure, we’re not going to lose this major,” Whan said, punching each word for emphasis. “Maybe somebody later will have a better idea. But in my tenure, this one is not going away.” That was not bravado. If anything, Whan is a man who undersells and overdelivers. Spending time with him reminds you why he’s considered one of the brightest people in the game, a man who took over a tour in shambles and turned it into the hottest product in professional golf. Four potential sponsors were on site at Mission Hills, looking to replace Kraft Nabisco, which ended its 33-year sponsorship run on Sunday afternoon. But those aren’t the only suitors rapping on Whan’s parlor door. As he put it, “If all I was looking for was sponsorship for another major (in a different location) I’ve got 35 or 40 sponsors who would say, ‘I’ve got that for you, Mike. Just come to where we are.’ ”

      No Longer An Impossible Dream

      ST. ANDREWS | There were six members sitting at the far end of the R&A’s Big Room last Wednesday lunchtime. Whilst keeping half an eye on the golf outside, they would almost certainly have been discussing the news that was about to be announced to the world’s press in the CEO’s office upstairs. Namely that the hierarchy were advising the membership to change their constitution and admit women members for a first time in the club’s 260-year history. The sextet in the Big Room would remain undisturbed: There was no question of any of the journalists, let alone a female of the species, asking for their thoughts. What you wanted to know was whether they were worrying that the whole character of their club might change with the advent of women. Or whether they were agreeing that this was precisely the proverbial kick up the backside they needed to move into the modern world. Yet the latest development is not as sudden as many might suppose. Back in 1867, the members laid out a putting green – the Himalayas – for the ladies. By all accounts, it was rather more than a kindly gesture; they were worried about waiting wives and girlfriends flirting with caddies. When the women got bored of putting, the men allowed them to play on the Old Course and, as you would expect, the ladies were soon eschewing all advice along the lines that they should not swing the club above shoulder level.

      Ko Walking A Little Taller These Days

      SINGAPORE | Though 16-year-old Lydia Ko, who finished 15th at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore, looks taller than last year, her mother says that it just seems that way because she has lost weight. Also adding to the “growth” impression is that the teenager has left behind the shy gait of her amateur days and is walking with a confidence of one who feels comfortable in her new surrounds. Things we learned from Lydia in Singapore: 1. She is completing her last year at high school online – and has plans to go on from there with an online degree, possibly in English and/or photography. Regarding the photography, she has just purchased a Canon camera and plans to take pictures of “beautiful landscapes around the world,” starting with those in Queenstown, New Zealand. 2. She devours books, reading them as she eats. Shakespeare and The Great Gatsby get a mention. 3. When nongolfing pals tell her how they once made a hole-in-one at mini golf, she is apt to reply with an admiring, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Never having had a real hole-inone herself, she, too, still gets a buzz from the mini-golf variety. 4. She believes that it was a good thing rather than bad that her parents did not play golf when they all started playing at the same time. “I began with a coach and learned the proper basics, which had to help.” 5. She has met Sir Bob Charles on several occasions back home in New Zealand. The former Open champion has watched her play a couple of New Zealand Women’s Opens and, when she was struggling with her putting, he emphasised the importance of never decelerating on a putt. 6. To be a junior member of a club in New Zealand, as she was, costs no more than $100 per year: “You have access to the swimming pool and the gym as well as the golf course,” marvelled Lydia.

      Creamer Engaged And Still In The Pink

      SINGAPORE | The 27-year-old Paula Creamer describes her career thus far as “100 per cent a family affair.” Her parents, Paul and Karen, have been at her side since she started out on tour in 2005 – and they even paved the way for a meeting at the 2013 Kia Classic between Paula and the man she will marry in December. Creamer – who won the HSBC Women’s Champions on Sunday – chuckles at how her mother, a born matchmaker, had suggested to some old friends that they bring their son to the tournament. The son in question, a pilot like his father and hers (he is in the Air Force where the fathers were in the Navy) duly played ball. Paula thinks that she first noticed the 33-year-old Derek Heath at the back of the seventh green. The couple were formally introduced at the end of the round but no sooner had they shaken hands than Creamer excused herself to go to the practice ground. Heath can hardly have been encouraged by that first encounter but when, later that evening, the families met for dinner, the conversation flowed. “The great thing about Derek is that he ‘gets’ what I do and understands that it’s my time right now,” says Creamer. She, in turn, has any amount of respect for Derek’s work: “He is protecting his country, which is huge.”

      Amateur

      Shelton Is Golf’s Latest Super-Frosh

      Here’s a name you’d better get used to: Robby Shelton IV. The University of Alabama freshman quietly has risen to No. 4 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, behind Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers, reigning U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick and Englishman Greg Eason. Shelton is another in a long line of freshmen who have made an immediate impact on the college game; in fact, the most recent one was the player he replaced at Alabama, Justin Thomas. In one sense, Shelton’s climb up the WAGR has not been meteoric; he was already inside the top 40 in the world before he stepped onto the Alabama campus last fall, by virtue of an outstanding junior career. Prior to enrolling at ’Bama, he was the focus of an intense recruiting effort by Alabama and Auburn; so difficult was the decision for the Alabama native that he made one of the latest college commitments in recent memory. Shelton announced himself to the world at the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur, when at the ripe old age of 14 he beat then-wunderkind Jordan Spieth. Shelton won the final two holes of their second-round match to send the defending champion home early. He would go on to claim the No. 1 position in the AJGA Polo Junior Rankings despite playing less frequently than many of his contemporaries. Like the Crimson Tide football team, the men’s golf team doesn’t stop to rebuild; it simply reloads. Alabama won the 2013 NCAA team championship and then said farewell to Thomas, who left early for the pro game, and senior Scott Strohmeyer, a solid contributor during its run last year. But coach Jay Seawell returned a nucleus of talented players, including seniors Cory Whitsett (No. 16 in the WAGR) and Bobby Wyatt (No. 40). Add to that mix senior Trey Mullinax, sophomore Tom Lovelady and Shelton, and you have a team that easily could repeat as champions.

      Harvey Reboots His Game, Under A Watchful Eye

      Scott Harvey had just struck one of the finest golf shots in his life – a 189-yard 7-iron on the par-3 fifth hole at Pine Needles. He and partner Brian Westveer were on the fifth hole of a playoff for the Pine Needles Invitational championship in early March, and Harvey’s high draw bounced 6 feet shy of the flag and rolled into the bottom of the cup. His first emotion: jubilation about the accomplishment and the victory. He and Westveer high-fived and hooted and hugged and accepted congratulations from opponents Matt Crenshaw and Chris Cassetta, the victory made all the sweeter by the fact Harvey had rolled in a 12-footer for birdie at No. 4 to keep the playoff alive. His second emotion: emptiness. For years Scott’s first phone call after a round of tournament golf was to his father, Bill, an accomplished and decorated amateur golfer on regional and national levels who died Oct. 13 at age 82 in his Greensboro home, after a long bout with cancer. “I wish I could talk to my dad,” Harvey said, breaking down in tears as he and Westveer walked to their carts for the drive back to the clubhouse. Westveer, a close friend and Harvey’s roommate on the amateur golf circuit, suspected that was coming. “Close your eyes and talk to him,” Westveer responded. “I guarantee you he saw it.”

      Murphy Wins Weather-Plagued Azalea Invitational

      University of South Carolina junior Will Murphy came from well off the pace to claim the Azalea Invitational in a one-hole playoff Sunday at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina. Murphy began the final round tied for ninth, four shots behind the leaders, but he shot 3-under-par 68 in very breezy conditions to tie M.J. Maguire at 6-under 207. Maguire, a University of North Florida player, shot 71, punctuated by a final-hole birdie to catch Murphy and force the playoff. Murphy won with a par on the first extra hole. Patrick Christovich fired a final-round 70 to grab low mid-amateur honors and a T3 finish with junior Dylan Meyer. Second round co-leader Brennan King, a mid-amateur who is a member at the host club, couldn’t handle the final-round winds and shot 79, falling back to a T11 finish. For the second year in a row, rain shortened the Azalea. Heavy overnight rains on Friday caused the third round to be cancelled, turning the tournament into a 54- hole affair. That was an improvement on last year, when inclement weather reduced the old-line tournament to 36 holes.

      Remembering Ron Balicki

      Longtime golf writer Ron Balicki succumbed to cancer last week after an eight-month battle. Balicki, 65, wrote for Golfweek for more than 30 years, focusing primarily on college and amateur golf. Indeed, he was a pioneer when it came to covering the amateur game in America. I wrote a column about my friend Ron upon his induction into the College Golf Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010 (click here to read it). Since I don’t feel that I can improve upon it, I turned to others in the golf industry who knew and admired Ron, and asked them to share remembrances of this dedicated golf journalist. Ron Balicki was to college golf what Roger Kahn was to The Boys of Summer. Ron was a talented writer who loved his craft, was passionate about his subject and respected its participants. Ron’s work with college golf over the past 30 years coincided with the unprecedented growth and visibility of the sport. That is more than coincidental. Ron was college golf’s first bard. We lost a good man. WALLY UIHLEIN CHAIRMAN AND CEO ACUSHNET CO. We got to know Ron real well at the old Maxwell college event in Ardmore, Okla. The event was much more than a golf tournament, it was a party ... a real celebration of golf, youth, and their wonderful community. The tournament hosted a day of fishing at Lake Texoma (a world-class striped bass fishery). Ron never went fishing with us until we shamed him into it one year (we later found out it was his first time fishing). I think he caught more stripers than anyone that day, so we “officially” changed his name from “Wrong Ron” to “Striper Ron.” I think he really got a big kick out of it as we called him Striper Ron for the duration of the event. STEVE HAMBLIN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AMERICAN JUNIOR GOLF ASSOCIATION

      College Golf: A Ray Of Hope

      A column I wrote two weeks ago about the American college game’s seeming inability to retain its elite players drew, as I thought it might, considerable response. Some of it was in agreement, some of it was sharply critical, and some of it was humorous. But the most meaningful response came from Stanford University golf coach Conrad Ray. It was Stanford team member Patrick Rodgers who prompted my column after he announced he will turn pro after his junior year. Ray did not agree with my point of view, and in a professional manner, he e-mailed his objections. The point I was trying to make was that NCAA regulations make game improvement for the really elite players virtually impossible. I argued that Rodgers’ decision, just days after becoming the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world and on the heels of the previous top ranked amateur (reigning U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick) leaving Northwestern after just four months, laid bare this shortcoming. Ray knows what he is talking about. He is one of very few men to have won a college national golf championship as a player and as a coach. His opinion is reasoned and based on his experience as an elite college player, former professional, and now an accomplished coach at one of the most academically prestigious universities in the world. A three-year letter winner for the Cardinal golf team, the Minnesota native walked on to the Stanford team as a freshman. He joined a team that won the 1994 NCAA Championship and included Tiger Woods, Casey Martin and Notah Begay. He captained the team in 1997 and was an All-Pac-10 and Pac-10 All-Academic selection that season as well. A four-year man at Stanford, he played in every event during his final two years. Pretty good for a walk on.

      Travel

      Revealing The Mayan Riviera

      PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO | The mere mention of Cancún evokes an immediate handful of images. The beach. Parties. Sunshine. Parties. Spring break. Parties. It’s not entirely inaccurate and for thousands of visitors annually, it’s why Cancún remains a hugely popular destination. But if you’re a golfer, the Cancún area probably hasn’t been high on your must-play travel list. Ah, but fly into Cancún, where the airport control tower sports a Corona beer ad, and take a right past the Walmart billboard and head down the main four-lane highway past the drive-thru Starbucks and, almost before you know it, you’re in an emerging golf destination just a few miles and a world away from the shake and sizzle of Cancún. If you like your golf trips to include warm weather, palm trees, an ocean breeze, world-class hotels that discourage spring breakers, famous-name course designers, a dose of history, unforgettable cuisine and one of the Caribbean’s coolest beach towns, then you can find it along the Riviera Maya. From Puerto Morelos near Cancún in the north to south beyond the Mayan ruins at Tulum, a stretch of more than 30 miles of Caribbean coastline, the Riviera Maya features a collection of sprawling golf and beach resorts. “What we have in Riviera Maya is very good golf and we feel we’re very good competition for Los Cabos, where there aren’t as many courses,” says Omar Velez, golf operations manager at the Riviera Maya Golf Club, a 27 hole Robert Trent Jones Jr. complex on the southern end of the Riviera. With more than a dozen golf courses sprinkled along the Yucatán Peninsula, Riviera Maya can be perfect for a buddies’ golf trip, a couples’ getaway or a family vacation. It’s less than three hours by air from many major airports in the U.S. and its popularity is mushrooming.

      Bone Valley Classic

      BOWLING GREEN, FLORIDA | Bill Coore regularly receives telephone calls from people looking to build or revamp golf courses. After all, he is one of the most sought-after architects in the game, and the courses he has created with his longtime partner Ben Crenshaw, like Sand Hills in Nebraska and Friar’s Head on Long Island, are among the best in the land. But the designer’s dance card is usually full, which means he must say no to most entreaties. So, it was not surprising that Coore graciously declined an invitation from an executive of the Minnesota-based mining giant Mosaic several years ago to visit a site in the Sunshine State from which the company had once dug phosphate rock – and where it now wanted to build a golf resort. “I said that I was really not interested in working on a Florida course,” explains Coore, no doubt fearing the land would be pancake-flat like the vast majority of the state and envisioning a plan that included lots of real estate. “But the guy on the other end of the line kept saying, ‘Please.’ So, I gave in. “The first thing I noticed when I arrived was the sandy soil,” Coore recalls. “And Ben and I love sand. Next, I saw rugged dunes and blowout bunkers stretching in all directions. It was perfect golf ground, and it neither looked nor felt at all like Florida. Then I learned there was not going to be any housing. I immediately got on the phone with Ben and told him he needed to see this place.”

      Reynolds Plantation Abounds In Options

      GREENSBORO, GEORGIA | Nestled among the tall Georgia pines, on the shores of tranquil Lake Oconee, is a golf retreat that is as beautiful to the eye and demanding of your golf game by day as it is soothing to the soul by night. Reynolds Plantation, in many ways, is the state’s best-kept secret. Located halfway between Atlanta and Augusta, Reynolds has 117 holes of signature golf by some of the world’s best-known and most highly regarded architects – Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Rees Jones, Bob Cupp and Jim Engh. There’s enough golf – and high- enough quality – to cater to just about any taste. The draw to Reynolds Plantation is golf, but it is first and foremost a real-estate play with 3,800 homeowners on property. Sales associates would love nothing more than to interest you in a homesite on which you could build a custom home. But while you’re looking at property – or if you just want a long weekend getaway – Reynolds offers plenty of amenities to short-term visitors. The 251-room Ritz-Carlton Lodge on the property was redecorated and refurbished last spring and reopened in April. The attached cottages and Presidential House also were renovated and reopened in October. The Lodge also has a 26,000-square-foot spa. And there are plenty of cottages and condos in Reynolds’ rental portfolio that can give you the feel of home-away-from-home during your visit. Reynolds Plantation was developed in the late 1980s on 90 miles of Lake Oconee shoreline and currently has 5,000 undeveloped acres. The company struggled to sell real estate during the housing slump and wound up operating under bank-appointed receivership for more than a year. MetLife, the largest U.S. life insurer, bought Reynolds Plantation in 2012 and Daniel Corp. is developing and managing the property. Once MetLife assumed ownership, the company stepped up with millions of dollars in renovations to the six golf courses, including a new clubhouse at The National.

      Storied London: There’s Golf Here, Too

      ASCOT, ENGLAND | It used to be that when I considered golf in the British Isles, I never thought of London. To be sure, the English capital has long been a favorite destination of mine, for its plays and parks and also the churches, galleries and museums. When it came to teeing it up, however, I only saw London as a place to pass through on my way to golfing points farther north. Like Glasgow and Edinburgh. Shannon and Dublin, too. But as I stood on the second-floor veranda of the white-walled clubhouse at Royal Cinque Ports and gazed across the windswept links where Julius Caesar’s Roman legions once marched, I realized I was now of a very different mind. I had just spent a week exploring the historic heath-land courses just west of London. Then, I played several rounds at this marvelous course on the English Channel, only 90 minutes by train from the city, and also nearby Royal St. George’s. The courses were excellent, the clubs as convivial as any as I have known, and I could not help but ask myself: How did I miss this area for so long? A day later, my journey ended with a round on the Old Course at Sunningdale with John Baldwin, a part-time London resident and well-résuméd golfer who has won the British, Irish and Welsh Senior Amateurs. And I asked him the same question I had posed to myself the previous afternoon to myself. “Don’t feel bad,” he says. “London is a place that often is easily overlooked, and that’s a shame, because it is one of the great golf regions in the world.” At the start of my trek, I would have found that last pronouncement difficult to credit, as the British might say. But hearing it at the conclusion, it made perfect sense. John was exactly right. The track we had just played at Sunningdale, the rugged Old Course designed by Willie Park Jr., was an architectural triumph routed through rolling hills and swaths of heather.

      America’s Home Of Golf

      PINEHURST, NORTH CAROLINA | As an ardent fan of Bobby Jones, I was pretty much down with anything the golfing great was quoted as saying. Until, that is, I made my first trip some years ago to the Carolina Sandhills. That was when I learned that he once called Pinehurst “the St. Andrews of United States golf.” And frankly, I did not get the analogy. Pinehurst is not built on linksland, nor located by the sea. As its name suggests, loblolly and longleaf pines abound here, and that is not the sort of flora you associate with the Home of Golf. I also found nary a swath of gorse during that maiden journey to Pinehurst, and no one spoke in a Scottish brogue, either. The climate was much more temperate in this Southern retreat, and I learned that the drink of choice at many postround watering holes was bourbon, not single-malt whisky. All of which made me wonder what Bobby Jones was thinking of when he uttered those words. But I went back to Pinehurst a few more times, most recently with the Postmen – my fellow Global Golf Post staffers Andy DeKeuster, Steve Eubanks and Mike Purkey – this past summer. And those visits helped me understand just what the man meant. The village of Pinehurst was laid out in the 1890s by the noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and it exudes the same small-town quaintness of St. Andrews. Both communities have oodles of golf, with there now being more than 40 courses within a 15-mile radius in Pinehurst.

      Gear

      FJ City High In Style

      The trend in golf shoes toward offerings that are as much about style as they are function continues with the new FJ City collection from FootJoy. Company officials say this product was inspired by popular street styles, and it features trendy designs made of waterproof, full-grain leather uppers. In addition, a cleated, DuraMax Rubber outsole is produced to be as comfortable and flexible as it is stable. All told, there are six styles in the FJ City line, five of which also are available in spikeless editions, and a variety of two-tone color options, thanks to a color-pop EVA cushioned midsole. The shoes come in two styles – Plain Toe and Wing Tip – and have a two-year waterproof warranty.

      FST Introduces Two New KBS Shafts

      FST, the Boulder, Colo.-based shaft company, continues to expand its KBS line with the rollout of two new offerings, the Tour-V and the C-Taper Lite. The Tour-V is a lighter-weight, mid-trajectory steel product that has been in development and testing on the PGA Tour since 2012. Offered in three flexes – R-100g, S-110g and X-120g – it is the stock shaft for the new Callaway Apex Pro irons and incorporates what company officials say is an advanced design for taper rate, outside diameter and wall thickness to produce less spin and a more piercing ball flight. In addition, they aver, an advanced step pattern results in equal reduction in stiffness from butt to tip. “We have also found that dispersion with the Tour-V is some of the tightest we have ever seen,” says Kim Braly, a 30-year industry veteran who is head of R&D at KBS (which stands for Kim Braly Signature) as well as director of tour operations. “And it maintains our signature smooth feel at impact.”

      Oakley Creates Its Own Sector

      As far as folks at Oakley see it, they have had the performance-footwear category well covered the with their Carbon Pro and Cipher offerings. And with the recent introduction of the Sector, they now have a formidable entry in the so-called hybrid arena, where shoes need to perform on and off the course. Sector is the first release of Oakley’s Course Cruiser collections, and that model comes in five colors: black, white, gray, blue and green. According to Dave Ortley, the company’s global director of footwear and accessories, the lightweight upper of this shoe is made of a durable, microfiber material that breathes well and looks and performs like genuine leather. While it is not fully waterproof, he says, it repels moisture well and keeps golfers’ feet dry even when the fairways and greens are dewy, or rain is falling. In addition, the Sector boasts an integrated microspike sole that Ortley says provides equal portions of comfort and stability.

      Ping Introduces Karsten Hybrid Iron Set

      With this new offering, named after company founder Karsten Solheim, Ping brings to market what is becoming an increasingly common option in the game, and that is a mixed set of hybrids and irons that are created to make it easier for players to more optimally build their bags. Start with the hybrids, which are available in 3H, 4H and 5H. They feature a deep head profile and wide sole, and the center-of-gravity locations are progressive, farther back in the lower-lofted heads to promote higher launch and lower and more forward in the higher-lofted ones to reduce spin. In addition, company technicians say, extreme internal heel-and-toe weighting raises the moment of inertia to enhance forgiveness. As for the irons, which run from 5 to 9 and also include PW, UW and SW, the heads are constructed of 17-4 stainless steel and made with precision-engineered loft-and-length progressions that are scientifically paired with wide sole designs to produce a deeper CG, for easier launching and higher maximum height.

      True Temper Shafts Get A Boost

      This month marks the rollout of two new graphite-shaft offerings from True Temper, both of which are designed to be used in drivers – and to help make tee shots longer and more accurate. The first is the Boost shaft from Grafalloy, and its primary performance attribute comes from a skinny profile that, according to company technicians, reduces shaft diameter by 15 percent, and by extension reduces drag by some 15 percent, for increased distance. They add that their proprietary VLT technology also enables players to hit their shots higher and achieve “extreme peak trajectory,” while their Micro-Mesh Tip technology helps to maintain stability and promote optimum accuracy. Even with the higher torque values that are inherent in thin-diameter shafts.

      Q&A

      Q&A Mike Keiser

      Mike Keiser is still on the move. In early January, the man who created Bandon Dunes and Cabot Links in Nova Scotia finalized plans for another major golf project called Sand Valley in Central Wisconsin, 15 miles south of Wisconsin Rapids and 100 miles north of Madison. Keiser spoke exclusively with The Post’s Steve Eubanks about the project as well as other topics of interest. THE POST Why Wisconsin? KEISER Easy, that’s where the big dunes are (laughing). No, really, it’s a little bit more than that, because there are big dunes all over the Nebraska sandhills, some parts of Kansas – Prairie Dunes is in Hutchinson, Kansas, for example – and I know there is sand in Idaho. But I didn’t initially know that there were sand dunes in Wisconsin, which has the added benefit of being pretty close to Chicago, Minneapolis, and quite close to Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay. It’s sort of close to nothing and central to a lot of stuff. So that location and the 80-foot sand dunes that no one knew were there other than Plum Creek Timber Company, were the plusses for Wisconsin. THE POST Your other projects have been off the beaten path, but you’ve had the ocean. And you’ve also been able to sell a sense of escapism. People who go to Bandon Dunes talk about it being like another world. Are you concerned that people will not travel to central Wisconsin or that they will not find it as appealing as, say, the Pacific Northwest or the coast of Nova Scotia? KEISER Yes, I am and it is definitely true sand dunes plus the ocean is a stronger draw than just sand dunes. The proximity to people counterbalances some of that, but if (demographics) were all that there was, I don’t think I would have done it.
      GlobalGolfPost-April-01-2013-Page12

      Mike Kerr, Asian Tour CEO

      Lewine Mair recently visited with Mike Kerr, the Asian Tour’s CEO, and the result was a wide-ranging interview focusing, among other things, on how quickly Asian golfers are closing the talent gap. They also discuss an expected closing of the prize money gap that will eventually force the world’s best to play more in and around Asia simply because of the size of the purses.

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