Dec 22, 2014 | 10:55 am

Need for Speed

While golf might be enjoying its seasonal slowdown, some of the game’s leading lights want to speed things up. World number-one Rory McIlroy was quoted on BBC Radio in Britain recently saying that golf has to get faster if it wants to attract younger participants. “Everything’s so instant now and everyone doesn’t have as much time as they used to. So you maybe try some way of speeding the game up.” McIlroy is singing the same song as the golf organizations, like the USGA, which has been looking for ways to get everyday players to play faster, even conducting scientific tests looking for a culprit and launching its “While We’re Young” campaign last year. “People enjoy watching the game,” McIlroy said, “but gone are the days that you could spend five or six hours on a golf course.” Other pros also have joined the chorus. Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher supported McIlroy, but added that the main offenders are their fellow Tour pros. “I think on the pro tour we have to make it ruthless and say it’s a shot penalty.” Darren Clarke followed suit, saying, “An awful lot of people are getting turned off by the length of time it takes to play and you could, I suppose, blame it on us, the professionals.” If recent golf coverage on TV is any indication, the pros definitely take way too much time. Do you agree they’re the main reason the game has gotten so slow? Let us know.

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Dec 19, 2014 | 06:00 am

Courses Are Still Opening

It’s been a busy week for major champions-cum-architects. Tiger Woods’ first course to open opened: El Cardonal, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, was well received by the inaugural group of golfers—mostly media types—to play it. Plus, it was announced that Annika Sorenstam, six years removed from playing the LPGA Tour, will design her first course in Europe, at the Estonian Golf & Country Club, located 20 miles from Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. Scheduled to open in 2016—and with a resort component planned for 2019—the Annika Course is being created with European Golf Design, the design arm of the European Tour and sport-entertainment conglomerate IMG. The new course will replace an existing nine-holer and complement the 18-hole Sea Course, which has hosted qualifying for the World Cup. Annika courses are already open in China, South Korea, and South Africa, and she has another in the works in Turkey. Her first course in Europe will be just 350 miles across the Baltic Sea from her homeland, Sweden.

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Dec 18, 2014 | 11:48 am

Six is Enough

Like most driving ranges at courses around the country, the one at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, located in Maricopa 30 minutes south of Phoenix, would stand empty after the day’s last tee time. Not anymore. As part of an overall multi-million dollar renovation of the public facility unveiled last week — which included playability enhancements on the adjacent 18-hole layout that originally opened in 2001 — that range is now home to #minidunes, a short course with six holes ranging from 50 to 120 yards. After the range is cleared of practice balls in mid-afternoon, golfers can play from official tees to six greens built to USGA specifications. For unlimited golf, adults pay $12 but juniors 17 and under play for free. “#mini Dunes will serve as our laboratory to grow the game,” says general manager Brady Wilson. “We are going to use this facility to introduce new golfers, both young and old, to the game of golf.”

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Dec 17, 2014 | 08:09 am

Numero Uno

After almost eight years in business, Tiger Woods Design finally opened up its first course yesterday, El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. With a mariachi band accompanying him to the first tee and a few hundred guests in attendance, Woods played all 18 holes on the edge of the Pacific under bright blue skies. The 7,430-yard, private course features stunning ocean and mountain views, as well as wide fairways and big greens open in front to make the course enjoyable for all handicaps. The first few holes plays through giant dunes before the routing gives way to arroyos and hillsides. After false starts in Dubai and North Carolina, Tiger Woods Design is picking up the pace and will open its first U.S. design, Bluejack National, outside Houston next fall. He also just signed a deal to do another course in Dubai that Donald Trump will operate. “We knew this day would come," Woods said yesterday. "We as a design team probably didn’t think it was going to come outside the United States first...You always want to have a first sometime. It’s nice to finally have this opportunity and to do something that I think people are going to find is different, a different experience.”

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