BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
First there was stadium golf, then the corporate skybox. Now
Bill Rasmussen has taken the two innovations one step further to
create Stadium Naples, a permanent multideck grandstand that
looks like a ballpark, includes 50 condominiums and offers
thousands of spectators views of the closing holes. "Imagine
Yankee Stadium with everything wiped out between the foul poles
and replaced by four golf holes," Rasmussen says.
Big ideas are nothing new for Rasmussen, who founded ESPN in
1979, and everything appears to be in order to make this one a
reality. He has the land (more than two square miles), the
financing (roughly $100 million), a Senior tour stop (the
Greater Naples IntelliNet Challenge) and the go-ahead from
Collier County, Fla., to break ground on the course in January.
The condos will be priced from $750,000 to $1 million, and the
stadium will seat 12,000, with mounding to accommodate thousands
of general-admission ticket holders.
Rasmussen is negotiating with the PGA Tour to make Stadium
Naples part of its network of Tournament Players Clubs. He would
like to see it become the permanent home for the Tour's Q school
as well as the site of a made-for-TV event and corporate
outings. His goal is to complete the project in time to host
tournaments in 1998.
FALLING OFF THE WAGON
Those searching for cause and effect in John Daly's poor play
over the second half of this season--he hasn't made a cut since
the British Open--might have found their answer last week when
Daly confirmed he is drinking again and revealed that he has
lost millions gambling during the last two years. Daly, however,
sees no relation between his slump and his predilections.
"It is true that I have had a few beers on several occasions
this summer," Daly said on last Friday in a prepared statement.
"But I have not been involved in any alcohol-related incidents.
I have not been drinking to excess, and this has not been the
reason my play has been below my usual standards. In fact, I
have put more time and effort into my game than I have in the
That effort was not evident on July 26 when Daly shot an 89
during the second round of the Dutch Open, after which he fell
off the wagon. Two weeks later Daly stayed at Fuzzy Zoeller's
house in New Albany, Ind., during the PGA Championship. "I told
him, 'You've got to look in the mirror, and if you can't handle
it, you've got to quit again,'" Zoeller says. "He told me he
felt he was missing out on a few things in life. I said, 'John,
I'm not the one to tell you you can't do something. You're a big
boy now. You've got to make that decision yourself.'"
Daly's father, Jim, has a different take on his son. "Maybe
he'll get back on the wagon again," he says. "Of course, I don't
think John ever was an alcoholic. He just drank and he drank and
then he quit. I'd call it a drinking problem."
Once word of his relapse began to circulate, Daly apparently
thought the potential fallout was serious enough that he ought
to contact PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. It was Finchem who
advised Daly to go public. Deane Beman, Finchem's predecessor,
had ordered Daly to undergo treatment for alcohol abuse in
January 1993 following an incident at Daly's house in Castle
Pines, Colo. Daly was arrested after threatening his former wife
and destroying several household items. He ultimately
plea-bargained to a charge of misdemeanor harassment and was
sentenced to two years of probation.
Finchem's hands are tied this time around because neither Daly's
drinking nor his gambling--he told friends he lost the money in
casinos in Las Vegas and near his home in Memphis--violates Tour
rules. "I wish him the best of luck," Finchem says. "I hope it
works out for him. There's no disciplinary action going on."
A NEW OLD COURSE
Has the Old Course at St. Andrews become too old? Apparently so.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and the St.
Andrews Links Trust will move back the championship tees on six
holes to lengthen the world's most famous course from 6,933
yards to more than 7,100. When the British Open returns in 2000,
the famous Coffins (6th hole), Sutherland (15th) and Principal's
Nose (16th) bunkers will be back in play, even for big hitters
like Daly and Tiger Woods. "Hazards were positioned to put a
premium on strategic thinking and accuracy," says Michael
Bonallack, secretary of the R&A. "The changes of the tees are
expected to restore these requirements in the Open."
John (Spider) Miller, a 46-year-old beer distributor from
Bloomington, Ind., was the toast of the town last week when he
became the oldest player ever to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur, at
the Hartford (Conn.) Golf Club. Using a 60-inch putter, Miller
swept in putts from everywhere to defeat Randy Lewis of Alma,
Mich., 3 and 2, and earn a spot in the 1997 Masters. The
previous oldest Mid-Am champ, Jay Sigel, who won the event three
times, was 43 when he last did it, in 1987.
Michael Campbell has been a man without a tour, but his
13th-place finish on Sunday in the German Masters brought him
closer to an exemption on the European tour for 1997. Campbell's
earnings rose to $61,600, or about $3,500 shy of what he needs
to get his card. He has one event left to make the money, the
Oct. 24-27 Volvo Masters. Campbell made the mistake of trying to
play on the Euro and the U.S. tours this year and had only one
top-10 finish in America, a tie for seventh at the Honda
Classic. "People told me not to try and play both tours, but I
didn't listen," Campbell says. "I guess I was too arrogant. But
I realize now I made the wrong choice. I've been back and forth
so many times--I think four this year--that I know every wave in
The race for the Tour's Ironman of the Year will go down to the
final tournaments of the season with Ted Tryba, Kelly Gibson,
Woody Austin and Dave Stockton Jr. battling for the honor.
Through Las Vegas, Tryba had played 35 of the 40 tournaments,
Gibson and Austin, 34 each, and Stockton, 33. Austin, the 1995
Rookie of the Year, has made the most money and is the most
burned out. He is trying to finish among the top 30--he's
currently ranked 30th--on the money list, not only for a spot in
the Tour Championship but also to lock up berths in the '97
Masters and U.S. Open. Austin added the B.C. Open and Quad City
Classic to his schedule and will play eight straight events (37
for the year including Texas and Disney) if he qualifies for the
Tour Championship. "I'm exhausted. I don't want to be playing
now," Austin says. "This is the worst I've felt about playing
golf, but I have to keep going."
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: TIM STAMM Ticket holders and condo owners at Stadium Naples will have an upscale view of play on four holes. [Architectural drawing of Stadium Naples]
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Daly, sober since leaving a Tucson rehab clinic in '93, has puzzled his friends by going back to the bottle. [John Daly]
COLOR PHOTO: RICK STEWART A tired Austin is bent on making the top 30. [Woody Austin bending over]