From The Inbox

The most popular loop in the caddie yard

The son of a man who caddied for the notorious ‘Machine Gun’ Jack McGurn recalls lively rounds with his father, laced with plenty of tales about gangland Chicago

The article by John Fischer about “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn reminded me of my late father's stories of his days caddying as a kid in Chicago (“Let’s see PGA Tour top this caper at Olympia Fields,” Aug. 25).

He caddied for McGurn often and told me about his being involved in Capone's gang, and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, in particular.

When McGurn showed up at the course, all of the caddies wanted his bag as he was a big tipper and he always had beautiful women accompanying his group. My dad also caddied for the poet Carl Sandburg, who maintained contact with Dad throughout his life. I remember he'd call our house to chat when in the Bay Area, where we grew up.

My dad, Garry Gast, was a lifelong golfer and played into his early 90s. Whenever I had the opportunity to join him on the golf course, he had a knack of making it a memorable experience for all in the playing group, likely a skill he learned from being a caddie for interesting characters, some more notorious than others.

Dave Gast
Dana Point, Calif.

A better return on investment for green-fee-paying public
Reader Jim Westerman has an excellent idea (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Aug. 28). Instead of rating the top 100 or the best courses that you actually can play, rate them on “bang for the buck.” Think of it as a return on your investment.

Very little of the investment (green fee) at $100-and-up public-access courses contributes to your golf experience. Fancy clubhouse, lots of flower gardens, someone running out to grab your clubs -– there goes another $5 – and repeat after the round for another $5. As Westerman wrote, yawn!

None of this has anything to do with your actual golfing experience. To be fair, at my muni you'll probably find more poorly repaired ball marks and fairway divots as well as scruffy spots in areas that are generally out of play. The more limited budget puts the money where it does the most good.

However, I suspect that your score will be no better or worse than you would have shot at a similarly rated "private experience" and your overall enjoyment of the actual round will be no different. You'll be happy or depressed based on your performance as always.

Bang for the buck: That should be how courses are rated. If such a list rated your local public courses that way, wouldn't you want to make your best buy? It might even cause some big spenders to reconsider where to golf next.

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

More bang, less buck
I applaud reader Jim Westerman’s idea for ratings of “best bang for the buck” courses (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Aug. 28).

Seniors, particularly, would find this beneficial. So, too, would course operators who would gain more business with this “badge.” It also might encourage more effort by lesser course operators to take their maintenance to the next level. Finally, it might encourage the big-green-fee courses to lower their costs from time to time to achieve more “bang for the buck.”

Lou Body IV
Jacksonville, Fla.

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