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Friday, August 19, 2011
Looking at golf at Heatstroke Open in Death Valley


DEATH VALLEY, Calif. -- You know it's going to be a day like no other on the golf course when you approach the second tee, look at the pond fronting the green and think about jumping in.

Never mind the dead coyote lying on the bank of the pond or the green film of who-knows-what that is floating on the surface, that water looks pretty refreshing.

Normally, you do everything you can to avoid water on a golf course, but as you find out over the next four hours, traditional golf conventions and decorum do not apply at Furnace Creek Golf Course.

Here, in one of the hottest places in the world, you play by summer rules.

You don't pull the flagstick when you putt, you don't bother bending over to mark your ball on the green unless it's directly in somebody else's line, and you think long and hard before you pick up a rake to tend to a bunker after hitting a shot out of the sand.

It's all about limiting movement and conserving energy in a sun that sizzles at temperatures well into the triple digits all summer and regularly tops 120 on the hottest days. You don't play Furnace Creek in the summer, you survive it.

"That's pretty much the goal out here," said Matt Muscari, a Las Vegas resident who played the Heatstroke Open tournament at Furnace Creek last month. "Just make it through without passing out."