From The Inbox

A muddied result at U.S. Women’s Open

Reader rips USGA’s call to play the ball down in wet conditions, resulting in numerous ‘mud balls’ and ‘a game of chance’

Once again, the USGA, through bad judgment and decisions, has figured out a way to diminish one of its major championships. Based on its past rules decisions and course setups in U.S. Opens, it is not a surprise. 

To “play the ball down” on a saturated Champions Golf Club course in Houston at the U.S. Women's Open was dumb and foolish, at best. The game of skill was reduced to a game of chance.

How much mud was picked up and where it was located on the ball determined the quality of the next shot rather than the player. Golfers were constantly faced with "mud balls" from a soggy lie in the fairway or putting from off the green with a lump of mud steering the ball. Balls that ended up in the rough were more likely to be clean and dry. The reward seemed to be in missing the fairway. Skill? Identifying the best player? (Turn over, Sandy Tatum.)

And don't give me the old, Yeah, but everybody had to play under the same conditions. The conditions were not the same. Too much luck was involved.

The USGA needs to think a little and not have a reflex compulsion to “preserve the integrity of the game” by always playing the ball down. It seems as if the USGA has learned little from its past mistakes.

Mike Sprouts
Wallburg, N.C.

‘Mud balls’ have no place in championship golf
My wife and I volunteered at the U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in 2018. Due to the rain during the days before the tournament, the players had almost no opportunity to practice on the course. We saw LPGA players hitting balls at Topgolf!

The conditions at Shoal Creek were spongy, muddy, swampy, wet. My feet were soaked just walking across a fairway. Before the second round, a caddie told me that his player had “mud balls” on almost every hole.

The Blue Coat Brigade remains as unreasonable as ever by insisting that using preferred lies is somehow cheating. The LPGA and PGA tours regularly make use of this local rule when conditions are poor.

Who wants to watch the best players in the world hit shots wildly off line because they had to fight through mud on the ball?

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.

An ‘easy’ Open setup
Wide fairways, no rough and the course was shortened for the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open, with slow greens.

The USGA made it too easy, not like the men’s U.S. Open, with tight fairways and heavy rough.

Gregory Tatoian
Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Burkes form ‘an amazing pair’
I read with interest Art Stricklin’s article on Jackie and Robin Burke (“Champions Golf Club lives up to its name again,” Dec. 7).

I never have had the pleasure of meeting Jackie Burke but always found him to be interesting, especially in his relationship with the late Jimmy Demaret and how they started Champions Golf Club in Houston. Demaret was fun, and Burke was dry, but what a pair.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Burkes – quite an amazing pair.

Mike Nixon
Nashville, Tenn.
(Nixon, who played the PGA Tour in the 1970s and early 1980s, is the director of golf operations for the Tennessee Golf Trail.)

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