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Feb 13, 2015 | 10:10 AM

Putting On The Prairie

An old golf idea is getting new life: putting courses. The most famous is the Himalayas in St. Andrews, Scotland, in operation since the 1860s and costing only a few pounds to play today. A number of American clubs have built their own putting paradises, which are good for both practice and fun. Bandon Dunes had architects Tom Doak and Jim Urbina lay out the 100,000-square-foot Punchbowl that takes about an hour to roll all 18 holes. Now The Prairie Club in north-central Nebraska is constructing a 12-hole putting playground, called “The Old Wagon” in honor of a pioneer-era wagon trail that ran through the property, along the rim of Snake River Canyon. (The photo shows the some of the terrain the course will be routed over.) This is the latest innovation at the semi-private Prairie Club, which along with two dramatic 18-hole courses has a 10-hole par-three layout called “Horse Course,” designed by Gil Hanse, that because it has no set tee boxes, is as challenging as the golfer’s imagination allows. More than just great fun for experienced players, such shorter, less time-intense options could help introduce the game to the uninitiated. Good idea, good business, good fun.

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Feb 12, 2015 | 03:24 PM

Millennial Network

To reach young fans, the PGA Tour has begun a joint venture with Bedrocket, a digital entertainment company, to create an online network called Skratch TV, The New York Times is reporting. The goal is to capture the tour and its stars—particularly younger ones like Rickie Fowler, in short, sharable ways, like the one above. “We’ve had a healthy anxiety that we weren’t going to reach this generation with our traditional platforms,” Rick Anderson, the tour’s executive vice president for global media, told . “If we’re not producing content and putting our sport out there on platforms in ways that they’ll consume it, are we going to miss them?” The site will launch in a few months.

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Feb 11, 2015 | 02:04 PM

Up the Creek

The Great Recession may be over but the shakeout of private clubs continues to reverberate. One of South Carolina’s nicest clubs, The Golf Club at Briar’s Creek near Kiawah south of Charleston, filed for bankruptcy yesterday. The club listed assets of $1.56 million and liabilities of $37 million, though that doesn’t include unsold home sites and the Rees Jones-designed course, which Golf Digest named “Best New Private Course” when it opened in 2002. Briar's may be up the creek, but there's a paddle on the way as a group led by founding member and Houston Texans owner Robert McNair is seeking to buy the assets for $11.3 million. McNair said in a statement that Briar’s Creek “is a business and sometimes in order to be successful, a business must reset.” If the sale is approved, members will get back just a fraction of their six-figure initiation fees but will be offered memberships in the new club.

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Feb 10, 2015 | 08:41 AM

The First Ladies of the R&A

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews has revealed its first women members. A notice posted in the R&A clubhouse lists seven ladies who have accepted invitations to become members of the Club. They are Lady Angela Bonallack (UK), Claire Dowling (UK), Diane Dunlop-Hebert (Canada), Patsy Hankins (New Zealand), Martha Lang (USA), Carol Semple Thompson (USA), and Marion Thannhauser (Germany). Four of them—Bonallack, Dowling, Lang and Thompson—are former Curtis Cuppers with glittering amateur records. (Thompson (photo above) won the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Mid-Amateur, and Senior Amateur titles and played on more Curtis Cups than anyone in history.) The three others have distinguished themselves as golf administrators in their respective nations. In addition, the Club has announced the addition of seven Honorary Members, all women: The Princess Royal (Princess Anne), Laura Davies, Renee Powell, Belle Robertson, Lally Segard, Annika Sorenstam, and Louise Suggs. They will join the current 15 Honorary Members which include three members of the British royal family, former president George H.W. Bush, and Sir Michael Bonallack along with professional golfers Peter Allis, Tony Jacklin, John Jacobs, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Peter Thomson, Lee Trevino, Roberto De Vicenzo, and Tom Watson. 

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