From The Inbox

Executive courses hold key to pace of play

From the Morning Read Inbox readers respond to recent articles surrounding rangefinders at PGA Tour events and long hours on the courses

Executive courses hold key to pace of play
I’ve always wondered why the USGA doesn’t do more to promote executive and par-3 courses. They are the perfect venue for seniors, kids, families and new golfers. People aren’t there to shoot low scores but instead to learn and have fun.

My experience on Gem Lake Hills in White Bear Lake, Minn., the best 18-hole executive course I’ve ever played, is nothing short of perfect every time. And the best part? It’s not slow because nobody stands over putts and screws around with rangefinders. Hit and go.

Lost in the shuffle of all the comments on slow play is the fact that many non-traditional golfers just can’t keep up on many 18-hole layouts. If I owned an 18-hole course, I would turn the back side into a 12-hole executive course and price it accordingly.

If you are serious about attracting new or non-traditional golfers, I can’t think of a better way to do it.

Betsy Larey
St. Paul, Minn.
(Larey is an LPGA teaching professional.)


Allow rangerfinders in PGA Tour events
In regards to PGA Tour slow play, I can throw darts into just about any shot-clock solution, but one thing that would help is allowing the use of rangefinders.

The pros are always going to get their distances, regardless, but sometimes this requires a lot of stepping, depending on their position on the course. Caddies use rangefinders when scouting courses, so what's the point of banning them from tournament play? I wouldn't have a problem with the use of the slope option on rangefinders during tournament play, either.

The pros are given pin sheets to allow them to know their exact distance as well as pin position. If the PGA Tour thinks it's that important to give distance information, why not allow the use of rangefinders? Anyone can go onto the course at any time other than during tournament play and get distances using rangefinders, so why are we making these pros waste time stepping it off?

Allowing rangefinders should be part of the solution to slow play.

Jim Rucker
Nashville, Tenn.


An upside to all of that on-course downtime
Regarding reader Penny Siebrandt (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Aug. 22): Penny ... Penny ... Penny ...

This link lists the average times it takes to play some of the best regulation 18-hole public courses in Los Angeles County. Most of them are 4½-4¾ hours, and some even say five hours or more on weekends. It makes my point (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Aug. 21).

Slow play has been viewed as a problem for a long time, and because there hasn't been a viable solution, even those who manage public facilities can’t fix it. So, we just have to accept it as a new normal. Or give up the game.

Maybe while we wait between shots we can make productive use of our time by filling in divots with sand/seed mix and fixing ball marks. These might even reduce some of the maintenance costs and offset some of the revenue lost through the reduced number of tee times.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.


Focus and routine can keep golfers on pace
I’ve been aware of pace of play since my time working at TPC Tampa Bay. Back in the 1990 era, we implemented a pace-of-play spreadsheet that our rangers used. We had pace timed from the third hole to the 18th and used tee times to check each group as they proceeded around the course.

What came to mind as I began teaching was how slow some players could be due to their pre-shot routines. I then developed my own set routine and found that it not only improved my pace of play but also my shot-making and more importantly my putting.

Long after, I found the Quiet Eye technique and how when incorporated into the routine my focus increased and my routine shortened. By using the same routine every time, I take away the “thinking” part in swing and allow my non-conscious to execute from retained memory.

I encourage all golfers to develop a pre-shot routine and to use it every time they pick up a club. Know your club distances. I have a chart in my yardage-book cover. Know the distance you need, minimum and maximum, to the target. Visualize your ball flight or roll/break for putting. Refine your target, commit, swing. Move on.

Glen Coombe
Daytona Beach, Fla.
(Coombe, a retired teaching professional and the author of “The Money Back Guarantee Putting Experience,” operates puttingdoctor.net)


Adams’ advice finds mark with this ‘average golfer’
I can’t say that I’m surprised that Barney Adams’ guest editorial would spark some disagreement from at least one Morning Read reader (“Golf isn’t fun, but it could be rewarding,” Aug. 21). Adams himself knew that it would.

I gave his editorial my attention by reading it several times, trying to discern the subtle differences between the words “rewarding” and “fun.”

The thing that struck me was his application of the “average” golfer on the usual course. I am that guy. I drive the ball 192 yards, and my 8-iron is in the 120s, and my score is normally a 97 – just as he noted. If I understand him correctly, he is saying that the course isn’t set up for the average golfer and that fact deprives the average golfer of fun. However, the average golfer can be rewarded when a green is hit and held and a putt is made against the odds.

I do love the game, and I play for that feeling I get a few times per round when I strike the ball perfectly. Sometimes I am rewarded by the course, but most of the time even my best shots aren’t rewarded. I wish there were a course that was set up for the average golfer, but I don’t know of any. Even playing the white tees doesn’t compensate for the long setup.

Some people make their own fun by playing side games with friends and gambling with handicaps. I don’t play for money, so I’m left out of some invented fun.

Golf rewards me by burning calories with something far more interesting than walking on a treadmill. I also am rewarded when I meet new faces, as I always have met very nice people from all walks of life. I am rewarded with views of natural beauty when I see birds and alligators gliding along the bayou of my home course.

I agree with Adams that the game is rewarding in many facets, but I don’t really have “fun” in the traditional sense because the course is too difficult for my average ability. I have tried very hard to better my ability by “digging it out of the dirt” (isn’t that fun?), as Ben Hogan said, but there is a wall that I hit to be better than average.

Barney Adams is a very influential and knowledgeable person in the golfing world. I hope that course architects are paying attention.

Daryl Lott
Houston


Every shot looms as potential home run
Golf is the greatest game, the game of a lifetime, the only game in which you’re not trying to cheat the refs – the ball drops ... or it doesn’t – and no replay will reverse it. But, none of the above will attract new golfers. They’ll come to appreciate golf for those reasons and more, but likely won’t pull them in.

The late Cubs great Ernie Banks once told me when asked what it took to reach the bleachers in left-center at Wrigley Field: “8-iron.” Imagine, a home run in a monstrous stadium with a short iron.

So, why do I love golf? It’s like hitting a home run with every shot. A drive, fairway wood, iron, or even a pitch, chip or putt solidly struck vibrates up the shaft to the brain, satisfying the addiction.

If new golfers could experience the sensation, they’d be golfers for life, I’ll wager. I’ve seen it countless times on the range: the smile, the laugh, eyes transfixed to their ball in flight. Wow.

Coincidentally, the Cubs bought my local track. My handicap and men’s association disappeared with it, so I’ve not kept or recorded a score since. Very liberating. Birdies and bogeys balance each other closely enough to know how you’re doing, but best of all it's very easy to forget the doubles completely.

Best game ever, and nonstop fun.

Gary Stauffenberg
Phoenix
(Stauffenberg is the president and chief executive officer of Aussie Chiller Headwear.)


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