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 past."
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 Ziegler'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."