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News & Tours

Large sinkhole develops on course on which Champions Tour’s Legends tournament was held

A huge and reportedly growing sinkhole developed at the Top of the Rock Golf Course in Ridgedale, Mo., one month after the Champions Tour’s Bass Pro Shops Legends was played there.

The sinkhole was located between the practice tee and a pond near the entrance to the property, Tammy Sapp, director of communications at Bass Pro Shops, said.

“We discovered at about 6:30 this morning a geological event at the Top of the Rock,” Sapp said. “We reported it to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Our team and their geologic survey team were doing a geologic assessment of the area.

“Safety measures were immediately initiated. Sinkholes in this area of the Missouri Ozarks are not uncommon. They can occur because of the type of rock we have. But it did not affect any of the buildings and we’re draining the entrance pond,

“Golf is still being played at Top of the Rock. Those golfers with tee times are allowed to use driving range, and they have access to a small putting green.”

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5 things to talk about on the course: David Letterman, Riley Curry, and the Spin Doctors

From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:

1. David Letterman: Nearly 14 million viewers watched Dave's final time hosting "The Late Show," giving the program it's biggest TV audience since February 28, 1994. And I actually remember that show -- which will finish as Letterman's most-watched ever -- very well. Why? Because I was in sixth grade and I was allowed to stay up late to watch my favorite band, the Spin Doctors, perform.

Spin Doctors! 1990s rock! Woo! Sorry, I got a little carried away there. What were we talking about? Oh, right, David Letterman. Yeah, he's pretty good, too.

Ranking: The 17 best musical acts to perform at "Tiger Jam"

2. NBA conference finals: Everyone has penciled Golden State and Cleveland into the Finals, but not so fast. Judging by the first few games, those teams have their hands full with the Rockets and Hawks, respectively. In fact, the Warriors squeaked out home wins the first two games after winning all four regular-season contests between the two squads by an average of 15 points. Hmm. Maybe those critics who say the NBA regular season is too long and kind of pointless have a point. . .

3. NBA Draft Lottery: Well, it's official. The Knicks suck at sucking. After purposely tanking for the entire season, they decided to win three of their last six games (they finished 17-65 overall) to end up with just the second-worst record in the league. Then, the lottery balls screwed them and the team fell to the fourth pick in the draft. Congrats to the three teams that will be picking ahead of Phil Jackson now. You're pretty much guaranteed selecting a future Hall-of-Famer now.

4. Potential historic baseball seasons: I've been out of the loop more than ever with baseball this year and when I finally checked the stats I saw a couple crazy things. Dee Gordon is batting around .400? I didn't even know that and the guy is on my fantasy baseball team! And as of Thursday, Nelson Cruz was in line to pull off the rare Triple Crown in the American League. Guess the Mets signing Michael Cuddyer instead of him in the off-season wasn't a great move.

Related: NBA stars who love playing golf

5. Riley Curry: The appearance of Stephen Curry's adorable daughter at a post-game press conference sparked a heated debate about whether athletes should bring their kids to work. Really, people? A.) It's cute and B.) If anything, it puts the athlete more at ease and willing to give insightful answers to questions. Plus, you get moments like when Chris Paul's son imitated Blake Griffin with Blake Griffin sitting right there:

Paul and Curry are already in State Farm commercials together, but when are Lil Chris and Riley going to team up? It's too bad they didn't appear on Letterman together. Throw in the Spin Doctors and that show could have really gotten some good ratings.

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Best ever April in golf ball sales, the one category that drives the whole industry

The April monthly sales reports from golf industry researcher Golf Datatech show positive signs for revenue, especially in the one category that might best reflect the health of the game: golf balls.

Overall sales of golf balls in April at on- and off-course shops were up 4.9 percent in units and nearly 10.9 percent in dollars, compared to April 2014. According to Golf Datatech, it was the best April for golf ball sales in terms of dollars (just over $48.5 million) since the research firm began publishing monthly sales figures in 1997. Part of the reason is an ever-increasing shift by golfers to play the more expensive, multilayer urethane construction ball preferred by tour players. The average selling price for a dozen golf balls broke the $30-a-dozen barrier for the first time ever. Still, a little more than half of the top 20 selling golf balls retail for less than $25 a dozen.

Balls is an obvious indicator of interest in the game because you’re not buying golf balls if you’re not also playing. Although rounds played data is not available for April, the numbers were up in March by 5 percent and were also up for the year (4.1 percent). According to PGA Performance Trak, 26 states had reported positive year-over-year growth through March. 

Other categories showed mixed signs but clearly positive interest in new products as compared to discounted, older products. Sales of metalwoods were down in units (-3.2 percent) but up in dollars (4.7 percent) compared to last April, while irons were flat in revenue and down in units (-7.6 percent). In both woods and irons, the average selling price is markedly higher, up $10 per iron since April 2013 and $15 per metalwood since last April. 
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News & Tours

That time I made a complete ass of myself to Loren Roberts at Colonial

Do you remember that Kenny Perry won the 2003 Colonial? I didn't until I looked it up this morning. I was at that tournament, and in hindsight, I vaguely recall Perry winning in what was a resurgent season for the veteran. But 12 years later, I think we all more likely recall that year's Colonial for Annika Sorenstam's historic two rounds playing on the PGA Tour

The concept of a player other than the event winner hijacking a tournament storyline isn't uncommon in golf. We remember that tournament where Michelle Wie made her professional debut and got DQed because of a bad drop, but we don't remember that (fittingly) Sorenstam was the winner. We remember the time Jean Van de Velde coughed up the Open Championship, but you might need a moment to recall that Paul Lawrie was the benefactor.

But back to that year's Colonial. There was no bigger story in golf in 2003 than Sorenstam, the unequivocal star of the LPGA, testing herself against the men. And as reporters on the scene, our job that week was to try to put it all in its proper perspective.

So there I was, and there was then 47-year-old Loren Roberts. Nice guy, thoughtful quote. Great putter. Roberts was one of more than a dozen players I interviewed that week about Sorenstam, how she might fare and the historical implications of her appearance.

We were standing by the practice green and at some point I introduced the premise (a prescient one, it turns out) that years from now, all we'd remember about this tournament is Sorenstam playing in it. Then to underscore my point, I continued.

"It's really like when Tiger made his pro debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open in '96," I said.

Roberts nodded.

"I mean, everyone remembers Tiger that week. But does anyone even remember who won?" I said. "Do YOU?"

"Yes," Roberts said. Then he smiled. "I did."

"Oh," I said, blood rushing to my face. "Right."

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: A refresher on deadlifts

Deadlifts are often regarded as one of the best exercises for anyone, but they're particularly helpful for golfers since they improve strength or functionality in a number of areas of the body needed to make a good golf swing: the legs, back, hips, butt, etc.

This full-body, compound exercise does require good form, however, or you risk suffering anything from shin bruises to herniated spinal discs. To that end, strength-training expert Mike Boyle (@bodybyboyle) offers a quick tutorial on the deadlift. His advice is both informative and interesting. Click on the video below to watch it.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Bubba Watson stumbles on a way to make money selling his divots

The irrepressible Bubba Watson was at a grocery store and seems to have discovered a way to supplement his income, especially with the U.S. Open coming up.

“Teddy, look, man, you need to save my divots,” he said to caddie Ted Scott while holding up some wheatgrass. “We could make so much money. Look at this. Three-sixty-nine for this. You think it’s U.S. Open length so I can practice out of it?”

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Brian Henninger really picked the wrong time to shank a tee shot into the lake

Brian Henninger was one of the subjects of John Feinstein's classic 1996 book A Good Walk Spoiled. Unfortunately for the 52-year-old journeyman, that title also sums up his Thursday, thanks to one horrific shot.

Related: Watch the best reaction to a hole-in-one of 2015

Late in his first round at the Senior PGA Championship, Henninger arrived on the seventh hole (he played the back nine first at the Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Indiana) at one under par and in a share of the lead on a difficult day for scoring. And then. . . he did. . . (gulp). . . this:

Henninger settled himself to make a double bogey, but the two-time PGA Tour winner added a bogey on the ninth hole to shoot a two-over-par 74. There are plenty of holes to go in the tournament, but that could sting -- especially in the hands -- for a bit.

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Titleist to start exclusive equipment program

In an era of increasing specialization and customization in golf equipment, Titleist announced today a program called "made only to order," or MOTO. Although no details were made available, an email from the company to those signing up for the service indicates it will be about a "classification for Titleist metals and irons with specialized performance characteristics." 

An email sent to those signing up for the offer suggests the program will provide details on multiple products in the future. It is also not clear how or if these products will be made available to the general public.

That said, the announcement of the program today on Twitter was accompanied by a photograph of the Titleist 915D4 driver. The club debuted on tour in March but has not been introduced to the retail market. A line extension of the 915 driver family, the D4 moves its sole weight closer to the face for a lower more forward center of gravity to further reduce spin. The 450cc head features more curve in the crown for a rounder overall appearance. It has a similar face height as the 915D3, and also employs the 915’s platform technologies of a sole channel for enhancing face rebound and 16-way loft and lie adjustability. 

Among the handful of players who have used the 915D4 are Justin Thomas, 19th in driving distance at 300.6 yards. Thomas also currently ranks 7th lowest in spin rate (2,281 rpm), about 12 percent below the tour average. 

It is not clear whether the clubs will be exclusively available directly through Titleist’s website. The company does have a long tradition of custom fitting through its network of retailers and club professionals. It also isn't clear if these clubs will be available in a limited capacity prior to being released wide scale. The 915 line did not appear at retail until late fall, but drivers were in player's bags as early as June. 
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Deal of the Week: Enjoy Northern Michigan's deep daylight at Boyne

Northern Michigan can hang with any American golf destination when it comes to both quality and volume of courses. 

Better yet, the approaching summer season--and Michigan's position on the west edge of the Eastern time zone--means a Scotland-like 15 hours of daylight to play a leisurely 36 holes, but without any haggis to endure afterward. 


The best way to take advantage might be Boyne's Great Escape Golf Vacation. You can stay five nights at the Petoskey-area's Boyne Highlands Resort and play one of eight courses spread at three different resorts--four at Boyne Highlands, two at Boyne Mountain, Crooked Tree Golf Club and Hidden River Golf & Casting Club--for rates starting at $880 per person. For a surcharge, you can also get access to the award-winning Bay Harbor trio of nines, which are also owned by the resort. 

Among the eight "regular" courses available in the package, the Donald Ross Memorial at Boyne Highlands might be the most interesting. Executed as a replica compilation of Ross' most famous holes, it features examples from Seminole, Pinehurst No. 2, Oakland Hills, among others. Taken together, they offer 6,800 yards of pure Ross intrigue. In the span of just a few holes, you can two-chip on one of No. 2's brutal tight collection areas and pick the wrong side of a split fairway. 

If your only Michigan experience is downstate, in Detroit, Ann Arbor or Grand Rapids, the northern part of the Lower Peninsula really is a different world. While most of the state is flat, the area around Traverse City and Petoskey has rolling hills and decent skiing--along with world-class frontage on Lake Michigan. 

It's also easier to reach than you think. Traverse City's efficient Cherry Capital Airport is serviced by daily flights from Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis by American, Delta and United. If you want to drive, it's 260 miles from Detroit, and 320 from Chicago.

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PGA Tour

Here's how Ian Poulter prepares for his round during a rain delay

There was a three-hour rain delay this morning at Colonial and Ian Poulter turned to Periscope to burn time. While sporting a Nike workout shirt and a Ferrari baseball cap, Poulter answered a slew of questions. Among his revelations: he thinks Atlanta airport is the world in the world; he doesn't travel with pillows; he's driving an Escalade this week; and he thinks his pants are "classy" not "wacky." Plus, he showed us what he'll be wearing today and he explained the very complicated way in which he wraps his grips.

But perhaps the most insightful thing he did was show us how he's preparing for his round. First, he pulled up the PGA Tour leader board to see how low the guys are going, then he pulled up the hourly forecast to gauge wind direction (hey, I do that too!), then he walked us through every hole in his yardage book.

Poulter shared where he intends to hit his shots on every hole and how the wind might affect his game plan. At one point during his livestream Poulter said, "I like this Periscope thing, it's fun." We do too, Poults. Thanks for the insight.

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