Australias Nullarbor course to be 842 miles long
BRISBANE, Australia ' Hit a few loose shots or three-putt the first green at Nullarbor Links and youll have plenty of time to think about your errant ways before teeing off at the second.
Thats because No. 2 is 42 miles down the highway.
Billed as the worlds longest golf course, Nullarbor is set to open next month ' an 842-mile trek through the desolate Outback of Australias Nullarbor Plains, starting at Ceduna in the state of South Australia and finishing at the mining town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
The course is a novelty, for sure, but its organizers reckon the par-71, which includes holes borrowed from existing golf courses and others built from scratch near motels and tourist attractions, is sure to bring out the adventurous player.
I dont think there is any two ways about it, it will be unique, Alf Caputo, the courses project manager said in a telephone interview from the western city of Perth, where he is organizing the finishing touches on the course for a planned Aug. 15 opening. The scenery along this stretch of the Eyre Highway is unlike anywhere else in the world.
Ditto the golf course. The seven holes taken from existing golf courses include some with sand greens that are raked, oiled and then rolled to maintain their smoothness.
The first two holes are among them, and they have natural grass fairways, but the 11 holes that are being built for Nullarbor Links will have synthetic tees and synthetic greens ' the most workable plan from a maintenance standpoint due to the lack of rainfall in the flat, dry land of south-central Australia.
In between the tees and green, well leave it as natural terrain, although well clear the debris, said Caputo, a former local council member. Well leave trees and natural hazards there, because we dont want to do anything to affect the beautiful scenery.
The cost of the course came in at a relatively reasonable $640,000, with about a third of the funding coming in a grant from an Australian government department which promotes tourism.
It sounds like a bit of a pipe dream, but when we checked it all out, it was so basic, Caputo says. It doesnt involve any million-dollar spending. We had the infrastructure at some of the holes already, and well pass along proceeds from the green fees to the roadhouses and motels to ensure that maintenance is kept up.
When the course opens, green fees will be a modest $40. A certificate will be issued from tourism centers at Ceduna in the east and Kalgoorlie in the west to those who have their scorecards stamped for all 18 holes.
Bob Bongiorno, a former roadhouse/motel manager at Balladonia, which will host one of the holes, came up with the idea for the course.
I first thought about it nine or 10 years ago, Bongiorno told the AP from Kalgoorlie. I had lived on the Nullarbor for 10 years, and I always felt that people just connected east and west along our highway, and traversed the distance quickly.
They endured rather than enjoyed the trek. They missed what I called a lot of the self-find stuff along the way. The whole idea was to try to create something to slow people down, and make it part of the holiday.
So far, so good in that department. The golf courses Web site had more than 15,000 hits in the three days after word of it first appeared in local media.
The idea took shape when Caputo and Bongiorno, now good friends, sat in a bar and brainstormed over a glass or two of red wine, Caputo said. All good ideas come out of a glass of red, dont they? Out of that session came the setup of the course and the thought of working with local motels and tourist attractions.
Caputo says the average group of golfers will take about four days to complete the course, which, at its most eastern point at Ceduna is 1,300 miles west of Sydney. More than 250,000 tourists annually make the trip across the hot, arid Nullarbor on the Eyre Highway, and there soon could be more: Caputo says a British travel promoter wants to put together a 10-day package which includes Nullarbor Links and topflight courses in Adelaide and Perth.
Included on the Nullarbor journey is the longest stretch of straight road on any highway in Australia. After golfers leave the par-4, 340-yard hole at the Caiguna roadhouse, they wont have to turn their steering wheels for 90 miles.
When they arrive at the next hole at the Balladonia Motel, they can take a side trip to an area commemorating the July 1979 fall to earth of the NASA research laboratory Skylab, which landed in fiery chunks around Balladonia. U.S. President Jimmy Carter is said by locals to have phoned the motels manager to apologize, and the areas shire ranger, David Somerville, was photographed giving a NASA official a littering ticket, which the council later waived.
The next hole is a par-3, 155-yarder at the Fraser Range ' home of the largest eucalyptus hardwood forest in Australia, some trees more than 100 feet tall. Theres also a working sheep station nearby.
Since the holes are designed to be played from either direction, they are not numbered. So the hole at Caiguna near the long stretch of road is called Ninety Mile Straight, followed by Skylab, and then Sheeps Back.
And dont forget Caputos and Bongiornos favorite hole ' the 19th.
Weve got a great bar at either end in Ceduna or Kalgoorlie, but the beauty of this course is that every hole has a 19th hole, says Caputo, laughing. Some just steps from the green. How good is that?
Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award
The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.
The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.
Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.
The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.
Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.
The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout
It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.
Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.
Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.
"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."
Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.
Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top
The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.
The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."
Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.