Ohio golf course buys a hovercraft
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
For the curious and the adventurous, a round of golf at an Ohio course is about to cost a lot more.
Windy Knoll Golf Club tries to keep the price less than $40 on the weekend, which includes a cart. That soon will go up to $230 — when the round of golf includes a hovercraft.
Pete Duffey, the managing director of the public course in Springfield, Ohio, was so intrigued by the YouTube video of Bubba Watson skimming over water and through bunkers in a hovercraft built for golf he called the manufacturer to make sure it was real.
And then he ordered two of them.
“We’re always looking for a way to set ourselves apart from the competition,” Duffey said Tuesday. “We’ll be able to offer something that no one in the area, in the state and at this point in the country can offer.”
The golf hovercrafts are made by Neoteric Hovercraft in Terre Haute, Ind., which specializes in light hovercrafts for personal and commercial use. Its clients include government agencies and companies such as Disney World, according to its website.
Neoteric built a golf hovercraft for Oakley, which sponsors Watson and wanted it for corporate events.
Duffey said his first golf hovercraft is to arrive July 18 and the other a week later. The club plans to launch its new “carts” during a promotional outing July 27 that is to feature LPGA great Nancy Lopez.
He said the cost would be $230 for golf in the hovercraft. He declined to say how much it cost the club except it was “10 times the cost of a standard cart.”
Why just two?
“We thought it made sense for a foursome to use,” he said.
Unlike the video, golfers in the hovercraft can go anywhere. Duffey said there would be a designated area on the front and back nine where the golfers can take it onto the lake. And the club has decided to make the putting green and bunkers off limits, even though Neoteric said it has a footprint pressure 33 times less than the human foot.
He said the club is working with an attorney and its insurance company on liability issues, and golfers using the craft will have to go through a half-hour presentation on how to drive it. And how will this help pace of play at the club, one of the top issues in golf?
“It’s going to turn heads,” Duffey said. “I think other golfers on the course might find themselves so interested in looking at it that if it did slow play down, I don’t think it will be noticeable.”
For those who don’t want a cart or a hovercraft, walking remains an option.
THE FINAL STRETCH: In the first year of the FedEx Cup, there was so much promotion Vijay Singh said he was tired of talking about it even before the season started. His sound advice was to worry about that when it mattered later in the year, much like the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup standings.
It’s getting to be that time.
There are only six tournaments remaining to get into the top 125 and take part in the $35 million bonanza known as the FedEx Cup playoffs. Singh won the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus in 2008. Now, he is on a short list of players who have never missed the playoffs and currently are outside the top 125. Singh is at No. 136.
Others outside the top 125 who have never missed the playoffs since they began in 2007 include Sean O’Hair, Jonathan Byrd and Robert Allenby.
This would be a bad year to miss out. After the playoffs, there is no longer a Fall Series for players to make up ground. The top 125 earn cards for the following season, while the next 75 players (if not already exempt) would go to a four-tournament series with top Web.com Tour players who play for a card.
That’s because the next season starts in October.
OUT WITH THE OLD: Mission Hills in China is one of the largest golf complexes in the world with more than 20 courses, most of them named after players who typically “consult” on the design and have the course named after them. There are courses for Vijay Singh, Jumbo Ozaki, Annika Sorenstam, Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, David Leadbetter and Jose Maria Olazabal. There’s even one for David Duval, a former world No. 1 and British Open champion.
But not much longer.
Mission Hills China announced two weeks ago U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and Ian Poulter of Ryder Cup fame will stage an exhibition match Oct. 28 to celebrate the opening of the redesigned “Rose-Poulter” course.
Brian Curley is the architect of the redesign. The course had been “designed” by Duval and was known as the “Duval” course.
Rose said in the press release, “We’ve had a number of discussions with Brian Curley and I look forward to coming to Mission Hills in October and seeing the end result.”
FINAL WORD: “I’m a guy who doesn’t find it on the range. I’m a guy who finds it on the golf course.” — Graeme McDowell.
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