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The 2003 Hot List

Placing the pin four steps from the edge of a green is punitive; three steps is cruel. But that's the latest line of defense in golf officials' battle against low scores. The Tour leaves hole placement up to rules officials who set up courses in the weeks before a tournament. This year they are putting more and more cups inside the once-inviolable four-step range, daring players to try risky approach shots. "I've seen some amazing pins," said David Duval. Nobody knows how amazing the pins might get, but there is no rule against cutting the cup an inch from the fringe.

When Tiger Woods said, "I see dead people," in a Buick ad, you didn't think he meant Sign Boy. The FootJoy mascot was dumped in 2001 to make way for those lame cartoons the Golf Gods, who proved as popular as athlete's foot.

"Now Sign Boy is back!" says Matt Griesser, who plays the sultan of signage. Where was he?"Poor Sign Boy! He had to go to the European Tour, where he couldn't understand a word they said," Griesser jokes. In his new ads, he purloins Ernie Els's toothbrush and Ty Tryon's socks. His favorite keepsake is one of Davis Love's gloves, which Griesser says he wears in bed at night because "it just feels right." At thirty-two, Griesser is twice as old as the average Tour sign carrier, but he's in no rush to grow up. Asked if he'll ever graduate to Tournament Director Boy, he says, "I couldn't handle the paperwork."

Leslie Towne Hope turns 100 on May 29. We remember Hope for his clowning on the course, but he once carried a two-handicap. The author of Confessions of a Hooker teed it up with eight presidents and helped invent the celebrity pro-am. His tournament, now called the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, has raised over $37 million for charity. Hope called golf "misery with a caddie," but he did as much as anyone to popularize the game.

When Hope was told he was T&L Golf's Hot Centenarian, he said, "It's about time."

At the end of a round, do what the pros do: As you reach out to shake hands with another player, remember to take off your cap. It's a gesture that's both courtly and modern, like golf.

Scientific advances in golf over the past several decades beg the question: Why are practice mats so crappy?How hard could it be to invent a synthetic grass that feels like the real thing?The same goes for artificial putting greens, which have been out there for years but have seldom played much better than minigolf greens. Now get ready for TourTurf, a new synthetic grass that's going to change the range experience for good. Created by FieldTurf, a firm that made its name in football installations (it recently won the contract to carpet Giants Stadium in New Jersey), the range product is installed not in mats but over far larger areas. You can't take a divot out of it, but when struck with a club the stuff feels like natural grass and provides realistic feedback. You can even plant a tee in it. TourTurf's putting greens are so good that Tiger Woods had one installed in his backyard—and we know how he feels about "inferior equipment." For more information, direct your golf course superintendent, driving-range pro or home gardener to tourturf.com.

CAYO LARGO is architect Ron Garl's 7,184-yard centerpiece for mogul Dan Shelley's $500 million development on Puerto Rico's northwest shore. After your round, wade out to a sandbar-based wet bar and have a drink while sitting in the sea. (787-801-5000, intercontinental.com)

DYE FORE is the fourth Pete Dye course at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, around the corner from another Dye masterpiece, the famed Teeth of the Dog. The new track, set high above the Chavon River, opened on April 20. Director of golf Gilles Gagnon calls it both gorgeous and "visually intimidating." (800-877-3643, casadecampo.cc)

GREEN MONKEY, scheduled to open in December at the Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados, sports a bunker with a monkey-shaped grass island, but Tom Fazio wasn't just monkeying around when he carved his latest gem from a stone quarry. (866-444-4080, sandylane.com)

THE INDEPENDENCE COURSE at Florida's Reunion Resort, opening this fall, is part of a trio of tracks designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson. Watson's design, a dramatic 7,300-plus yards of parkland, looks to cause the most commotion. (888-300-2434, reunionresort.com)


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