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New Minnesota golf license plates available this summer

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Golfers in Minnesota will soon be able to promote their love of the game by buying special golf-themed license plates for their cars.

The "Play Golf Minnesota" plates are the latest specialty tabs being offered by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and people should be able to order them starting in August, the Associated Press reports.

The state already has a list of some 200 specialty plates to choose from, a large number of them celebrating military veterans.

But there is an extra cost involved to order them.

In this case, buyers will pay a $10 specialty plate fee, plus another $30 which will go to a Minnesota PGA Golf Foundation account to promote the sport among kids and teenagers, according to a Senate bill.

The golf plates were one of four new specialty plates approved by the Legislature last year. The others celebrate female veterans, retired firefighters and hiking.

The female veterans and firefighter plates have been available for several months. The hiking plates will become available on Jan. 1, and proceeds from their sales will benefit the Minnesota state parks and trails system, the Associated Press notes.

The golf plate donations will be used to strengthen and expand junior golf programs in Minnesota or help schools buy golf equipment for gym classes, Jon Tollette, executive director of Minnesota Section Professional Golfers Association, told the AP.

A boost for a declining sport?

For golf courses in the state, that may be considered money well spent.

Although Minnesota ranks high in the number of golfers and golf courses per capita, declining interest in the game has forced several courses around the state to close in recent years.

The Star Tribune reported membership in the Minnesota Golf Association (MGA), which is an indicator of how many avid golfers there are in the state, dropped from a high of 94,000 in 1999 to 65,000 last year.

Minnesota will be in the golf spotlight next year, when the Ryder Cup international tournament will be played at Hazeltine National golf course in Chaska.

And backers of the new golf license plate hope the excitement around that event will translate to brisk sales of the new "Play Golf Minnesota" tabs.

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