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Jordan Spieth and the Grand Slam: 'Nobody knows fail-safe blueprint'

Stories of interest you might have missed…

Johnette Howard of ESPNW examines the different approaches that Jordan Spieth and Serena Williams are taking in their quests to win Grand Slams in the their respective sports. “Spieth's way of dealing with his chase of history seems to be a fallback a lot of athletes choose in high-pressure times: Stick to your normal routine,” she writes. “Do what you'd normally do. Don't change a thing…A lot of variables go into making history. But nobody knows the fail-safe blueprint to complete a Triple Crown or Grand Slam. As Williams said, ‘There's a reason it happens so rarely.’”

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Jordan Spieth's U.S. Open trophy and Masters green jacket

“‘The Challenge Awaits...’ is the slogan for this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. For the European Tour and its players, the wait for that challenge has been exactly 12 months. For Gullane Golf Club, you could say it has taken more than 350 years to come around,” Martin Dempster of the Scotsman writes on the Scottish Open giving Gullane top billing for the first time in its long history

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Former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell is in a slump that has him searching for answers, Brian Keogh writes at the Irish Golf Desk. “I've got a lot of technique in my head, I've got to be honest, and I have to strip that out,” McDowell said. “I'm having problems stripping it out. I've got to get  back to basics a little bit and try and clear the mind  a little bit. Just been working too hard on trying to  get the technique fixed and making it worse…I've got a lot of golf to play. Just need courage in my pocket, get out there and work it out. I know it’s in there.”

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“One of the earliest books of formal golf rules is expected to fetch up to £50,000 when it goes up for auction,” Murray Spooner writes in the Scotsman. “Rules of the Thistle Golf Club, written by James Cundell, was one of only six books of printed rules published prior to 1830.”

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News & Tours

Italian teen phenom Renato Paratore just turned in the most boring scorecard in golf history

It wasn't his best score, but it was certainly Renato Paratore's most unusual scorecard. In fact, the Italian teen did something on Friday that's never been done in the history of the European Tour.

Related: Golf's all-time biggest phenoms

During the second round of the Alstom Open de France, Paratore morphed into Para-"four," making a four on all 18 holes at Le Golf National. Here's a look at his scorecard:

Paratore ended up shooting a one-over-par 72 with the course having four par 3s and just three par 5s. Unfortunately, that left him at eight over and well off the cut line. At the very least, he'll leave France with a unique accomplishment.

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Celebrity

5 things to talk about on the course: The World Cup, "True Detective," and bye-bye to "Bennifer"

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. Women's World Cup: The U.S. will play Japan for the World Cup title on Sunday in a rematch of the 2011 final in which America lost in penalty kicks. USA! USA! USA! While this is the matchup the Americans wanted, it's only happening thanks to England having the most crushing own goal in soccer history in the semifinals, because, well, England soccer.

2. NBA free agency: What a wild start to free agency with stars going everywhere. Well, or more like they're mostly staying put. Kevin Love, Dywane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Paul Milsapp, Brook Lopez, and others are staying put. Tyson Chandler is going to Phoenix, Paul Pierce is headed to the Clippers, Greg Monroe is going to Milwaukee, and LaMarcus Aldridge is probably going to the (gulp) Spurs. And my Knicks? They signed Aaron Afflalo and the bad Lopez twin. Hip hip, hooray!

Related: NBA stars who love playing golf

3. "Bennifer": We hate seeing celebrity couples split up -- especially one with such a catchy silly nickname. But a day after their 10th wedding anniversary, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner called it quits. The most obvious question is "What went wrong?" The second-most obvious is question is "Why don't either of them play golf?"

4. Max Scherzer: How about the run this guy has been on of late? The Washington Nationals ace threw a one-hitter with 16 strikeouts, threw a no-hitter with 10 Ks and in which he lost a perfect game by plunking someone with two outs in the ninth inning, and then started his next start with five perfect innings. His ERA actually went up during a fourth consecutive dominant start (nine Ks, no walks) in which he allowed two runs in 8.1 innings. No one is going to want to face this team in October, especially with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Doug Fister following Scherzer and his ridiculous 0.78 WHIP in the rotation.

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

5. "True Detective": There was no way the second season of this HBO drama could ever live up to last year's brilliance (MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY as Rust Cohle, people!), but through two episodes it hasn't come close. And now (SPOILER ALERT) Colin Ferrell's character is dead?! (At least, he took two shotgun blasts, one from point-blank range. I'm 100 percent sure I'd be dead if that happened to me.) Huh?! He was by far the best part of the show. Between this and "Ballers," HBO's post-"Game of Thrones" season is off to a rough start.

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Explore golf on one of the best of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes

Gull Lake in Central Minnesota is one of those places in-state visitors hope nobody ever hears about. 

The Brainerd area has been a go-to summer vacation spot for the rest of the state for nearly 100 years. Gull Lake's 38 miles of shoreline are lined with a dozen resorts and hotels of various sizes. Two of the biggest, Madden's and Cragun's, each have a variety of courses that take advantage of the lakefront, hills and mature trees. 

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At Madden's, you can pick from the championship-length Classic, the sportier Pine Beach East and Pine Beach West, and the beginner-friendly Social 9. All are meticulously maintained, and better yet, they all offer a different kind of challenge -- from the Classic's broad-shouldered, PGA Tour-style looks to the East's 1930s-era charm. 

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At Cragun's, Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed the Dutch Legacy and Bobby's Legacy 18s with distinctly different feels. The five-star Dutch has a collection of fierce 450-yard-plus par-4s, while the Legacy offers a more charitable experience for players who don't carry the ball quite so far. 

July and August are prime time in Minnesota, with no-humidity days in the low 80s and nights in the 60s. You can still find some good golf package rates at either place -- or book a trip that combines the best of both. The two properties sit about two miles apart on the southern tip of Gull Lake -- 150 miles north of Minneapolis-St. Paul. 

The Madden's Classic Deluxe package offers a round on the Classic and any of the other resort courses, lodging and breakfast for two for about $520 per night in a deluxe king room. An equivalent package at Cragun's -- two weekend nights with two rounds of golf, plus breakfast and dinner -- is $359. 

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Will walking the golf course help you lose weight?

The health benefits of walking are well documented. It improves mobility, proprioception, coordination, blood flow and lung function—not to mention improving your mood and ability to sleep soundly. But if you want to start walking when you play golf to help lose weight, you might end up frustrated.

An in-depth analysis of several studies on walking showed that dramatically increasing the amount you walk will help you lose weight—but just barely. How little are we talking? The analysis used nine studies that included several hundred people. Those participants increased the amount they walked by roughly two miles a day for 16 weeks. At the end of that period, the group, on average, had lost slightly more than three pounds.

golfer_walking_course_260.jpgThe analysis, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, indicated that if you walked approximately two rounds of golf in a day without carrying your bag, you would lose less than a pound of weight. Obviously adding the external load of roughly 30 pounds to your back in the form of a bag, balls and clubs would help lose more weight, but it wouldn't be significant enough to make walking when you play an efficient method for weight loss.

Back in 2009, I reported on how far golfers walk when they play. You can read about it here: What's Your Golf Mileage?

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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News & Tours

Bubba Watson to paint U.S. flag over Confederate flag on General Lee

The recent controversy over the Confederate flag has prompted Bubba Watson to paint a U.S. flag over the Confederate flag atop his pride and joy, the original General Lee, the Dodge Charger made famous on the television show “Dukes of Hazzard.”

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Watson's General Lee parked in Waste Management Open parking lot (Getty Images)

Watson made his announcement via the following Tweet:

The cable television station “TV Land” announced on Wednesday it was pulling reruns of the popular television series because of the controversy created by the recent murders in a South Carolina church.

Here’s what Watson had to say about the General Lee in a Golf Digest My Shot:

“I'm a huge ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ fan. I have the complete DVD collection. After I got the car, I didn't have it a month before I put it into the shop. It was messed up when I got it. There were hundreds of General Lees, but mine was the original. It had done a lot of jumping. There was a big concrete block in the back seat to stabilize it when it was airborne, none of the gauges on the dash worked, and it didn't have seat belts. I handed it over to some car junkies, and a year and $10,000 later— that's a cheap price, by the way — I got it back. Everything in it is perfect. Would I drive it into Augusta? Sure, it's just a car. But will I? No. That's a long way to transport a car just to drive it to a golf course.”

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Courses & Travel

Golf needs to dump Trump's courses; play here instead

Not that anybody asked me, but since Donald Trump has officially and repeatedly poisoned his relationship with golf and, well, humanity with his recent comments about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, I thought it might be fun to provide some guidance on where golf’s organizations should take their Trump-affiliated events once they sever ties with the second-leading candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination. He doesn’t sound like he’s taking any of it back, so it’s time golf took back his golf tournaments. 

First up is the tour’s long-standing event at Trump Doral, the WGC-Cadillac Championship. (It's probably too late to move the Ricoh Women's British Open from Trump Turnberry Resort, but boy, it would be a hoot to shift this event to Royal Dornoch, no?) Now the Gil Hanse-refortified Blue Monster is an epic test, but until it’s no longer a Trump course, we have to look elsewhere. I would have chosen Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne. The well-regarded, tight and tough muni has been host to Champions Tour events back in the day, but now it seems Trump’s golf group is on the verge of signing a management contract there. So it, too, is out. How about The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, a home game for a bunch of tour players already? Better yet, why not Streamsong, a resort more real golfers want to play than all the Trump properties combined? Besides, it’s right on the way as the tour works its way from South Florida back up to Tampa and then Orlando.

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Streamsong 

Next: The Puerto Rico Open at Trump International. Never mind that the darn near insolvent commonwealth of Puerto Rico is currently North America’s version of Greece, there is more than one lavish golf resort on America’s pseudo-51st state. My choice: Royal Isabela. Lavish yes, but unlike the boorish, bulldozing golf course design preferences of Trump, nary a tree was removed in the design of this picture postcard layout spread over canyons and coastline.

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Royal Isabela

PGA Grand Slam of Golf: Set to be played at Trump National Los Angeles, the first thing I’d do if I were Jordan Spieth is come out and say I’m not playing in the event if it’s being held at a Trump-owned course. This event has almost never been interesting including the time Mike Ditka filled one of the four slots. Why not take it to a revered venue that the world never sees? I nominate the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club, a layout already tabbed to host the 2023 U.S. Open so why not give it a test drive with the best four players in the game? But if we really want to do the right thing, take it to Rancho Park or the Wilson Course at Griffith Park, as detailed here by David Owen. Golf is really a much more diverse game than mainstream media would have you believe, and there’s no better showcase than an L.A. muni golf course

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Rancho Park

2017 U.S. Women’s Open, 2022 PGA Championship: Two legitimate major championships are already set for Trump National Bedminster. I say we divide them up. For the PGA, you can have your New Jersey major event standbys, your Baltusrols, your Plainfields, your Ridgewoods. It’s time the PGA thought outside the box. It’s always got the strongest field of the 
url.jpgfour majors with nearly every player in the Top 100 in the world in the championship. Why not take it to a venue outside the U.S.? How about Hirono in Japan, Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand or Barnbougle Dunes in Australia? Or better: Given Gary Player’s comments about the unworthiness of Chambers Bay as a major venue and Robert Trent Jones Jr.’s retort that Player’s never had a course of his own host a major, how about the PGA go to Player’s very own version of Chambers Bay, the Links at Fancourt in South Africa, site of the epic tie at the 2003 Presidents Cup? It would be fun just to see how Player would handle the backlash. 

And if golf’s organizing bodies really wanted to shake things up, I’d move the U.S. Women’s Open to Pine Valley, which as we all know doesn’t permit women to join and only allows them to play on Sunday afternoons. Hello? It’s 2017, not 1947. Time Pine Valley showed the world, men and women, how cool it really is.

So for the above reasons, let’s hope the Donald doesn’t recant and golf’s ruling bodies move the game in a more exciting direction.
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News & Tours

Tiger shot 66 at the Greenbrier. He's . . . back?

Tiger fans rejoice! 

When Woods teed off in the first round of the Greenbrier Classic, we were all watching with a little fear in our eyes. His golf has not been good lately, but you almost have to watch. Because he's Tiger.

He shot 66. Four under. Before we let this get away from us, we have to remember, it's just one round. But he did it with seven birdies. 



He started on the back, cruising through the first 7 holes at three under. Greens in regulation, a few dropped putts. Then, a slight hiccup on his eighth hole lead to a bogey.

Seeing that bogey appear on the scorecard was a little scary. Bad thoughts started creeping into our minds: Here it comes, the chip-yips are going to start up again. He's going to tweak a muscle. He's not going to be able to activate his glutes. 

But he steadied himself. More greens, more pars, a birdie for good measure. Even when some trouble around the green lead him to a double on his 15th hole, he came right back at us with three consecutive birdies. That's the Tiger who's fun to watch. 

Twitter, obviously, is excited: 



While one under-par round can't be called a comeback, we can't think of a better way to kick off Fourth of July weekend than by seeing Tiger go four under.


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Celebrity

Former NBA star Allan Houston's mansion is on the market, and it has a pretty sweet golf practice area (among everything else)

Allan Houston was a very good basketball player before a knee injury curtailed his career with the New York Knicks. Fortunately for him, that happened after the Knicks gave him an ill-advised six-year $100 million contract.

As you can imagine, that kind of money can buy you a pretty nice house. And now Houston, currently an assistant general manager for the Knicks, has put his custom-built mansion in Armonk, N.Y. on the market.

Related: The best backyard golf holes in the U.S.

The price? A cool $19.9 million because not listing it at an even $20 mill is a trick real estate agents use. Clever. Take a look at these photos, though, and you'll see that the property, which includes a basketball court and a golf practice area in the backyard (among everything else), is worth it:

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Houston plays out of Hudson National Golf Club and has a 7.7 handicap index according to GHIN, but he hasn't posted a score in nearly eight years. Probably because he's been so busy making the Knicks a championship contender. . . kidding!

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(h/t Wall Street Journal)

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Weird Golf News

Sickos who stole beloved fake horse from mini-golf course come to their senses and return fake horse

When you own and operate a mini-golf course with fake animals, you run the risk of pranksters making off with your wildlife. Phil and Suzie Santucci have experienced their share of wildlife abductions through the years, but on Sunday morning, they arrived at Vince's Sports Center in Ogletown, Delaware, and were devastated by what they saw.

The fiberglass pony that guards the fourth hole was gone, torn off at the hooves, reported Delawareonline.com.

"We can't purchase another one like that," said Suzie, who remembers ordering it with her mother-in-law nearly three decades ago, "and it wouldn't have the same sentimental value. It's priceless, it really is."

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"Priceless" might be stretching it, but that is a quality-looking fake horse by mini-golf standards.

Related: More weird golf news

Through social media, newspapers, and word of mouth, the Santuccis pleaded for the thieves to return their beloved horse. They promised not to press charges unlike when a thief who stole a giraffe from the course a few years back was turned in by his neighbor and wound up going to jail. Yep, jail. Stealing fake animals from mini-golf courses is serious stuff, people!

The message found its intended target and it worked. On Wednesday, the Santuccis showed up to work and the horse (shouldn't it have a name?) was there leaning against a fence.

"We both cried," Suzie told Delawareonline.com. Tears of joy!

Here's a video of Phil talking about the horse and promising a day of free mini-golf (Woo!) as a thanks to customers who supported the family during this crisis.

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