From The Inbox

Create a ball for tour pros and leave rest of us alone

When golf fans complain about courses being made obsolete by modern equipment, what they really don’t like is the fact that the scores are lower

I cannot understand why there is such resistance to bifurcation of the ball specifications between professionals (and USGA events) and recreational golfers.

Reader Ron Ariana made the excellent point that while the clubhead may be similar, the clubs played by tour pros are not the ones that can be bought at your local sporting-goods store (“From the Morning Read inbox,” July 24). Manufacturers already produce different flavors of balls for recreational golfers. If the pros went back to wound balata balls, the manufacturers still would sell plenty of multilayer urethane-covered balls to guys like me. Maybe there would be some who would insist on playing what the tour pros play, and that is fine. Let them buy them and lose their bets to us.

The other alternative is for people to quit whining about the distance the big boys hit it and courses becoming obsolete. They are only obsolete in the sense that the scores being shot are substantially lower than they were in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, when the Big Three were the rage. So what?

Maybe it bothers Jack Nicklaus that Bryson DeChambeau can obliterate his course records, but in the overall scheme of the universe, it is a very small number of people who care. Personally, I would prefer to have the professional ball racheted back so that I see those guys playing from the places on the course where I would be playing from (teeing off much farther forward, of course), just because it would be more relatable.

Mike McQueen
El Paso, Texas

Equipment evolution propels a changing game
It's interesting to see swing changes in the “Then & Now” series, but it’s more than just swing changes (“Henrik Stenson Then & Now,” July 24).

We've seen new materials for balls, completely changed from the old gutta-percha and then balata balls to the poured balls of today. Shafts have changed; heads have changed; grips have changed. The athleticism of the players has changed. The grass on the courses has changed; grounds management has changed; even the sand in the bunkers has been changed from washed sea sand. And rules have been modified. Changes in today's golf have so many variables that one cannot just single out one item such as the ball in believing that the ball is flying too far. Ping's box-shaped groove was a game changer. Wilson's truncated-cone dimple pattern was a game changer. Computer measuring devices, green charts, clothing designed for the golf swing, shoes, etc.

Golf has had nothing but changes from the start. From a hat full of feathers boiled and stuffed into a leather pouch and all-wooden clubs to specialty forged irons, the changes are endless. And, oh, how the rules and decisions have gone from a one-page sheet to encyclopedias.

Just trying to single out one element in this complex mix of variables is stupefying.

Back in the day, Chi Chi Rodriguez would hit a great drive, and Jack Nicklaus would hit it past him by 50 yards. Both used the same type of ball.

Patrick Scott
Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

Sharper focus on Jon Rahm ‘was wrong’
The Jon Rahm penalty was wrong (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20).

I thought that in the rules for the professional golfers, high-definition TV would not be used, nor would viewer call-ins. If you are going to do that, every pro who marks, lifts and replaces his ball should be penalized.

If you want to go after someone, Patrick Reed’s bunker exploits should be addressed (“Patrick Reed denies cheating as questions persist,” Dec. 9).

Boyd Welsch
Gainesville, Fla.

1 tournament, 1 standard of coverage
Notwithstanding the rules breach, here we go again (“Hey, Jon Rahm: Welcome to Tiger Woods’ world,” July 23).

It is my understanding that the PGA Tour and the USGA have issued directives that essentially state there would be no more rules decisions based on the TV sleuths and golf nitpickers who seek only to make themselves feel important for five minutes.

Forever, I have objected to any outside person having the ability to make a phone call or at the tournament venue to address a rules official about some type of rules breach. No other pro sport operates this way. Fans are not permitted to interfere with the contest.

CBS, as part of its sports coverage, can show viewers a presentation of a possible breach, but in no way should the network involve itself in the contest.

I don't condone cheating or anything else untoward. However, until such time as the entire field is under equal scrutiny by the video technology, no player should be subject to what essentially is a different set of rules.

Ken Young
Indian Trail, N.C.

That’s not cool, Hawk
I enjoy reading the commentary by John Hawkins, but I truly believe that he overanalyzed the penalty on Jon Rahm (“Hey, Jon Rahm: Welcome to Tiger Woods’ world,” July 23).

Hawkins’ tone that Rahm got busted made it sound as if he cheated, which he obviously didn't. Patrick Reed aside, Hawkins’ tone also seemed to accuse half of the touring pros of being cheaters, and that's not cool. The integrity of the PGA Tour is second-to-none. Hawkins should not call them out just because he has played too many rounds with hacks who have no respect for the game and have clouded his opinion of the touring professional.

Tom Rafferty
Rockville, Md.

Morning Read invites reader comment. Write to editor Steve Harmon at steve@morningread.com. Please provide your name and city of residence. If your comment is selected for publication, Morning Read will contact you to verify the authenticity of the email and confirm your identity. We will not publish your email address. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and brevity.

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.