From The Inbox

Disconnect widens among PGA Tour's ‘elite’ players

NASCAR drivers put the pedal to the metal 36 weeks a year, but many of the PGA Tour’s southeast Florida players take a detour to avoid this week’s Honda Classic

John Hawkins’ article on the irrelevance of a new world tour was spot-on (“Upstart tour wouldn’t make a world of difference,” Feb. 25).

The PGA Tour has begun its decline to irrelevance, as well. The ridiculous refusal to penalize slow players, the cowardice of commissioner Jay Monahan to watch a replay of Patrick Reed unapologetically cheating without any type of verbal reprimand, the distance debacle, and know an upstart tour’s trying to lure a handful of pampered millionaires to play in distant places for even more millions. It's become a joke, and Hawkins nailed it.

NASCAR drivers, such as Ryan Newman, put their lives on the line 36 weeks a year. Golf's “elite” players refuse to roll out of bed and drive 10 minutes to support one of their longest sponsors, Honda.

It's appalling how wide the disconnect has gotten between the professional golfer and recreational golfer. We actually work for a living and play as much as we can. They play golf for a living and play as little as they can.

Jeff Mullen
Haddonfield, N.J.

Blame Tour for current attitude among players
Excellent piece by John Hawkins on the fact that so many highly ranked PGA Tour pro golfers have become such prima donnas that they think there is no need to support their sport by playing more events during the year (“Upstart tour wouldn’t make a world of difference,” Feb. 25).

No wonder that there are issues finding sponsorships for some Tour events. It will only get worse, if things don’t change.

Don’t the players realize that without the paying customers at the gate, golf attendance will decline, ratings will drop and so will sponsorship money?

I blame the PGA Tour organization from not implementing rules and guidelines to hammer home the point to the players that to grow the sport and to maintain their fat wallets, they must support and play in more events, not only for their good, but also to the benefit of their sport.

Manny Ramalho
Colonia, N.J.

Swappin’ paint, and back for more
That is an amazing stat owned by Jimmie Johnson in John Hawkins’ commentary (“Upstart tour wouldn’t make a world of difference,” Feb. 25). Cal Ripken would be proud.

Today's breed of racer is mostly gone from home one or two days a week, and some races they are in and out the same day, but amassing that many years without missing an event is incredible.
Good analogy.

Mike Nixon
Nashville, Tenn.
(Nixon, who played the PGA Tour in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is the director of golf operations for the Tennessee Golf Trail.)

Team spirit would help new tour
John Hawkins makes some very strong points, and I agree that the PGA Tour has lost a lot of glitz due to huge purses and lack of respect for venues (“Upstart tour wouldn’t make a world of difference,” Feb. 25).

A new team-formatted league could recruit some new eyes on the TV and Internet. Viewers are dwindling, and golf needs a shot in the arm to capture new eyes.

Could they package these events in a manner to attract the viewer that prefers rooting for a team? Think about the Vegas aspect. I’m not a sports gambler, but there are millions who are, and the team events could bring even more of them to watch.

If the cash is great enough, and if some players sign on, then this could become reality. Plus, they have to play only 18 times, which is right up their alleys, and paychecks guaranteed.

Garen Eggleston
The Villages, Fla.

The 4¼-inch answer to golf’s distance debate
As long as the size of the hole doesn’t change, scoring will not change that much for the professionals, rendering the distance debate much ado about nothing (“Blueprint to fix distance woes already exists,” Feb. 17).

In the past 60 years, scoring has dropped appx five strokes.
That’s not much, considering the advances in technology with hot drivers and golf balls.

Why? Putting. The size of the hole hasn’t changed. You still have to make the putts.

Even among professional golfers, the make percentage of putts around 10 feet hovers around 50 percent. That’s only 10 feet. The percentages drop significantly for farther distances.

The average PGA Tour event essentially is a putting contest, even in this bomb-and-gouge age. Whoever gets hot with the putter.

And we annually see on the West Coast swing the pros’ consternation about putting on the Poa annua surfaces, so even short putts can be dicey at times.

I understand to some degree the concern over driving distances and classic courses, but that concern is a little exaggerated. Golfers still have to chip and putt, and whoever has the best overall game usually wins that week.

I also think the PGA Tour has a nice mixture of courses in the rotation. Courses that favor bombers (Kapalua), courses that favor shot makers (Colonial) and courses with quirky or small green complexes (Harbour Town and Pebble Beach). Not every course favors the huge hitter.

Leave technology alone, and let it continue to advance unfettered.

Jon Lucas
Little Rock, Ark.

Bifurcation today and tomorrow
Why does the discussion of scaling back distance presume that the touring pros and elite amateurs will be playing the same equipment as lumps like me?

We already have bifurcation, for all intents and purposes, in the sense that the elite golfers have custom-tuned clubs, trainers, masseurs, with daily swing analysis and help from coaches. We already have differentiation in the golf ball, for that matter. How many elite golfers play the Titleist Velocity or the Noodle or the other “bottom of the line” balls from the major manufacturers?

If the specs for the ball used in elite competition were ratcheted back, regular golfers could still use it, although I doubt they would. But we might get to see those elite golfers playing the great courses from the same places that we do when we get the chance to play them.

Mike McQueen
El Paso, Texas

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