Mar 15, 2013 | 07:49 AM

Resort Court

Used to be that building a golf course was dependent on two key people: a developer with money and an architect with a vision. Nowadays, it often needs a judge with a gavel, as well. In Northern Ireland, a judge recently ruled that construction can begin at Bushmills Dunes, a golf resort and spa to be built near two famous sites: Royal Portrush Golf Course and the Giant’s Causeway. The resort was in court battling Britain’s National Trust, which wanted to stop or move the project away from the Causeway, a fabled series of basalt columns that look like stepping stones into the Irish Sea. Meanwhile, on the west coast of Scotland, plans have been filed for The Ayrshire, a development featuring a links course, hotel, and homes, next door to Western Gailes Golf Club on the Firth of Clyde. No idea when either resort will open, but if British society is as litigious as ours, don’t make any reservations just yet.

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Mar 14, 2013 | 08:28 AM

The Players Raises its Game

The PGA Tour brain trust in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is on a mission to elevate the “experiential value” of The Players Championship (May 9-12), aiming to have the fan experience at its marquee event rival that of the Super Bowl. The Stadium Village, for example, has Autograph Alley, a Kids Zone, and a scaled-down version of the par-3 17th, where golfers can take a crack at landing a ball on an island green. The “Taste of Jax” features a collection of top Jacksonville-area restaurants, while the popular “Wine & Dine on 9” complex has been expanded to include a full bar at the 9th hole, with dishes served by Restaurant Medure, a local hotspot. Finally, fans can attend parties in the evening during the week of the event in “The Lot,” i.e., the grounds of the parking lot at TPC Sawgrass. It's the perfect place to clink glasses and celebrate golf’s “Fifth Major” with commish Tim Finchem and friends.

Photograph by LC Lambrecht

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Mar 13, 2013 | 10:51 AM

Holy Crap

Firs there was the guy in Florida who was swallowed by a sinkhole while sleeping. Now a golfer near St. Louis disappears in the middle of a round when the ground opens up underneath him. What in the name of holy hell is going on here? Mark Mihal, a 43-year-old mortage broker, was one over par when he fell into an 18-foot sinkhole on the 14th hole at Annbriar Golf Club in Waterloo, Ill. He was about to hit his approach from 100 yards on the par five when he noticed a bathtub-size indentation about knee deep just behind him on the fairway. The six handicap went over to take a closer look and took one step onto it. His golfing buddies wondered where he had gone, then heard his moans before managing to hoist him to safety with a rope 20 minutes later. Mihal suffered a dislocated shoulder, as well as missing out on completing a very good round. When he recovers a free round awaits him on Annbriar's new "19-hole" course. Hopefully, the next time Mihal holes out from the fairway it will be a lot more fun.

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Mar 12, 2013 | 11:18 AM

Olympic Golf Back On Track

Although construction of the Gil Hanse-designed golf course for the 2016 Olympics in Rio has yet to begin, the president of Rio 2016 announced, “we are in control of the project.” Speaking on Golf Channel last week, Hanse had said he and his team were “right up against the deadline” to ensure the course would be ready in time. And according to the website, both the International Olympic Committee and International Golf Federation were worried about the timetable. But the website reported that Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman, speaking at a press conference yesterday, said, “With regard to the golf course, we have now finalized all the adjustments. We have signed the contract with the owners of the land so we are in control and of the project and have already started… We have also sorted the environmental guarantees.” Let's hope so, because to paraphrase an old slogan from the barricades, "the whole golf world is watching."

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