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Feb 24, 2014 | 10:31 AM

Emerging? You Sure?

Questions about golf’s future aren’t only being asked here at home. A few “emerging destinations” are making golf news, starting with Brazil, where the course being built—we hope—for the 2016 Olympics is still being touted as a catalyst for golf in that country. However, Brazil’s economy seems to be slowing and the whole world will be watching soccer’s World Cup later this year to see how well the country can manage a major sports event. More positively, a report out of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates says golf tourism there grew by 49% from 2013 to ’13 (that’s the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, above), plus there was a spike in golf interest from India a few weeks ago after the first visit to that country by Tiger Woods, who played a big-money exhibition match—then quickly flew home. Finally, the government of Singapore, the tiny (275-square-mile) republic in Southeast Asia, is forcing clubs to close so the land can be developed. Of the 14 private and 3 public courses, which presently take up about 2% of the country’s land mass, two were recently told that their leases will not be renewed after 2030 while a few others received lease extensions until 2040 with no guarantees after that. Of course, there's still China: Read the article in the new issue of LINKS about playing at that country's mammoth Mission Hills.

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Feb 21, 2014 | 09:07 AM

Historic House Work

It isn’t only courses that get renovated. At Van Cortlandt Golf Course in the Bronx, New York City—the oldest public golf course in the United States, dating back to 1895—the 111-year-old clubhouse has been under reconstruction for the past year and is about to reopen. Interior designer Susan Arann of American & International Designers, Inc. kept as much of the original architecture and material as possible, including the Grand Staircase between the main clubroom and the upstairs locker rooms. As for the original wooden lockers—used over the decades by thousands of local golfers, including Babe Ruth, Joe Louis, and the Three Stooges—they’ve also been repaired and restored as much as possible, with some of the unsavable pieces recycled into display cases in the pro shop and snack bar. Among the new elements added to the historic building are a natural-stone fireplace, wood-lined ceiling, French doors, and more windows. All this work—plus some Stephen Kay-led course work five years ago—means the beloved “Vanny” is better than ever.

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Feb 20, 2014 | 10:00 AM

We’ll Never Be Royals

Ever wonder how golf clubs such as Northern Ireland’s Royal County Down (above), acquire the official Royal designation? First and foremost it has to be part of the British Commonwealth. The rest is explained in a new book entitled Golf’s Royal Clubs: Honoured by the British Royal Family 1833-2013 ($100) by Scott Macpherson. The Duke of York, a past Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, sums up who bestows the title in the book’s foreword: “The right to adopt the prefix ‘royal’ can only be granted to a golf club with the approval of the current sovereign.” Only 65 clubs have gotten the nod—the most recent was Germany’s Royal Homburger GC in 2013—but which are most worth playing? Go to our Top 10 Royal Courses to find out. 

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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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