From The Inbox

Thumbs up for more amateurs in Masters

From the Morning Read Inbox readers respond to recent articles surrounding the Masters and many golf questions in search of answers

Thumbs up for more amateurs in Masters
Alex Miceli’s suggestion that U.S. Walker Cup members receive invitations to the Masters Tournament in even-numbered years is spot on and should be given consideration by the Masters committee (“Walker Cuppers deserve spots in Masters,” Sept. 6). To do so would be in keeping with honoring Bob Jones, the best amateur golfer ever and the founder of the Masters, and with past tradition.

In the early 1950s, U.S. Walker Cup team members received an invitation to the Masters, and Augusta National chairman Clifford Roberts suggested to club co-founder Jones that alternates to the Walker Cup team also be extended invitations. Jones enthusiastically agreed. Billy Joe Patton, a North Carolina lumber salesman, was first alternate for the 1953 team and accepted his invitation. His explosive play would dominate the 1954 Masters.

Patton didn’t sell himself short. He planned to win, had his acceptance speech written and bought a white cashmere sport coat to wear to the ceremonies. He was co-leader after the first round and sole leader after the second. Patton played boldly, going for every pin and never playing cautiously. He was two back of Sam Snead at the start of the last round, made a hole-in-one at the sixth and was back in the race, but he bogeyed the 12th, hit into the creek on 13 and the lake on 15. He ended up at 290, one stroke behind Ben Hogan and Snead, the eventual winner in an 18-hole playoff the next day.

History shows that adding a few more amateurs to the Masters field could enliven the tournament. Let’s face it: Some of the former champions who receive invitations aren’t really contending anymore, and some new blood might add more drama. Miceli’s suggestion to extend invitations to the U.S. Walker Cup team members is a great way to select exciting young players.

John Fischer
(Fischer, a retired attorney, is a golf historian who is a past president of the Golf Collectors Society and a longtime member of the USGA’s Museum and Library Committee. He is an occasional contributor to Morning Read.)

Many golf questions in search of answers
Will pace of play ever get faster?

Why is “ready golf” defined differently by each golfer?

As the population of golfers declines, is it logical that golf courses will also?

Will surviving courses benefit and experience fuller tee sheets but (here it is again) even slower pace of play?

New time-saving technology is embraced at many levels, so why the resistance to allowing new technology to professional golf, e.g., rangefinders?

I love the nostalgia of the '57 Chevy and iconic golf courses, but doesn't a very large percentage of the population validate the enjoyment of new technology in golf equipment and autos?

Will bifurcation of the ball appease traditionalists so the iconic courses will be a challenge to the pros to use all of the clubs in their bags?

Will traditionalists use a bifurcated ball on their iconic courses or use the "ball goes too far" ball?

Is entering bunkers on the low side ever taught anymore?

Are the golfers who do not rake bunkers, fill divots and fix ballmarks knuckleheads or part of the new “entitled”?

Does anyone understand that the golf game of amateurs vs. professionals is as similar as a sundial and a Rolex?

Are cooked-to-order burgers and guacamole next on the beverage cart?

So many questions . . . .

Dave Richner
St. Johns, Fla.

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