Mark NessmithThis Week at December 20, 2005

Peace, love and harmony? Oh, sure. But
Don't forget, Santa: It's a golfers' world

Ask anyone who works with me, I have been a very good boy this year (minus a litany of naughty words playing into the wind at Royal Dornach in Scotland). As such, here is my list for Santa:

• A U.S. victory in the Ryder Cup Matches in Ireland. No, this isn't a jingoistic thing. I just want to see some competition restored to the best team event in golf, bar none. I mean, it's been fun watching the scrappy, no-name European teams slap around the elite, star-filled American squads. But for the sake of golf as a whole, let's hope the U.S. team can recapture some of that magic from Brookline.

• I'd like the LPGA playoffs to take root. The LPGA Tour enters 2006 with a "regular season" followed by the new playoffs and the season-ending ADT Championship. I'm kind of a traditionalist on the men's side, preferring to settle questions about who had the best year in the four majors. With the ladies, however, I'm thinking this playoff system is just what the doctor ordered. Well, that and a Wie victory or two. Thinking of that ...

• A Michelle Wie victory - any victory. I'd love to see young Michelle finally win something. PGA, LPGA, mini-tour, chess match, I couldn't care less. Despite my reputation as a set-in-my-ways curmudgeon, I do not relish the idea of another 12 months of gloating from the world's top Wie skeptic, Chris Baldwin. Just doesn't do my ulcers a bit of good.

• A return to form for David Duval. He showed some confidence and progress in Japan last month. Let's hope that continues and he's able to pocket some dough on the PGA Tour in 2006. A victory in a major might be asking a bit too much, but you never know.

• I want every one of our readers to get more for their money in 2006 than they did in 2005. By the way, the term "great deal" can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes a great deal means walking 18 at a ratty muni that's fairly priced and offers a great atmosphere for kids. Sometimes a great deal is finding just the right high-end resort where your spouse enjoys the spa and you can't get enough of the golf.

• Lastly, what I'd really like is for even more golfers to stand up and make their voices heard. As long as you have a bag full of clubs and a few bucks in your pocket, you are the driving force in the industry. More golfers need to stand up and utilize the power they have. One way is to tell others about a great course you just played (or a lousy one), about the great deals you found, or about the great new putter you bought. If you have a beef with an overpriced course, or if a superb golfing experience just restored your faith in our great game, don't just sit there, tell someone!

As always, welcomes your comments.

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Football FanCollege football's bowl season
means big games, great golf

New Year's is a time of reflecting while gazing into the future. It's a time to cherish memories while preparing for new adventures. But more importantly, it's a time for a college football orgy! Luckily for golfers who love college football, many of the bowl games, including the biggest of them, are played in golf-rich areas. Here are some fearless predictions along with tips for the best tracks in the area, starting with the four BCS games.

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Litchfield Country ClubLitchfield Country Club: Born when
Myrtle Beach was still in its infancy

Located on Pawleys Island, Litchfield Country Club has seen a lot of changes to the Grand Strand since its inception. As the fifth-oldest golf course in Myrtle Beach, Litchfield has tinkered with the course over the years, but has gone out of its way to maintain the integrity of the original Willard Byrd design. The result is a day of throwback golf, with no parallel fairways, bump-and-run opportunities and a relaxed, southern feel.

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Riverwood Golf ClubRiverwood Golf Club: Bring some
extra balls and a sense of humor

Riverwood Golf Club may just be the best course in Punta Gorda, Fla., which is among the top metro areas in the country for golf. And get this: It's cheaper than a roadside corn dog. For green fees that max out at $50, you get a course green as Ireland that will slap you silly if you aren't having a good day. Playing from the tips here can get you in more trouble than Gulf of Mexico riptides.

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