Jones has been working on a new course at the Mill Creek Golf and Country Club in Salado (pop. 400), which, if you've got a map handy, you'll see is situated roughly between Waco and Austin. Tired of trying to explain where the Mill Creek course is, Jones began telling people it was in "the heart of Texas." Fancifully, he then designed the 12th green in the shape of a heart. That made the course Jones' most notable creation since one he designed in Egypt dubbed "The Sphinx Links." Inspired by their heart-shaped green, Mill Creek's owners pulled some strings in Governor William P. Clements Jr.'s office, which paid off handsomely when the course was dedicated the other day. A state official was on hand for the ceremony and read a memorandum from Clements officially designating the 12th green, for the occasion, "the heart of Texas." Then everybody went clap-clap-clap.
SOMETHING FOR STAY-AT-HOMES
Under existing off-track betting schemes, horseplayers can do their wagering at neighborhood betting parlors ( New York) or in theaters to which races are beamed via closed-circuit TV ( Connecticut). Either way, horsemen and racetrack operators complain that OTB hurts both track attendance and pari-mutuel handles. Now William King, president of Louisville Downs harness track, is fighting back. He's offering what may be the ultimate in OTB: a plan under which bettors will be able to watch a full card of races on television at home and place their bets by telephone—with the track handling the action.
King's innovation, called Dial-a-Bet, has been approved by the Kentucky Harness Racing Commission and is due to take effect at the start of Louisville Downs' winter meeting on Feb. 3. Under a deal with Louisville-based Communication Properties Inc., King has leased a cable-TV channel on which he plans to telecast at least 10 races every night, interspersed with instructions on reading the charts, interviews with horsemen and similar features. The stay-at-home horseplayer must open a cash account at Louisville Downs. He then will be assigned a code number. To bet on a race, he'll call the track and give his number to a clerk, who'll approve the transaction after verifying that the caller has sufficient funds on deposit to cover the bet. No credit will be allowed.
The Kentucky attorney general's office says bettors living in the state apparently would be violating no laws by dealing with Dial-a-Bet, though it is less certain about those who might phone in from neighboring states. Confident that Dial-a-Bet will catch on at other tracks. King told the Louisville Courier-Journal's Billy Reed, "This is the answer to OTB. OTB is handled by a bunch of politicians, local yokels who get tremendous salaries. This way the horsemen get their money, the state gets its money, the track gets its money."
TOP O' THE WEEK TO YOU
Congratulations are in order to Notre Dame, which holds down the No. 1 spot in the Midwest in SI's college football rankings for the fourth straight week (page 68). As reader John P. Schmitt of Indianapolis notes, this is the first time in quite a while—since 1971, to be exact—that the Irish have been tops in the Midwest. What's even more surprising about this nine-year hiatus is that only four teams had held down the No. 1 spot during all that time: Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan. Herm Weiskopf, who compiles our weekly rankings, says, "As good as Notre Dame may have been in any given week, one of those four always seemed to be better."
To be sure, the Irish have exhibited an uncanny knack for moving up in the national polls with victories in bowl games, which, as it happens, are played after our weekly ratings are discontinued. It was as a consequence of New Year's Day wins, for example, that the Associated Press named the Irish national champions for both 1973 and 1977. But, never mind...they've already been congratulated for that.
LEAVING HIS MARK
Muhammed Ali didn't become a four-time world champion, but he did make it into the latest edition of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, that 125-year-old reference work that includes the words of such other oracles as Shakespeare, Milton and Coleridge. Emily Morison Beck, the current editor of the book created by Massachusetts bookseller John Bartlett, found the following Ali-isms worthy of inclusion in the 15th edition, which was published three days before the Las Vegas fight: