Nov 18, 2014 | 08:32 AM

The Best Course You've Never Heard Of

At the Asia Pacific Golf Summit held last weekend, Black Mountain Golf Course, a resort facility 140 miles south of Bangkok, Thailand, was named the best golf course in Asia Pacific. The home of Thailand’s golf hero Thongchai Jaidee, Black Mountain has held several Asian Tour events and next year will host the European Tour’s Thailand Classic. Just six years old, it was designed by little-known Australian architect Phil Ryan who carved through a jungle and pineapple plantation while making good use of several natural streams and the mountain backdrop. It’s a comparative bargain, too. The $115 green fee covers not only your round but your caddie and round-trip golf hotel transfers. 

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Nov 17, 2014 | 10:33 AM

Tiger's Time Off

We haven’t heard much from or about Tiger Woods the last few months as he recovers from his most recent injury. But that’s not to say there isn’t Tiger-related news to report. (Isn’t there always?) We hear he is hitting balls again, getting ready for a return to competitive golf, although we don’t know when. We hear, according to Golf Digest, that about 10 years ago, Tiger blew off the autograph request of a 10-year-old boy who grew up to be NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel. We hear that if the teams for the 2016 Olympics were being chosen right now, Tiger would be nowhere near making the American golf team. We hear that after bowing out of playing in this year’s Americas Golf Cup in South America (it was held in October; what, you missed it?), he will team with Matt Kuchar to play in it next year, although no one is sure where or when it will be held. And we hear that Bluejack National near Houston, Texas, the first Tiger-designed golf course scheduled to open in the U.S. (expected completion: fall 2015) is “seeking advanced tier players to fill its ranks.” So, as usual, even a quiet Tiger has a lot going on.

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Nov 14, 2014 | 06:32 AM

Coach Phil

Among the better known alumni of Arizona State University are singer Linda Ronstadt, comedians Steve Allen and David Spade, and actors Nick Nolte and Lynda Carter. But the most famous alum, at least in golf circles, is Phil Mickelson, who currently is giving back to his alma mater by serving as an interim assistant golf coach. According to Golfweek, the appointment is likely short term, until the team’s coach fills a spot left open when one of his assistants left in September. By the way, that coach is Phil’s younger brother, Tim. And the appointment isn’t merely ceremonial: Lefty has already made at least one recruiting call, phoning Australian Ryan Ruffels, who spent an hour on the phone with the PGA Tour superstar. “I thought one of my mates from school was giving me a prank call,” Ruffels said. Next time he calls, Ryan, ask him to teach you how to hit off pine straw.

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Nov 13, 2014 | 02:33 PM

Marking Time

Slow play is the issue that most frustrates golfers at every level of the game. Aside from three putts, of course. Even though it’s incumbent upon every golfer to play faster, the USGA is creating a tool to help courses identify where the bottlenecks are occurring. The prototype device, called a Flagstick Monitoring Tool, places a Processing and Communications Unit (photo) in the center of the flagstick to help courses keep track of the pace of play. It records the time between when the flagstick is first pulled out of the hole by a group and when it is placed back in the hole after that group is done putting. That information is then sent via a radio antenna to a computer, tablet or cell phone used by the course. When noticeable delays between group times occur, the course will know and should do something about it, thereby preventing delays that would surely follow. Will it help? Time will tell.

PHOTO: Courtesy USGA

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