May 06, 2015 | 03:44 pm

League Play

Just in time for the PGA Tour's premier event, The Players Championship, the tour is introducing a new fantasy league that uses real-time stats for the first time just like those for major sports. Using the tour's proprietary ShotLink system, the league is the first golf one to award points based on a player's stats like in football and baseball fantasy leagues. Participants choose six players (four starters, two bench wamers) and accrue or lose points based on six categories: score, driving, approach, short game, penalties, and FedEx Cup points. For example, rounds under 65, drives more than 300 yards, approaches from 200+ yards to 10 feet or less, and putts holed from 25 feet of longer get five points, while a double bogey, drives of less than 240 yards, three-putts from 15 feet, and penalty drops from a water hazard are minus three points. You can only use a player three times during each of the two, 10-tournament segments. The first segment runs from The Players through the John Deere Classic in July. Finally a reason to care about the FedEx Cup!

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May 05, 2015 | 08:38 am

High Profits

The golf business may be a bit in the doldrums, but at least one area is on the rise, so to speak—golf course videography. With the cost of drone cameras coming down and technology improving, more and more photo-entrepreneurs are getting into the game, as public courses and resorts begin to see the benefits of marketing hole-by-hole aerial fly-overs (accessible digitally) to players in search of an edge as y encounter new courses. (They’re even legal when used during play, under rule 14-3.16.) Meanwhile, private clubs and golf communities are going for longer–length drone videos, hoping to entice new members and home buyers. The UK is leading the way with two companies—Fairway Flyovers and Flyover Eighteen—already having filmed dozens of courses, the latter group using Peter Alliss voiceovers. 

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May 04, 2015 | 06:41 am

An Artful Open

When the U.S. Open tees off at Chambers Bay outside Seattle in mid-June, it will be the first time our national championship has come to the Pacific Northwest. But it will be the eighth consecutive year that artist Lee Wybranski has painted the tournament's official poster. And even though Wybranski—who has created every official Open poster since Torrey Pines in 2008, plus posters for British Opens, PGA Championships, and many other events—comes from Philadelphia and now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, he says he has a special affinity for links golf and the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course. “I love links golf. Not only for playing and looking at the course, but to me golf by the water on sandy turf is where the game makes the most sense.” The site gave him a lot to work with: “The water, the numerous bunkers on the course, and the lone fir that sits behind the 15th green were my bare minimums to include. Plus, I love diagonal compositions, because they provide a great deal of depth and drama and really pull your eyes in.” Wybranski will be on-site during the Open signing copies of the 24x36-inch poster in the main merchandise tent. If you can’t get there but still want an autographed copy, it is available for $36 from the USGA Shop or through Lee's website, where you also can find his other tournament artwork from over the years.

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May 01, 2015 | 02:54 pm

Olympian Feat

The WGC-Match Play isn't the only game in town. There's another important match-play event taking place this weekend in San Francisco right across Lake Merced: the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, the first new USGA event in 28 years (the Women's Four-Ball takes place May 9–13 at Bandon Dunes Resort's Pacific Dunes course). There were 2,234 team entries for the 128 team spots (to enter, men needed a Handicap Index at 5.4 or below). After 36-holes of better-ball stroke-play qualifying this weekend, matches will begin on Monday for the low 32 teams. One of the most unusual qualifynig stories goes to 18-year-old Brent Grant who had to play by himself at Honolulu CC after his 47-year-old partner, Bill Walbert, got called into surgery. Grant shot 63 on his own ball to advance to the finals with Walbert. The oldest competitors are 59, while the youngest is 15 with the average age being 34.76. In the first telecast of the USGA's 12-year, $1.1 billion contract with Fox Sports, Fox Sports 1 will televise the semifinals and finals of both the men's and women's championships.

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