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It's always amazing what the word "free" does to a person.

Last year in its initial season, the Homestead Golf Course had a difficult time attracting customers because of various problems. But next week the Homestead is already booked from sunup to sundown. Why?Free golf.

The Midway course is waiving its green fees all week and allowing golfers to play for free. That's right, free. It's a an idea Homestead golf director Bruce Summerhays and professional Chris Briscoe hatched to get golfers to experience their course, which they say came through the winter in "incredible" shape.

"It's something Bruce and I have always wanted to do," said Briscoe. "We want to give something back to the golfers. We'd like to do this every year."

Of course, they're also hoping that the golfers who come and try the course will come back and play it again, for a fee. The Homestead will lose money next week but may come out ahead in the long run.

"It's really interesting," said Briscoe. "Last week we only charged $10 and only had about 40 players a day. Next week we're booked solid and probably could have signed up 1,000 golfers a day."

If you're interested in playing the Homestead for free, well it's too late. That is unless you got up real early today and want to play next Sunday, the last day of the free offer. Tee times were being taken beginning at 7 a.m.

But for just $10 more you can play 18 holes at the Homestead anytime up until May 23 when regular season rates go into effect.SCRAMBLING AROUND: Scrambles have become one of the most popular formats for golf pro-ams in recent years. For those who aren't familiar with a scramble it goes like this - all members of a group play as a team, hitting from the same spot on each shot and using the best shot of the group.

Last week, the PGA Tour had its first scramble in an official tournament after heavy rains wiped out the Independent Insurance Agent Open in Houston. The IIAO was rescheduled for Oct. 23-26, but since many sponsors, VIPs and golfers were still around when the weather improved on the weekend, tourney officials came up with the scramble format.

The team of Bobby Wadkins, Mike Hulbert and Robert Wrenn won the scramble with a score of 56. The second place team included Hal Sutton, John Inman and Utah's Jay Don Blake.

The players and the fans enjoyed the casual scramble format, according to Blake.

"They said `It's nice to see you guys can talk,"' Blake said. "It was a lot of fun for us and the fans too."AUTOGRAPH BAN: Autographs have become the bane of athletes in every sport lately, ever since sports collecting became a big business. Golfers are not immune to the autograph hounds, except, of course at the Masters.

Masters chairman Hord W. Hardin put out the word before the tournament began - no longer would spectators be allowed to get autographs from the players on the golf course during practice rounds. They're never allowed to during a real round at any PGA event.

Augusta National made sure the policy works. Pinkerton guards accompanied players as they move from the tee to the practice green or first tee. They also watched when the players go from one hole to the next.

"It's just nice where we can get out on the course and we can play golf," said Nick Price. "I'm sorry for the fans, but it's great for you."STRAY SHOTS: The annual Nibley Park Best Ball will be played next Saturday and Sunday at Nibley. Call 483-5418 for information. Also next weekend the Palisade 2-Man Scramble will be played Saturday and Kanab Best Ball will be Saturday and Sunday . . . At the age of 78, Sam Snead has taken up a new career - designing courses. "I got tired of seeing perfectly-suited land turned into unplayable golf courses," said Snead, who is joining the California-based firm of Robert Muir Graves.