Jul 30, 2013 | 08:47 AM

Team Spirit

Guys, if you can break 80 consistently (and ladies, if you can get it around under 90), you now have a chance to spend a week at a great golf course while competing for a national title. The USGA has just announced the inaugural sites for its brand-new Men’s and Women’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championships, and they’re four beauties: The Olympic Club (shown above) and Bandon Dunes will host the men and women, respectively, in 2015; Winged Foot and Streamsong will be the venues in 2016. Any man with a USGA Handicap Index up to 5.4 is eligible, while for women the limit is 14.4. There are no age restrictions and team partners may be from different clubs and states, even different countries. Sectional qualifying will determine the final fields—128 two-man teams for the men, 64 for the women. Each team’s score will be determined using its better-ball score for each hole. Once on site there will be 36 holes of stroke-play after which the field will be reduced to the low 32 teams and match-play competition will determine the winners. So start practicing.

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Jul 29, 2013 | 05:37 AM

The Hole Story

The 15th hole on the East Course at Oak Hill Country Club, site of the PGA Championship that tees off next week, is a long-ish (180 yards) par three that plays downhill to a narrow green with water on the right side and two bunkers on the left. It’s likely to play a role in helping decide the winner of the year’s final major championship, particularly when you, the fans, get to decide where the hole location is cut on that hole in the final round. Showing a flair for publicity—as well as a quirky sense of humor—the PGA of America is running the “PGA Championship Pick the Hole Location Challenge Hosted by Jack Nicklaus,” which gives the public the chance to go onto the PGA’s website between now and Saturday, August 10, and choose where the flag is stuck on Sunday, August 11. According to the PGA, Nicklaus will “lead fans as their host and teacher in understanding the nuances that the greatest players consider and think about regarding course setup and hole locations.” Yeah, yeah, all well and good: Let’s stick it as close to trouble as possible. Make ‘em sweat!

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Jul 26, 2013 | 09:51 AM

Taxing Round

Six months ago Phil Mickelson complained about the amount of money he pays in taxes, particularly because he lives in California where the state tax is 13 percent. After his back-to-back wins at the Scottish and British Opens, he now has a lot more to complain about. According to Forbes, Mickelson will only keep about $843,000 of the $2,167,500 he won—an effective tax rate of more than 61 percent after U.K. and U.S. taxes. The Brits will also take a 45-percent piece on a percentage of Mickelson’s endorsement income (the "duty-day" formula takes his total workdays in the country divided it by his total workdays during the year times the endorsement fee). And when you add in his caddie Jim Mackay’s 10 percent take, along with the expenses for staying in Scotland for two weeks, his take-home pay is closer to 30 percent. The guess here is that the Claret Jug more than makes up for it.

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Jul 25, 2013 | 06:49 AM

La Dolce Vida

Seeking Mediterranean-style glamour at one of the most beautiful places in Italy? The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts has opened the Costa Smeralda Villa Collection at Hotel Pitrizza and Hotel Romazzino on Sardinia’s Emerald Coast. This upper-crust hideaway was built from scratch by jet-setting billionaire Prince Karim Aga Khan IV in the 1960s. The resort's new villas were artfully blended into the rocky shore above secluded bays and hidden beaches. Among other inspirations, the Aga Khan hired Robert Trent Jones Sr. to build a golf course for his budding destination. Opened in 1972, Pevero Golf Club straddles a promontory separating a pair of glittering bays. So unyielding was the rockbound site that Jones was forced to shelve his usual trademarks and follow the natural rise and fall of the terrain in his routing. The result: a hilly, rugged layout with jaw-dropping views of the sea. Villa prices are available on request, but as a guideline, the lowest-priced standard room at the Hotel Romazzino this summer is 1,825 euros per night (that's about $2,400).

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