Dec 18, 2014 | 11:48 am

Six is Enough

Like most driving ranges at courses around the country, the one at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, located in Maricopa 30 minutes south of Phoenix, would stand empty after the day’s last tee time. Not anymore. As part of an overall multi-million dollar renovation of the public facility unveiled last week — which included playability enhancements on the adjacent 18-hole layout that originally opened in 2001 — that range is now home to #minidunes, a short course with six holes ranging from 50 to 120 yards. After the range is cleared of practice balls in mid-afternoon, golfers can play from official tees to six greens built to USGA specifications. For unlimited golf, adults pay $12 but juniors 17 and under play for free. “#mini Dunes will serve as our laboratory to grow the game,” says general manager Brady Wilson. “We are going to use this facility to introduce new golfers, both young and old, to the game of golf.”

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Dec 17, 2014 | 08:09 am

Numero Uno

After almost eight years in business, Tiger Woods Design finally opened up its first course yesterday, El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. With a mariachi band accompanying him to the first tee and a few hundred guests in attendance, Woods played all 18 holes on the edge of the Pacific under bright blue skies. The 7,430-yard, private course features stunning ocean and mountain views, as well as wide fairways and big greens open in front to make the course enjoyable for all handicaps. The first few holes plays through giant dunes before the routing gives way to arroyos and hillsides. After false starts in Dubai and North Carolina, Tiger Woods Design is picking up the pace and will open its first U.S. design, Bluejack National, outside Houston next fall. He also just signed a deal to do another course in Dubai that Donald Trump will operate. “We knew this day would come," Woods said yesterday. "We as a design team probably didn’t think it was going to come outside the United States first...You always want to have a first sometime. It’s nice to finally have this opportunity and to do something that I think people are going to find is different, a different experience.”

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Dec 16, 2014 | 10:22 am

Lydia Ko, Look Out!

The world’s best golf swing, pound for pound, may belong to five-year-old Hannah Pearson of Tucson, Arizona. She was just 14 months old when her non-golfing parents brought home plastic clubs, and she has been swinging—with uncommon grace and rhythm—ever since. At age 4 she placed fourth in her division of the San Diego Junior Masters, competing against a field of girls two years her senior, and this week she won her division of the U.S. Kids Golf Tour, having notched victories in five events in the 7-and-under division. For each of the past two years Hannah’s swing has been voted the Best Pee Wee Golf Swing in the World. 

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Dec 15, 2014 | 03:42 pm

In Their Cups

In the world of international team golf, most recent attention has focused on the Ryder Cup, with the American “task force” having held its first meeting last week. No one is talking much about the details, but early indications are that the session was positive and open, with the PGA of America listening to the suggestions from the panel's players—Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, and Steve Stricker—and former captains Raymond Floyd, Tom Lehman, and Davis Love III. Also, rumors are that Fred Couples has been asked about being the U.S. captain in 2016, but no official announcement has been made. And there’s news from the other team event, the Presidents Cup. Captain Nick Price is asking for changes since his International squad has lost the last six matches. Price—who was captain in 2013 and will be again in 2015, when the U.S. Captain is Jay Haas (both shown above)—told Golf Channel that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has approved only one adjustment so far, switching the order of play so four-ball matches could come before foursomes. Supposedly, Price and his players want to reduce the number of team matches: The Presidents Cup presently features 22, while the Ryder Cup has 16 matches before the final-day singles. Price was quoted as saying that 16 points “doesn’t really let one team run away with it…. It allows for something to be exciting on Sunday.”

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