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March 1, 2013

A Wide Range of News

The historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., has seen baseballs flying through the air since 1953, when the Brooklyn (soon to be Los Angeles) Dodgers first began using the location for spring training workouts. Long drives may become as frequent as home runs soon, as officials are attempting to convince the municipality to allow them to build a driving range at the site which used to house Dodgertown Golf Course. The city paid about $9.9 million for 37 acres of the former ninehole golf course in 2005 and leased another 9.1 acres from the county. For the last seven years, the property has been vacant and was reduced in size by 2.5 acres when the city and county completed a swap of land to allow for the construction of four youth baseball fields for the Vero Beach Sports Village.… Decorated Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps debuted on Golf Channel’s “The Haney Project” last month, as the renowned golf instructor is helping Phelps to stay out of the water. Past seasons of the “The Haney Project” have featured celebrities such as Charles Barkley, Ray Romano, Adam Levine, Angie Everhart, Sugar Ray Leonard and Mario Batali. The show airs on Monday nights at 9 p.m. EST.…

By now, you’ve surely heard of TopGolf, the fully digitized driving range complete with casual food and drinks amid an ever-upbeat environment. It’s a place to gather with friends and pound golf balls embedded with microchips that will track each shot’s accuracy and distance while awarding you points for hitting targets on the outfield. The company is set to open its ninth worldwide location this April in Austin, Texas. The threelevel facility will feature climate-controlled hitting bays, 2,900 square feet of event space, an extensive food and beverage menu crafted by a celebrity chef, and hundreds of highdefinition flat-screen TVs. “We at TopGolf are eagerly awaiting the grand opening in Austin,” says Austin general manager Brad Spofford. “We’ve made sure to add some fun Austin touches to the facility, like our orange Longhorn golf ball picker that will roam the outfield.” The company’s aggressive growth plans continue apace—approval to build a TopGolf facility in Alpharetta, Ga., was granted on Feb. 18.

Idaho State University football player Dane Simmons began playing golf shortly after graduating and finishing his football career in 2006. The 28-year-old is now seeking to open an indoor golf practice facility to help himself and other Idahoans enjoy the game of golf during the region’s frigid winters. He plans to create a golfing paradise called Parfive Indoor Golf Lounge (www.parfiveindoorgolf.com) that would not only provide golf enthusiasts with a chance to sharpen their skills but a place to socialize, as well. At this stage, Simmons (inset above) is gauging community support for his plans. The California-bred wide receiver turned entrepreneur envisions an indoor facility with food and beverages, a lounge, a small pro shop and multiple high-definition simulators.… Patrons of a pick-your-own blueberry farm have been picking up range balls instead, as errant shots from the nearby Timberland Golf Course driving range have been finding their way into the berry pastures. Three years ago, the town of Berlin, Conn., tried to resolve the errant golf ball complaint by buying special range balls that travel 25 percent less than regular balls and limiting patrons to the use of irons. While that prevented balls from traveling into residential areas, property owners are still concerned that stray shots will damage the farmland.… Rockers are accustomed to hurling things off the stage, most notably themselves as they catapult into the awaiting arms of fans and pursue gnarly crowd surfs. However, fans attending a New Year’s Eve concert at Madison Square Garden were hit with unexpected projectiles as Phish turned the stage into a driving range, launching squishy golf balls into the crowd. Who said golf and rock & roll don’t mix?