From The Inbox

There’s an upside to a 5-hour round

From the Morning Read Inbox readers respond to recent articles surrounding caddies, networks and stroke index to improve pace of play issue on PGA Tour

There’s an upside to a 5-hour round
Slow play affects everyone's round of golf, but contrary to current public opinion, it is not always a negative.

Yes, some of my best rounds have been played in three hours, but so have some of them been played in five. The day, the swing, my physical condition and the luck of the bounce all play a role in the length of play. As with most golfers, some days everything works and others – well, not so much.

I play most of my golf with my wife of 41 years, and as odd as many might think, I quite enjoy spending five hours outside on a nice day with her. We are not out there to race around and then jump in the car and roar off to do something else. We are instead there to enjoy each other’s company, a beautiful day and some physical activity. I make no apologies, if that annoys you.

Take a breath, embrace the day, as those days will far too quickly begin to dwindle away. Life is short, my friends. Better to enjoy it than complain about it.

Baird Heide
Bradford, Ontario

Olympic motto could help golf pick up pace
There have been a number of good letters about pace of play lately (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Aug. 14). I would have liked to have seen the pros setting an example, and what better way to do that than to have had golf in the Olympics reflecting the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger.”

How interesting it would be to see great golfers who are good athletes competing against great athletes who are good golfers, in an event in which one minute equals one stroke? Set the course par at 70 strokes and 70 minutes and see who wins on a score-plus-time basis.

This is not unrealistic. When I was 35 years old and a 5 handicap, I went around a par-71 course in Surrey, England, at 6:15 a.m. in 80 shots and 67 minutes, while carrying my own five clubs and lifting the flags myself. It would take me a bit longer now!

Robin Lawson
St. Andrews, Scotland

Proposed golf stat: time to stroke index
Here's my contribution to the slow-play issue: We have lots of stats. Let's measure each player's time to stroke.

Once a player gets within 10 feet of his or her ball, the clock starts. All strokes are measured. Each player gets a “time to stroke” index. That index is then correlated with the weather for the first three days of the tournament, with the lowest indexes getting the assumed best playing times for predicted weather. Higher indexes get tee times around them, to get the higher wind or rain experience. The fourth day of the tournament can be scheduled as it is now, with leaders last for TV purposes.

Robin Dea
Vancouver, Wash.

Networks could push PGA Tour to hurry up
The only way that the PGA Tour will address slow play is when TV networks demand that play concludes within the time frame allocated.

How happy can CBS be with its Saturday and Sunday broadcasts running over and having to switch channels to finish or delay scheduled programming?

When the PGA Tour is hurt financially, then there will be pressure to address the problem, but I don’t see that happening. And after watching some of the recent U.S. Women’s Amateur, I see that slow play is not just a PGA Tour issue.

Gary Cohen
Great Neck, N.Y.

It’s a group thing
Slow play is a group phenomena. Either a group is in position on a course or not.

I am a member of a club that tracks the time of each round played and creates a log. Seminole does the same. Guess what? Speed of play is not an issue at either club.

I have been at our club and had a visit from the staff suggesting that our pace is not on par with the established norm, even when there is no play in front or behind us. Perhaps the PGA Tour and other tour organizers could establish "time par" on each stop and enforce this time by group. If time par is not met, there should be consequences for the group in question. The slow players in a group would have to deal with the wrath of the faster players in this group as they self-police themselves.

Putting a shot clock on each player with each shot will end up being a massive effort, with questionable results, in my opinion.

I also want to remind Morning Read’s readers of my earlier note suggesting that these "green books" be outlawed and that we give everyone the ability to use yardage devices as the sole aid in playing the game. From that point on, it will be the players’ responsibility to digest weather, course conditions and contours in order to execute the proper shot.

Hogan, Snead and Nelson would be appalled by what is now taking place at the very high level of this great game.

John Douglas
Vero Beach, Fla.

Limit caddies’ input on greens
I agree with Michael Lovett that green-reading books should not be allowed on professional tours (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Aug. 14).

I would go further and prohibit caddies from assisting the player in any way on the green: no helping with green reading or alignment. After all, aren’t both of these “skills associated with the game”? Golfers, especially at the professional tournament level, should be required to rely on their own skills, without any assistance from their caddies. If my caddie is better than yours at reading greens, I have a significant advantage over you that has nothing to do with my skill.

I have no problem with caddies doing what they normally do when not on the green, such as giving information about distance, club choice and even which part of the green to play for, but reading the green and helping tour players with their putter face alignment should not be allowed.

Joe Moran
Asheville, N.C.

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