Countdown to tee time is far from a gimme

Potential golf course lacks greens and water but promises good carry

Sports Plus

April 08, 2001|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Augusta National it's not.

You won't find any dogwoods, azaleas or magnolias. There's no Amen Corner, Rae's Creek or Ike's Pond.

But you can hardly blame members of the Earlston Golf Club in Scotland for being excited about land they've recently purchased for the purpose of developing a new 18-hole facility.

The 70-member club hasn't had money to rebuild its course after it was left in tatters by World War II. Recently it sold the property with the intention of looking elsewhere.

Desperate times called for desperate measures.

Enter, a Web site that says it has sold property to an estimated 700,000 people worldwide, including actors Tom Cruise and Clint Eastwood and former U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.

Last November, the bargain hunters at Earlston paid about $145 for 10 acres on the moon.

They may not be out of their minds, but they're definitely out of this world.

The club already has developed a scorecard for the Moon Course, where the atmosphere makes the rare air at Denver's Coors Field seem downright stodgy. With gravity about one-sixth that on Earth, the first hole - Mare Imbrium - is a 978-yard par-3. Holes 5 and 6 - Mare Frigoris and Mare Serenitatis - are par 5s that measure a combined 5,982 yards.

Among the course rules you're not likely to find at your favorite public course:

"If a player launches a ball into orbit, it will be deemed to be Out of Bounds if it would take the player more than five minutes to find it."

"Stones and rakes in bunkers are movable obstructions, but must be replaced after the ball is played. We have a duty to keep the Moon tidy."

"If a player claims relief from a hole deemed by the player to have been made by a burrowing animal, the player will forfeit the game. We don't encourage the telling of tall tales at Earlston Golf Club's Moon Course."

So, next time you focus your telescope on what you think is a meteor streaming across the sky, look closer. It just might say Titleist.

Where bunkers are craters

What brand golf balls did the late astronaut Alan B. Shepard use in 1971, when as a member of Apollo 14 he tested the atmosphere by turning the moon into a lunar driving range?

"Several have asked me, but I've said that I won't say," Shepard said several years ago. "I've never told anybody. I've never told my wife."

And don't count on the balls being found some day.

"There is a tremendous temperature cycle between the hot and cold cycles of the moon," Shepard explained. "It's plus-250 degrees to negative-150, or a swing of 400 degrees. I think they have exploded by now, and there will be nothing left."

Casual ice

There are some unusual courses on Earth, too.

At this weekend's Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship in Uummannaq, Greenland, 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle, golfers will encounter icebergs, glaciers, penguins, polar bears and temperatures under 25 degrees.

They'll be whacking fluorescent pink and orange balls around a course with hole lengths 25 percent shorter to compensate for balls being less elastic in the cold.

Defending champion Annika Osterberg of Denmark is back again this year, but her familiarity with the course design isn't much of a factor.

After all, last year's course melted.

Chip shots

The big hazard at world-famous Banff Springs Golf Course in the province of Alberta?


They sleep on the fairways, graze on the driving range, and leave droppings all across the greens.

To compensate for the added risks, the course's official rules now allow golfers to take a mulligan for any shot that strikes an elk; golfers can also move a ball by a club's length if it lands in the "natural hazards" left by the unwanted guests.

Cleaning up after elk on the golf course costs the Banff Springs Hotel $90,000 a year.

It has a duty to keep the Earth tidy.

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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