From The Inbox

John Hawkins puts ’86 Masters right where it belongs

Jack Nicklaus’ career capstone at Augusta National ranks a close 2nd to the ‘Duel in the Sun’ at Turnberry, reader contends

A big thank you to John Hawkins for his top-five Masters (“Golden Bear moment: ’86 Masters stands out as best,” March 30).

He managed to make me recall some of the fondest memories that I have in golf. I was fortunate enough to be at Turnberry in 1977 to watch the incredible “Duel in the Sun” between Jack Nicklaus and a surging Tom Watson. I still believe I was watching the greatest golf that I ever would see.

That golf was almost matched by Nicklaus’ phenomenal charge at Augusta in ’86. As a sponsor back then of Seve Ballesteros, I obviously had a favorite and was astounded by his poor 4-iron at 15. But the iron shots by Nicklaus at 15 and 16 had me on my feet and cheering the TV so loudly that my wife rushed in to see whether I was OK. The birdie putt on 17 is, perhaps, the most wonderful picture that I have in my head of Nicklaus: tongue out, putter extended, knowing that he still was the best.

So, thanks, Hawk, for making me happy at a difficult time.

Paul Sunderland
Los Angeles

A tasty flavor amid so much vanilla
I applaud the decision by Golf Channel to allow Brandel Chamblee the opportunity to continue using his voice on the state of the game (“Brandel Chamblee sidesteps PGA’s firing squad,” March 30). While I agree his term "bitch-slapped" to be off-color, I think its meaning was taken way out of context.

Chamblee is the only dissenting voice on a channel of vanilla commentators. He can be off-putting sometimes – and thankfully so – but his opinions are constructed out of thought and consideration of the game and its history. He rarely uses his stump to throw out personal opinions without explaining the reasoning behind those thoughts.

This culture of super-sensitive viewers and their thirst for the eradication of differing views is out of control. Lifelong, meaningful careers have been erased because of an ill-timed quip or aside, with little regard to the years of exemplary contributions made by the unlucky few who got caught in the crosshairs of political correctness.

Chamblee's contribution to getting to the guts of a story far outweigh an occasional verbal gaffe. For someone who speaks millions of words over a career, it is a daunting task to avoid a slip.

Good for Golf Channel not to succumb to the “fire” mentality so pervasive in today's overly sensitive climate.

Jeff Mullen
Haddonfield, N.J.

Chamblee fills a need
Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee does need to think before he speaks (“Brandel Chamblee sidesteps PGA’s firing squad,” March 30). And whether we like him personally or not should not be the issue, as there are many others who fit the category and would be on the hit list if liking someone were the criterion.

Chamblee weighs in and says his piece, with first-hand knowledge and insight on the subject. Sit amongst different groups of golfers – men and women – after they play, and the busting is pretty good, and generally light verbiage and generally good-hearted ribbing going hand in hand.

It’s our fun, and we love the climate.

Political correctness, especially in our overwhelming situation with the coronavirus pandemic, needs to step back and let life’s distractions take the edge off. It’s golf.

Keep the faith, Brandel. Somebody has to keep our prima donnas in line.

Bill McDaniel
Latham, N.Y.

Chamblee gives Golf Channel viewers what they need
I thoroughly enjoy the analysis by Brandel Chamblee and would watch Golf Channel a lot less in his absence (“Brandel Chamblee sidesteps PGA’s firing squad,” March 30).

His opinions stir the juices of thought. It would take a lot more serious offense for me to vote for him to be removed from his job.

Chamblee does exactly what his job calls for him to do, and it's very entertaining.

Richard Jensen
Terrebonne, Ore.

10 more favorite reads to go with Purkey’s top 10
I'd like to add my list of books I've read in the past three months to that of Mike Purkey’s (“Golf’s major champions of the printed word,” March 31).

I ordered several golf books back in January and early February, to read throughout the year. Little did I know that with the coronavirus dominating the news and golf tournaments on TV being reruns, that I would be reading golf books sooner than I expected.

These books are not listed in any order, because what I think is a good read might not mean so much for others. These books were bought used on eBay or Amazon, and all of them were $6 or less, with free shipping. Last year, I bought six used golf books, and two of them were autographed by the golfer himself.

Here is the list of books that I have read this year:

* “Ralph Guldahl: The Rise and Fall of the World’s Greatest Golfer”
* “Pro: Frank Beard on the Golf Tour” and “Making the Turn: A year inside the PGA Senior Tour,” also by Beard
* “Peter Alliss: My Life”
* “Nick Faldo: Life Swings”
* “Thirty Years of Championship Golf,” by Gene Sarazen
* “The Green Road Home,” by Michael Bamberger
* “The Golfing Life,” by Michael Bamberger
* “The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf and Armed Robbery,” by Leigh Montville
* “Slammin' Sam,” by Sam Snead
* “The Pro: Lessons About Golf and Life,” by Butch Harmon

Who knows when we will be able to watch golf on TV again. So, you’d might as well take some time and read about some of the great players of the past.

Layne Yawn
Jonesboro, Ark.

Purkey’s list omits one of golf’s ‘Plum’ reads
I'm sorry, but Mike Purkey's reading list suffers from the sin of omission (“Golf’s major champions of the printed word,” March 31).

Any suggested golf reading list that doesn't include P.G. Wodehouse is like a round of golf that fails to break 100.

I suggest "The Golf Omnibus," available on

Wodehouse – or “Plum,” as he was known to friends – truly was one of the dogged victims. If you've never read his golf stories, you owe it to yourself to correct the oversight.

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

Picking up a few missing pieces
Mike Purkey’s article on great golf books to read during self-quarantine or otherwise has a list of masterpieces with which there can be little argument (“Golf’s major champions of the printed word,” March 31).

However, lists always draw attention to missing pieces, so I’ll offer just a few.

First, I’d have to say that anything by Bernard Darwin, one of the most literate of golf writers and a fine player himself, once filling in for a Walker Cup singles match for the British side, is worthy of inclusion. My favorite Darwin book is “Golf Between Two Wars,“ which picks up the 1920s and 30s, and the characters of the Golden Age of Sports.

While Dan Jenkins is laugh-out-loud funny and one of my favorites, I can’t overlook P.G. Wodehouse, whose short stories narrated by the Oldest Member tell tales of golf, love, despair and obsession with characters such as Cuthbert Banks, Rollo Podmarsh and Gladstone Bott. There are 31 short stories in “The Golf Omnibus”; you’ll want to read one or two per week so you can savor the characters and humor.

And last, there’s a marvelous collection of Herbert Warren Wind articles in “Following Through.” Wind was a top-notch writer for The New Yorker and Sports Illustrated. Ever the perfectionist, Wind wrote a story one year on the Masters that was printed two weeks after the event, and his devotees saw nothing wrong with that timing. Wind had his standards, and deadlines were for others.

I’m not trying to knock any of the books suggested by Purkey off the list – they’re all worthy — just pointing out other worthy tomes for your golf fix.

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 also is an occasional contributor to Morning Read.)

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