Jan 27, 2015 | 09:01 am

Taking Flight is Taking Flight

The European economy may still be in the doldrums but one sector that's booming is tourism. Long the most visited area of the globe, Europe welcomed 588 million tourist arrivals  last year--more than half the total arrivals worldwide and a 4% increase over 2013, according to a just-released report from the World Tourism Organization. But the fastest growing area was The Americas which surged 7% to 181 million tourists. Predictions are for continued strong growth this year, so if you're planning a golf trip, whether to Scotland or Scottsdale, expect plenty of company.

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Jan 26, 2015 | 10:26 am

A Different Olympic Trial

Along with going for the gold and playing for one’s country, there’s another aspect to competing in the Olympics that the world’s best golfers are thinking about: mandatory drug testing. Olympic athletes are subject to far more stringent testing for PEDs—performance enhancing drugs—and other banned substances than pro golfers currently face, as discussed during a symposium at last week’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida. As reported in today’s New York Times, Suzann Petterson said that, “The procedure that we’re facing [in the Olympics] is nothing compared to my fellow Norwegian athletes,” Petterson said. “They have to report their whereabouts 24/7, and if you’re not at the spot you said you were going to be, that’s almost the same as failing a drug test.” Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell sees merit in the testing. “It’s going to be very insightful for us as a sport, as a game, as professional athletes, to experience what those other sports have to put up with. I’m not going to say we’ll embrace it. We will accept it…. We shouldn’t have anything to hide, and that’s the bottom line.”

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Jan 23, 2015 | 08:40 am

Streamsong: Back In Black

Two of the top courses in Florida are about to get a little brother. Streamsong Resort in central Florida—which opened two years ago with the acclaimed Red Course, designed by Coore/Crenshaw, and the equally praised Blue, by Tom Doak—is bringing in Gil Hanse to design the Black. While Red and Blue overlap, Black will sit on its own to give golfers “a sense of peaceful isolation,” according to the announcement. The course “will feature abundant sand—the common denominator of the world’s greatest golf courses—rolling elevation changes, native grasses and stunning views of ridges and the surrounding landscape on a grand scale” (the photo, above, is of the land right now). Construction begins this summer with the course expected to open in autumn 2017. A second practice facility, clubhouse, and restaurant also will be built to accommodate Black. Plus, word is the Streamsong folks are already discussing a fourth course.



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Jan 22, 2015 | 02:03 pm

Don't Blame It On Rio

The biggest news to come out of the PGA Show in Orlando yesterday had nothing to do with equipment. It was the unveiling of the first images of the 2016 Olympic course in Rio that is just about finished with all 18 holes grassed and legal challenges to construction ended. The linsky layout featues a lot of "half-par" holes: short and long par threes and par fours and risk-reward par fives. Hall of Famer Amy Alcott consulted with Gil Hanse on the design and is relieved it's finally done, she tells The Buzz. "The project was not easy to complete and that has been well documented over the last two years," she says. "The golf course was designed to be a challenge for the most elite players in the world but also to be versatile and playable for all players to enjoy. It think we accomplished that with the variety in the holes themselves—right to left , left to right, shaping, elevation—and the various tee ground options. The course is designed to play firm and fast but the Olympics will be played in August of 2016 so it will be winter and rain could be a factor. Rain is something we are wishing for now as it has been very dry during this growing phase." In addition to shot strategy from playing tournaments all over the world, Alcott also assisted Hanse quite a bit with their mandate to make it a challenge for the women Olympians as well as the men. "I think that has been accomplished," she adds. "As a ultimately public facility I see it also opening its arms to a new generation of young Brazilian golfers. The driving range and short course, which I had a big hand in the design, will offer a challenge as well."

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