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Dec 19, 2013 | 11:40 AM

Jingle Bells from Tom Doak

One of the Christmas letters we most enjoy receiving is the one from Renaissance Golf Design, Tom Doak’s company. Despite the drop in new construction starts, Doak has golf projects underway in China (that's it, above), New Zealand, France, and the U.S. He and his crew are also doing reconstruction work at several American classics, including Baltusrol (Upper and Lower), Medinah (#1 course), Somerset Hills, and Waialae. But the big news in this year’s epistle is Doak’s revelation that The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses—his incendiary, no-holds-barred review of courses published in 1996—is being updated and expanded with the help of co-authors Ran Morrissett, founder of Golf Club Atlas; Masa Nishijima, a golf architecture correspondent based in Japan; and Darius Oliver, Australian author of the Planet Golf books. “After three trips to visit more courses in Ireland, Scotland, and England in 2013, I’m now putting the finishing touches on volume 1, covering 290 courses in Great Britain and Ireland,” Doak stated. He might have mellowed a bit over the years, but the highly opinionated designer is incapable of anything but pithy, spot-on assessments of his colleagues’ work, both current and vintage. Stay tuned.

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Dec 18, 2013 | 01:15 PM

New Blue

The first phase of a $250 million renovation of Trump National Doral is now complete with the reopening of the Blue Monster on Saturday (work on the rest of the hotel will continue through next fall). The Donald himself was there to play the completely new course by Gil Hanse. Just don’t call it a “re-do”! “It’s a bigger course with bigger lakes,” he told the Miami Herald. “It’s a more spectacular course.” Hanse also created spectator mounds for the WGC-Cadillac Championship, which will take place in March like usual. From one vantage point, fans can watch the action on 14, 15, and 16, the last of which now has a 285-yard water carry on the 325-yard hole. The Blue Monster will be scarier in more ways than one, however: the green fee is a steep $450.

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Dec 17, 2013 | 09:58 AM

Looking Out For #1

The final World Golf Rankings for 2013 give us an interesting year-to-year comparison, especially when the window is expanded to include 2011. A few highlights:

*Only two players have made the top 10 three years straight—Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy.

*This year, five of the top 10 are Americans, with Tiger and Phil the two leading Yanks for the first time since 2010.

*Last year, only four U.S. players made the list, and this year three of them are gone—Bubba Watson (now 28th), Jason Dufner (14th), and Brant Snedeker (13th). Only Tiger remains.

*Of the five international players on the current list, two are newbies—Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia—with #3 Stenson having made a dramatic climb from 207th two years ago.

*Conversely, while the plight of McIlroy has received most of the attention, the biggest drops in the rankings have come from Luke Donald—#2 a year ago (and #1 in 2011) and now 17th—and Lee Westwood, who was 7th a year ago (#2 in 2011) and is now 25th.

PLAYER

2013

2012

2011

Tiger Woods

1

3

23

Adam Scott

2

5

5

Henrik Stenson

3

53

207

Justin Rose

4

4

18

Phil Mickelson

5

17

14

Rory McIlroy

6

1

3

Matt Kuchar

7

21

11

Steve Stricker

8

18

6

Zach Johnson

9

25

37

Sergio Garcia

10

16

17

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Dec 16, 2013 | 10:53 AM

Pillow Talk

Don’t be surprised if the next big instruction book is called “Sleep Better for Better Golf.” Because it seems that a good night’s sleep—more specifically, successfully treating sleep apnea—leads to lower scores. Sleep apnea is a condition manifest by pauses in breathing while sleeping, which disrupts a person’s sleep patterns and causes fatigue during the day. A small study—24 men, average age 55, all with modern to severe obstructive sleep apnea, all with USGA handicaps—treated half the participants with a therapy called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) while the other half went untreated. According to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, after six months those who received CPAP therapy slept better at night, weren’t as sleepy during the day, and lowered their handicap index by 11 percent. No word if the next study will determine the correlation between falling asleep during a round and slow play.

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