If you're a golf fan who currently subscribes to DirecTV, you could be out of luck in 2011. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the satellite distributor very well might discontinue carrying the Golf Channel next year, cutting off approximately 15 million subscribers from 24-hour-a-day golf coverage.
Currently DirecTV pays about 25 cents a month per subscriber to carry Golf Channel on the company's Choice Xtra tier of programming, and Golf Channel is supposedly planning to increase its license fee. Golf Channel is also apparently trying to prevent DirecTV from placing it on tier of programming with less distribution.
So far DirecTV has dropped two other channels also owned by Comcast, G4 and Versus, in both cases over rate increases. But Golf Channel's viewership hasn't been great either, especially as of late: in November it ranked 78th out of 90 cable networks in total-day viewership. Golf Channel's current affiliate deal with Comcast expires December 31st. Darren Clarke to wed former Miss Northern Ireland The golf world mourned when Darren Clarke's first wife, Heather, died of breast cancer in 2006. The well-liked Euro Tour star soldiered on through his personal struggles and helped Europe win the Ryder Cup that year, but speculation on his playing career and private life have continued to circulate.
The current news on Clarke, as reported by The Belfast Telegraph, is that he's engaged to former Miss Northern Ireland, Alison Campbell. The two have supposedly been dating for over a year since being introduced by mutual friend Graeme McDowell. After ten years of living in London, Clarke has recently moved back to Northern Ireland and enrolled is two sons in local schools. Word is the renowned jet-setting playboy is ready to settle down into a more quiet home life. Hopefully the situation will help him get his golf game back in gear. Congressional Blue Course ready for 2011 U.S. Open After a careful redesign by well-known architect Rees Jones, Congressional Country Club's famed Blue Course is fully prepared to test the best players in the world. Site of five previous USGA championships including the '97 U.S. Open (won by Ernie Els), Congressional's Blue Course was originally designed by Devereux Emmet in '24, and then revised by Robert Trent Jones in '59. Since the '97 Open, Rees Jones has apparently changed every hole in one way or another, stretching the course to 7,568 yards.
Of all the changes, the most significant may be the addition of a back tee on the 18th hole. The new tee adds approximately 50-yards to the finishing hole, which is now a challenging 521-yard par four that travels downhill to a peninsula green that is partially surrounded by water. "With the added length," Jones explains, "most players will be left with a mid-iron shot as they were in 1997. The player must guard against going left and into the hazard, but the right side of the green ties directly into the existing fairway grade so that running shots can roll onto the putting surface."
The 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional will mark the 10th time the championship will be played on a course that Jones reworked prior to the tournament. The U.S. Open tracks Jones altered include The Country Club ('88), Hazeltine ('91), Baltusrol ('93), Pinehurst No. 2 ('99, '05), Bethpage Black ('02, '09), Torrey Pines South ('08) and Congressional ('97, '11).