USGA critics should draw line on China, too
I read with interest your article in Morning Read about President Donald Trump's course hosting the U.S. Women's Open (“Moment of truth arrives for USGA and Trump,” July 10, http://bit.ly/2ub4Kub); “Players elect to keep Women’s Open apolitical,” July 12, http://bit.ly/2t47lWN).
I know that a lot of people are upset that the USGA did not move the event. If we go down that road, then why on earth are the PGA Tour and LPGA hosting tournaments in China, a country with a horrific record when it comes to human rights? These same entities, along with the NBA, which moved its all-star-game, had a serious problem with North Carolina's so-called bathroom law, but see no problem playing events in a country whose laws are far more onerous and repressive.
Critics of the USGA and golfers who play with Trump or at his facilities, most notably USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, need to be consistent on these matters. Sadly, she and the others are far from it.
(Harman is the national course director for the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation.)
One game, two sets of rules
As an avid golfer, it pains me to see golf trip all over itself with these rules and penalty issues (“A rule that’s adrift: Overturn anchoring ban,” July 10, http://bit.ly/2t6arV6); “Rahm worsens error by not seeking penalty,” July 10, http://bit.ly/2sHYLZs). Little do they realize how these affect the day-to-day play of the game.
It's ridiculous that the USGA doesn't recognize the vast difference between club amateur and professional play.
There's simply no reason to deny an aging golfer with a bad back a long putter, whether he anchors it or not. And, c'mon, a divot is the very definition of "ground under repair." And, why have stroke-and-distance penalties? Isn't the lost ball and stroke enough for club play? Do we really need players walking back to the tee or the fairway to replay shots during a weekend round?
It seems we have two camps of golfers: those stringent rules enforcers who want to watch for every conceivable ball-marking or placement issue or potential rule infraction and those who simply want to play and watch and enjoy the game.
Lately, the word intent has been taken to task in the media.
However, isn't that the singular most important element of golf? It's self-officiated and a game of honor. We call penalties on ourselves.
Does anyone seriously think that Lexi Thompson or Jon Rahm were worried about those 2-foot tap-ins? Or, that the granule of sand that Anna Nordqvist scraped made a bit of difference in the shot that she hit? I'm of the camp that those penalties and the resulting hullabaloo were an embarrassment to the game. Don't even get me going on Dustin Johnson "moving" his ball with a practice swing.
I'm fine with the rules for professionals being stricter. However, it should still be up to the player to make a determination if he or she violated the rules, not some guy watching on a 90-inch high-def TV screen and certainly not for somebody sitting in his living room. No other sport allows for outside interference into the officiating, and golf should be no different.
The USGA needs to develop rules so that honesty and integrity are guiding principles. Quit taking phone calls from bystanders and let the game be played. Also, develop a different set of rules for the casual amateur golfer so that the stringent rules that professionals play under don't scare golfers away from the game.
Toughest courses identify best golfers
First of all, it was the British themselves who called it the British Open (“The Open stands alone as golf’s best event,” July 14, http://bit.ly/2vrzkwf). Then in recent years they changed to just the Open.
Since Mike Davis has taken over the USGA, the U.S. Open setups have become a joke. It no longer is the toughest test in golf. He has made it like a regular tour event, with wide fairways like concrete, not much thick rough and ridiculous, drivable par 4s and easily reachable par 5s. Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player are of the opinion that Davis has ruined the tradition of the U.S. Open.
The problem with the British Open is that if they don't have bad weather, the courses are out of date and become a birdie-fest. St. Andrews is a classic example of a course that has become a joke to be considered a true test. That 18th hole is no test of toughness at all but a gift par or birdie.
If Royal Birkdale has good weather this week, the players will eat it up. Only howling winds and cold and rain will make it a tough and true major championship.
Davis has done the same thing to senior and women's opens: easy setups trashing tradition. How the USGA put him on top is a mystery and terrible.
Sandy Tatum (“Tatum, 96, leaves legacy of principled devotion,” June 26, http://bit.ly/2tv6xFD) wanted even par or over as the final scores of the U.S. Open. Davis thinks low scoring is better. For one tournament of the year, make a setup and not a birdie-fest like the John Deere.
If the British Open has good weather, half of the field will finish under par. Only four tough, windy, rainy cold days will make it a major and a true test.
Today's touring pros have been pampered and spoiled. They gripe when a setup is tough, calling it unfair and tricky. I never have heard one player complain about wide fairways, drivable par 4s and easily-reached par 5s. If they really believe that easy setups make it more exciting, then play from the senior tees and shoot rounds in the 50s each day.
I would rather see a leader coming to the closing holes that are tough pars and see whether he can take the pressure and make pars, not a reachable par 5 or drivable par 4 like at St. Andrews.
Port St. Lucie
Taken aback by Augusta bashing
Your description of Augusta National's second nine is a load of crap (“The Open stands alone as golf’s best event,” July 14, http://bit.ly/2toBTh2). Flowered pincushion, indeed.
If you have ever had a press credential to ANGC to cover the Masters Tournament, you probably can kiss it goodbye. After the folks that run the club see your comment, they will compare it to Gary McCord's infamous "bikini wax" comment and summarily ban you from the grounds for life.
I want to know why some of you in the media feel compelled to compare people, places, venues, etc. Each major has its attributes and faults. They are different, with one no better than the other.
You went out of your way to trash the U.S.-based majors. I can tell you as an American that your comments will be seen as inflammatory and unnecessary.
Here's a piece of advice: Stick to writing about golf and the events surrounding the game. We'll form our opinions without your help.
Indian Trail, N.C.
Making the case for the majors
The article was interesting, and I would think someone thinking otherwise could make a different case. However, I do enjoy the British Open along with the U.S. Open. A case can be made that without the Americans, the British Open would not be nearly as important.
Europeans see it as the ultimate golf tournament, and rightly so for them. However, winning the Masters allows the victor to come back almost forever and have the champions dinner and the camaraderie of the past champions. That’s a nice perk for winning a golf tournament. The U.S. Open is viewed by I would think most Americans as the one tournament they would like to win. It's our national championship, after all.
I find the British Open to be a lot of fun to watch because of the trouble lurking: gorse, pot bunkers, wind, rain, etc.
Michael Wallace Merrill
Following in Trevino’s footsteps
Adam Schupak writes about Lee Trevino and his great run of wins in 1971 and mentions the missing cleats in his golf shoes (“Claret Jug caps Trevino’s ’71 ‘triple crown’,” July 13, http://bit.ly/2uVQjaq).
The following year, Trevino won the Open Championship again but still found time to honor a commitment to play an exhibition match with Max Faulkner, the 1951 Open champion, as the official opening event of Kings Norton Golf Club near Birmingham, England. He went ’round in 69, including a penalty drop out of a stream, which stood as the professional record until the Wills Open attracted some top-level players including Charles Coody and Tony Jacklin a couple of years later.
After Trevino's round, for a cancer charity, he auctioned off some of the gear he had used at the Open during the previous week, including a pair of brown brogue golf shoes. I don't know whether the cleats had been replaced by then. Great guy.
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