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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

Bassackwardification

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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Feb 25, 2013 | 09:48 AM

Anchoring Away? Not Yet

While the weekend action was outdoors in the wild weather affecting Tucson, the news was indoors, where PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced that his pros oppose the USGA/R&A’s proposed ban on anchored putting (e.g., long putters). With the Tour adding its two cents, it’s becoming clearer that the sides are splitting roughly between those who overtly make money from the game (players, club pros, equipment manufacturers) and those charged with “protecting” it. Is anyone surprised that it’s coming down to a different sort of bifurcation—Money vs. Power? Like the cable-TV mini-series it could easily become, this battle is far from over.

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