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What will California's mandatory water reduction order mean for golf?

The first statewide mandatory water reduction order in California history, ordered by Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday, won’t substantially affect golf courses, Craig Kessler, director of governmental affairs for the Southern California Golf Association, said.

“The good news for the golf industry is that it has had mechanisms [to reduce water consumption] sort of in place for this day, so reductional models will be rational,” Kessler said.

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(Getty Images)

Golf courses were cited in the executive order issued by Brown: “The Water Board shall impose restrictions to require that commercial, industrial, and institutional properties, such as campuses, golf courses, and cemeteries, immediately implement water efficiency measures to reduce potable water usage in an amount consistent with the reductions targets mandated.”

California has entered the fourth year of a drought. More than 41 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought, the most severe category, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. More than 93 percent of the state is in at least a severe drought.

“Most water providers, especially the biggest among them in Southern California, have mechanisms in place to deal with large landscapes,” Kessler said. “They’re already in a reduction mode. To meet what the government is asking for will require an additional five percent to what they are saving now.

“So in terms of process it’s not going to be particularly difficult. There are mechanisms that make sense in place for the reduction.”

The downside, he said, is that golf is an industry that relies on its courses meeting a standard of quality. “That’s going to cause stress on an industry already under stress,” he said. “We’re simply going to have to do our best and our part.”

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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Matt Kuchar looks to bounce back from his Houston heartbreak

Fantasy golf participants everywhere should thank Jimmy Walker for being the most dependable player on the PGA Tour the past couple years. This week, though, it's his fellow tour pros that should be thanking him. Following his fifth win in 37 starts, Walker withdrew from this week's Shell Houston Open, which means everyone else has a much better chance of winning now. Who are we tabbing to step up in the FedEx Cup leader's absence? Here's a look at our Yahoo! weekly lineup:

The Grind: Jimmy Walker vs. Chuck Norris and Rickie beaches with the Randock sisters

Starters -- (A-List): Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard stumbled a bit over the weekend here last year, but finished solo third. He's coming off a pair of T-31s in his two Florida starts, but at No. 8 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he's still the second-best player in the field this week.

Related: The top 25 viral golf videos of 2014

(B-List): Jordan Spieth. Speaking of the OWGR, the 21-year-old Texan is No. 4 and rising fast. Spieth backed up his Valspar win with a runner up at the Valero.

(B-List): Matt Kuchar. The victim of a sudden-death pitch-in by Matt Jones last year continued his run of good play in Texas. He finished T-8 in each of his prior two trips and he's coming off a T-15 in San Antonio.

(C-List): Louis Oosthuizen. Nearly a Masters champ three years ago, his game also sets up well at the Golf Club of Houston, which will once again have an Augusta-like setup. Oosthuizen has a third, a T-10 and a T-16 in his last four starts here.

Bench/Backups: Bill Haas, Rickie Fowler, Danny Willett, and Patrick Reed.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Louis Oosthuizen. Aside from his strong play in this event, the South African has a solo sixth, a T-9 and a T-14 in his four PGA Tour starts this season.

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Bay Hill), Paul Casey (Honda), Jason Day (Famers -- WINNER!), Luke Donald (Valspar), Jamie Donaldson (Doral), Jim Furyk (Valero), Bill Haas (Riviera), Charles Howell III (Sony), Dustin Johnson (Pebble), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana), Brendan Steele (Phoenix).

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News & Tours

Apparently, Tiger Woods recently shot a WORST-ball 66 at his home course

This is not an April Fools' Day joke. At least, we don't think.

Golf Digest senior writer Tim Rosaforte reported last night that Tiger Woods recently shot a worst-ball 66 at his home course, Medalist Golf Club. That's a worst-ball 66, which is not to be confused with a best-ball 66 or even a normal 66 for that matter.

Related: Our favorite "Tigerisms"

Still not following? That means Woods played two balls on each hole, but only played the worst shot each time, including on the green (if both approach shots found the green, he'd putt from the farther spot). To make things even more challenging, Rosaforte said Woods had to validate any birdie putt by making a second putt from the same distance.

Woods holds the Medalist course record with a 62, but as Rosaforte points out, this 66 might be even more impressive. Of course, playing well in a practice round is a lot different than doing it at a major. Still, this is a good sign for a guy who shot a career-worst 82 at TPC Scottsdale in one of the only two full rounds he's played on the PGA Tour in 2015.

Earlier in the week, Rosaforte said he thought Woods would return to competitive golf next week at the Masters. That prediction looks better after Woods flew to Augusta to play a practice round Tuesday. As for how he played then?

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The Masters

Shoulder injury will keep Arnold Palmer from playing the Masters Par 3 contest

One of the most joyous days on the golf calendar, the Par 3 contest at the Masters, will be missing one of golf's most beloved players. Golf Channel reports that Arnold Palmer won’t be joining Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player this year.


Palmer had an unfortunate fall last December, which resulted in a dislocated shoulder. Among his other duties at the Masters is hitting the ceremonial first tee shot along side Nicklaus and Player. He’s been making that first swing since 2007, and luckily this injury isn’t stopping him from doing it again this year.  

As of now, there’s no report of anyone else joining Nicklaus and Player in the Par 3 contest. And honestly, who the heck would dare jump in that group? 

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Equipment

Adam Scott's short-putter experiment lasted all of three tournaments

Adam Scott's short run using a short putter is over. On Tuesday, the Australian Associated Press reported Scott is going back to his broomstick putter for the Masters.

Scott finished fourth in the WGC-Cadillac Championship to start 2015, but he missed the cut at the Valspar -- ending his tour-best streak of 45 consecutive cuts made -- and then finished T-35 at Bay Hill. Scott hinted to PGATour.com following that finish that "Putting with a longer putter is maybe the smarter thing to do [at Augusta]. . . . It's all about the lag putting. It's such a difference in weight of club and stroke and everything. I'm just trying to figure it all out."

Related: The clubs that helped win the Masters through the years

Scott currently leads the tour in greens in regulation, but is only 184th in strokes gained/putting. He's even worse from inside 10 feet at 195th, and he's missed 11 times from inside five feet in 10 rounds.

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Scott was an excellent putter at one time before he switched to an anchored stroke in 2011. In 2004, the first year that strokes gained/putting was kept by the PGA Tour, Scott finished first. Since he switched to anchoring, his best finish in that category was last year at 55th, and he finished outside of the top 100 the other three years.

Related: The 13 biggest controversies in Masters history

There's the argument that Scott might as well use the style that helped him claim his lone major at Augusta National in 2013 and reach No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking last year for as long as possible. Still, it's an interesting move for a man who will be forced to change putting styles when the anchoring ban goes into effect at the end of the year. And is 10 tournament rounds enough of a sample to ditch the short putter for now?

Clearly, Scott has decided that being comfortable for four rounds at Augusta National trumps everything.

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News & Tours

Google will let you play Pac-Man around Augusta National and it's a lot of fun

Augusta National, it turns out, is a really good place to play Pac-Man.

Google launched a new feature on Tuesday that allows users to play Pac-Man around its maps. It works well in cities with lots of criss-crossing streets, but the many curvy roads around the grounds of Augusta National make the hallowed grounds a surprisingly fun place to play the game.

The next time your boss is out of sight, give it a try.
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Missing Links

Is it legitimate to declare that Tiger Woods is toast? Maybe not

Stories of interest you might have missed…

Is it too much to expect a resurgence from Tiger Woods, now or ever? “Is it legitimate to declare ‘Tiger is toast’, as so many are doing in America?” Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail asks. Lawrenson cites the examples of Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan to argue that a comeback is not out of the question.

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(Getty Images)

Did winter ice storms assist Bubba Watson in winning the Masters last year? Watson’s drive on the par-5 13th hole on Sunday was headed for the trees, Scott Michaux of the Augusta Chronicle writes. “Several Augusta National caddies think there’s no way a ball could have gotten through the trees on the line Watson took if not for the ice storm that thinned the canopy considerably all over Augusta.” The drive traveled 370 yards and left him with a sand wedge second shot, leading to a birdie and ultimately a victory.

***

“Charley Hull goes into the season’s first major extremely happy with her form. But the English starlet knows that her fine recent run pales in comparison with that of her fellow teenager Lydia Ko and appreciates that she will likely have to produce something special at the ANA Inspiration to deny the world No‚ÄČ1,” James Corrigan of the Telegraph writes in advance of the LPGA’s first major of the year.

***

At least two decades in the making, Trump Golf Links of Ferry Point fronting the East River in the Bronx will open today. “There’s never been anything like this ever built in the history of golf,” Donald Trump told Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post. “You have a world championship course that fronts the East River that has among the most magnificent views of the city. The skyline of New York is the backdrop for many of the holes.”

***

Did the LPGA face the future prospect of losing its first major of the year and maybe its most popular one? “LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said things might not have been at a point of no return back in November when All Nippon Airways decided to become the event's new sponsor,” Larry Bohannan of the Desert Sun writes. ‘I probably have told the players a hundred times we're not going to lose this event. But players know how this process goes,’ Whan said. ‘Somebody's got to pay the bills. We were prepared to continue playing if we didn't have a title sponsor, but that's a formula that couldn't last forever.’"

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Trending

We should have our fill of all these Rory McIlroy videos, except this one's pretty sweet, too

We love everything about this Rory McIlroy mini-feature put out by his sponsor Bose, even if it touches on similar themes as another recent mini-feature put out by his sponsor Nike. You know, Rory is driven, Rory works out ridiculously hard in the gym, that kind of stuff.



Still, the Bose video offers a neat window into the world No. 1 as he prepares for the Masters. We even love the fact that there's footage of McIlroy throwing his 3-iron into the water at Doral. You normally wouldn't think you could turn such a juvenile display into a marketing opportunity. Somehow Bose pulls it off.

If anything, it's because McIlroy comes across as so genuinely likable. There's a point right before the two-minute mark when he's seated at a table with his inner circle and a server hands him a plate of food. McIlroy turns to thank her. It isn't much, and for all we know it might have been part of the script. But the golfer does it in such a natural way, you get the sense that's the way he operates regardless.

As Jaime Diaz quoted Florida golf executive Andy O'Brien saying in the April cover story in Golf Digest: "If you asked the cart guys at the Bear's Club who their favorite is among all the sports-celebrity members, it would be Rory, unanimously. He's the real deal when nobody's watching."

A slickly produced video put out by his corporate sponsor wouldn't qualify as such a moment. Still, there are plenty of similar videos of athletes floating all over the web, and they don't project the same vibe.
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Weird Golf News

Was a tunnel built beneath Los Angeles Country Club connecting Playboy Mansion to Warren Beatty's house?

Was there a tunnel, or at least plans to construct one, that would have run beneath part of the North Course of the venerable Los Angeles Country Club, connecting the Playboy Mansion to Warren Beatty’s house on Sunset Blvd.?

Well, a story at Playboy.com indicated there was and even produced blueprints it says were found in the basement of the Playboy Mansion on South Mapleton Drive in Los Angeles.

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“So, according this blueprint, tunnels were built to the homes of ‘Mr. J. Nicholson,’ ‘Mr. W. Beatty,’ ‘Mr. K. Douglas’ and ‘Mr. J. Caan,” the story says. “We’ll go ahead and assume they’re talking about Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Kirk Douglas and James Caan - all of whom lived near the Playboy Mansion during the late 1970s and early 1980s. There are no dates on the architectural schematics, but the dates on the Polaroids were from 1977.

“We asked if we could see the tunnels. A staff member said, off the record, ‘I heard they were closed up sometime in 1989.’”

The backyard to the Playboy Mansion is adjacent to the 13th green of the North Course. The tunnel looks as though it would have had to run beneath the 13th green, part of the seventh hole and the fifth fairway.

The North Course was 26th in Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses and has entered a preliminary agreement with the United States Golf Association to take the U.S. Open there in 2023.

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News & Tours

Sad golf news of the day: Jason and Amanda Dufner are getting divorced

And just like that, one of golf's "it" couples is no longer even a thing. In a sad twist, Jason and Amanda Dufner are getting divorced, according to Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard.

Hoggard's report says Amanda filed for the divorce March 16 and the two have been separated since Feb. 17. Court document reportedly cited an "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage," and "a complete incompatibility of temperament that the parties can no longer live together."

Related: Golf's all-time biggest breakups

Amanda will receive a gross sum of $2.5 million, while Jason will keep both of the couple's houses in Alabama. No word on who is gets custody of Prince Louie. In 2014, Dufner was 32nd on Golf Digest's top 50 earners list, pulling in more than $7 million in both on- and off-course earnings.

In a true sign that things are over, Amanda has deactivated her popular Instagram account. Say it ain't so!

Related: Meet the WAGs of the PGA Tour

Like Tiger and Elin and Rory and Caroline, we're always sad to see the end of a golf power couple. Since they were married in May 2012, they've provided golf fans with a fun look into their lives together. Some of the highlights:

That incredible wedding video:

That fun trip to the Bahamas for the 4th of July last year:

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That trip included Amanda giving golf a try:

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And of course, the famed butt squeeze seen around the world after Jason won the 2013 PGA Championship:

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We wish the best for both Jason and Amanda, but we'll miss them together.

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