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Internet bringing golf courses to new age

The sport of golf has been around for more than a century. The internet hasn't been around quite that long, but in the last few years, it's becoming easier to see how one of man's greatest creations benefits one of the world's most popular -- and...

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The sport of golf has been around for more than a century.

The internet hasn't been around quite that long, but in the last few years, it's becoming easier to see how one of man's greatest creations benefits one of the world's most popular -- and frustrating -- games.

It's all about information. At first, the only means of boasting a course's attributes was through word-of-mouth. With the advent of newspapers, then radio and television, advertising helped get the word out.

But now, via the wonders of fiber optic cable and bytes, golf enthusiasts around the world can see the majestic fairways and neatly manicured greens of thousands of courses around the world.

"If someone's looking to find us and wants to know about the course, it's there," said Joel Jacobson, head pro at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Willmar. "If people are looking to play, they'll find you any way. Golfers are golfers."

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"It's a way to raise awareness of people in the area," according to Cameron Macht, a member of the Hawk Creek Country Club board of directors. "We don't have a huge budget, so we chose to do it this way. We also use it to give people updates on prices and leagues."

Out of 21 golf courses in the West Central Tribune area open to public play, 10 have up-to-date web sites providing information on membership fees, green fees, events and amenities. Some web sites even have virtual tours of the golf course and there are even sites that allow you to schedule tee times.

Putting up and maintaining a site takes resources -- mainly money. Some courses have hired consulting firms to build the site and maintain it.

Others have taken a more simple approach -- finding someone with the knowledge of HMTL -- and did it basically themselves.

"It's just a hobby of mine," said Macht, who maintains the Hawk Creek web site. "We've had it for five or six years, now. A lot of the activity is the weekly men's stuff. We've also had requests from people coming to our tournaments.

"I'll spend a couple hours every year putting new prices in and any changes to the course. With the league stats, it's usually a half-hour or less. It's not a huge time-taker."

Courses can put anything they want on their site besides information. Printable coupons are one way to generate interest from those outside the normal customer base.

"It helped us expand our reach beyond the immediate area," said Macht. "We also have people that are visiting the area and have brought in a couple from our site. We've added some green fees that way. You can't move a golf course or ship it somewhere."

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The question of resources to maintain a site has kept some from venturing toward the internet, whether it is a time constraint or a monetary one.

Olivia Golf Club manager Denny Mogard said his course doesn't have a web site, but he does see the value in having one.

"It could increase sales, exposure," he said. "We get a lot of people that pass through here to the Cities. They always hear about the Olivia Golf Course and our narrow fairways. I think the exposure would be great."

Where to find them

Typing in your favorite golf course into search engine can bring up many unwanted links. To find specific golf courses in Minnesota, one of the better sites is Minnesota Golf.com ( www.minnesotagolf.com ), which has all the state's golf courses listed, plus links to those that have web sites.

Holes-in-one

n Dick Nagel of Litchfield hit a hole-in-one on the 195-yard No. 17 hole at Litchfield Golf Club Wednesday. He used a five-wood. It is the third ace at Litchfield Golf Club.

n Dean Hess of Willmar aced the par-3, 138-yard No. 2 Willows hole at Little Crow Country Club June 20. He used an eight-iron.

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n Dave Wentzell of Willmar hit a hole-in-one on the No. 2 hole at Eagle Creek Golf Club Monday. He used a seven-iron on the 153-yard hole during the Lane Erickson/Dean Anderson Memorial Scramble.

n Wayne Maas of Faribault aced No. 16 at Eagle Creek Golf Club Wednesday. He used a seven-iron on the 163-yard hole. It was the fourth hole-in-one at Eagle Creek this season.

Three from area qualify for MGA Amateur tourney

Mitchell Mackedanz of Paynesville carded an one-under 70 Thursday at Lynx National Golf Course in Sauk Centre to qualify for the 103rd Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship.

Mackedanz finished second in the qualifying event, two shots behind Tyler Whitting of Alexandria.

Justin Buysse of Minnewaska Golf Club and Josh Hagstrom of Island Pine Golf Club also qualified for one of the largest tournaments in the state. Buysse was in a three-way tie for third at 71 while Hagstrom was one shot back.

The MGA Amateur Championship, which will feature at 156-player field, is July 17-19 at Midland Hills Country Club in St. Paul.

Chip shots

n Courtney Boe of Glenwood tied for fourth in the age 13-15 division of the 2006 Westfield Junior Minnesota PGA Championship, which ended Wednesday at Minneapolis Golf Course. Boe shot an 87 the first day and an 83 the second for a total of 170. Kimmy Kaufman of Clark, S.D., won the title with a 154.

n Correction: In last week's column on Valley Golf Course the length of time that Wes and Marty Westermann owned and operated the course should have stated 20 years. Also, there is a women's golf league that plays on Thursday mornings.

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