May 24, 2013 | 08:08 AM

Havana Good Round?

Golf is coming (back) to Cuba. More than 50 years after the Castro Revolution and the labeling of the game as “bourgeois,” a $350 million resort, The Carbonera Club, is planned for Varadero on the island’s north coast. To be built by the British firm Esencia Hotels and Resorts—and featuring a course designed by Tony Jacklin—it’s just the first of as many as 15 or so new courses to expected open in Cuba over the next decade. Why the change of heart? The need for tourism dollars. Which also explains why, according to The Economist, Varadero will build the largest marina in the Caribbean and the country’s airports will be upgraded, as well. When those airports begin accepting flights from the U.S. is a whole different issue.

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May 23, 2013 | 08:16 AM

Where Does It Hurt?

Caddies, players, and volunteers at next month’s U.S. Open at Merion who develop aches and pains will be treated in two separate tents. A team of 130 health-care providers—including chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, hyperbaric-therapy technicians, and other specialists—will be on hand to offer relief. The Wellness Team will be headed for the ninth year by Jeffrey Poplarski, a sports chiropractor based in Amityville, N.Y. As reported in Newsday during the 2009 U.S. Open held at Bethpage Black, “Poplarksi’s team is the last line of defense against sprains, soreness and stiffness for the Open’s 156 golfers, their caddies and about 6,000 volunteer workers.” Poplarksi said caddies, “golf’s version of the packhorse,” are the most common clientele for the team’s services, though middle-of-the-pack players who do not travel with an entourage of therapists have been known to drop by for a treatment. Physical, not mental.

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May 22, 2013 | 11:37 AM

The Road More Traveled

Whether a player finds success on the PGA Tour or not might have more to do with how well he travels than how well he hits a golf ball—an appropriate topic given this week’s PGA Tour stop, the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. The hotel chain surveyed players and found the following insights:
•    94 percent spend at least 60 nights on the road each year.
•    They typically hit the pillow at 10:30 and wake up a little after 6 for around seven hours of sleep per night.
•    When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, comfortable pillows (90 percent) and quiet (70 percent) were the most important factors.
•    32 percent dream about golf, mostly about hitting the perfect shot or putt or winning a tournament.
Our own LINKS’ non-scientific survey found that most players take about 10 pairs of pants on the road, 10 shirts, and two pair of golf shoes, white and black. They wash their own socks and underwear but typically have the rest sent out for dry cleaning. Now you know!

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May 21, 2013 | 08:34 AM

Anchorers Away

So it’s official, the USGA and R&A have banned the anchored putting stroke as of 2016—and here’s what we’re pretty sure of: 1) No one will quit the game. 2) People now will either putt conventionally, use their long putters in an unanchored way, or ignore the Rule and do what they want. 3) The major manufacturers will all but stop making long putters. 4) The next major champions at Oakmont and Royal Troon will have conventional strokes. 5) The debate on bifurcation will rage on. And here’s what we’re not so sure of…yet. 1) How the PGA Tour will respond. 2) Whether anyone—professional or amateur—will bring a lawsuit against the rulemakers. 3) Whether Matt Kuchar will feel weird continuing as the “loophole anchorer,” and, assuming not, whether others will now adopt his anchored-against-the-forearm method. Time will tell.

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