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Jun 10, 2014 | 11:07 AM

While We're Young

The Three/45 Golf Association, a non-profit of golfers, course owners, manufacturers, and architects advocating quicker play, has just released its first advanced study of pace of play, perhaps the most comprehensive report ever. Rather than relying on surveys like past studies, the researchers utilized GPS-equipped carts to collect precise information on more than 40,000 rounds last June at 175 public and private courses. The findings:
•    The average round took 4 hours and 17 minutes.
•    There’s a great variation from course to course, day of the week, and time of day.
•    The five fastest courses averaged 3 hours and 36 minutes and were all private.
•    The five slowest courses averaged 4 hours and 50 minutes and were all public.
•    Course length or difficulty had no statistical bearing on the time it took, so “Play it Forward” might not help.
•    A statistically significant relationship was found, however, between how long a round took and the number of tee times. The five slowest courses had two-and-one-half times more play than the fastest, adding strong evidence to the importance of tee-time intervals.
The takeaway? Growing the game is in direct opposition to speeding up the game, at least on the weekend at crowded public courses. To read the full 31-page report, click here.

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Jun 09, 2014 | 06:41 PM

Why Did Phil Do It?

Okay, we're not sure he did do it, and by "it" we mean engage in insider trading as potentially alleged by the US government. The story broke a little more than a week ago, tying Phil Mickelson to corporate raider Carl Icahn and Las Vegas big-hitter Billy Walters in reaping large gains from the trading of stock in Clorox a few years ago. Did he do it, did he not do it, that's not the issue right here. What is is an article worth reading from the New York Times by financial writer James B. Stewart on what makes people like Mickelson—for whom money is not the object—"gamble" like the do. It's interesting stuff, especially as Phil comes to Pinehurst this week looking to finally win the U.S. Open, an event in which he's been badly hurt by gambling with his game.

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Jun 06, 2014 | 06:12 AM

The Pick Of Portugal

Portugal doesn’t get enough credit as a golf destination, which means it also doesn’t get as many golf visitors as it deserves. This lovely little country—on the Iberian Peninsula tucked along Spain’s western border—is trying to do something about that and traveling golfers stand to benefit. The Portugal Golf Membership is a free program that entitles those who sign up to discounts on rounds of golf up and down the country (that’s Ribagolfe, just outside the capital city of Lisbon, above), as well as on hotels, golf packages, car rentals, and other activities such as winery tours and horseback riding on the beach. There’s much more to Portugal than golf, of course, including incredible beaches (the Algarve coast was recently named Europe’s leading beach destination for the second straight year), terrific seafood, shopping, touring, and more, and the prices are very agreeable. Check out the website for suggestions of what more to do along after you’ve played some of Europe’s finest golf courses.

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Jun 05, 2014 | 11:50 AM

The Online Open

There are 156 spots still available in this year’s field at Pinehurst No. 2 — in the World Golf Tour’s Virtual U.S. Open championship that is. Since 2009 the San Francisco-based company has created an impressive online version of the annual U.S. Open venue that can be played for free on a computer or mobile device. Last year 3.3 million virtual rounds were played on Merion. This year’s Virtual U.S. Open Qualifying runs through June 30th. One sweepstakes winner gets a $500 gift card for tournament merchandise at usga.com and a trip for two to next year’s U.S. Open, while qualifiers will play four combined rounds between July 1st and July 16th to determine a winner (who also receives a $500 gift card and a trip to Chambers Bay next June). Can’t handle the major championship pressure? Then play any Pinehurst No. 2 hole without signing up for the tournament by clicking here.

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