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Mar 07, 2016 | 06:39 am

In Alaska, Golf Beats The Iditarod

The Iditarod—Alaska’s famous, 1,000-plus-mile sled-dog race—began this past weekend. Not big news, since the race is always run in early March. But this year, it started one day after the opening of the 49th state’s golf season. Palmer Golf Course in Anchorage, usually the first course to open in state, opened seven holes on Friday, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. That’s two-and-a-half weeks earlier than last year’s opening, which was the earliest in history until now. “We’ve been open in January and February before, but only for a day or two,” said George Collum, the director of golf. This past February, Anchorage temperatures reached the upper 40s, 15-20 degrees warmer than usual; on January 2nd, when the historical average is 23, the thermometer read 46. Golfers shouldn’t expect temps above 40 for the next few weeks—if you believe the weatherman—but die-hards are expected to take advantage of the slightly warmer than average readings. “If the weather keeps going, we could open all 18 holes next week,” said Collum. By the way, when the Iditarod started, it did so on snow that had been trucked in from further north.

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Mar 04, 2016 | 06:15 am

Luke’s First

Luke Donald has joined many other Tour players and designed his first golf course, Ba Na Hills Golf Club, about half an hour’s drive from Danang, Vietnam. The course sits at the foot of a mountain range and is close to three other courses from players turned architects—Colin Montgomerie’s Montgomerie Links, Greg Norman’s Danang Golf Club, and Nick Faldo’s Lang Co. But unlike those others, which are all near the coastline, Ba Na Hills is inland and at elevation, meaning the climate is cooler and less windy. “This is an important addition to one of the best new golf destinations in Asia,” said Donald. “The large rolling hills, stunning mountain backdrop, and adjacent river at Ba Na Hills will provide golfers with the ideal complement to the existing courses in the area.” From the back tees, the course plays to 7,858 yards, making it the longest in Vietnam. It’s also the brightest. “The entire course can be illuminated,” said general manager Jack Hedges, “so you can play a full round even after the sun goes down. I think that will be a real draw in the warmer months. I expect night golf to be a serious advantage for us as the destination continues to grow.”

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Mar 03, 2016 | 09:48 am

Ace at Bluejack

On the opening day of the "Playgrounds" at Bluejack National, Tiger Woods' first completed U.S. design, the first tee shot found the bottom of the cup. The 11-year old player seemed non-plussed about the achievement, but the ensuing hug and high five from Woods seemed to brighten his day. A group of junior golfers from the South Texas PGA played the inaugral "round" on the short course with Woods. 

LINKS provided a first look at Bluejack National in the 2015 Winter Issue. The course is currently only partially open for play. With the completion of the Playgrounds, only the back nine is left to open. That celebration will occur in early April, according to Casey Paulson, Bluejack National president. 

On another note, is it odd that Woods approached his tee shot with a putter in-hand? That's a long 80+ yard putt... The recovery process must be moving along slowly.

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Mar 02, 2016 | 01:46 pm

Democratic Design

With his populist presidential campaign, bombastic Donald Trump is resonating with the little guy who feels left out of politics. The same is true of the latest Gil Hanse tweaks at Trump National Doral's Blue Monster. With the Trump's approval, the architect has made six holes more democratic this year for the little guy, a/k/a the mid- and short drivers on tour after numerous complaints following last year's tournament that The Blue Monster had become a bomber's-only layout. "After every tournament you get feedback, some of it public, some it private, some of it constructive, some of it guys just venting, so we generally wait a little while," Hanse tells The Buzz. "But we got some constructive feedback from the average length hitters that the course gave a significant advantage to the longer hitters. So we repositioned some fairway bunkers from 300 yards to 325 and filled in a few fairway bunkers that were primarily in play for the average hitters. We tried to level the playing field off the tee." But is it fair to penalize guys who can hit it longer?

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