From The Inbox

Mixed foursomes would level playing field

Men and women could compete equally as teams, using alternate shot while playing the same set of tees, regardless of distance

John Hawkins provided an interesting analysis of involving PGA and LPGA tour players in a single tournament: what tees to use; how prize money would be divided; would it be interesting for the contestants and the gallery (“A missing piece to the golf puzzle,” Dec. 3).

There is a simple solution: play a tournament with mixed foursomes, one woman and one man paired as a team, hitting alternate shot. Play from the same tees, as far back as you want. On day one, have the men tee off on the odd-numbered holes, the women on the even. On the next day, reverse the order, with the women teeing off on the odd, and the men the even, and then rotate again for the last two rounds.

The big hit against LPGA players competing against their male counterparts on the PGA Tour is the thought that the women need some allowance for distance and can’t compete directly. The mixed-foursomes format would challenge those impressions, with each contestant playing his/her own game at alternate shot, off scratch, without altering the course or giving a handicap allowance. To me, that would be a different and exciting format for the golf audience. With each shot, a player would have to consider his or her partner’s strength or weakness to play the next. The men and women would be playing shots from different places than usual, which would make for interesting golf. Having played in foursomes tournaments myself, I can attest that the thought process on each shot is a bit different, and it’s a lot of fun.

We used to have a mixed-foursomes event in Cincinnati which was very popular. I played in it with my wife, and we’re still happily married, and why not? She carried our team most of the way.

One agreement to be made between partners on the first tee in foursomes play: neither will say “sorry” about any shot hit, although each will have due reason to say it.

John Fischer
Cincinnati

If equality is the goal, make it an equal test
In response to John Hawkins’ missive (“A missing piece to the golf puzzle,” Dec. 3), reader Robin Dea makes some interesting points, but they also beget a number of other issues (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Dec. 4).

If one handicaps competitions, then it favors one person over another in trying to make up for that group or individual deficiencies.

In horse racing, the committees add weight to try to make some type of equalization by a horse that has shown superior race times compared with the others in the field. In track events, the male and females do not compete directly in hurdles races. Female hurdles are shorter, but in most events females run and do field events as equals: marathons of equal distances, sprints of equal distances, etc., and the events are not handicapped.

Tennis players, in all events, play the same court size and use similar equipment, but females do less work in major tournaments, playing only the best of three sets compared with the men’s best of five sets. Thus, they do much less work yet get the same pay. Why it works this way in tennis is a mystery.

In horse racing, mares and fillies can run with the “boys” if they are good enough – and many are – and they generally do not receive weight advantages, nor do they have special gates that are closer to the finish line. Why can't female tennis players play best-of-five sets at the majors?

Somehow, Dea, in her response to Hawkins, seems to think that women should be given advantages on the golf course but judged as equals. I've been to many tournaments for men and women. All are wonderful to watch in real time, and commercial-free. In the women's events, the forward tees on some courses take problem landing areas out of play, and the same landing area from the back tees clearly keep the problem zones in play. In order to have equal pay, the women's events need to have an equal revenue stream, or reduced expenses. Thus, they need to sell their product better and increase TV viewership, sponsor products and patron attendance. You get what you earn.  

The worst example of men vs, women was tennis’ 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Riggs was club professional and clown of tennis, and King was the best in her sport. Had they wanted to have a true “battle” of equals, the male part should have been played by Stan Smith or another top male tennis player of that era. It would have been easy to judge: equal court size, net height and equipment. What could have been fairer? And, of course, play the best of five sets.

If you what equality, play as equals in all ways. Same distance and equipment, with the same rule book. If you want a handicap, concede that it's a staged competition of inequality and take ownership to the ruse.  

Patrick Scott
Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

Give credit to Sophia Popov
John Hawkins and Mike Purkey seem to be picking from three events only, when I'm sure there were six in 2020 already, with a seventh – the U.S. Women's Open – to be played this week (“Which of golf’s 2020 majors produced the best storyline?” Dec. 4).

The best storyline, by a huge margin, must be Sophia Popov's victory in the Women's British Open (“Sophia Popov goes from caddie to LPGA major champion,” Aug. 24). Not only did she come from nowhere to win with a dazzling display of golf, but she enchanted everyone with her grace and charm at the presentation afterwards. Her subsequent snub by the LPGA in not granting her tour exemption served merely to underline the scale of her achievement and confirm how out of touch the LPGA is (“LPGA stymies Sophia Popov with arcane rule,” Aug. 31).

In contrast, the men's majors turned into snoozefests. I know it takes skill and strength to hit the ball 350 yards, but these guys are playing a game with which most of us are not familiar, and it just isn't interesting to watch. The women's game presents players with challenges to whicih every golfer can relate, so it's much more compelling.

So, shame on Hawk and Purk for omitting what is by far the most interesting sector of the professional game.

George Fletcher
Edinburgh, Scotland

A colorblind approach to the proper teeing ground
Just a brief comment about the discussion regarding which tee box to play (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Dec. 4).

I've been playing golf for about 35 years. I've always played from the tee box that best suits my ability at the time. At one point, with a single-digit handicap, I played from the “white” tees, commonly known as the men's tees. As I got older, I began to move forward, again all based on my current ability.

I do find, however, that men are reluctant to play from the “red” tees, commonly referred to as the “women's” tees. On the other hand, I know women who play from the red tees solely to help their handicap. They clearly could be playing farther back.

It'll take time, but perhaps the golf industry and golfers might begin to embrace the concept of playing from the tees that best suit their ability. Who wants to play consistently from a tee that is well beyond your capability? It's just no fun.

Jane Hixson
Pinehurst, N.C.

Confusing comment
I'm not quite sure how to take the comments from reader Martin Donnelly regarding Dominion voting machines and how it relates to golf (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Dec. 4).

Was it supposed to be seen as a humorous effort regarding the claims of voter fraud, or was it in fact meant to support those claims? Either way, it's hard to find the laughs in that it denigrates Annika Sorenstam and what she has done for women's golf and the game overall. I congratulate her appointment (“International Golf Federation elects Annika Sorenstam as president,” Dec. 4).

The irony to me as a person who has no horse in the race is that how many people like to write in to question why someone's letter was published as the forum “should be only about golf,” then offer at length their own political views. It is so clearly the pot calling the kettle black.

Baird Heide
Bradford, Ontario

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.