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'Sack U.S. Open officials,' demands Welsh golf star

Dave BowersBy Dave Bowers,

Wales' Ryder Cup star Phillip Price has called for the officials who set up Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open final round to be replaced.

The par-70 layout at Southampton, N.Y., proved to be a lottery for the 66-strong field on the last day, with the firm and fast-running course drying out even more under a baking sun.

"It was too severe, it was awful," said Price.

"I think they've (U.S. Open officials) got close to the limit before, but this time they went so far over the limit that the powers that be should be changed.

"You're unlikely to find a golf course where level-par's going to win, without making it silly," added the 37-year-old, who tied for 57th after closing with a 14-over-par 84.

Disappointment over US qualifying turnout

Open organisers expressed their disappointment after nearly half the field for the U.S. leg of international qualifying failed to turn up.

The Royal and Ancient Club hoped to make qualifying for July's third major at Royal Troon more accessible to overseas competitors by staging extra qualifying rounds in Australia, South Africa, Malaysia and the United States.

But 53 competitors failed to compete in Maryland, leaving 67 players to challenge over 36 holes for 15 automatic places in the championship which runs July 15-18.

"Obviously, it's disappointing when that number of players choose to withdraw," said an R&A spokesman.

"We shall be discussing the whole qualifying procedure after the Open at a meeting when all matters connected with the championship are talked through."

Former U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, Germany's Alex Cejka and former Ryder Cup player Steve Pate were among those who failed to qualify.

Three into one will go

Three players hit holes-in-one in the space of three days at Overstone Park GC, Northamptonshire.

George Marston got the ball rolling on Saturday with a cracking shot across the water at the scenic fourth to register an ace.

But just 30 minutes later, Palmiro Oppido produced a hole-in-one from the same tee.

Not to be outdone, Geoff Hooker, got his hole-in-one at the downhill 13th on Monday.

Spanish golf continues to expand

Fancy moving to Spain? You don't have to be retired to benefit from the expansion on the Iberian Peninsula as the demand for golf courses in Spain is spreading inland from the Costa del Sol.

Local property agent Barbara Wood said: "I don't know whether the people are following the golf courses or the golf courses are following the people, but there's now a stampede inland."

She believes there's an increasing demand to live in real Spain, so people are heading as far as Antequera, 25 kilometers from the coast and to towns like Coin and Alhaurin El Grande - but they still want to be beside a golf course so they have something to do.

Golf is changing people's perceptions of what to do in inland Spain.

"This is the biggest market in the world and there's absolutely no sign of it ending," added Wood.

And properties by the fairways are no longer the sole preserve of the added Paul Blagden, corporate director of another Costa del Sol agency.

"A combination of cheap flights and a far better infrastructure means the average age of people buying golf properties here has dropped dramatically to about 40," he says.

"A lot of them move out here full-time as it's much easier now to live in Spain and carry on your profession."

The Costa del Sol has been polishing its "Spain's Golf Coast" crown for 20 years, with some of Europe's finest championship courses including Valderrama, Sotogrande and San Roque.

There are 60 courses within two hours' drive of Malaga airport and another dozen are being built this year.

"Tuna" is streets ahead

The inaugural Shoreditch Urban Open saw 64 golfers battle it out on the streets for the right to be crowned Urban Golf World Champion.

The tournament was won by a Shoreditch local called "Tuna" who went round the par 72 course in 19 over followed closely by "Beckton Bomber" in 24 over and "Rano" in 29 over. Golf professional Ronan Rafferty was a close fourth coming in 30 over par.

Surprisingly, the man behind urban golf, Jeremy Feakes did not even make the top 10.

He said: "It was a tough tournament with the some seriously good competition. Sometimes you have good days and some times you have bad days as many of the pros know. We have proved that Urban Golf can be done - see you in the next city."

Golders worked their way around the streets of Shoreditch to play 18 holes off buildings and through car parks, using a specially-designed leather golf ball and fire hydrant covers for the holes.

The course was designed specifically to take advantage of the surrounding urban environment and demonstrate that golf can be played anywhere, not just on the green.

The course included 18 phone boxes and three car parks with holes named after local streets and roads.

Discussions are already under way to play next year's event in Edinburgh.

"House for sale - free golf course"

A Scottish Highlands cottage complete with a stunning golf course has been teed-up for sale.

Fraser McLauchlan's five-bedroom home overlooks the rolling nine-hole course set amid stunning scenery on the banks of Loch Leven.

The 45-year-old farmer and his wife Lorraine, 38, are looking for at least £595,000 (US $1.09m) for their golfers' paradise.

Included in the price is the practice area, licensed clubhouse and greenkeepers' sheds. The 2,519-yard, par 34 Dragon's Tooth Golf Club nestles near Ballachulish.

A local property dealer said: "Many foreign golfers would consider the opportunity to own a golf club in Scotland, surrounded by spectacular scenery, as a dream come true."

The Dragon's Tooth course was completed in 2002. It is a mixture of par three and par four holes, plus a challenging par five at the eighth.

Entrepreneur plans further development

A Californian businessman is hoping to create a new championship golf course and a hotel complex as part of a £20m development near Inverness, Scotland.

The proposals for Castle Stewart, near Dalcross, are the brainchild of the man behind the successful Kingsbarns golf club at St Andrews.

Detailed plans are expected to be on the table by the end of the summer.

The Fife course is one of three created worldwide by Mark Parsinen, a former Silicon Valley computer executive.

He spent three years searching for a site for another similar development in Scotland.

He believes the area between Castle Stewart and the Moray Firth is ideal.

It is proposed that the scheme would eventually include two 18-hole golf courses, a clubhouse and a 120-bedroom luxury hotel.

Farmer back on course

A Dartmoor farmer cleared of breaking planning laws after building a golf course on his farm will try again to get planning permission for its use.

John Dance, 56, celebrated after a jury at Exeter Crown Court failed to reach a verdict, and the case against him, brought by Dartmoor National Park Authority, was dismissed.

Dance was accused of failing to comply with an enforcement notice issued by the park banning him from playing on the nine hole, par 34, 2,050 yard course at Reddacleave Brakes, near Dean Prior, Buckfastleigh, South Devon.

Dance will now seek fresh planning permission for limited use of the course, on part of his 76-acre sheep farm, after being warned that a ban on playing is still in force.

He said: "We were always complying with the order, and now I will be talking to the group of golfers and friends who used to play on the course to consider where we go from here.

"We would like to be able to talk to the National Park again and try to get permission for very limited use of the course, which is all we have ever wanted to do."

Dance, who fought a four-year battle to keep the golf course open, said it was always intended to be used by him, his wife and two daughters, and friends and had never been intended for use as a commercial venture.

In the seven years since it was built he has raised more than £10,000 by running charity golf days.

Dave lives on the south coast of England with partner Jackie and their three children. Originally a football writer in his homeland, he even rose to the giddy heights of public relations manager for an English professional Premiership side. But he'd been bitten by the golf bug and returned to his roots in journalism as executive editor for Golf Management Europe magazine and as a sports sub-editor/golf writer on one of the country's largest regional daily papers. Like all of us, he plays golf whenever he can - which isn't as often as he would like - and has even performed stand-up comedy in a top comedy club.

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