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Dec 20, 2013 | 11:02 AM

War Games

The U.S. Marines are using golf carts to simulate tanks when practicing maneuvers and tactics—with a golf course filling in as hostile territory. On December 10, the Marines’ 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C., tooled around in carts to conduct tank maneuvers at the camp’s Paradise Point Golf Complex. According to Charlie Company’s Executive Officer, 1st Lieutenant Graham Johnson, using real tanks would have needed eight square kilometers of space and 4,000 gallons of gas. “By conducting the training using golf carts, we were able to train on doctrinal formations and the fundamentals of fire and maneuver in less than one percent of the space needed for tanks,” said Johnson. “As for fuel, we did not need any logistical support, since the golf course provided everything at no cost. Ultimately, we were able to take what would have been a major muscle movement for the company and trim it down into the bare essentials.” According to the Defense Department’s report on the maneuvers, “Tanks require a lot of space and resources to conduct training. Although not a traditional training method, utilizing golf carts to employ tactical training allowed the battalion to save money, resources and allowed for easier mobility.” There was no word if the carts stopped halfway through the training to buy hot dogs and beers from the snack tank.

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Dec 19, 2013 | 11:40 AM

Jingle Bells from Tom Doak

One of the Christmas letters we most enjoy receiving is the one from Renaissance Golf Design, Tom Doak’s company. Despite the drop in new construction starts, Doak has golf projects underway in China (that's it, above), New Zealand, France, and the U.S. He and his crew are also doing reconstruction work at several American classics, including Baltusrol (Upper and Lower), Medinah (#1 course), Somerset Hills, and Waialae. But the big news in this year’s epistle is Doak’s revelation that The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses—his incendiary, no-holds-barred review of courses published in 1996—is being updated and expanded with the help of co-authors Ran Morrissett, founder of Golf Club Atlas; Masa Nishijima, a golf architecture correspondent based in Japan; and Darius Oliver, Australian author of the Planet Golf books. “After three trips to visit more courses in Ireland, Scotland, and England in 2013, I’m now putting the finishing touches on volume 1, covering 290 courses in Great Britain and Ireland,” Doak stated. He might have mellowed a bit over the years, but the highly opinionated designer is incapable of anything but pithy, spot-on assessments of his colleagues’ work, both current and vintage. Stay tuned.

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Dec 18, 2013 | 01:15 PM

New Blue

The first phase of a $250 million renovation of Trump National Doral is now complete with the reopening of the Blue Monster on Saturday (work on the rest of the hotel will continue through next fall). The Donald himself was there to play the completely new course by Gil Hanse. Just don’t call it a “re-do”! “It’s a bigger course with bigger lakes,” he told the Miami Herald. “It’s a more spectacular course.” Hanse also created spectator mounds for the WGC-Cadillac Championship, which will take place in March like usual. From one vantage point, fans can watch the action on 14, 15, and 16, the last of which now has a 285-yard water carry on the 325-yard hole. The Blue Monster will be scarier in more ways than one, however: the green fee is a steep $450.

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Dec 17, 2013 | 09:58 AM

Looking Out For #1

The final World Golf Rankings for 2013 give us an interesting year-to-year comparison, especially when the window is expanded to include 2011. A few highlights:

*Only two players have made the top 10 three years straight—Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy.

*This year, five of the top 10 are Americans, with Tiger and Phil the two leading Yanks for the first time since 2010.

*Last year, only four U.S. players made the list, and this year three of them are gone—Bubba Watson (now 28th), Jason Dufner (14th), and Brant Snedeker (13th). Only Tiger remains.

*Of the five international players on the current list, two are newbies—Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia—with #3 Stenson having made a dramatic climb from 207th two years ago.

*Conversely, while the plight of McIlroy has received most of the attention, the biggest drops in the rankings have come from Luke Donald—#2 a year ago (and #1 in 2011) and now 17th—and Lee Westwood, who was 7th a year ago (#2 in 2011) and is now 25th.

PLAYER

2013

2012

2011

Tiger Woods

1

3

23

Adam Scott

2

5

5

Henrik Stenson

3

53

207

Justin Rose

4

4

18

Phil Mickelson

5

17

14

Rory McIlroy

6

1

3

Matt Kuchar

7

21

11

Steve Stricker

8

18

6

Zach Johnson

9

25

37

Sergio Garcia

10

16

17

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