The scuttlebutt from Augusta is that Bill Gates has finally been welcomed into golf's most exclusive—and controversial—club. Meanwhile, back in Starbucks country, new dad Gates (wife Melinda recently gave birth to daughter Phoebe, their third child) is still trying to get his handicap below twenty. Insiders say Gates's first lieutenant and frequent partner at Overlake Golf & Country Club in Bellevue, Washington, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, brings the same hard-driving approach to the course that he displays at the office. The robust Ballmer, a sixteen-handicapper, reportedly runs between golf shots. "What's the big hurry?" asks one observer. "Does he need to check his stock?"
As he does each year, Kevin Costner teed it up last summer at Aspen's ultraexclusive Maroon Creek Club—often with buddy Don Johnson. (You can almost hear Don saying, "Go for it—you can clear the water.") Though he has been a member since the club opened five years ago, Costner doesn't keep his card there. "I guess he has an unlisted number," said a staffer one day as Tin Cup left Maroon Creek's pretty cart girls swooning in his wake.
November 10 marks the first wedding anniversary of actress Andie MacDowell and five-handicap jeweler Rhett DeCamp Hartzog. The Hartzogs are active club members at North Carolina's fabled Biltmore Forest Country Club, where they held their wedding reception. Andie doesn't play the Donald Ross track there as often as her husband does, but sources say she's caught his love for the game and hopes there will be another celeb pro-am at next year's Chrysler Classic of Greensboro so she can play a little longer. In the 2002 pro-am, MacDowell delighted the gallery (Andie's Army?) by striping one off the first tee at Forest Oaks Country Club, then stepped aside and let Hartzog play her ball the rest of the way.
Michael Jordan jokes that Dean Smith, who loved the slow-down offense in his years as North Carolina's coach, is the only man who could ever stop Jordan on the basketball court. Davis Love III can only hope the former Tar Heels coach won't slow him down on the golf course. Carolina alum Love and Smith are likely partners in the Alma Mater Classic, a made-for-TV event to be taped on the Oconee course at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia on May 13. The event, still in the planning stages, will pit two-man teams made up of a PGA Tour pro and a football or basketball coach from his alma mater, with proceeds going to the schools' scholarship funds. Matches we'd like to see: Smith and Love versus Duke's Joe Ogilvie and Mike Krzyzewski; Florida State's Paul Azinger and Bobby Bowden versus the University of Florida's Chris DiMarco and Billy Donovan; USC's Scott Simpson and Pete Carroll versus UCLA Bruins Duffy Waldorf and Steve Lavin; and anyone at all against Stanford hoops coach Mike Montgomery and that kid from the golf program, Eldrick.