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Chips + Putts

Even Better

While still ranked number one in the world, Tiger Woods changed his swing. Why?To get even better. It took him most of a year to get it right, but that won't happen to new versions of two of the most successful golf products extant—the TaylorMade r7 Quad driver and the Titleist ProV1 ball.

The r7 is the top driver on Tour and a red-hot commodity in pro shops, yet TaylorMade felt a need to appeal to even more golfers, so the company added the r7 Quad HT (high trajectory), with a longer, shallower clubhead to launch the ball higher and with more spin. The HT has the four interchangeable weights that made the r7 famous, but tellingly its shape is more like those of popular new offerings from Callaway, Cleveland and others.

Titleist's update of the ProV1 ball may also be in part due to improving competition. The new ProV1 has a softer core and a redesigned casing layer, while the new ProV1x has a softer center and less spin than its predecessor. Officially Titleist says it's just doing what it always has, trying to improve. Aren't we all?
—Jonathan Lesser

"Retail therapy. Buying stuff. It just makes me feel a lot better."
—Michelle Wie, on how she planned to recover from missing the cut at January's Sony Open in Hawaii

Legal Cubans

On the eve of signing the 1962 Cuban trade embargo, President John F. Kennedy gave his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, an important task—to purchase a supply of the president's favorite Havana cigars. Salinger did so and presented his boss with 1,200 Petit Upmanns before the embargo went into effect. Golfers visiting the Phoenician in Scottsdale, however, can now enjoy a reprieve from the law. The resort has recently added genuine pre-embargo Cuban smokes to its rare-cigar menu. Visitors can light up a 1953 Montecristo #3 ($525) from JFK's beloved H. Upmann factory in Havana, part of a cache lost in Estonia for the past fifty years and only recently found and released for sale. Or try a 1940 Shaggy Gurkha ($150) or a 1960 Montecristo #2 ($375), authenticated by Christie's for auction. Perfect smokes, perfectly legal.
—Kate Dolan

Putt For Big Dough

Those who can't fathom what the pressure of putting for a million bucks or more feels like now have a chance, thanks to a new trend in tournaments for thrill-seeking, well-heeled everymen. First up is the Las Vegas Shootout, beginning May 4, for which individuals anted up $30,000 each for a chance to win $1 million (sorry, entry deadline has passed). Then there's a two-man, best-ball stroke-play event called Win Your Own Golf Course!—namely, Cedar Hills Golf Club outside Knoxville, Tennessee—set for September 1–4 (entry fee is $5,000; winners can claim $1 million instead; winyourowngolfcourse.com). And if you really want to roll the dice, pony up $100,000 for the Big Stakes Match Play Championship (bigstakesgolf.com), starting May 11 outside Las Vegas. The brainchild of former Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski, it features a $3 million prize for the winning twosome. Serious sticks only need apply.
—Thomas Dunne

Numbers Game

Number of red Nike golf shirts Tiger Woods claims to own: 4
Number of tournaments Woods has won while wearing one of those shirts: 38

Number of charitable events (excluding professional competitions) held on U.S. golf courses annually: 140,000
Money generated by these events: $3.2 billion

Percentage of golf course developments in the United States built with an architect: 59
Average net value of course developed with an architect: $17.5 million
Average net value of course developed without one: $7.9 million

SOURCES: TIGERWOODS.COM; GOLF 20/20; GOLF RESEARCH GROUP

Foozle

Looks like Fluff's next job won't be in Thailand. More than 400 mostly female caddies from one of that country's top golf clubs—Pinehurst, near Bangkok—were put on notice recently that they were too fat, short and old for the job. Slim, young and at least five-foot-five are the new criteria. "We can lose weight, but what can we do about being short and old?" asked one protester. Ironically those latter qualities seem mandatory for the best Scottish and Irish caddies.

Match Play

Old Guns4 and 3Young Guns
Driving Distance3 and 2Driving Accuracy
Tiger and Elin2 upBrad and Jennifer
Monty's House2 upMonty's Head
Cleveland Comp 460all squareLevitra

Q&A

WHAT IS THE HIGHEST SCORE EVER RECORDED ON A SINGLE HOLE?
John Daly's eighteen at Bay Hill in 1998 was bad, but for sheer calamity nothing matches the dreadful score posted by a woman competing on A.W. Tillinghast's Shawnee-on-the-Delaware course circa 1912. On the sixteenth, her ball—a floating guttie—failed to clear a tributary of the river. The woman and her husband hopped in a rowboat and followed the ball downstream until it washed ashore, from which spot (still on course property) she continued play until finally holing out in what has been reported from 111 to 166.

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