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Apr 08, 2013 | 02:00 PM

Masterful Renovation

Augusta National's greens are its best defense against low scores, so the club goes to great lengths to take care of them, renovating one or two of them every year. Last summer saw the rebuilding of the 14th green, the course's most undulating putting surface. Here's a great timelapse video of the process. Also since last summer, Augusta started using "sensing camera technology" at the 13th and 17th greens. The “Hawkeye" system provides infrared temperature readings every ten minutes to detect areas of stress caused not only by temperature, but by insects, fungus, disease, and other environmental stressors. That's in addition to four, iPad-controlled sensors to monitor soil moisture, temperature, and salinity, which every green has. Only the best for the best.

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Apr 08, 2013 | 11:00 AM

The Masters: Who’s In, Who’s Not, Who’s Hot

It’s Masters Week, at last, so the annual Spring-fest at Augusta National rightfully receives all The Buzz’s attention for the next few days, starting with a look at the 94-player field. Scotland’s Martin Laird earned his last-minute ticket by winning the Valero Texas Open yesterday. But a number of big names didn’t make it, including Geoff Ogilvy, Retief Goosen, and Augusta-native Charles Howell III. There are 17 players making their first visit, and 6 amateurs. And who do the odds-makers like? Tiger, of course, tops the list at 7-2 to win. Other favorites, if you’re working on an office pool or fantasy league, include Rory McIlroy (8-1); Phil Mickelson (10-1); Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel (20-1); Luke Donald, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Brandt Snedeker, and Lee Westwood (25-1); Keegan Bradley, Matt Kuchar, and last year’s champion Bubba Watson (30-1); and Sergio Garcia, Hunter Mahan, Ian Poulter, and Nick Watney (40-1). April, Augusta, and anticipation: As Flounder says in Animal House, “This is gonna be great!”

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Apr 05, 2013 | 07:23 PM

Gator Attack Settlement

In what is believed to be the nation's first successful claim against a private development involving a wild alligator, an Ohio man has received a confidential settlement following a 2009 attack in which the gator bit the man's arm off while golfing. The 10 1/2-foot, 400-pound reptile attacked the then 77-year-old man when he reached down to get his ball at the edge of a lagoon while playing Ocean Creek Golf Course in Fripp Island, S.C. After his son and others freed him from the gator, animal control officers killed the animal and removed the arm form the digestive track, but surgeons were unsuccessful at reattaching it. The victim's attorney, Mark D. Chappell, argued that alligators are agressive when fed by humans and the ones at Ocean Creek were routinely fed by tourists, yet the club did not warn visitors or properly investigate alligator-related complaints. He also argued that any gator over six feet is so predatory it's encumbent upon those responsible to remove the threat. "He's got a great attitude," Chappell said of his client to The Island Packet. "But he misses golfing."

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Apr 05, 2013 | 10:21 AM

Celtic Tiger?

It may be President Obama’s golf excursions that get the attention, particularly now during the sequester, but it seems Vice President Joe Biden is similarly making the rounds. The Veep—whose Secret Service nickname is “Celtic,” referring to his Irish roots—and his wife spent Easter weekend on Kiawah Island, where it is assumed he teed it up. Biden’s handicap reportedly has been as low as an index of 6.3, but his skills were called into question last summer by Ohio governor John Kasich after the Biden-Kasich team lost to the President and House Speaker John Boehner during the famous “golf summit.” Perhaps Biden used his Kiawah visit to practice for a planned trip to his ancestral homeland this summer, when he is scheduled to tee it up with the Taoiseach (prime minister), Enda Kenny, in County Mayo. While Biden may have a famously thick skin from his many years in politics, we still suggest he pack a wind shirt.

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