Feb 28, 2013 | 08:46 AM

Anglophile Alert

If “true golf played out under big skies and against a backdrop of crashing surf” on a links laid out on common land grazed by livestock is for you, Royal North Devon, England’s oldest course (1864), has made available a small number of international life memberships for 2013. Widely regarded as the St. Andrews of England, Royal North Devon—a.k.a. Westward Ho!—has priced the memberships at $5,000, a bargain considering it includes full playing privileges, reciprocal arrangements with other clubs, access to the club’s collection of golf memorabilia, and a Royal North Devon golf sweater or polo shirt, blazer badge, club tie, and set of blazer buttons. Bonus: You’ll also be able to rub shoulders with Tom Watson, who recently accepted an honorary life membership to the club. Too steep? Simply pay the weekday green fee of roughly $85 to experience this epic, historic links. Too bad the likes of Pine Valley and Cypress Point don’t offer a similar program.

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Feb 27, 2013 | 10:32 AM

Lost, Found, Fund

According to one source, U.S. golfers lose 5 million clubs a year. That’s an average of one club lost on every course every day. Where do they go? While some end up staking tomato plants, many contribute to the game’s growth, going from lost-and-found barrels to junior golf and similar programs. And many of the clubs lost around La Crosse, Wisconsin, help fund the Viterbo University women’s golf team. Coach Ken Barrett spends the winter collecting unclaimed clubs from local courses, selling them at the Greater La Crosse Golf Show (March 8-9 at the La Crosse Center), then using the proceeds to get the team to a few extra meets. Selling the clubs for between $2 and $15, the team usually makes about $1,000. Barrett has more than 200 clubs as well as bags and a few full sets for next week’s show.

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Feb 26, 2013 | 02:24 PM

Whither Spain, Rising South Africa

In this week’s World Rankings, Americans claim 20 of the top 50 spots. What country is second? South Africa, with six. England and Sweden have four each, and Northern Ireland, for all the recent fuss, two. Also with two is Spain, prompting Jose Maria Olazabal to complain about his nation’s prospects. “We are struggling to see a new generation coming through,” he said. Of South Africa, where he’s playing in a tournament this week, Olazabal said, “For whatever reason, this country is able to deliver great players.” Most observers say the current crop of South African stars—including Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, George Coetzee, Tim Clark, and Richard Sterne—are following the path set by past champions, notably Gary Player, Ernie Els, and Retief Goosen. Need more proof? The 43-year-old Els is 24th in the current rankings.

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Feb 26, 2013 | 09:08 AM


The brewing brouhaha between the PGA Tour and golf’s rules makers over the anchored putter has raised once again the notion of bifurcation, the widely held view that there should be different equipment rules for pros and amateurs, with rank-and-file mortals allowed to use more forgiving sticks and balls. With the current kerfuffle, however, there’s the potential for a wacky consequence. If the USGA and R&A ban the long putter and the Tour says “not us,” we will indeed have bifurcation: The pros will continue to sweep their brooms merrily while everyone else will be forced to bend over. The only benefit for amateurs will be in pro-ams—when they hit into a water hazard, they’ll be able to use their pro partners’ 50-inch flat sticks to get two clublengths’ relief.

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