Ohio public course buys two 'Bubba' hovercrafts

Ohio public course buys two ‘Bubba’ hovercrafts

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 under $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 that 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 on July 18 and the other a week later. The club plans to launch its new “carts'' during a promotional outing on 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 that 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 says 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 that 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 that 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 over 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 that 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.''

NEW HOME FOR FRYS: The Frys.com Open is moving to its third course, and this one should make Johnny Miller happy. The tournament will be played at his Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif., starting in 2014.

The Frys.com Open spent three years at Grayhawk in Scottsdale, Ariz., before moving to CordeValle just south of San Jose, Calif. The goal is to move to The Institute across the highway from CordeValle when the clubhouse is built.

Silverado previously hosted the Kaiser International Open Invitational from 1968 to 1976, and the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic for four years after that. It also held a Champions Tour event.

This year's event at CordeValle will be the official start of the 2013-14 season on the PGA Tour.

DIVOTS: U.S. Amateur Public Links champion T.J. Vogel makes his pro debut this week in the John Deere Classic. … John Deere has signed a deal to supply golf course machinery for the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany. … Tom Watson says he is on a scouting mission for the Ryder Cup next year, and among the players who have his attention is Billy Horschel. “With the exception of those pants he wore at the U.S. Open, he's impressive,'' Watson said. … Fred Couples, among the first to bring the casual street shoe look to golf, has signed a sponsorship extension with Danish-based ECCO. … Davis Love III made his British Open debut in 1987 at Muirfield, and he has played golf's oldest championship every year since then. The only way for him to return would be to win the John Deere Classic this week. … Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar are the only multiple winners on the PGA Tour this year. That's the fewest multiple winners before the British Open since 1994, when Nick Price had three wins and on one else had more than one.

STAT OF THE WEEK: In its four-year history, The Greenbrier Classic has produced winners with a world ranking of No. 159 (Stuart Appleby), No. 224 (Scott Stallings), No. 218 (Ted Potter Jr.) and No. 103 (Jonas Blixt).

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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