Jun 19, 2013 | 05:34 AM

What’s With Wales?

In the field at last week’s U.S. Open were nine Englishmen (including winner Justin Rose), four Scots, three players from Northern Ireland, one from Ireland, but only one—Jamie Donaldson—from Wales. Numbers like those have Welshman Ian Woosnam worried about the game’s health in his homeland, especially at the pro level. Woosie says golf is “fading away” in Wales, which has only two players on the European Tour (Donaldson and Phil Price). “We need to get some sort of infrastructure in place to get the players playing,” Woosnam said, calling for golf instruction in schools and help from the government as happens in countries like Sweden. Welsh golf authorities disagree with Woosie’s assessment, saying the game has grown nicely since the Ryder Cup was played at Celtic Manor in 2010. “It’s very expensive to play at a professional level,” says the 1991 Masters champion. “If the youngsters haven’t got the backing, they’re going to fall and then lose interest in the game.”

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Jun 18, 2013 | 09:17 AM

Scotland The Brave

While golf course development in the U.S. remains stagnant at best—just 13 courses opened last year while more than 10 times that many closed—golf in the Kingdom of Fife seems to be humming along. A few weeks ago came the report that Tom Weiskopf’s Feddinch project, just a few miles from St. Andrews, was under way, and now we have news of Dumbarnie Links, a $15 million course proposed for a stretch of coastline in the Lower Largo area, 20 minutes southwest of the Auld Grey Toon. The course, if approved, will be designed by former European Tour player and BBC commentator Clive Clark, and one of the principals behind the project is veteran golf writer Malcolm Campbell who, as co-author of the book True Links, knows a thing or two about links golf courses. They envision a Kingsbarns-like operation—no members, high-quality daily-fee golf, and another reason to plan a Scottish golf vacation.

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Jun 17, 2013 | 08:18 AM

The Science of Golf

One of the cool exhibits on display for the spectators at Merion last week was a tent explaining the science of golf. If you didn’t make it to the U.S. Open, NBC has produced an ongoing series of videos, available for viewing on the web, that cover topics such as the physics of the swing, friction and spin, water conservation, the evolution of the golf ball and clubs, even how a handicap is calculated. The videos were produced by NBC for the USGA and one of its sponsors, Chevron. Do your homework and maybe you’ll make it to next year’s Open venue—Pinehurst No. 2—as a player. Okay, maybe not: It is science after all, not voodoo.

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Jun 16, 2013 | 10:36 AM

Scoping Out Mickelson

Visit the merchandise tent behind the 17th green at the U.S. Open this week and you might have run into Phil Mickelson. No, not the fan favorite and 54-hole leader heading into today’s final round, but his dad, Phil Sr., whose company, Mickelson Group, Inc., manufactures Sportscope, a periscope with a zoom feature that sells for $80. He’s been making them for about eight years and came up with the zoom feature himself. Because of the tight confines for the gallery at tiny Merion, the device came in really handy this week and were “selling like hotcakes,” said Phil Sr., who was dividing his time between the tent and watching his son play. Chances are he won’t be spending much time in the tent this Father’s Day with his son set to win his first U.S. Open. If there’s any justice in this world, many in the gallery will be looking through their Sportscopes around the 18th green as the Phil Jr. sinks the winning putt to finally claim that elusive national title after a record five runner-up finishes.

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