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Jan 22, 2014 | 07:26 AM

Hackgolf Hopes To Save The Game

When the history of the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show is written, one of the key moments is certain to be the launching last night of Hackgolf, an initiative to make golf more fun, bring new players into the game, revive its economic fortunes, and help perpetuate it for generations to come. Backed with funding and manpower by TaylorMade—but intended to involve companies and people both inside and outside the industry, and backed by the PGA of America and the National Golf Foundation—Hackgolf is following the path of innovations like iTunes, the smartphone, and other revolutionary ideas to re-think golf from the outside-in. The first phase is to go “open source,” asking anyone interested in golf to contribute ideas to help it. Those ideas will be assessed and some prototyped and paid for by an initial $5-million contribution from TaylorMade. Anything and everything is open to scrutiny and “hacking,” a business term that means to tear something apart, look at it thoroughly, then reconstruct it better than ever. This is a fascinating and, with luck, very important program that relies on everyone’s participation. So if you have ideas to make golf more vibrant and fun, or if you simply want to see what others are saying and weigh in, go to hackgolf.org. Let’s hope this is an initiative we come back to again and again to report how golf is benefitting, growing, and becoming even more fun.

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Jan 20, 2014 | 07:05 AM

Will Rio Be Ready?

The Winter Games that start in Sochi, Russia, in a few weeks rightfully top all Olympic news at the moment. But that doesn’t mean work isn’t continuing in Rio, site of the 2016 Summer Games, and in particular, the building of the golf course that Gil Hanse designed specifically for the event. There have been numerous rumors about the slow pace of building the course—which is supposed to open next summer—with Hanse noting that construction is at a “critical juncture.” The best look at how the work is shaping up comes from CNN, which sent a correspondent to Rio to check on the progress, even hiring a helicopter to fly over the landscape for a bird’s-eye view.

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Jan 17, 2014 | 02:39 PM

Open Books

Midway between the 2013 and 2014 U.S. Opens, a pair of impressive books has appeared chronicling the histories of the two host clubs. Merion: The Championship Story, by Philadelphia sportswriter Jeff Silverman, is a handsomely presented 500-page account of the 18 major championships held there, every word and photo echoing the assessment of Pete Dye: “Merion is not great because history was made here. History was made here because Merion is great.” The Legendary Evolution of Pinehurst, Home of American Golf is golf architect Richard Mandell’s update of his 2007 edition. A coffee-table-size edition of more than 400 pages, it includes many previously unpublished historical photos as well as a complete description of the recent restoration by Coore and Crenshaw.

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Jan 16, 2014 | 10:50 AM

New Home On the Range

Warming up properly may not be the first priority when you finally play Pebble Beach. But starting January 23rd it should be. That’s when one of the world’s greatest courses unveils a state-of-the-art practice facility. Located on Collins Field—land previously used for local sporting events—the new range is across the street from its much smaller predecessor that’s been used since the early 1970s. There will be plenty of room to hit off grass on the new double-ended range and you can tune up your game at the new 3,000-square-foot home of the Pebble Beach Golf Academy, currently located at Spyglass Hill golf course. Custom eight-passenger shuttles will transport golfers on the brief ride between the first tee and the range. Pyramids (not buckets) of balls await, as do attendants ready to clean your clubs. The price? Complimentary on the day you play and for guests of the three hotels at Pebble Beach. 

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