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News & Tours

Video: Tom Watson needs to birdie the 18th hole to make the cut, so of course he does

Tom Watson said this week that he's debating about making the 2016 Masters his swan song. The 65-year-old made an appearance on the leader board after an opening-round 71 at Augusta National this year. The guy's still got game.

Sure, he has lost distance. That's what happens when you get older. But he can still stick an iron shot close when he needs to. Which is what he did to make the cut on the number at the RBC Heritage on Friday.

Of course, Watson fired a 2-under 69 on Saturday to sit T-54. In other words, he's beating more than half the field this week, even though he's older than everybody. What a legend.

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Equipment

Bunkers in Baghdad provides equipment for troops' makeshift golf ranges

One of the best parts about being the Hot List Coordinator here at Golf Digest is that I get to find homes for the used gear around the office. 

The golf balls from our recent ball Hot List testing, for example, are covered in Sharpie markings. We color over all the logos so our testers have no idea which ball they're hitting. We're left with hundreds and hundreds of golf balls that most people wouldn't want to play. For the last few years, we've found the perfect place to send these golf balls, as well as the clubs from the Hot List Summit that many manufacturers provide us: A charity called Bunkers in Baghdad. 

The below video is just an example of the type of golf Bunkers in Baghdad supports:



Founder Joe Hanna heard a story by David Feherty about the makeshift golf ranges built in Iraq that the soldiers use for stress relief.  Since their first shipment of golf balls in 2008, Bunkers in Baghdad has shipped almost 6 million golf balls and over 350,000 clubs to U.S. soldiers around the world. They also support the Wounded Warriors programs, where golf is used as a part of injured veterans' rehabilitation. 

This is a great charity that's allowing golf to do a little for the troops that do so much for us. 

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Books

If you need more reminders of how maddening golf is, the cartoons in this golf book will do the trick

GolfDigest.com regularly highlights golf books we find of interest to readers. This week is:


It’s a Stupid Game, It’ll Never Amount to Anything: The Golf Cartoons of Joseph Farris
loop-cartoon-faris-book-review-300.jpgBy Joseph Farris; Skyhouse Publishing, $18, hardback, 144 pages

In the introduction to his book of golf cartoons, Farris writes, "I'm amused by the fanaticism/addiction of many golfers." His amusement becomes our means for laughing at the foibles of the game in this funny look at the highs and lows and delights and failures of the game of golf. With Farris' passing away last Janaury at age 90, this is also a great tribute to a cartoonist who could see the big picture of golf and how it could make us laugh and cry in the same round of golf.

Related: Catch up on other Golf Digest book reviews

There are more than 150 cartoons reproduced in color, and the presentation in a 10 1/4 by 8 3/4-inch book makes it ideal for sitting around on the proverbial coffee table for occasional viewing.

I particularly liked:
Whenever a cartoon struck upon the never-ending frustrations of the game, but could still hint at the loyalty and stick-to-it-iveness that becomes part of the golfer's DNA, such as one cartoon of a twosome playing in the rain, with one guy saying to the other, "The weather was much too rotten to go to work."
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Missing Links

Jordan Spieth 'plays the game as if touched by the heavens'

Stories of interest you might have missed…

“Jordan Spieth is the new Tiger Woods,” the headline in the Telegraph reads. Oliver Brown explores the potential of Spieth to be a transcendent star. “Spieth, ultimately, could have far greater influence than McIlroy in appealing to the American mass market,” he writes. “Wholesome, deferential, good looking, God fearing, he looks like the identikit product of the middle-class heartland but plays the game as if touched by the heavens.”

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(Getty Images)

“Dear James, Over the next 25 years, you’ll go through struggles and triumphs that you can’t even imagine right now. From a shoe salesman at Nordstrom to a PGA Tour winner, I’m here to help walk you through that journey.” The PGA Tour’s James Hahn pens “A Letter to My Younger Self” for Derek Jeter’s new website, The Players Tribune.

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Pete Dye, architect of the Harbour Town Golf Links at which the RBC Heritage is being held, is nearing 90 and not slowing down. “[He] visits sites of the four or five projects he keeps going at the same time, draws greens complexes in the dirt, directs others where to push the dirt, asks superintendents whether grass will grow in certain spots,” Stephen Fasenau writes in the Beaufort Gazette. “He walks the sites, never able to sit for long. And when the work on a project is done, he tours again.”

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The opportunity to play Royal County Down surely is part of the lure of the Irish Open this year. But so is Rory McIlroy. Five former top-ranked players in the world are entered, as are eight major champions. “Rory has pulled in a lot of favours and it’s a testament to the high esteem Rory is held that it’s going to be the strongest field for a long time,” Darren Clarke said in this story by Phil Casey.

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So you want to be a tour pro. Well, it’s not as glamorous as it might appear. “Dr John Fry, of Myerscough College, Preston, told the British Sociological Association annual conference in Glasgow: ‘The perceptions many people have of the lives of professional sports people and their families is one of leading a life of luxury with very few cares; however the reality, it appears, is that in many ways this is not the case and many have particular stresses.’” Angus Howarth has the story in the Scotsman.

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News & Tours

Is golf being unfairly targeted in California in wake of governor's order to curb water usage?

Golf courses seem to be bearing the brunt of public opprobrium in California in the wake of Governor Jerry Brown’s recent executive order to reduce water consumption in the drought-stricken state.

“We have kind of taken it that way,” Marc Connerly, executive director of the California Golf Course Owners Association said on Friday.

It is easy to see why. A story in the Daily Beast about Bermuda Dunes in the Coachella Valley east of Los Angeles carried this headline: “Town with 11 golf courses is sucking California dry.”

CalifDrough.jpg
(Getty Images)

“We feel that some of the comments are a little unfair and maybe have called some negative attention to us that is undeserved,” Connerly said. “I have been in communication with the governor’s office. His staff has tried to make it clear that they’re really not targeting us, but was using us an example of large landscaping, large turf areas. We just kind of fall under that category.

“We’re tyring to use that attention to get our message out there, and to start to share how efficient golf courses have been for many years, and how proactive we’ve been to use our water very wisely.

“The thing the public needs to realize, too, is that golf course superintendents have a great deal of education and training that go into their position. They know so much more about what it takes to care for a lawn than the average homeowner or landscape maintenance guy at a park or office complex. There’s really lot we can learn from superintendents. It is unfortunate people look at golf courses as water wasters. It couldn’t be further from the truth.”

A point that tends to be missing from any discussions of golf courses and water usage in a drought that has entered its fourth year is “the importance of golf to the economy,” Connerly said.

“It’s a $13 billion industry and employs 128,000 people [in California]. Golf courses uses less than one percent of potable water. So be careful what you ask for. If you want to take away that one percent, are you prepared to put 128,000 people out of work and send a $13 billion hit to state’s economy?”

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Golf pads

Check out this $200 million Florida listing that includes multiple practice greens and a miniature golf course

Sorry, make that "just under $200 million." That's what the Wall Street Journal reports a Florida island estate owned by the Ziff family is being listed at. Maybe that will change your tune about making an offer?

Related: 7 photos of Jordan Spieth's new Dallas mansion

Probably not, but you might enjoy seeing just how awesome this property is. Named "Gemini" (you know it's a sick property when it has an official name, especially one like Gemini), the family compound encompasses 16 acres on a barrier island just south of Palm Beach.

blog-palm-beach-house1-0417.jpg

The main house measures 62,200 (can't forget that extra 200!) square feet and sits on the Atlantic Ocean. There's also a guest house that faces the Intracoastal and the two structures are connected by an air-conditioned and furnished tunnel. That alone might make this the most jaw-dropping piece of real estate on the market, but there's more.

The compound also includes a seven-bedroom house, two four-bedroom "cottages," a pool, a pier, a basketball court, a tennis court, and a golf practice area with two greens.

blog-palm-beach-house2-0417.jpg

But while we've seen those type of amenities in luxury listings before, here's a new one: A miniature golf course. With a model train set running through it. Amazing.

Related: The best backyard golf holes

The Wall Street Journal describes that last feature as being "for children." Ha. That would be the first thing we'd check out if we ever visited.

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Celebrity

5 things to talk about on the course: NBA Playoffs, "Get Hard," and Britt McHenry

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. Jordan Spieth: It's been nearly a week since his historic win, but golf -- and more importantly, sports -- fans are still buzzing. In case you didn't know, Spieth is only 21. And he's already won a green jacket and generated a LOT of hype. Can he catch Rory McIlroy in the world rankings? Is he the next Tiger?! How many majors will he win in his career? Will he win every major this year?! There's a lot to discuss, but pace yourselves. This guy should be around for awhile.

Related: 19 things you need to know about Jordan Spieth

2. NBA Playoffs: After another long regular season, a long postseason is here. In the East, we have about a month to wait before the Cavaliers will take on the Atlanta Hawks in the conference finals. But in the West, oh boy, do things get real right away. The last day of the regular season wasn't good if you're a Spurs or Clippers fan. Despite being the hottest two teams in the league down the stretch, these two title contenders (and there probably are only four legit title contenders with the Cavs and the Warriors being the other two) will have to play each other in the first round. Rough. I'm thinking the Spurs get by and go all the way. It's tough to imagine anyone beating them in a seven-game series after the clinic they put on in last year's NBA Finals.

Related: NBA stars who love to play golf

3. NHL Playoffs: Hockey's postseason has already started? (*Remembers boss is a big Rangers fan*) Oh, I mean, hockey's postseason has already started! Hooray! Last year, I picked the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup and they nearly did so I'm rolling with them again. This year, "the Blueshirts" -- as they're known to us big fans -- won the Presidents Trophy for having the NHL's best regular season record. They last achieved that in 1994, the last time they won the Stanley Cup. Boom! I just dropped some serious hockey knowledge on you.

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4. Britt McHenry: A video of the ESPN reporter going off on a towing company worker went viral on Thursday ("Lose some weight, baby girl"). It also prompted a fair discussion of whether McHenry (pictured above) deserved the week suspension she got from her employer for something that happened in her private life. No matter what your take is, I think we can all agree: Not acting like a horrible human being is usually a better strategy than acting like a horrible human being.

5. "Get Hard": My fiancee and I saw this Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart movie and it was as stupid as the previews made it seem. In other words, it was fantastic. OK, so fantastic is a bit strong, but it certainly topped my expectations. Hart was funny, and Ferrell? Well, he could read the telephone book out loud and I'd laugh hysterically. Hmm. "Telephone Book," starring Will Ferrell. You're welcome, Hollywood.

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Tiger Woods

This fax announcing Steve Williams as Tiger Woods' new caddie is dripping with nostalgia

Ah, the simple days of the late '90s: Fax machines, dial-up Internet, and Tiger Woods and Steve Williams ready to take on the world together.

Courtesy of the Associated Press' esteemed golf writer Doug Ferguson, check out this fax sent out by IMG in March 1999 announcing Woods had hired Williams as his caddie. 
Some highlights: 

 -- Woods euphemistically announcing that he and his first pro caddie, Mike "Fluff" Cowan, will "part ways." "It is time to move on, and I feel confident we will remain friends," Woods said.

 -- Williams only took up with Woods after receiving a blessing from then-employer Raymond Floyd, who was 56 at the time. Could you imagine the level of resentment Williams would have had if Floyd said no and Williams then had to watch Tiger rattle off 13 majors without him? 

 -- Williams as Woods' caddie was broached initially by Woods' coach Butch Harmon. Harmon himself was gone from Woods' camp a few years later.

Of course nothing in golf lasts forever. Williams, too, was fired in 2011, which Woods announced on his website (prompting a response from Williams on his website). 

As far as we know, no fax machines were involved.

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Trending

Watch this strangely hilarious video of a driverless golf cart going crazy

Good thing this didn't happen on a golf course. A golf cart doing repeated doughnuts in the fairway would undoubtedly tear up the grass and require some serious maintenance.

Thankfully, this happened in a parking lot at the University of Loyola-Chicago, so we can laugh about it.


Not really sure how this cart got stuck in a "do repeated circles" mode. Hopefully that's not something the golf carts at your local course can do, although it'd be fun watching a starter trying to put an end to this doughnut madness.

Related: The 25 best viral golf videos of 2014


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Trending

Cheer up! You're probably having a much better day than this guy

Thursday should have been a great day for one golf fan attending the LPGA Lotte Championship. There's not much better than walking around a beautiful Hawaii golf course, drinking a beer and enjoying watching some of the best golfers in the world play.

Related: The top 25 viral golf videos of 2014

Ah, but those pesky Hawaiian winds can get you. A gust knocked this guy's hat off and blew it into the water. And apparently, he really likes that hat. That led to this minor disaster:

At least, the man got his beloved hat back. But he lost his beer -- and maybe his shoes? Where are his shoes?! -- and got soaked in the process before probably getting the boot from the tournament. Oh, and it was all caught on TV (nice job by the announcers calling the action!). Not this guy's finest moment.

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