Aug 18, 2016 | 06:47 am

Canada: More Golf For Less Money

Thinking about a late-summer golf trip? Looking for somewhere sure to provide great rounds at great value? Then look to Canada. Thanks to a very strong U.S. dollar versus the Canadian dollar (nicknamed the “loony” for its depiction of the national bird, the common loon, on the one-dollar coin), Americans are reaping a nearly 30% bonus on their bucks at courses like Cabot Links on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, pictured above.

As of yesterday, one Canadian dollar was worth 75 cents American, that after a steady slide over recent years. In August 2012, the two dollars were almost at parity; in fact, the Canadian dollar was worth a penny or two more than the greenback. But in August 2013 the loony was buying only 96 cents U.S., then 91 cents in 2014, and 75 cents a year ago. The Canadian dollar reached its low in February—down to 70 cents U.S.—but even at that rate it was too cold to play in our neighbor to the north.

Right now, Canadian golf resorts are reporting big increases in American golfers, as well as non-golfing visitors, and many of them are even offering sweet deals on rooms and rounds. As the representative of a leading golf resort in Nova Scotia put it, “The Americans are coming by the boatload!” With one U.S. dollar buying $1.29 Canadian, to paraphrase a famous movie, they’re going to need a bigger boat.

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Aug 17, 2016 | 09:05 am

'Monster' Playoff

When was the last time you saw starting times for a playoff? That's just the case this morning at Oakland Hills outside Detroit for the last eight spots in the match-play portion of the 116th U.S. Amateur Championship. Twenty-three players finished at two-over 142 and went out from 8-9 am for the final berths. Three of the players in the 23-way tie include World No. 1 Maverick McNealy of Stanford, 2015 USGA Mid-Amateur champion Sammy Schmitz of Farmington, Minn., and 2014 USGA Mid-Amateur champ Scott Hardy of Greensboro, NC. The playoff started on the par-three 10th and all 23 players had to complete the hole before the circus moved on to the 11th, then 17 and 18, if needed. To find out who made it and who didn't, click here. The infamous South Course, the site of Ben Hogan's 1951 U.S. Open victory when he brought "The Monster" to its knees, will host the match-play portion beginning today. Duke University sophomore Alex Smalley of Wake Forest, N.C., earned medalist honors, shooting a seven-under 133, the second-lowest 36-hole score in the history of the championship. TV times: Today–Friday 3-6 on FS1, Thursday 11-1, Saturday–Sunday Fox 3-6, Sunday 11-1


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brown course

Aug 16, 2016 | 08:47 am

Golf's Fiercest Enemy

Golf in the 21st century faces several challenges—most frequently cited are the cost of the game, its difficulty, and the time it takes to play 18 holes. But enemy number one may be Mother Nature, specifically the growing scarcity of water. The latest evidence comes from drought-plagued San Francisco where one of the most popular courses in the East Bay area has announced it will close this week. Roddy Ranch, a 17-year-old J. Michael Poellet design that had been hosting a healthy 40,000 rounds a year, can no longer sustain its water bill which is close to $600,000 and escalating at 8 percent a year. “This isn’t a matter of golfers,” a club spokesman told the San Jose Mercury News. “If anything, the number of rounds has been going up.” Five other courses in the San Francisco area have shut their doors recently, each of them citing the cost/availability of water as a major reason. 

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Aug 15, 2016 | 06:05 am

Olympic Golf: What We Learned

Not only did Justin Rose (above) win the first Olympic gold medal in golf in 112 years, we learned some things worth thinking about going forward. For instance…

  • As suspected, pride does matter, at least among those players who chose to play in Rio. It’s nice to see a competition where money isn’t the big issue, but you have to feel a little bad for the 57 men who didn’t get to stand on the podium. They did get some nice shirts and bags, though.
  • Whether or not personal and patriotic pride mattered, NBC’s commentators sure thought it did and had to tell us every few minutes how important the event was and how much the players cared. Which very well may have been true, but we could have used a little less breast-beating by the broadcaster.
  • Wasn’t it nice to see players almost devoid of corporate logos? Other than something from their countries and something generally subtle from the apparel manufacturers, the uniforms weren’t walking billboards. However, Rose’s final-day shirt (also above) almost made us forget the ugly shower curtains worn by the American Ryder Cup team at The Country Club in 1999. Almost.
  • If Matt Kuchar makes the Ryder Cup team this year, don’t tell him which format he’ll be competing at each day. He seems to do just fine when he doesn’t know in advance if he’s playing singles, foursomes, four balls, match play, or a scramble.
  • Speaking of the Ryder Cup, the Europeans would seem to have an edge if the Olympics are an indicator. Although Kuchar took the bronze medal, he was surrounded by Rose (England), silver medalist Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Thomas Pieters (Germany), Rafa Cabrera Bello (Spain), and Sergio Garcia (Spain). Kudos to Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed, both of whom battled back from weak starts to finish in the top 11. (The fourth American, Rickie Fowler, finished T37.)
  • We didn’t miss Rory, Jordan, Dustin, Jason, and the other no-shows.
  • After the negative comments about the same-old format (72 holes, stroke play), it still came down to a classic mano a mano battle between two of the world’s best. Which is pretty cool no matter where it happens.
  • Perhaps most important, the lesson to take away from four rounds in Rio is that great golf is great golf no matter where it’s played, under what conditions, or the players involved. And that has nothing to do with the Olympics.
  • And here's hoping the women put on just as good a show.
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