Apr 21, 2014 | 06:14 am

Taiwan Tee Time

Myanmar. Vietnam. China. Add another Asian country to the list of those trying to build golf tourism: Taiwan. There are more than 70 golf courses in the country—which measures about 14,000 square miles and has a population of 24 million—and the government is kicking off a golf-t0urism campaign this week at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic Golf Tournament, April 21-27 at Lake Merced Golf Club outside San Francisco. At the tournament, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau will have a booth featuring an eight-foot-tall inflatable “Taiwan Tourism” heart, a seven-foot-tall tea statue, and an outdoor staircase in the shape of a Taiwanese pineapple cake. Inside the booth will be information on golf in Taiwan, while on the island are new road signs and maps directing travelers to courses and other means of promoting local golf, including plans for a golf-specific website. Swinging Skirts is a private non-profit group based in Taiwan working to grow women’s golf and the golf industry in the country: The tournament is the first golf event in the U.S. co-sponsored by a Taiwanese concern.

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Apr 18, 2014 | 06:27 am

A Healthy Jump In Green Fees

If you’re looking for a positive sign in the golf industry—and who isn’t?—here’s one: The price of buying a golf course is going up. That might not mean a whole lot given that in the U.S. last year 10 times as many courses closed as opened. But among those that changed ownership, value is increasing. According to the National Golf and Resort Properties Group, part of investment firm Marcus and Millichap, the average price for a course rose 57 percent in 2013, from $2.7 million for 18 holes to $4.25 million. (The market high, $7.33 million, was reached in 2006.) On, Steve Evokich of Marcus and Millichap was quoted as saying, “After bottoming out in 2012, the golf-course sales market looks to be recovering and stabilizing. Bank financing is slowly returning, the average sales price is rebounding, there are fewer foreclosures and bank repossessions, and more courses are back to producing positive cash flow.” That last fact might be the most positive, indicating that golfers are coming back and paying to play. Couple that with reports that private clubs are seeing growth in membership numbers and the industry has cause for cautious optimism. For the time being, let’s stress “cautious."

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Apr 17, 2014 | 12:35 pm

Riding the Course

Fifteen-inch cups. Footgolf. Golf bikes. Wait, what? The first two concepts designed to grow the game have been getting attention as of late, but an option to speed things up has just been introduced at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. Guests playing the 27 Scott Miller-designed holes there can hop on a bike with small-diameter wheels and wide rubber tires, throw their clubs in two custom-designed bags mounted to the rear of the bike and off they go. Raise the heart rate a bit, shave more than a few minutes off the round and really earn that post-round refreshment (or two). And you’ll never have to worry about cart path only days.

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Apr 16, 2014 | 11:38 am

Nick of Time

Tom Watson, 63, isn’t the only oldie but goodie in this year’s RBC Heritage in Hilton Head (this year’s Ryder Cup Captain won there in 1979 and ’82 but last played the event in ’01.) Nick Faldo, 56, is also making his first appearance in a regular tour event since the last time he competed in the Heritage in ‘06 (all champions through ’99 and since ’09 are invited). The reason? To celebrate the 30th anniversary of his win at Harbour Town in ’84—the first of his nine PGA Tour victories—as well for the “sunshine, the walk, and out of curiosity,” he says. The six-time major champion also plans on playing in The Greenbrier Classic, Scottish Open, and Open Championship this year while juggling his TV duties with CBS and Golf Channel.

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