Trying to get Xboxers onto the course

In this photo provided by Xbox 360, Tiger In this photo provided by Xbox 360, Tiger Woods plays a round of virtual golf with Ryan Shahadat, 10, in New York, during the launch of EA's Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 on Xbox 360. Photo Credit: AP, 2007

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Mark Herrmann Newsday columnist Mark Herrmann

Herrmann has covered the Mets and Yankees since 1988, and has been Newsday’s national golf writer since ...

Golf's popularity is surging, drawing tens of millions of enthusiastic players -- on Wii, Xbox and other video gaming platforms.

The National Golf Foundation this week released results of a survey saying that more than 56 million Americans played golf video games last year. About 39 million of them never have played one stroke of actual golf.

Naturally, the golf industry is interested in getting those people in the fresh air, on a real course. It is not a hopeless cause. The foundation's study indicates that people who play golf on video are more interested in taking up the sport than are people who don't.

Smithtown Landing is proof that real golf does have appeal for the joystick and console generation. It all is a matter of access and presentation. "Our par 3 course has been a big advantage for us. We don't have the issue of members or regular golfers feeling they are being slowed down by kids. We have 5-year-olds who come out to play," said head pro Henry Kilroy. Referring to director of golf Michael Hebron, he added, "Mike has been doing the junior golf camp here for 40 years."

The program drew nearly 400 youngsters this summer. "Once they get out there," Kilroy said, "most people tend to get hooked."

The 'Rules' book has some beauties

Why did a tour player once receive a two-stroke penalty for touching a loose impediment on his backswing when the rules of golf clearly state there is no penalty for touching a loose impediment during a stroke? It is because, according to the rules, the backswing is not part of the stroke.

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In match play, what is the penalty for playing out of turn? There is none. But if an opponent catches you doing so, he or she has the right to make you play the shot over again. This happened during the 2000 Solheim Cup, with an opponent wiping out a chip-in birdie by Annika Sorenstam.

These are two of many interesting nuggets in the outstanding new book, "A Game for Life: Golf's Rules and Rewards" by longtime Metropolitan Golf Association official Gene Westmoreland.

Hack, Sobel add substance

Adding former Newsday golf writer Damon Hack has been an objectivity/insight upgrade on Golf Channel's 19th Hole show. Print and online reporters who appear on the channel are not afraid to offer criticism. At least that is the case for Hack, and Long Island native Jason Sobel.

Could Waugh head PGA Tour?

Seth Waugh, retiring CEO of Deutsche Bank and a familiar figure on Long Island, could become one of the most influential people in golf. Waugh is a leading candidate to succeed Tim Finchem as PGA Tour commissioner, Tim Rosaforte reported in GolfWorld. Waugh established the Deutsche Bank Championship 12 years ago and persuaded President Bill Clinton to host this year's Humana Challenge.

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