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Feb 19, 2014 | 12:36 PM

Course of Action

Outside of the majors, today is one of the most exciting days of the year for pro golf fans when 32 of the world’s best players will be sent packing at the WGC-Accenture Match Play. This the last year that Dove Mountain outside Tucson will host the event, much to the joy of the players who have never taken to the Jack Nicklaus-designed course with its severely undulating greens and wacky weather (see last year’s snow delay). Despite the fickle nature of match play, where a player could play well and still lose, it’s a unique tournament that generates a lot more interest than a typical tour stop so it deserves a course worthy of its status. Here are our top five picks for the next host. What are yours?

1. Cypress Point. It’ll never happen, but we can dream, can’t we?
2. PGA West Stadium Course. The ultimate match-play course with risk-reward lurking at every turn.
3. Shadow Creek (above). It would be great to finally see this course for high rollers where Tom Fazio exceeded an unlimited budge. Plus, since this is Vegas, let the players do their own “bracket challenge” with a few of their own chips on the line.
4. Rancho Santa Fe. The Match Play can stay dry and classy at this historic Max Behr design in north San Diego County that played host to Bing Crosby’s first six "clambakes." Plus, club member Phil Mickelson will be much more likely to show up.
5.  Seminole. Kick off the Florida Swing with the Match Play at this legendary Donald Ross design. When half the field loses the first day, they can walk home.

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Feb 17, 2014 | 06:43 AM

We Liked Ike

Just two months before the 78th Masters tees off on April 10, one of Augusta National’s enduring symbols is gone. The Eisenhower Tree—a 65-foot-tall pine that stood along the left side of the 17th fairway about 200 yards off the tee—finally met its match in the icy winter storms that recently battered the Southeast. The broad pine (visible up the left side of the hole in the photo above) was named for President Dwight Eisenhower, an Augusta member who often hit his tee shot left and found himself stymied by the tree. According to The Masters: A Hole-by-Hole History of America’s Golf Classic, by David Sowell, the tree “caused President Eisenhower more trouble than the Russians ever did.” Ike, who twice served on the Augusta National Board of Governors, even suggested that the tree be cut down. “Clifford Roberts quickly adjourned the meeting before Ike could obtain a second for his motion,” wrote Sowell. Current Augusta Chairman Billy Payne says not to worry. “The golf course sustained no major damage otherwise,” Payne was quoted by the GlobalPost. “We are now open for member play and we will be unaffected in our preparations for the 2014 Masters.” As to what will take its place, “We have begun deliberations of the best way to address the future of the 17th hole,” said Payne, “and to pay tribute to this iconic symbol of our history. Rest assured we will do both appropriately.”

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Feb 14, 2014 | 07:56 AM

Trump’s Triumphs, Trump’s Travails

It’s been an interesting few weeks for Donald Trump. The redesign of the Blue Monster course at Trump National Doral (that’s the new 6th hole, above) was revealed to positive reviews, including this one from LINKS Editor George Peper. And earlier this week, it was announced that the Trump Organization had bought Doonbeg Golf Club in County Clare, Ireland, which includes a Greg Norman-designed course and 219-room lodge. But even The Donald can’t win them all. The same day he nabbed Doonbeg, his plans for a second course at his club near Aberdeen, Scotland, took a hit when a Scottish court refused to block the construction of windmills in the North Sea. Trump had strongly objected to the turbines, which will be visible from his property, saying they will be an eyesore. As a result of the ruling his company withdrew plans for the second course, which Trump had planned to name after his mother. According to the Scottish Express, a Trump spokesperson said, “Trump is investing heavily in golf across the globe, most recently in Dubai, Miami, and now Ireland, while Scotland is missing out.” The day after the ruling, Trump himself angered people on both sides of the Atlantic by saying, “Wind farms are a disaster for Scotland like Pan Am 103 [referring to the Boeing 747 that blew up over Lockerbie in December 1988], an abomination, only sustained with government subsidy.” Trump’s organization has said it will continue to fight the court ruling.

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Feb 13, 2014 | 10:08 AM

Gimmicky Golf?

The par-three 6th at Riviera Country Club—venue for this week’s Northern Trust Open—has a bunker in the middle of its green. So do holes at Doonbeg in Ireland, TPC San Antonio in Texas and Shadow Ridge Country Club in Nebraska. Is it a gimmick or a stroke of genius? Dustin Johnson aced the sixth in 2010, albeit to a pin location below and away from the bunker. Riviera members and guests are not allowed to use anything but a putter on the green, even when the bunker is between their ball and the hole. Good luck getting down in two if that’s the case. But here’s a look at how it can be done. 

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