Dreaming of a green Christmas They are at Christmas Lake Golf Course in Indiana

By Mike BaileyDecember 14, 2009, 6:51 pm
There is a place, my golfing children, where dreams come true, where Christmas and golf go together every day of the year, except for one – on Christmas.

We're talking about  Christmas Lake Golf Course, which isn't located at the North Pole, but in the southernmost portion of Indiana. The town's name is Santa Claus, and there's a theme park called Holiday World. Each Christmas, the local residents exchange gifts, drink egg nog and decorate, perhaps with a little more enthusiasm than most communities. And the only day Christmas Lake Golf Course is closed is Dec. 25.

Appropriately, the front nine of Christmas Lake winds its way into the Christmas Lake Village gated housing community. The back nine is routed through a beautiful hilly forest with some great elevation changes. When covered with snow, it's a winter wonderland postcard, of course.

Around Christmas time, merchandise from Christmas Lake Golf Course is quite popular, especially with the Golfing Santa Claus/Christmas Tree logo. Director of Golf Tom Nelson, however, says the course doesn't do much to promote itself during the holidays; it just sort of happens all by itself.

'We sell a little bit of everything to all over,' Nelson said. “Outerwear, golf shirts, caps, logo golf balls, windshirts – they all make great Christmas gifts for your friends who play golf. People like to surprise their friends or family who have never heard of our facility with a piece of logoed merchandise for the holiday season. A few years back, we shipped items to 41 different states in November and December.'

Nelson added that it's not uncommon for folks to spend more on shipping than what the merchandise is worth, especially with logoed golf balls.

'They like to drill holes in the balls and use them for Christmas ornaments,' he said.

The golf course, which was designed by Ed Ault, opened in 1968. At nearly 7,400 yards, it was way ahead of its time. A renovation a few years ago to zoysia fairways makes it play even longer. With its bentgrass greens and challenging layout, the course has been named on national lists of best public courses, so it has a lot more going for it than its holiday moniker.

But how did Christmas Lake Golf Course, and more specifically, the town of Santa Claus get its name? It happened more than 150 years ago, sort of like this:

T'was the night before Christmas, when all met at a church.

The town had no name, so the citizens were in a lurch.

They suggested the preacher's name, but he declined.

So they sighed, and they shrugged until they got a sign.

Suddenly, the wind blew the door open, and winter appeared,

Sleigh bells were heard; it must have been reindeer.

The grown-ups grew silent, but the children all knew,

That had to be Santa Claus, and they knew what to do.

They shouted out his name, and all without pause,

Knew the name of their town had to be Santa Claus.

Okay, not exactly a classic, but that's what led to Christmas Lake and Christmas Lake Golf Course.

The golf course was purchased by Russ Winkler of Santa Claus in 2001, and has been steadily improving ever since. It enjoys a local following, and during peak season, golfers from the surrounding areas know the drive to Christmas Lake Golf Course is worth it.

Every year, Christmas Lake hosts a tournament called 'Golf's Nightmare Before Christmas.' It's a two-man scramble conducted on the first Sunday of each December. With the tees set about as far back as they can go, the golf can be a little scary.

And so are the names of the flights – Grinch (championship), Heat Miser (first) Snow Miser (second) and Burgermesister Meisterburger (third). While the golf course is open all year weather permitting, playing conditions can be a bit frightful, which they were at this year's 'Nightmare' tournament.

'We filled our event again this season at 56 teams with a winning score of even par 72 (and scores ranging all the way up to 99),' Nelson said. 'It was 38 degrees and overcast with the majority of the field bringing cart covers and cup holder heaters as standard equipment. We finish the event off with a huge pot of homemade chili.'

Yes, December is a busy month for Nelson and his staff, who must feel a little like Santa Claus and his elves working in their golf toy shop.

It's no wonder the course is closed on Christmas Day. It's the only break Christmas Lake gets from the holidays.
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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”