From The Inbox

What’s the harm? Keep playing

Reader seeks to pull back the curtain on coronavirus fears and shed a bit of sunlight on the debate

I'm seeing where some golf courses are requiring the flagstick to be left in the hole in an effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic. That is one of the worst things you could do, because now you are reaching into the hole and touching the same part of the flagstick that every other golfer is touching.

This is going to be blunt, but do these course managers even think when they make these policies?

At least when the flagstick is pulled out, as normal, there is some randomization where the flagstick is touched, plus there is evidence that the UV rays of the sun may break down and kill the virus itself. Research in the Journal of Virological Methods showed the SARS-CoV virus from 2003 (not the same as the current COVID-19, but in the same family) deactivated at 254 nanometers of ultraviolet light, while the sun's UVA and UVB rays are a minimum of 280 nm. Further protections can be made if golfers use a disinfectant wipe to handle the flagstick.

In short, playing golf is likely to be completely safe, because it does not require violating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Hopefully, government authorities who shortsightedly are prohibiting the playing of the sport realize that golf courses are a safe and healthy environment, providing a much-needed outlet during this time.

Mark Harman
Ridgeland, S.C.
(Harman is the national course director for the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation.)

A livable strategy
I’m 81 and a mid-90s golfer who loves the game. Four of us played a round Tuesday, March 17. At our tee time, it was 37 degrees, partly sunny and rather chilly. Let me preface this by saying that all four of us did not share the same opinion regarding the coronavirus.

Some of us felt that our officials were blowing the situation way out of proportion, with closings of social-gathering businesses such as restaurants, bars, sports venues, etc., while some of us could see the rationale for doing so.

As the day progressed, temperatures rose to 50, with mostly sunny skies. Not many other groups were playing, though. You could blame it on the chilly weather or, of course, the virus.

As we finished putting out on 18, some of us offered an elbow-bump gesture while others offered a handshake. The handshakes seemed perturbed when the others offered their elbow. There was no gathering for a sandwich afterward to discuss the round or heckle those who did not shoot well. The restaurants had been ordered to close. Despite the adversities, we still enjoyed the round and one another’s company. We always do.

After loading the clubs into the car, I took the cart back to the clubhouse. As each cart was returned, a staff member used a sprayer to disinfect the cart. His comment was, “Who would ever imagine I’d be doing this?”

It’s a lesson learned. Take nothing for granted. Things change; times change. Adapt and do the right thing.

Yeah, I could keep playing golf, but what if I were to contract the virus and give it to someone else who would be fatally affected? I just couldn’t live with myself. So, for now, as much as I love playing, I’ll just sit on the sidelines and watch reruns of professional tournaments until things get better. That, I can live with.

Fred Jurinek
Homer Glen, Ill.

Unenlightened in the Sunshine State
As I was reading the letters on how coronavirus was affecting golfers, I was disheartened that selfish behavior is so evident, particularly in Florida, where there seems to be a minimal change in behavior (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 23).

When, not if, the virus gets a foothold in The Villages, Boca Raton or Bonita Springs, they can thank themselves for the spread of the pandemic. And when they cry out that not enough is being done when they or their loved one cannot get a hospital bed or be put on a respirator because the hospitals will be overwhelmed, maybe they will look back and blame themselves, but I doubt it.

Jim Robinson
Liverpool, N.Y.

Not a pretty sight
Not to be the harbinger of doom, but I contend that all the letters about how to rearrange the PGA Tour and LPGA schedules to play the major championships or this or that tournament are probably exercises in futility (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 23). Take a look at what's happening around the world and here in the United States. The most likely scenario is that there will be no more professional golf played in 2020.

And the letters about how to play recreational golf safely (I wrote one of them) probably are equally futile as it is very likely that courses will be closed by either the states or the federal government.

The real concern for recreational golf is going to be the financial situation for many courses already stressed by past downturns in the golf business.

I hope I'm wrong, but it's getting ugly out there, folks.

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

Major pro tours should do more to support undercards
I found reader Donald Beck’s letter in Tuesday’s Morning Read to be interesting and thoughtful (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 24).

Opposite-field events give players who find themselves a little lower on the money list a chance to move up, while also giving those players a chance to earn money which they might not otherwise get to earn. I say that less about the LPGA and PGA Tour players, most of whom have sponsorship dollars to fall back on and presumably some cash in the bank, and more focused on the undercard tours such as Korn Ferry, Symetra and the other developmental levels. These are the players who are really shut out from making a living (especially on the women’s side, where the definition of “making a living” is significantly different from their male counterparts at every level).

Perhaps this is an opportunity for the LPGA and PGA Tours to add to the purses of those undercard tours, to support the next generation and next level of superstars who might have to give up their dreams because in their race against time and money they were just dealt a serious shortage of both. The Symetra Tour player who lives with us is applying for gig work as a dog walker, Uber driver and nanny.

Perhaps the most important issue is the charity issue. Here in the Jacksonville area, there are countless nonprofits who count very much on the generosity of the Players Championship and the PGA Tour. It was refreshing when local players such as Billy Horschel and others donated some or all of their $52,000 compensation to local charity. Keep in mind, that same $52,000 is the equivalent of an entire year of Symetra Tour earnings for a top-15 player (who are paying their own travel and entry fees … so basically, playing to win back their own money).

Maybe instead of talking about a proposed Premier Golf League and smaller fields so the elite can bank even more of their amazing purses, we should be trying to figure out a way to make it more appealing and realistic for the next generation to make a living and keep playing golf. The compelling stories about nerves and pressure over a guy who might miss or make a 10-footer for either a fifth-place share or a sixth-place share of $10 million for which he didn’t ante is nothing compared to the drama of a 23-year-old who has the same putt just to make enough money to pay his or her entry fee for the next week and the gas money to get there.

If this virus has proved anything, it’s that we’re all in this together.

Mark D. Berman
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
(Berman is the managing partner of MediaShare Consulting Group.)

Greater concerns than Monahan’s sleep
Reader Tom Gorman hit a home run on the slow curve tossed by the PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who’s always Mr. Teflon but not really helping where it matters, except in lining their own pockets (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 24).

Monahan even went as far as venturing the thought that the rest of the Players Championship group donate a portion of their “share” of the cash from the aborted Players to others, much as Billy Horschel did, but I didn’t hear about his portion of the donation.

I respect his amazing ability to grow his cash cow for his constituents, but to hear that Monahan might have lost a little sleep causes me to think, Really?

These tough times for the servers, cooks, bartenders, small-business owners, health-care workers, grocery-store workers, farmers, truckers and other workers to provide for us far outweigh Monahan’s missing an hour of sleep.

Garen Eggleston
The Villages, Fla.

A recipe for trying times: piece of commish pie
Excellent piece from reader Tom Gorman (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 24).

If PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan wanted to be a big shot, why didn’t he set up a fund for the PGA Tour caddies? There are probably 400 or so guys out of work for the next few months. Send them a piece of the commish’s pie.

For many years, the Tour has taken care of charities all over the country but never has gone out of the way for the caddies.

Dan McQuilken
Brick, N.J.
(McQuilken caddied on the PGA Tour from 1984 to 2013.)

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