From The Inbox

A game with no exit strategy, even during a pandemic

Reader finds that in his downtime, with walls of his golf man-cave closing in on him, many books from his collection are worth dusting off and rereading

Not a day goes by when I don’t dream about pulling the cover off my Tour Edge Exotics Driver, stepping between two yardage markers, place a spanking-new Pro V1 on a tee and swinging as hard as I can, only to see a drive go 225 yards … sideways.

Yes, that’s my idea of fun, and I know that day is coming soon. I can’t wait. Never has the compulsion to make a double bogey been so enticing. Here in golf-starved Massachusetts, where there’s been a ban on golf since March 23, there is only one person stopping me and 100,000 other golfers in the Bay State from doing what we love to do, particularly starting on what would have been Masters weekend.

The temptation to call Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker a few choice names is problematic, so I’ll vent by submitting this missive to Morning Read, which is my daily choice of golf news in these uncertain times of the coronavirus crisis.

Lately, I’ve been spending way too much time in my golf man-cave. The room has a big-screen TV, a few trophies, golf memorabilia, three hole-in-one plaques, goofy golf sayings such as “I Golf …Therefore I Am Not Here” and my treasured library collection of more than 300 golf books.

My book collection holds great value to me, even though I rarely review them until recently, when time marches slowly and until the “all-clear-to-golf” signal is permitted.

In preferential order, here are my 10 all-time favorite golf books:

1. “Who’s Your Caddy,” by Rick Reilly (2003)
2. “Good Bounces & Bad Lies,” by Ben Wright (1999)
3. “The Golf Secrets of the Big-Money Pros,” by Jerry Heard (1992)
4. “Dave Pelz’s Putting Bible” (2000)
5. “Sam – The One and Only Sam Snead,” by Al Barkow (2010)
6. “Final Rounds,” by Jim Dodson (1996)
7. “Golf Resorts of the World,” by Golf Magazine
8. “The Masters: Golf, Money, and Power in Augusta, Georgia,” by Curt Sampson (1998)
9. “Unconscious Putting,” by Dave Stockton (2011)
10. “The Game for a Lifetime,” by Harvey Penick (1996)

Finally, one book in my collection jumped out at me recently: “How to Quit Golf: A 12-Step Program,” by Craig Brass (2001). At the time, I was so offended by the premise and the imitation of the Alcoholic Anonymous 12-step program, I called Brass for an explanation. In retrospect, as one who has a lifelong addiction to golf, I’ll share a passage from page 15 of the book, which enlightens me during this golf abstinence.

“The issue at hand isn’t the desire to quit, but the ability to quit. First of all, nobody needs to play golf. Secondly, everybody who plays golf knows they don’t need to play golf. The problem is nobody knows how to quit. Golf has a beginning, a middle, but no end. The game has no exit strategy.”

Tom Gorman
Boston
(Gorman is the publisher of newengland.golf.)

An upside of tournament golf with no fans
In thinking about the implications of watching a tournament on TV being contested without a gallery, some plusses come to mind:

1. Wouldn’t haven’t to hear that jerk (there’s always one) yelling “Get in the hole!” or “You da man!”

2. Tiger Woods couldn’t blame a photo being snapped for his push into the right trees.

3. That same push and other errant shots by pros would not be stopped by the feet of the galleries. The ball would keep rolling into deeper trouble, like my errant shots always do.

Paul Morais
Sioux Falls, S.D.

Unintended consequences of a career round
I'm a 73-year-old retired golfer who plays out of Cottonwood Country Club in Sun Lakes, Ariz. My handicap before the new World Handicap System had fluctuated from a low of 7 in my 50s and 60s to 14.5 before the conversion to the new system. Upon conversion, my index was 14.5, so my handicap was a 10 playing our course, which has a 67.2 course rating and a 113 slope from the white tees. I have been a member of my club for eight years, and the best score I ever shot was a 76, but the majority of my scores have ranged from 82 to 88.

Now comes my story. On March 14, I shot a par 72 in what I call the round of my life. After posting my score, I was shocked to see my index drop to a 9.1, with only one good score in the mix. When I checked my GHIN posting site, I was shocked to see all my prior postings were lowered because I had posted what this new system says is "potential.” I'm 73. Where do they see my potential to score this low on a consistent basis when my best score on this course in the previous eight years was 76? The consequences of this have been many. Now, with my regular playing group, I'm hurting my playing partners by losing four handicap holes to help the team. In our men's-group outings, I now must play with the other single-digit index players from the blue tees, which I hadn’t played since turning 70.

I hope someone from the USGA reads this letter and can explain how this new system is fair. I have no problems with a good round in the last 20 lowering my index, but to have a double penalty of my prior scores also being lowered is unfair. Where is the common sense? Whom is this supposed to protect?

I'm in favor of playing it as it lies, even if it is a bad lie. I'm a firm believer in that a golfer should post every legal score, whether it raises or lowers his index. But with this experience, if I am coming down the 18th hole with an even-par round, I can guarantee that I will have a double or a triple (if it is a handicap hole for me) on that hole. One experience like this is enough for this old golfer, and I hope it is a heads up for others.

Buddy Meola
Sun Lakes, Ariz.

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