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Mar 25, 2013 | 07:00 AM

18 Does Not Equal 1/5th

Seems that old canard about golf courses having 18 holes because that’s how many drinks are in a bottle of whisky is circulating on the internet. Again. If it hasn’t shown up in your in-box yet, be thankful. For while charming, it’s pure hokum. The correct explanation—which has to do with the Old Course at St. Andrews being shortened in 1764—can be found at this leading golf-history website. Astute observers will note that the clarification seems to have been adapted from one of the game’s most highly regarded books, A History of Golf, written by Robert Browning, originally published in 1955, and worth finding in a library or on eBay. This truth may not set you free, but it can win you some bar bets. Insist on a good single malt as your reward.

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Mar 22, 2013 | 10:53 AM

Early Bloomers

Azaleas

Could we see another azalea-less Masters? It looks that way. Although Augusta National says the signature flower isn’t blooming yet on the course, with the later than normal start date for the tournament, it seems pretty certain that Amen Corner will be lacking its normal colorful backdrop just as it did last year. “We’re holding our national convention in mid-April in Athens and I’m scared to death we’re going to be bloomed out by then,” says Jim Thornton, founder of the Oconee (Ga.) Chapter of the Azalea Society of America. The man in charge of the city of Augusta’s grounds and parks, Sam Smith, also confirms an early bloom, something that seems to be occurring more in recent years. Which begs the question: should the Masters start earlier to ensure that the bright blossoms of spring remain a part of the event? “No way,” says Smith. “As [Augusta National] superintendent Brad Owen likes to say, ‘This is a golf tournament, not a flower show.’”

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Mar 22, 2013 | 08:23 AM

Green With Envy

The weather may say otherwise, but we know it’s spring thanks to the Masters-motifed merchandise now sprouting in our favorite golf shops. Among the limited-edition products already announced (with more to come, no doubt) are green, tortoise-printed leather shoes from FootJoy’s MyJoys program; a Cobra AMP CELL adjustable driver with green head and matching green-and-white headcover; and, commemorating staff player Bubba Watson’s victory last year, Kentwool socks (shown above) made of merino wool and high-tech fibers in green and yellow with red accents. While all these products will be available only for short periods of time, the desire to use Masters green to make more greenbacks lives forever.

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Mar 21, 2013 | 07:04 AM

All Tiger, All The Time

Anyone bemoaning the “good old days” in golf should be happy this week as it feels like old times—if your idea of “old times” is any moment before Thanksgiving 2009 and Tiger’s now-infamous car-meets-hydrant incident. Coming off his win at Doral two weeks ago and with the Arnold Palmer Invitational about to start at Bay Hill (where he’s won 7 of the last 13 tournaments), Tiger is golf's big news once again. Writers are foaming at the fingers about his chances of regaining the top spot in the world rankings. Other players are beginning to whisper his name in reverential tones again. Even Hank Haney had to admit that Tiger is playing better. And, of course, there’s much to say about Tiger's personal life—first the Facebook revelation that he and skier Lindsey Vonn are dating, then his admission that the happy couple let the cat out of the bag to thwart paparazzi hoping to make money off photos of them together. How crazy are things getting? A major news service titled its article about this week’s tournament “Vonn’s boyfriend Tiger tries to dethrone No. 1 McIlroy.” (Speaking of which, is anyone talking about Rory’s romance with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki anymore?) It’s true: Everything old is new again.

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