Dec 21, 2015 | 04:23 pm

The Force Awakened

On the one hand, the golf year is ending as it should—with relative quiet as the pro tours take a break other than giving out “best of year” awards and the like. But in other ways, this is a December to remember. Unusually warm temperatures in the North and Northeast—Christmas Eve probably will be warmer in New York City than in Phoenix—are keeping courses busy. Last weekend, golfers were playing in shorts in Maine, while in Florida, resort bookings are down as snowbirds stay home. Experts say this is the result of an “El Nino” winter, which is likely to bring lots of rain to the West (the Pacific Northwest has already been deluged) as well as other climatic anomalies. A disturbance in the force, perhaps? Blame it on the recent opening of the new Star Wars movie. If you don’t think there’s a connection, check out this video from SkratchTV of Jordan Spieth.

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Dec 18, 2015 | 11:14 am

Play More, Pay Less

If you like to save money on tee times—and who doesn’t—check out Digital Golf Pass, a six-month-old discount membership plan that will soon offer more than 5,000 deals at 1,900 courses in 20 states. The pass, which costs $45 to $60 a year, gives golfers the chance to receive discounts on tee times, merchandise, range balls, food and drink, even lessons, and extends to off-site golf stores like Golfsmith. Unlike most other tee-time services, which limit sign-ups to a single foursome, DGP allows deals for as many as a dozen members at a time. When the new states come on line by Spring 2016, discounts will be available in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Minnesota, South and North Dakota, Tennessee, Iowa, Georgia, and Texas. DGP has grown quickly thanks to relationships with PGA Sections and state golf associations; in return, a significant portion of DGP revenues are returned to the regional golf associations to support local, grow-the-game initiatives. And as to the photograph above, that’s GMPL, the DGP mascot: GMPL stands for Golf More, Pay Less. Good idea.

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Dec 17, 2015 | 02:14 pm

Game of Thrones

There's only one King in golf, but we might have to make room for another. LeBron "King" James is teaming up with the Tour to benefit his charity, the LeBron James Family Foundation. The DAP Championship will take place in Cleveland next Sept. 8–11 and will be part of the final four events that determine which 50 players earn their PGA Tour cards. The exciting thing for golf fans—besides one of the biggest celebrities there is getting involved with golf—is that Canterbury Golf Club will host the event, which Golf Channel will televise. The Herbert Strong-designed course dates to 1922 and has hosted many big events, including two U.S. Opens in the 1940s and the 1973 PGA Championship won by Jack Nicklaus, as well as the 1979 U.S. Amateur won by Mark O'Meara. It should also be noted that Arnold Palmer won back-to-back Senior TPCs in 1984-'85. Long live the Kings.

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Dec 16, 2015 | 01:31 pm

Titling at Windmills

More bad news for Donald Trump. First, the R&A took away The Open Championship from Trump Turnberry in 2020 because the organization had had "enough," particularly after his latest plan to bar Muslins from entering the U.S. (The European Tour has close ties to Middle Eastern wealth with its many events in Muslin countries, such as the season-ending "Race to Dubai.") And today, he lost a protracted legal battle with the Scottish government over a wind farm in sight of Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen, Scotland (above). Trump, whose mother grew up in Scotland, has tried for more than two years to stop the building of 11 giant wind turbines a few miles off the coast. But in a unamimous decision, the Scottish Supreme Court's five justices rejected arguments by Trump's lawyers that the government had erred in allowing the wind farm to be built so close to his resort. "This is an extremely unfortunate verdict for the residents of Aberdeen and anyone who cares about Scotland’s economic future," George A. Sorial, Trump's executive vice president and counsel, said in an emailed statement. "History will judge those involved unfavorably and the outcome demonstrates the foolish, small-minded and parochial mentality which dominates the current Scottish government’s dangerous experiment with wind energy."

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