Jul 09, 2014 | 01:11 PM

Plane Lucky

Ah, the life of a PGA Tour pro. Not only do they get to play for a $4.7 million in prize money this week at the John Deere Classic, but those lucky enough to qualify for the Open Championship will have a private jet waiting to whisk them over to Royal Liverpool as soon as the tournament ends on Sunday. This is the seventh year that the John Deere has arranged for a charter flight right from Quad Cities International to the Open venue. Twenty-three players are headed over this year on the all-first class 767 and at least two-thirds of them wouldn’t be playing the John Deere without the perk, which includes hassle-free customs and security screening. (The number could rise to 24 as the highest top five finisher not otherwise in the Open also qualifies. Last year that was Jordan Spieth, whose playoff win delayed the flight by 45 minutes.) The jet can carry 100 passengers so players can buy a minimum of three seats for caddie, wife, friends, etc. at a cost of $1,500 per seat, which the tournament donates to charity (one year Tom Lehman bought six seats). Only problem once the players get to England: they’re on their own getting home. Oh, the indignity!

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Jul 08, 2014 | 11:27 AM

Rails To Rounds In Scotland

A just-launched website offers golf travelers a new way to navigate Scotland—by train. Turns out, more than 400 of Scotland’s 597 courses are within a half-hour cab ride of train stations, and some of the very best (i.e., Carnoustie, North Berwick, Prestwick) are within walking distance. Now has assembled all the information you need to ride the rails from links to links. The site includes complete Scotrail timetables and you can search for courses by location, price, and distance from the station. All aboard!

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Jul 07, 2014 | 10:31 AM

Girl Power

The future keeps looking brighter for the LPGA and women’s golf thanks to the recent past. This year’s major-championship wins by Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie, along with the continued good play of Stacy Lewis, Jessica Korda, and others, sets up some terrific rivalries going forward. And the public is responding: According to HSBC, TV ratings for the final round of the US Women’s Open were up 88 percent over last year and were the highest since 2007. Furthermore, the BBC will broadcast the British Women’s Open back to back with the men’s Open at Royal Liverpool, while the women’s game continues to grow in Asia with new Tour events in China. The infographic above, created by The Glidescope, enumerates more positive facts and figures for women’s golf. Yes, we’ve heard such pronouncements before. But this time looks different, and better than ever. Let’s hope so.

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Jul 03, 2014 | 11:30 AM

A Golf Life

For the past 3,180 days Errie Ball was the last surviving participant from the first Masters in 1934, known then as the Augusta National Invitational Tournament. His amazing life in golf ended yesterday with his death at the age of 103. The Wales native provided one of the last links to the Golden Era of golf. As a 15-year old he qualified for the 1926 British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes in England. His first job after moving to the United States in 1930? Assistant professional at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, the home course of Bobby Jones, who won that British Open four years earlier. At that first Masters, Ball (pictured above, second from left) was one of 72 participants invited by Jones. He made the cut before finishing tied for 38th after shooting a final round 86. His playing career, which included one win and four top-10s on the PGA Tour, was secondary to a teaching career that spanned 83 years (most recently at Willoughby Golf Club in Florida) as a PGA of America member and Hall of Famer. He made only one other appearance in The Masters in 1957, missing the cut by three strokes. But eight decades later, he still kept tabs on the tournament, noting, "I never thought it would get as big as it is today."

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