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Reconciling Tiger's Chinese projects with China's course closures, ban on new courses

Last week, we learned that Tiger Woods reportedly will receive $16.5 million to re-design two golf courses in Beijing. Today, there is news that Chinese authorities have closed 66 golf courses built in violation of laws that protect arable land and preserve water.

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How to reconcile these disparate stories, as well as the fact that it has been illegal to build new courses in China since 2004?

“From the outside, China is very complicated like that,” David Lee, a consultant on golf course development in China, said.

No kidding.

Lee, who also consults with Golf Digest China, explained that the courses with which Woods reportedly will be involved, the first of which is Pacific Links International’s Tian’an Holiday Golf Club, are not new, but will be remodeled. The Tian’an Holiday Golf Club is a 27-hole facility that will become an 18-hole course, Lee said.

Pacific Links International plans to buy a dozen courses in and around Beijing, “so with one membership you can play all these reciprocal golf courses,” Lee said. “With Tiger’s name they think they will be able to sell a lot of memberships.”

Lee also believes that Pacific Links International intends to bring professional events there and that Woods’ fee likely requires his participation.

As for the closing of courses, the Tian’an Holiday Golf Club “wasn’t on the list of courses in trouble,” Lee said. The 66 courses closed were built after the 2004 ban that, Reuters reported, was “imposed to protect China's shrinking land and water resources in a country home to a fifth of the world's population but which has just 7 percent of its water.”

“It’s all very, very confusing,” Lee said.

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How He Hit That

How He Hit That: Jimmy Walker's prime bunker touch

Early in the final round of the Valero Texas Open, it looked like Jimmy Walker would walk to his second tour title of the season

But bogeys on holes No. 4 and 7--and four consecutive late birdies by Jordan Spieth--made the birdie Walker saved with a great bunker shot in the par-5 8th extremely important. 



Walker played his second shot from scrubland 265 yards into the greenside bunker, but was left with an awkward sidehill lie to a pin 25 yards away. He carved the bunker shot perfectly, leaving himself four feet--and partially rebuilding his lead over Spieth. He ended up winning by four, and entering the top 10 in the world rankings. 

"When the ball is below your feet like that, it can be a challenge to get the club down through the sand," says top Maryland teacher Trillium Rose, who is based at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville. "He really dug his feet in and lowered his center of mass. If he didn't squat like that, he would have run the risk of topping the ball."

The distance of the bunker shot also required plenty of clubhead speed, which Walker produced by turning his torso. "It wasn't just an arms swing," says Rose. "He turned his torso and kept accelerating through the ball, just like he was striking a match."

To try it yourself, first make some practice swings outside the bunker, making sure to take an aggressive cut of grass down near the roots, says Rose. "When you get in and hit it, turn through so your belt buckle faces the target at the finish. You need body turn along with soft, fast arms."

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Trending

Here's an awesome photo of NFL star Larry Fitzgerald playing the most extreme golf hole in the world

Larry Fitzgerald has made a career of going deep in the NFL, but over the weekend he went long on the golf course. Very long.

Related: More on the world's longest par 3

Fitzgerald played the world's longest par 3, the Extreme 19th hole at Legend Golf & Safari Resort, and the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver tweeted this fantastic photo of him teeing off:

Fitzgerald was asked how long it took to get up to the tee, which is 1,410 feet above the putting surface and said it was a five minute helicopter ride each way. Transportation is included in the $700 fee a foursome pays to play the hole -- the rest of the resort's signature course has just a $61 green fee.

Related: NFL stars who love playing golf

Fitzgerald also responded to Hank Haney, who was more focused on the top of the NFL star's backswing rather than the stunning view from the top of a mountain.

Good comeback, Larry.

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News & Tours

Man wins Par 3 championship and $20,000 prize while on his honeymoon

Apparently, Thomas Curtis is a good golfer and an even better negotiator. The 29-year-old English pro somehow convinced his wife to let him play in a two-day golf tournament while on their honeymoon in Bermuda. Smart move.

Now the couple might end up taking a second trip after Curtis claimed the Grey Goose World Par 3 Championship. The $20,000 first-place check for two days of "work" in paradise seems well worth it now.

Related: Get to know the WAGs of the PGA Tour

Curtis finished first in the 110-person field of men and women pros and amateurs with scores of 56-54. Remember, it's a par-3 course so par was 54. Recent PGA Tour winner Nick Taylor is a former winner of the event.

"My wife has very kindly let me play golf on our honeymoon, so I definitely need to thank her, although we'll probably have to go on a second honeymoon now," Curtis said.

Oh, you'll "have to go on a second honeymoon now"? Sounds rough.

(h/t @Adam_Stanley and PGA of Canada)

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Gear & Equipment

Puma's new golf shoes keep it casual, but also sophisticated

As casual footwear styles continue to cross over into golf shoes, officials at Puma Golf believe there's an opportunity to bend the trend slightly. With the launch of their BioDrive Leather shoes, the company hopes to appeal to golfers who seek the comfort and performance of more modern golf shoes but also want a more upscale look.

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The shoes ($140) use full-grain leather in four color combinations to create a premium, sophisticated appearance. In addition to a waterproof upper, they incorporate the technological bells and whistles from the original mesh version of the BioDrive shoe.

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The compressed foam midsole reduces the weight and increases the shoe's cushioning and flexibility. The carbon-rubber outsole and perimeter wrap design provide increased stability and durability. Octagonal spikes on the shoe's bottom help create more than 130 points of contact with the ground for better traction.

The shoes will be available April 1.

Interested in more stories on equipment? Signup to receive Golf Digest Stix, a weekly digital magazine that offers the latest news, new product introductions and behind-the-scenes looks at all things equipment.

 

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Equipment

Adams Golf returning to game-improvement roots

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The new Adams Golf seems to be taking a page from the old Adams Golf. 

“Barney Adams started this company with the idea of helping the average golfer get the ball up and forward,” says John Ward, president of Adams. “As I heard from all the employees, he used to walk around the office and keep saying over and over again, ‘Up and out, up and out.” 

The emphasis of the company’s new line, called Blue, is heavy on game improvement. How vital to the company is the idea of helping more average golfers get shots up in the air? It’s so fundamental that designers developed three distinct technologies to produce that single result. The Adams Blue line will include a driver ($300), fairway woods ($200), hybrids ($180) and irons ($700 in steel, $800 in graphite). Each features a slot in the sole to provide more face flexibility and each features a center of gravity moved away from the face for high launch and extra spin to maintain that flight on both on-center and off-center impacts. That’s a departure from Adams’ big brother TaylorMade, which emphasizes a low-forward center of gravity. 

The goal, Ward says, is to create more opportunities for playable results off the tee, to create more fun. Moving the CG back helps increase dynamic loft at impact for higher launch, while creating more off-center hit stability. Both results are the focus of Adams Blue. The Blue line also creates a little more spin, another element to help average players, Ward says. “If you can hit the ball up and forward more often out of 10 shots, albeit maybe not the furthest on your longest hit, that’s what we’re after,” he says. “The aggregate distance would be longer. The fact is you’ll smile more if out of 10 shots, you hit eight of them within 80 percent of your best as opposed to maybe hitting only two of them that way. But then nobody talks about that. They always talk about their one perfect shot. Nobody talks about the other eight that were cold tops. If you can eliminate the cold tops, you would have more fun, and that’s what we’re talking about.”

The most interesting aspect of the line might be an element that usually gets lost in technology discussions: the shaft. Whether it’s the woods or the irons, the tip sections all have been slimmed from traditional diameters. The driver and fairway woods feature a .320-inch tip compared to .350 in most standard shafts. The hybrids and irons use a .350-inch tip compared to the usual .370. The company is touting “more kick for easy launch” based on the narrower shaft profile. 

The driver will be available in three lofts (9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees). The fairway woods also are offered in three lofts (15, 19 and 22 degrees). The hybrid is available in four lofts (19, 21, 23 & 25 degrees). The iron set includes a 3- and 4-hybrid. The entire line will be in stores Friday.
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News & Tours

Here's a better version of that gross Tiger Woods world ranking graph

Tiger Woods isn't playing (and when he's playing at all, it's not very well), so it shouldn't come as any surprise that he's free-falling down the Official World Golf Ranking: From first in the world on March 30, 2013 to 104th exactly two years later, the first time in 6,749 days that he's ranked outside of the top 100.

But those are all just numbers, and numbers are boring. That's why we put together a little graph-GIF that better explains Tiger's current situation.

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Stats

How Jimmy Walker's five wins in 17 months stack up to some notable PGA Tour careers

Jimmy Walker didn't win on the PGA Tour until his 187th career start at the Frys.com Open in October 2013. That almost doesn't seem possible now.

In the 17 months and 37 starts since that breakthrough victory, Walker has quickly run his win total to five, the last of which came in dominant fashion over the weekend at the Valero Texas Open. That's two more PGA Tour titles than anyone (Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed are tied for second with three wins) since the start of the 2013-2014 season.

Related: Golf Digest's My Shot with Jimmy Walker

These days on the PGA Tour, five wins in that short of a span by anyone is impressive. But coming from such a late bloomer -- Walker's first win came at age 34 -- makes the accomplishment even more remarkable. In fact, Walker's past year and a half stacks up pretty well with some pretty good careers. Yes, careers.

Did you realize that Walker's five wins have pulled him even on the all-time PGA Tour victories list with former World No. 1s Tom Lehman and Luke Donald? How about with players like John Daly, Jesper Parnevik and Billy Mayfair?

Walker's five victories have him just behind current big names like Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan and Padraig Harrington, and just two behind Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Retief Goosen. If Walker keeps up his torrid pace of winning every three months, he would catch all those guys by the end of this season.

Related: Meet Erin Walker and other PGA Tour WAGs

You'd also probably be surprised by how many marquee names Walker has already passed on the wins list. Henrik Stenson, Jason Day, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler just to name a few. Again, Walker has more PGA Tour titles than all of these guys in just his last 37 starts!

Of course, Walker's next challenge is breaking through at a major championship. Considering he had his first three top-10 finishes in those four events last year (he only had six previous starts in majors), though, Walker taking that next step might not be too far off.

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Golf Digest

Win a copy of Golf Digest's April issue signed by Rory McIlroy

One thing that’s hotter than Rory McIlroy’s chances to win his first green jacket? Snapchat. That’s why we’re offering Snapchatters the chance to win an autographed copy of the Masters Preview issue. (It’s autographed by McIlroy, of course.)

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Here’s how to participate:

1. Friend “golfdigestmag” on Snapchat.
2. View Golf Digest’s latest Story.
3. Follow the instructions laid out within the Story and screenshot the appropriate screen.
4. Share that screenshot via Twitter or Instagram with two hashtags: #SignedByRory and #GolfDigestSweepsEntry
5. Once the sweepstakes closes (March 31st at 9am ET), 15 random winners will get selected.
6. We’ll contact those 15 random winners and mail them a signed copy of the April issue.

*The contest will start at 9am ET on Monday, March 30th, and it’ll end at 9am ET on Tuesday, March 31st. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. See below for full rules.

Happy Snapping!

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Okay, here are the official sweepstakes rules.

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Missing Links

A Masters tradition unlike any other: Speculating on whether Tiger Woods will play

Stories of interest you might have missed…

“Tiger Watch has become another Masters Tournament tradition unlike any other,” Scott Michaux writes in the Augusta Chronicle. “What used to be a exercise in following HOW Tiger Woods played, however, has devolved into monitoring IF he’ll play. For the second consecutive year, April approaches with no word on whether or not Woods will compete in the major that first defined his greatness in 1997.”

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(Tiger Woods teeing off in final round of 2013 Masters (Getty Images)

“Call it PR or spin but while on Friday the Irish public was being told that Rory McIlroy was doing his bit for the Irish economy by paying corporate tax on royalties here, The Sunday Times reports today that the world No 1 is now a registered tax exile in Dubai when it comes to the lion's share of his fortune,” Brian Keogh of the Irish Golf Desk writes. “Colin Coyle reports that Palm Jumeirah Island is now his primary residence in the ‘tax-free statelet popular with celebrities and sports stars.’”

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“Chinese authorities have closed 66 golf courses in a renewed crackdown on courses built in contravention of rules designed to protect arable land and save water, China's top economic planning body said on Monday.” Reuters has the story.

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Two years ago, Callum Macauley had full playing privileges on the European Tour. Today he is driving a taxi, John Huggan of the Scotsman reports. “My swing has always been unorthodox and distinctive. It has never looked good alongside other guys on tour. But my thinking on the course was well above average. I knew how to play and score. Now my head simply isn’t ‘there’ any more. I’ve lost all confidence as far as my golfing ability is concerned. And because my swing is the way that it is, I’ve got nothing to fall back on technique-wise.”

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