From The Inbox

Ignorance about coronavirus threat is no excuse

Golfers must join the rest of society in making sacrifices now in an effort to keep this contagion from growing, reader contends

I am dismayed and disgusted by several letters from readers arguing with Alex Miceli’s Cactus Tour commentary (“Ban golf during a pandemic? Not on Cactus Tour,” March 18).

Understandably, in some parts of our nation, ideology skews in different directions, yet misinformation, faux news, and willful ignorance are inexcusable no matter from where they might emanate.

Reader Ted Emerson thinks it’s OK for satellite tours to carry on (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 19). On the surface, fair enough, but upon any reasonable analysis deeper than that, one must realize that the travel, lodging and ancillary services involved in these events creates a fertile opportunity for just one virus carrier (healthy or not) to spread the disease locally and geographically, thus starting what is a factually exponential exposure equation. It goes another step and gravely reduces the relative defense of smaller, regional health-care facilities that swiftly would be overwhelmed by infected patients. Halting this, or any, tour for 30, 45, 60 or 120 days – whatever it takes to flatten the curve and avoid risks – is hardly much in the way of the societal sacrifice so necessary to fight this contagion.

Worse yet, reader Jeff Nettesheim offers a false narrative. He condemns Miceli and suggests "the PGA Tour and other professional tours should not have canceled tournaments.” Nettesheim goes on to write that the world “is doing exactly what China wanted to happen: shut down all economies while the Chinese ramp back up. . . .” He further goes on to cite a static number that has nowhere to go but seriously higher, that these static numbers “are dwarfed by a typical flu season in the U.S.,” and that it’s all a “media narrative.”

Tell that to the hundreds dying daily in Italy and inevitably France, the U.K. and the U.S. This is willful and irresponsible ignorance that was narrated by our national leadership and Fox News from January through to 10 days ago. It was a political whitewash of faux news that reality eventually caught up with, and is now racing past. Nettesheim goes on to accuse the general media of “false reporting.” Just watch the epi-curve numbers. They don’t lie.

Nettesheim is wholly entitled to his point of view, as is Morning Read in publishing it, with both protected by our treasured First Amendment. However, it is irresponsible, foolish and borderline dangerous to let this uninformed and deliberately misguided tale go unanswered. I only hope that any of the readers and/or their loved ones who depend on accessibility to quality health care in this country won’t need it for however long we remain in the very real, very dangerous crisis.

As a golf course owner-principal and a member of another club, I’m all for golf, safely-presented, on a local level. The game can provide multiple benefits in a time desperate for them. We are all sharing a period that must have us trade sacrifice in order to ensure that our country, as we know it and love it, survives and stays healthy.

Golf and its for-profit and entertainment components hardly have any equivalence.

Steven Lapper
Far Hills, N.J.
(Lapper is a co-owner of Fox Hollow Golf Club in Branchburg, N.J., which he says remains open per state and federal health guidelines.)

What a cluster this is
I mostly agree with Alex Miceli (“Ban golf during a pandemic? Not on Cactus Tour,” March 18). But when the federal government recommends that Americans reduce their presence in clusters of 50 down to 10, and President Donald Trump has 15 of his own staff standing within mere feet of him, and in a room filled with reporters, isn’t it time to wonder whether the inmates are running the asylum?

I am on vacation in Florida, and golf goes on. I’ve been playing for 50-plus years, and for the first time I am getting a cart for myself.

Seeing thousands of kids on the beach in Daytona makes me wonder what parents are thinking. If a bunch of them die, the parents will be screaming, Why didn’t the cops get them off the beach?

How about something called personal responsibility?

Bob Malone
Long Beach, N.Y.

A sick feeling
With all due respect to reader Jeff Nettesheim, what "media narrative" is driving his point of view, Fox News’? (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 19).

Tell the doctors in northern Italy who literally are choosing who lives and dies due to a lack of equipment that this is a media narrative.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been told by experts to expect that two-thirds of all Germans will contract coronavirus, or Covid-19. If the mortality rate is only 1 percent, about 550,000 of the 83 million Germans will die.

That is a bit worse than the flu.

Stephen Cooney
Pottstown, Pa.
(Cooney is a retired science and math teacher and former high school golf coach.)

Don’t dismiss the science behind the pandemic
With respect to reader Jeff Nettesheim, his response to this pandemic is foolhardy and dangerous (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 19).

Any doctor or epidemiologist worth his salt knows just how dangerous this virus is, and those who deny it add to the public danger.

Please, listen to the science, not the deniers.

Paul Sunderland
Los Angeles

A warning beyond the call for action
Thank you, Bradley S. Klein, for waving the good-citizenship flag with your anecdote of your recent round and your suggestions for players and course operators (“A heads-up approach to a hands-off golf game,” March 19).

I refer to one passage, specifically, “Even if you think you’re invulnerable and in ideal health, there’s still the strong potential of being a carrier who can hand off the illness to someone more vulnerable and likely to be more symptomatic than you are.” Bravo for this. I’d like to prompt Klein to consider the implications of this statement.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, a coronavirus hotspot, with golf courses closed by decree in our nine counties. So, I concede that my lens is different, even than Klein’s.

Klein tries to lead along those golfers around the country whose lives have yet to be impacted like have ours here. I get that and view it as especially important with so many people around the country displaying willful ignorance of their responsibility to others.
Scientifically speaking, it would appear that the precautions taken by Klein in his four-ball were smart, but likely not enough to protect him. Whether his golf glove or his hand was touching that bunker rake, the virus doesn’t differentiate. It is happy to rest on the glove for 24 hours as well as the hand. If the four members of the group were close enough to touch putters, they were close enough for an inadvertent cough or sneeze to infect three partners.

We can view this as, How can I best protect myself and continue to play golf? or, How can I best do my part as a citizen to be part of the solution more than part of the problem? Klein and Morning Read’s subscribers may or may not end up with the same conclusions.

I am not a medical professional, so I am taking many of my cues from journalists who are interviewing infectious-disease experts. But, I am ready to see a more dramatic public response to this killer than we’ve seen from the sport of golf that I love.

Morning Read can be bolder as it attempts to influence the conversation.

Richard Jepsen
Alameda, Calif.

Doctor’s orders: Skip the raking
Great article by Bradley S. Klein (“A heads-up approach to a hands-off golf game,” March 19).

As a surgeon familiar with sterile technique, I would point out that raking the sand with a gloved hand does not make a difference unless you sanitize your glove after using the rake each time. You touch the rake with your glove, then touch your clubs and you are contaminated. Skip the raking.

I agree that outdoor/no-contact sports are the way to go. Golf shops should set up pay in advance or pay outside the pro shop over the phone. Exchanging cash/credit cards is a risk.

Rob Fry
Templeton, Calif.

Take a cue from Arnie
A great non-skin-to-skin alternative to the congratulatory fist bump or handshake or high-five was practiced by the late Arnold Palmer for decades (“A heads-up approach to a hands-off golf game,” March 19).

It is certainly one of his hallmarks, along with the rainbow umbrella and helicopter-swing finish and iced tea-lemonade drink: Arnie’s thumb-up salute, accompanied by a wide, friendly, appreciative grin.

Use it liberally to spread the joy of being upright above ground and playing the game we love.

Gene Richard
Newton, Mass.

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