From the Morning Read inbox
October 11, 2017
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Restrict ex-pros from return to amateur golf 

I had no idea there were that many former professionals playing in the U.S. Mid-Amateur (“Ex-pros vs. amateurs: It’s USGA’s shame,” Oct. 10, http://bit.ly/2wKrqip). I'm quite disappointed. I look at the Mid-Amateur as an opportunity for working stiffs to play at the highest level available to them, and my highest level isn't close to a touring pro’s. I've played with a couple, and I know where I stand. 

College players, while amateurs by definition, also are professionals in that they are full time and they are compensated for their abilities. Avoiding college players is one perk of a mid-amateur championship. However, playing against a former touring pro, only two years out from his touring days, seems completely unfair. That touring pro might not have a job yet because he still could be living off his winnings.

If a touring pro made enough money that he did not have to work and still could play golf full time while waiting for amateur status, he still has an unfair advantage over amateurs who work a standard 9-5 and cannot play every day.

It is definitely time to review the criteria by which former touring pros can regain amateur status, or be allowed to participate in amateur championships. A five-year hold on participation is a start, and a fair start. College players also should be restricted from the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship for two years after their last season of college play. This likely would not matter as most college graduates are 23 or younger, but it does restrict college/university players doing their master’s degrees. This is a category on the rise in Canada.

I work hard on my game and take tournaments seriously. To find out I'm going up against former touring pros makes me question whether it is worth trying to qualify in the future. The cost to try and qualify, accommodations, travel, and then doing it all again for the championship is a sizable undertaking for many people. There are better ways for me to spend my money than playing against former tour pros. 

Tour pros and club pros have their events. Let me have mine.

Morgan Rubes
Collingwood, Ontario

 

A prescription for change 

I just got home last night from the U.S. Mid-Am, where I caddied for my best friend, who turns 48 in December and is a classic weekend warrior golfer. He's a doctor who needs to work in order to make money, so it's Saturday mornings at the club and the occasional Friday afternoon hit-and-giggle. If he's lucky, he can pop out another day in the late afternoon and hit balls for 30-45 minutes.

However, with three kids and a business, the “professional amateur” lifestyle is not possible.

When we showed up, I thought that there were many guys like my buddy, but it turns out he's the exception and not the norm, even among the career amateurs.

One of the guys in our group played in the U.S. Open as a pro a few years back but got his amateur status back not long after. Super nice guy, and I have nothing bad to say about him, but you don't get a swing like that and the ball doesn't make that sound unless you were a pro at some point.

I don't think the USGA cares one bit about the “Mid-Am sham” of which you speak. They love the idea of better players in their competitions, and they lose zero sleep stretching the amateur label as far as they want in order to achieve that goal.

Now with the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion getting a spot at the U.S. Open (“In the news,” Oct. 6, http://www.morningread.com/), they want a stud mid-am who can make a respectable showing. They don't want someone like my friend shooting 87 and 89 because he hits it only 260-270 instead of flying it 300 like many of the guys in the Mid-Am field can.


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I like your dollar-value cutoff, but I would add that anyone good enough to be an exempt player on the PGA Tour is permanently banned from becoming an amateur again – at least a 20-year wait or age 55 limit, whichever comes later.

If you were a Web.com, PGA Tour Latinoamerica or PGA Tour Canada player, it's a 10-year minimum wait. Anyone else who turns pro needs to sit on the sidelines for five years.

One or two years is a joke, and everyone knows it.

Lance Hellring
Miami Beach, Fla.

 

‘For the love of the game’ 

I could not agree with you more. This just reinforces how the USGA has no real guidelines or boundaries and does whatever it wants.

An amateur is someone who plays for the love of the game and not for money. Once someone makes that decision, he is for all intents and purposes a “professional,” regardless of how well or poorly he performs in the years ahead.

Ted A. Biskind
Cleveland

 

An idea for reinstatement 

Anyone who has been away from professional golf competition for more that 10 years, regardless of any amount won, could be allowed into amateur competition. However, any former professional or competitive amateur with ranking and tournament experience should not be allowed into club or “social” competition.

Kenneth M. Pittner
Glenview, Ill.

 

Not so exceptional 

I always thought that reinstatement to amateur status was an exceptional occurrence, and I’m shocked by the numbers of actual reinstatements.

Perhaps I don't understand: Why do pros seek reinstatement, and why does the USGA grant it, especially in such large numbers?

Daniel Malaguilla
Houston

 

Add a division for reinstated players 

The USGA might as well have a reinstated division. It’s gotten so ridiculous that all these pros get their status back so easily. 

David Coleman
Middleburg Heights, Ohio
(Coleman is a PGA professional.)

 

No love lost for USGA 

That is one of the best-reasoned, well-written golf articles I have ever read (“USGA errs with latest Open exemptions,” Oct. 9, http://bit.ly/2zc0fyS). In my mind, the USGA lost real credibility a long time ago, and I quit supporting them at least 20 years ago.

David Adams
Dallas

 

Keeping score for Nelson 

Hector Fernandez got it right about Larry Nelson being passed over as a Ryder Cup captain, but Nelson was more than a fine golfer and a great American (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Oct. 9, http://bit.ly/2fV9sDk). Nelson won three majors; Davis Love and Fred Couples have only two together.

Also, Nelson’s Ryder Cup record as a player is almost unequaled.

I don’t know if it’s politics as much as picking media favorites.

Bob Kurtz
Cullman, Ala.

 

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