May 19, 2015 | 09:23 am

A Revamp For Pebble's 17th

One of the game’s icons is getting a facelift. Work began recently on a renovation of hole number 17 at Pebble Beach, the seaside par three that has thrilled golfers for nearly a century. The putting surface will be expanded by more than a third, from 3600 to 5000 square feet, while at the same time the left-front bunker and the mounds in front of that bunker will be lowered to allow players to see the left side of the green from the tee. The new hole is scheduled to go into play July 24. In the meantime, a temporary green, even closer to the sea, is in use.  The renovation is part of a multi-year project to revamp Pebble’s poa annua greens for better drainage and playability.

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May 18, 2015 | 09:01 am

Watson’s Mentor Dies

Stan Thirsk, best known as the man who taught golf to a young Tom Watson, passed away this past Saturday at age 87. Thirsk—shown above with Watson in 2000 and in an undated portrait—was a member of the PGA of America since 1957, taught at Kansas City CC from 1962-1997, was named PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1980, and was inducted into both the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame and Kansas City Golf Hall of Fame. An accomplished player, he competed in 9 US Opens, 6 US Senior Opens, 10 PGA Championships, and 16 Senior PGA Championships (winning in 1989). According to the Kansas City Star, when Thirsk entered the Kansas City Golf Hall of Fame in 1992, Watson said, “The greatest thing Stan has taught me is character. He’s been more than a father to me on the golf course.” Saturday night on Twitter, Watson wrote, “Stan Thirsk leaves a legacy of kindness, character and enduring friendship which has truly enriched our lives. We will sorely miss his smile.”

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May 15, 2015 | 06:59 am

Caught In The Draft

The PGA Tour doesn’t have a draft like other sports leagues—there are no teams, after all—but there was some golf interest on display during the NFL’s annual selection show a few weeks ago. In the sixth round, the AFC’s Buffalo Bills picked a tight end out of Florida State named Nick O’Leary who knows his way around a golf course: His grandfather is Jack Nicklaus. The 22-year-old, 6-foot-3, 247-pound O’Leary, son of Jack’s daughter Nan and her husband Bill O’Leary, was a consensus All-American in 2014 when he also won the John Mackey Award as college football’s top tight end. A four-year starter, he set a record at FSU for receptions at that position. Perhaps more important than the golf in his background, his father played tight end for University of Georgia; his mother played volleyball there. Wanna bet that the Golden Bear now will be rooting for the Bills?

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May 14, 2015 | 04:35 pm

Desert Golf

The turf-reduction rebates by water companies in Southern California, which The Buzz first told you about in December, have become so popular that the Metropolitan Water District is talking about creating a lifetime rebate cap and taking other measures to avoid maxing out its funds, according to the AP. But the good new is, players don't seem to mind the new desert landscapes at all. In fact, they actually make the course look better, as you can see in this AP video, and will save millions of gallons of water year, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars with rising meter rates.

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