From The Inbox

Bunkers become hazards again in coronavirus era

Less-than-perfect conditions in sand that goes unraked because of safety concerns give golfers a stronger incentive to play away from bunkers

I played golf Sunday and kind of like the idea of no rakes, provided that people make a reasonable effort to smooth footprints with their foot or their wedge.

Bunkers used to be something we avoided. But with the firm, double-cut, rolled, undulating greens that roll at 11 or 12 on the Stimpmeter and penal greenside rough from which you have to play to these incredibly difficult greens, well-manicured and maintained bunkers are a preferred play for the better player. By keeping bunkers in imperfect condition during the coronavirus pandemic, it adds an unknown risk for those who see bunkers as safe haven.

The argument will be made that people may not fix footprints and others will get a bad lie. Too bad. Golf doesn’t provide relief for good shots that find a divot; why should golf worry about off-target shots that find a footprint?

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

‘Yes, sir!’ that was quite a Masters, all right
Every year in early April, in our house the family knows not to plan on my being present for any functions, and they know that the living-room TV will be all Masters, all weekend.

Like a lot of golf fans, I get totally immersed in Masters week. I’m in complete agreement with John Hawkins on his greatest Masters of all-time being Jack Nicklaus’ come-from-behind win in 1986 (“Golden Bear moment: ’86 Masters stands out as best,” March 30). Hawkins references Ben Wright’s “there’s life in the old Bear yet” line on No. 15, and Verne Lundquist’s “Yes, sir!” after the birdie putt on 17, both memorable calls.

However, it’s time to remind everyone that just before the “old Bear” line, Wright dropped the initial “Yes, sir!” as Nicklaus’ eagle putt found the bottom of the cup on 15.

Thirty-seven minutes later, at No. 17, Lundquist’s reprise of Wright’s line would come to be the most-remembered, and Wright’s original would be forgotten.

I know that Wright had some missteps along the way, but I used to love listening to him, as I do the great Peter Alliss during the British Open.

Here’s offering credit to Ben Wright for his calls on the 1986 Masters.

Gregg Cook
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Chamblee gets slapped around a bit, too
I’m just wondering how many times does someone get to make offensive comments? (“Brandel Chamblee sidesteps PGA’s firing squad,” March 30). If it’s once, that’s one thing, but this has been done on multiple occasions.

So, if I’m understanding Alex Miceli correctly, as long as Brandel Chamblee apologizes on Twitter, it’s OK?

It’s not OK with me. I would guess it’s not OK with a lot of female golfers, as well.

Betsy Larey
St. Paul, Minn.
(Larey is an LPGA teaching professional.)

Accept Chamblee’s apology and move on
I compliment NBC’s Pete Bevacqua for backing Brandel Chamblee (“Brandel Chamblee sidesteps PGA’s firing squad,” March 30).

Chamblee did apologize, straight up, for his offside comments. So, we need to move on, sports fans.

I like listening to Chamblee, and I like the other panelists. David Duval, Justin Leonard and Trevor Immelman are all refreshing. I learn from them.

Bill Bamber
Edmonton, Alberta

NBC’s Bevacqua shows his true color, and it’s green
It seems that Brandel Chamblee's statement about golf teachers is every bit as bad as Ted Bishop’s comment to Ian Poulter several years ago. NBC Sports’ Pete Bevacqua, being a corporate animal more than before, wanted to keep Chamblee, but Bishop was expendable when Bevacqua was at the PGA of America.

I had no respect for Bevacqua earlier and none now (“Brandel Chamblee sidesteps PGA’s firing squad,” March 30). He accepts an apology now but not earlier. The bottom line strikes again.

Michael Merrill
McKinney, Texas

A plea for common sense
I live in Dublin, Ohio. Despite Gov. Mike DeWine’s order to stay home, the specifics of the order stated that country clubs be closed (restaurant, bar and grill, etc.) but encouraged exercise and outdoor activities, including all parks.

Our golf course (a six-course consortium) wrote to and got clarification from the governor’s office that courses could stay open with added precautions and sanitation measures: fewer tee times, one person per cart, no ball washers, no rakes, leave flags in the holes, raised-cup inserts so the ball remains at green level, physical (not social) distancing of 6-10 feet and sanitizing carts upon their return, no pencils and scorecards on carts, reiterating by pro shop staff at first tee (6-feet-plus distance).

The safest place to be during the coronavirus pandemic is outside. Have you seen your local grocery or pharmacy, businesses that can and must be opened, and the lack of physical distancing by employees and patrons alike? There likely is no sanitizer at the door to wipe down the carts because somebody stole the container, or none at the checkout counter to wipe down the credit-card reader that everyone touches.

Where has common sense gone?

The reason for physical distancing is that if someone coughs or sneezes, the droplets fall by gravity into that area. You don’t get transmission of coronavirus if someone is breathing and exhaling near you if he or she transgresses that circle. You are at greater risk – and I’m more concerned – going to the grocery or pharmacy or being in the office still seeing patients (I’m 73) than being on the golf course.

Another victim of this virus is our loss of common sense and rationality. Where is all this concern about virus infection and deaths as our total regular flu deaths exceed 20,000 and still rising. Are those deaths less important or “acceptable” because “it’s just the flu” and not the coronavirus?

Wake up and keep perspective.

Dr. Richard Smialek
Dublin, Ohio
(Smialek is a plastic/reconstructive surgeon.)

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