Oct 04, 2013 | 10:27 AM

Red, White, and Blue—But No Greens

If you were hoping to escape the news out of our nation’s capital by playing some golf this weekend, better call first and check that the course is open. Due to the government shutdown, many courses on or near government land have closed. Fox Sports reports that Highland Links (above), located on National Park Service land in Truro, Mass., has a recorded message informing the public that it’s closed. But there was no answer and no tape at Washington, D.C.’s Langston Golf Course, not a good sign. Still, if you can’t play, there’s some golf solace to be found: Sit down in front of the TV and watch The Presidents Cup, which, despite its chief-executive titling, will go on—from 1-6pm (eastern) today on Golf Channel, and on NBC Saturday 8am-6pm, Sunday 12-6pm.

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Oct 03, 2013 | 01:00 PM

Jack’s Masterful Muirfield Village

Muirfield Village, host venue for the Presidents Cup matches that get underway today, has been a lifetime’s labor of love for Ohio homeboy Jack Nicklaus, who acquired the land for the course in 1966, the year he won the Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland. Working with Desmond Muirhead, Jack built a course intended for championship play, but the 6,978-yard layout that opened in 1974 isn’t the same course the U.S. and International teams will play this week. An inveterate tinkerer, Nicklaus has significantly tweaked and stretched his pet project over the past 40 years to ratchet up or refine the risk-reward strategy on a course with water in play at 13 holes. Arguably the most altered hole is the par-3 16th, which is now tough as nails and likely will decide more than a few matches. Rebuilt three years ago, this daunting 201-yarder plays to a shallow green defended in front by a pond. At the par-4 18th, lengthened to 484 yards, competitors will play from a new back tee slotted into a hillside that brings a gauntlet of bunkers up the right side into play. Unlike the historically rain-plagued Memorial Tournament held in May, the dry, firm conditions expected this week will bring all of Jack’s nuanced changes into sharp focus. Expect no surprises. The better team will win.

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Oct 02, 2013 | 12:58 PM

Wedding Drama

Eyebrows raised and tongues wagged this week when Rory McIlroy didn’t attend fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell’s wedding in the Bahamas this past weekend to interior designer Kristin Stape. The official reason is that the talented but struggling lad had to do a Nike photo shoot, but no doubt the real reason had to do with the fact that there were agents from Horizon Sports Management in attendance and it would have been just too uncomfortable for all concerned given the intimate size of the wedding (just about 30 people). After just two years of a five-year contract, McIlroy spilt with Horizon recently to set up his own company to handle his affairs and has begun a legal battle so he doesn’t have to pay Horizon any more than the $6.6 million they have already earned in commission off him. It was McDowell who brought McIlroy into the Horizon fold in October 2011 from Chubby Chandler’s International Sports Management, which had its own share of melodrama. McIlroy and McDowell had a brief falling out in May when McDowell spoke publicly about McIlroy’s issues with Horizon. Chances are McDowell isn’t too concerned with it all as he enjoys his honeymoon before returning to tournament play at the end of the month in Shanghai. “Kristin and I had an amazing weekend,” he wrote on Facebook. “She made me a very happy man.”

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Oct 01, 2013 | 09:49 AM

Bear Balls

Jack Nicklaus has jumped into the golf ball business. Production begins this month on a line of three different models—Nicklaus Black, Blue, and White—geared to the skill levels of golfers (the colors refer to the tees from which better, average, and weaker players traditionally play). The balls, three years in development according to Jack’s specifications, will be produced by Bridgestone. They’ll be available in November but initially only online from Jack's website and through pro shops at Nicklaus-designed courses. A percentage of sales will go to the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. And despite Jack’s longtime belief that the golf ball should be “throttled back,” rest assured, these will be full-octane models.

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