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Oct 08, 2013 | 10:32 AM

The Grain In Spain

While Spain’s economy is struggling, at least one national institution is getting some investment. Valderrama Golf Club—designed by Robert Trent Jones, site of the 1997 Ryder Cup, and among the consensus top courses in Europe—is undergoing a bit of an overhaul. According to the website Golf In Spain, 3 million euros (slightly more than $4million) is going to a new irrigation system, redoing all bunkers with new liners and sand, repairing cart paths and improving landscaping, and a new practice chipping green. Notes the website, “one would think that a major golf tournament might be soon announced for Valderrama.” That would be magnifico.

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Oct 07, 2013 | 10:12 AM

Elementary, My Dear Watson

Tom Watson isn’t as well known a golf architect as some of his fellow pros, but he has designed a number of courses, including Cassique at Kiawah Island and one at Reunion Golf Club in Orlando, and helped renovate the Old Course at Ballybunion in Ireland. According to the News-Press of St. Joseph, Missouri, Watson is laying out a nine-hole course specifically for kids and new golfers. It will be designed, he says, “for kids or anybody, really, to play the game where you aren’t forced to play 400-yard par fours or 500-yard par fives…things that are manageable for beginning golfers.” The course will be located in Maryville, Missouri, and hopes are to involve The First Tee. Price tag for the course is estimated at $550,000; fundraising is already underway.

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Oct 04, 2013 | 10:27 AM

Red, White, and Blue—But No Greens

If you were hoping to escape the news out of our nation’s capital by playing some golf this weekend, better call first and check that the course is open. Due to the government shutdown, many courses on or near government land have closed. Fox Sports reports that Highland Links (above), located on National Park Service land in Truro, Mass., has a recorded message informing the public that it’s closed. But there was no answer and no tape at Washington, D.C.’s Langston Golf Course, not a good sign. Still, if you can’t play, there’s some golf solace to be found: Sit down in front of the TV and watch The Presidents Cup, which, despite its chief-executive titling, will go on—from 1-6pm (eastern) today on Golf Channel, and on NBC Saturday 8am-6pm, Sunday 12-6pm.

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Oct 03, 2013 | 01:00 PM

Jack’s Masterful Muirfield Village

Muirfield Village, host venue for the Presidents Cup matches that get underway today, has been a lifetime’s labor of love for Ohio homeboy Jack Nicklaus, who acquired the land for the course in 1966, the year he won the Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland. Working with Desmond Muirhead, Jack built a course intended for championship play, but the 6,978-yard layout that opened in 1974 isn’t the same course the U.S. and International teams will play this week. An inveterate tinkerer, Nicklaus has significantly tweaked and stretched his pet project over the past 40 years to ratchet up or refine the risk-reward strategy on a course with water in play at 13 holes. Arguably the most altered hole is the par-3 16th, which is now tough as nails and likely will decide more than a few matches. Rebuilt three years ago, this daunting 201-yarder plays to a shallow green defended in front by a pond. At the par-4 18th, lengthened to 484 yards, competitors will play from a new back tee slotted into a hillside that brings a gauntlet of bunkers up the right side into play. Unlike the historically rain-plagued Memorial Tournament held in May, the dry, firm conditions expected this week will bring all of Jack’s nuanced changes into sharp focus. Expect no surprises. The better team will win.

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