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Mar 06, 2014 | 12:00 PM

The Perfect Round

It moved one man to tears. It stunned the others in attendance that day in April of 2011. That’s when an IT manager named Rick Baird shot a perfect round—of putt-putt golf. That’s right: 18 strokes on 18 holes. A new documentary details the round, which took place during a Professional Putters Association event in Richmond, Virginia. There were no windmills or clown’s mouths on the layout, just slight uphills, downhills, forced angles and a number of back rail shots. But Baird one-putted them all, with his final putt was captured on video. Baird has been playing putt-putt since he was 10 years old. “I found the one thing I was good at it and just kept sticking with it,” he said. Not impressed by this very rare moment in putt-putt history? As one of Baird’s fellow competitors says in the documentary, “It’s a skill. It’s an art. Try it sometime if you don’t believe it.”

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Mar 05, 2014 | 11:52 AM

Another Trump En-Hanse-ment

Lost in all the hullabaloo over the redesigned Blue Monster and this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship is the fact that Gil Hanse is working on another project for Donald Trump in Dubai—the first new course there in five years. Though Trump won’t actually own the club—he’ll brand and manage the course for a 25-year lease—Trump International, Dubai, will be the 21st course in his growing portfolio, following his recent purchase of Doonbeg. The layout, set to open officially next spring, will anchor a high-end masterplanned community, Akoya Park, being developed by Damac Properties, which took over a mothballed development where the land had been cleared. Damac already had hired an architect to build the course, but when Trump got involved, he insisted on Hanse, who just returned from the site where grassing is already underway. Unlike so many other Augusta-like designs there, the design will appear more natural with the area’s rolling sand dunes a focal point of the design. Trump Dubai is not far from Tiger Woods’ defunct design, which Hanse toured out of curiosity.

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Mar 04, 2014 | 10:32 AM

Schnitzel And Tee

Austria, heretofore best known for Mozart, strudel, and waltzes, now has a new distinction—an all-weather golf course. Near Graz, the nation’s second largest city, a club called Modern Golf has opened a nine-hole course with all-synthetic greens and tees along with a training center with 36 heated and covered tees, two covered bunkers, and covered pitching and putting greens. Four of the holes are also floodlit for evening play. The course was installed by Huxley Golf, a UK firm that produces highly authentic synthetic surfaces for practice mats and pathways, but this is their biggest project to date. Given the growing depletion of water resources and the ever-rising costs of maintenance, who knows, this could be the future. Meantime Austria’s Modern Golfers have a place to play and practice all year-round—or at least until the next major snowstorm.

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Mar 03, 2014 | 11:23 AM

Ryder Return, And Return, And Return…

The last time the U.S. side won the Ryder Cup was in 2008 at Valhalla Golf Club near Louisville, Kentucky, a club owned by the PGA of America, which conducts the Cup Matches when they’re on this side of the Atlantic. Keeping that fact in mind, maybe it wasn’t too strange that PGA of America President Ted Bishop, talking to the Louisville Rotary Club last week, hypothesized bringing the matches back to Valhalla every four years rather than switching venues. The obvious comparison is Augusta National and The Masters, both of which have benefitted from the public’s familiarity with the course. (Although we’re certainly not the first to say that Valhalla is no Augusta.) Yes, there are advantages to establishing a permanent infrastructure for conducting the tournament. “Think what you could do here if you knew they were going to play the Ryder Cup here every four years,” Bishop was quoted by the Louisville Courier-Journal. And advantages to the club: “Look at the ability to take the Valhalla membership and expand it to an international membership and how exciting that might be.” But note that the PGA Championship is returning to Valhalla this coming August and Bishop didn’t talk about bringing that annual event back every year. Bishop labeled a Valhalla annuity “out of the box” thinking; the rest of the golf world probably just thinks he is out of his mind.

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