From The Inbox

Harder golf means more strokes and, yes, time

From the Morning Read Inbox readers respond to recent articles surrounding use of green books

Harder golf means more strokes and, yes, time
When I first starting caddieing and playing in the late 1950s, a four-hour round was the benchmark.

The game was hard then, but with triplex mowers and rollers making the greens much faster, high-tech mowers that replaced the old “gang mowers,” making the fairways shorter and faster, and dual water systems making the roughs lush and long, the game has gotten much harder. Harder means more strokes; more strokes mean more time (“Seeing red over use of green books,” Aug. 27).

Ball and club technology make the ball go farther, but for the overwhelming majority of players, that technology makes the ball go further off line. Golf-course architecture and environmental concerns build in “natural” areas. Most new, young golfers want to play a difficult course.

So, we’ve made the game much more difficult than it was 60 years ago, but we still expect it to be played at that same pace. Not realistic.

The next time you stand on the 17th tee and look at your watch and see that you’re four hours to that point, think about the 25 worst things that could happen to you that day. If taking an extra 30 minutes to play a round of golf is one of them, you are a very lucky person.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

Slow-play issue centers on recreational golf
I agree with Dan O’Neill, but I’m very tired of hearing about it (“Seeing red over use of green books,” Aug. 27).

The real problem of slow play is in recreational golf, and even there, there is little agreement on what a good pace should be. (The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that five hours is way too slow.)

Let the pros deal with themselves by establishing pace rules and enforcing them. I don’t care, and I’d like to stop hearing about it. At home, how about each course determining its pace and then enforcing it with sensible starters and marshals? That’s the topic that needs discussing.

Charles Peterson
Keller, Texas

Saddle up, and don’t forget your rangefinder
There are many ways to speed up play. Talking about some issues is like beating the proverbial dead horse (“Seeing red over use of green books,” Aug. 27).

To me, the first obvious improvement is allowing the PGA Tour players to use rangefinders. They are now allowed in every type of competition except professional events. Having to have caddies (and sometimes the player) search for a sprinkler head, step it off and then do the math to figure out the yardage is ridiculous. They already have a pin-location sheet. Just point and click, and they have the exact yardage. Then a player has absolutely no excuse to have a bad time on a shot.

Ed McDugle
Memphis, Tenn.

A lost cause
I disagree with reader Paul Sunderland, who wrote, “The only blot was the rule change that limits a ball search to three minutes (it’s OK for amateurs but not the pros)” (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Aug. 27).

The pros have a distinct advantage that the amateurs do not have, and that is a gallery and very often tournament forecaddies who assist in locating wayward shots. I didn't count how many folks were assisting Brooks Koepka in locating his ball last week, but I guarantee you that it was a lot more than I have ever had. If that many people can't find a ball, then it truly is lost.

James A. Smith
Virginia Beach, Va.

2 sets of rules hold key for game
Many readers seem to be of the opinion that a distance-restricted golf ball would be good for the game (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Aug. 26). Unless the USGA also eliminates spring-like effect in clubheads, I don't think you're going to get the desired effect.

The problem isn't just that the ball goes too far, but it also goes too straight, which encourages players to swing as fast as possible, with little fear of penalty.

In 1963, Jack Nicklaus won a long-drive contest with a blast of 341 yards, using a steel-shafted 43½-inch persimmon wood and a balata ball. The big hitters on the PGA Tour are going to hit it far anyway. Nicklaus, however, didn't often swing all out at his driver, for fear of hitting it into trouble, as the ball curved much more back then when struck without a perfectly square clubface.

Spring-like effect in clubheads also is used to reduce spin rates and, along with greatly improved aerodynamic efficiency and solid-core, multi-layer technology in balls, gives players with high swing speeds an unearned advantage. I'm not saying swinging fast isn't a skill, but if you don't hit the ball with a square clubface, you should pay the penalty, and the penalty should be proportionately greater the faster you swing.

Unfortunately, additional rules governing the ball and eliminating spring-like effect aren't going to happen without two sets of rules: one for top-level competition and one for recreational play. The threat of manufacturers suing the USGA out of existence is too great. Besides, recreational players need all the help that we can get, and manufacturers would be happy with two sets of rules, allowing them to offer an expanded range of equipment for sale.

John Stonier

Hawkins’ major-weighted points would fix playoffs
The best solution for the FedEx Cup: Weigh the four majors heavily in points. That is where it fails (“Tour playoff pays off but still needs work,” Aug. 26).

In trying to elevate its product, the PGA Tour did so by diminishing other products, i.e., the PGA Championship. Jamming it into May diminished the historic fourth major that always was played in the heart of summer.

Give those four major champs four times the FedEx Cup points as any other tournament, and then John Hawkins would get what he wants. Rory McIlroy would not have had a chance because he was a major failure in that department this year. Hawkins pointed it out.

That is the best identifier. It should be hard to obtain, like major championships, instead of some phony small-field, big-money giveaway. Fans are not stupid.

Bob Whitbread
Reno, Nev.

Stop pulling punches, Morning Read
I enjoy your blog but think you can be more critical in your reporting. For instance, the change in the PGA Tour schedule during which the PGA Championship was moved up to May takes away some of the summer golf anticipation.

Secondly, the FedEx Cup still seems like a contrived event in spite of the great payouts. Golf needs to build on traditions. Traditions have longevity.

Finally, something has to be done about the super-charged balls and clubs. There’s too much driver/wedge play and not enough in between.

Mitchell Sklare

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