by Adam Schupak

Ernie Els still remembers his first trip to Dubai, in 1993, when two buildings no more than 30-40-stories tall were considered its version of the World Trade Center. "It's changed so much," Els said. "If you go there today, it now kind of looks like the Manhattan skyline."

The next year, he won his first European Tour title, in Dubai. Fast forward to 1998 and Els tells the story of the time when he played with Mohammed Rashid Alabbar, an Emirati billionaire and the real estate tycoon behind Emaar Properties. "There was a big, tall building that they just put up,” Els said, “and I said, 'Geez, what's that?' He said, 'Buddy, this is just the start. You're not going to recognize this place in 10 years,' and he was right."


It’s a job with lowered expectations
For some time, I have been troubled by the arbitrariness of a ball drop by a player. Sometimes it's an advantage; sometimes it's so-so; occasionally it's a heart breaker. To level the playing field (or course, in this context) I propose the addition of an official to the roster of golf course luminaries: a certified ball dropper.

This person would be an unaffiliated professional, paid through a surcharge on green fees, and available to anyone on the course who might be in need of his or her services (need would be defined as any condition in which a ball drop would be required). As to whether the certified ball dropper, or CBD, would have the say-so about need, that could be determined when a charter is written for the institution of the position. The amount and kind of training necessary to become certified also should be determined when a charter is written.


Disclosed: By broadcaster Johnny Miller, that his final day at NBC will be the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, on Saturday, Feb. 2. The network intends to honor Miller, who has been NBC’s lead golf analyst since 1990, during the third round and focus on the champion on Feb. 3. Paul Azinger, Miller’s replacement with NBC, will call Sunday’s play. The final round of the Phoenix Open will be played the same day as the Super Bowl.



Number of Tour victories, in 63 career starts, for Puerto Rican Rafael Campos, who won the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic on Wednesday. Campos, 30, a 2010 Virginia Commonwealth graduate, shot 2-under 70 for a 7-under 281 total and one-stroke victory at The Abaco Club in Great Abaco, Bahamas. It was the first victory on a major professional tour in 142 career starts for Campos, who also played on the Canadian and Latinoamerica tours before qualifying for the Tour in 2016. Playing on sponsor exemptions, he posted top-10 finishes in the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rican Open in 2016 and 2017. American Vincent Whaley (72) finished runner-up at 6-under 282 at Abaco Club, with countryman Paul Imondi (70) another stroke back, in third place (scores).



Hawk & Rude: A sit-down with a standup guy
In Hawk & Rude, a podcast featuring veteran golf journalists John Hawkins and Jeff Rude, the hosts are joined by longtime swing coach Hank Haney, who discusses former client Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, among other topics.


Greg Rubino, the general manager at Classic Club in Palm Desert, Calif., won the Garmany Golf Skills Challenge on Tuesday at Topgolf Orlando. The contest included a putting test and a sequence of target shots among 40 PGA of America professionals attending the annual PGA Merchandise Show. Rubino won a Garmany Golf Bucket List Experience to Scotland and other prizes.


NBC Sports Group announced a multiyear agreement with Full Swing Simulators to promote the use of indoor-simulation technology as an option to the traditional round of golf. Full Swing Simulators’ products will be promoted by the sales force of GolfNow, an NBC Sports Group division, in North America, Europe and Australia.


Boot Ranch reported a record $47.7 million in property sales in 2018 at the 2,080-acre community in Fredericksburg, Texas. The private-club community listed 67 closings, with unit volume up 26 percent from the previous year and dollar volume up 44 percent.


January 22-25
Women’s amateur: Jones/Doherty Women’s Amateur

Coral Ridge CC, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

January 23-25
Industry: PGA Merchandise Show

Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla.

January 24-27
PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance Open

Torrey Pines (South) GC, San Diego

European: Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Emirates GC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

12700 Sunrise Valley Dr, Suite 300, Reston, Virginia 20191
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