Nicklaus’ Proposed Florida Design Monopoly Killed 0 5

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) March 14, 2011 — Opinion: Step away from the drafting table and put the pencil down — slowly. That means you, Jack Nicklaus.

That was essentially the public reaction when word got out that two Florida state legislators had introduced a bill to give Nicklaus exclusive rights to design the “Jack Nicklaus Golf Trail” in Florida state parks.

A la the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, the Nicklaus trail would have required Florida parks officials to “coordinate with Jack Nicklaus” to identify parks suitable for golf courses.

Now, Jack Nicklaus has designed some nice golf courses — 300 in fact, 63 of which are on various “top 100” lists. But does Florida need more golf courses? Does it need more condos? More hotels?

Would vacationing golfers choose to torment themselves with Nicklaus’ difficult designs when they could choose to have fun doing something else — like yanking out their fingernails with pliers?

Before the idea was killed, the Orlando Sentinel in an editorial called the proposal “Worst. Idea. Ever.” More.

— Dan Vukelich

Elsewhere …

Reclaimed water: A study of reclaimed water use in Spain found that courses that use it tend to over-irrigate, in the belief that salinity needs to be flushed from the soil. More.

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Ewart Wins Euro Ladies Tour Qualifier 0 6

(MURCIA, SPAIN) Jan. 20, 2011 — Former Lobo golfer Jodi Ewart won the Q School event to gain full status on the 2012 Ladies European Tour. She had already won full status on LPGA Tour.

Ewart claimed first place in the Euro qualifier on Thursday in Murcia, Spain, finishing five rounds on the La Manga North and South courses at 11-under, edging Swiss amateur Anais Maggetti by two shots. Ewart, 24, held the top spot for the final four rounds.

“I mean, fourth on the LPGA and now winning the LET; it’s a pretty good off-season if you ask me,” the Yorkshire, England, native said. “It feels good and I’m really looking forward to this year.”

Ewart heads home to Florida before beginning her inaugural LPGA Tour season Feb. 9, at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Victoria, Australia.

The interview below was shot by us as she finished her Lobo golf career.

— Dan Vukelich

PING CEO: Change the Golf Ball, Save the Courses 0 4

(PHOENIX) Jan. 3, 2012 –The chairman and CEO of Ping says three different balls should be approved by rule-makers — one longer, one the same as and one shorter than balls currently approved for play.

Shorter balls could then be mandated as a condition of play on classic courses hosting PGA Tour events — keeping them competitive. Longer balls could be allowed for amateur play. Ball distance could even be factored into handicaps — like course slope ratings, says PING head John Solheim.

The proposal is a radical departure from the principle underlying the Rules of Golf that a single ball with a single distance limit be played by players at all levels, even though many golf authorities believe the length of the modern golf ball is the single biggest factor in making some of the great courses of the 19th and 20th centuries obsolete for professional play.

In a letter to the USGA and the R&A, Solheim proposed  a “Ball Distance Rating System” to categorize balls into three distance categories. “This concept addresses the unique talents of the top 0.1 percent of the world’s golfers without hurting the other 99.9 percent,” Solheim said.

A “silver dot” rating could apply to balls that conform to the current distance limits, a “gold dot” rating to balls that are longer (perhaps 30 yards longer), and a “bronze dot” rating for balls that are shorter than today’s ball limit (again, maybe 30 yards shorter),” Solheim said.

“More BDR levels could be added, if needed, to address future increases in driving distance by Tour professionals,” he said.

“Most courses hosting professional tour events were built with, or have added, sufficient length to challenge the world’s best golfers. Perhaps a small number of tournaments, those played at some of the game’s classic courses, would find it exciting to put the original design elements of the layout back in play by requiring shorter rated golf balls,” he said.

Higher handicappers could play a longer ball to make them competitive against longer courses, Solheim said.

Click here for John Solheim’s complete statement.