From The Inbox

Putting on another planet

Amateur compares his putting to that of the pros and determines that, yes, they’re better, and there’s a key reason for it

I just finished reading Gary Van Sickle’s article, comparing amateurs’ and pros' putting capabilities (“The hole truth: You don’t putt like a tour pro,” Jan. 6). Being an avid sufferer of the game (8 handicap), I thought about my own putting and calculated my average feet made over my last three rounds, getting to 43 feet.

I have the pleasure of playing with a professional from time to time, and sure, they are way better than us amateurs. I always have thought of myself as being a good putter, but the pros are on a different planet.

One reason I think the stat is skewed, however, is that pros also hit more greens than us. I average about 50 percent greens in regulation, but having a good short game, as many older players do, I often chip it close, resulting in shorter first putts and fewer feet made. I average about 26 putts per round, but that is because I have to chip a lot.

Wim van Rooyen
Oudtshoorn, South Africa

A return to normal for golf
In his article on golf in 2021, Mike Purkey wrote, “We’re still going to be socially distanced on the course, putting with the flagsticks in, sliced-up swimming-pool noodles in the holes, no bunker rakes, ball washers or water coolers for months, maybe all year” (“Golf in 2021 will look a lot like 2020 version,” Jan. 3).

My home course, Southbridge Savannah Golf Club in Georgia, did away with all those restrictions in June of last year. We did so with information that surface contact, especially outside, is a very unlikely source of infection. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reiterated as much in August, which is also in line with the medical information our club received in making the decision to return to normal outside operations. To date, not one of our 140 members has been infected with COVID-19.

Also, many of the courses in our area have returned to normal in all areas, and report no problems. In addition, on a trip to visit family in Indiana late last year, I also played in Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan. All seven courses I played had none of the restrictions that Purkey mentioned except for no water coolers.

Given our experience in the Savannah area, it seems these on-course restrictions are unnecessary. But because I don't want to be accused of playing a medical expert when I'm not, I urge course managers in other areas to consult with their own medical advisers and see whether they, too, can't return to normal operations, as many courses already have.

Mark Harman
Ridgeland, S.C.
(Harman is the national course director for the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation.)

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