From The Inbox

Finding peace through golf

Twin Cities reader discovers clarity in life by playing municipal golf and not wasting time on so many things that really don’t matter

During the past year, I have found my relationship with the golf world changing. There was no earth-shattering moment, just small things that altered my desire to engage. 

Politics played a role, but not because of partisan views. Changing media plays a part, too. I prefer to get my information by reading whenever possible. I get enough screen time from TV, so clicking onto videos or podcasts holds no fascination for me (I suspect this makes me old), so much of Morning Read and many other newsletters is lost to me. I dropped cable for streaming, so I no longer have access to Golf Channel, although many readers have suggested that this is no loss after the network’s move to NBC Sports’ headquarters in Connecticut. 

The PGA of America and the USGA seem to be in it mostly for the bucks. Neither group seems particularly interested in the great mass of unwashed hackers out here in flyover land. Sure, the USGA runs some events for elite players and did a just-OK overhaul of the rules, but not much for about 90 percent of the golfers in the U.S. and Mexico. From what I have read, many PGA of America members at the grassroots level feel similarly about their leadership. Certainly, PGA of America pros are becoming thin on the ground at many public courses, apparently having been replaced by golf “managers.” Don't get me started about the AJGA; it's not what kids who want to play golf need. 

And the PGA Tour? Well, it's sometimes entertaining but just as often a snooze fest, and with no Golf Channel, my opportunity is limited. Here's hoping that some of the entertaining players step up this year and create a few fireworks. 

So, where does that leave me? In a pretty good place, actually. Basically, I am choosing to concentrate on what really matters: playing golf … well, as soon as the snow melts here in Minnesota. I play at a St. Paul municipal course, and I think that's a good thing. I have belonged to a private club but soon realized it wasn't for me. I enjoy the fact that all are welcome at the course; I have met a number of interesting people whom I never would have encountered otherwise. The golf is inexpensive and provides a challenge while still being fair and fun. Nobody worries what you're wearing or the color of your socks. Play moves along at about four hours on the weekends, and the beer and hotdogs are just fine. The PGA professional who runs the course is a great guy who heads a friendly and helpful crew. 

My advice? Stop obsessing about things that have nothing to do with what makes golf such a great game. Go to a welcoming, affordable public course, play with friends or show up as a single and see whom you meet. Golf is waiting, so don't waste your time on things that don't matter. Your enjoyment will increase, and so will your peace of mind. 

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

Growth opportunity
Alex Miceli called it right about Ralph Lauren and its Polo brand dropping Justin Thomas after his homophobic slur (“One Take: Don’t blame Ralph Lauren,” Jan. 19).

Golfers know that they are hot-mic’d, and Thomas did the admirable thing: owned it, apologized and did some soul-searching (“Justin Thomas pays price for slur,” Jan. 18). Still, Ralph Lauren is a fashion company, with a responsibility to its many employees who embrace a culture of inclusion. To do nothing would have been a betrayal.

Ralph Lauren’s leaders also left open the door for Thomas to return to their sponsorship. People need to grow as human beings.

Jim Robinson
Syracuse, N.Y.

Language lesson
Reader Patrick Scott writes that he hears worse language from the expensive seats at NBA and NFL contests than Justin Thomas’ homophobic slur and that he has a distaste for the Tiger Woods/Nike relationship (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 19). Nike and Woods have nothing to do with the Ralph Lauren/Justin Thomas episode.

I also have heard Thomas drop an “F-bomb,” and none of his sponsors dropped him for it. His slur was offensive to the company that he represented.

It seems as if any word uttered anywhere in the world can be offensive to somebody, so you have to make sure that you do not utter the ones offensive to the people giving you money. 

James Brock
Atlanta

Just hold your nose and keep scrolling
For all of those people upset by Morning Read’s reporting on the PGA of America’s decision to move the 2022 PGA to a different course, I have some advice to you: Don’t read the articles that contain political content (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 11, Jan. 12, Jan. 13, Jan. 14, Jan. 15, Jan. 18, Jan. 19).

Morning Read covers many issues related to golf, and sometimes those issues are political in nature. I want to know what’s going on with the game I love and appreciate the occasional forays into the political arena, just as I enjoy reading about other golf-related issues such as possible mergers of professional tours or the effect of the pandemic on the game.

I wonder how these same people would react if President-elect Joe Biden were to pass environmental laws restricting the use of chemicals or water on golf courses?

Jim Hirsch
Chicago

Parting shot
If the PGA of America doesn’t want to play its 2022 PGA Championship on President Donald Trump’s course in New Jersey, I’m done watching golf (“Golf needs to take a stand against Donald Trump,” Jan. 8; “It’s beginning of end for Donald Trump’s golf empire,” Jan. 12).

My golf buddies all feel the same way. Done.

Kurt Latzko
Tinley Park, Ill.

A straight answer to a reader response
Reader Bob Cushing’s reference to Justin Thomas’ homophobic slur as “self-abasing” reveals more about Cushing than it does about Thomas (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 19).

Cushing abases a large percentage of the country’s population if he chooses to characterize the slur in that manner. Ralph Lauren probably will survive.

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.

Finding the range on a new golf gizmo
During the past few weeks, my wife and I have been involved in moving from one home in Wellington, Fla., to another, a few miles away, for one of the two popular endeavors here: horses, with golf being the other. In the process, I was confronted by more than a small collection of RIP golf equipment, most having begun R-ing shortly after purchase. I began to wonder, What would be a very useful, innovative item for the serious, perfectionist golfer?

It came to me unexpectedly, as ideas often do, and perhaps resulting from playing this past weekend in a member-guest event in unusually cool and windy conditions. The item I’ve imagined is a rangefinder incorporating wind velocity and temperature, with mph or kmh selectable as to the former, and Fahrenheit or Celsius as to the latter. The accompanying manual would provide instructions on how to determine wind direction, and extensive, approximations of velocity and temperature effects (maybe slope, as well) and their interactions.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten, and I’m looking for deeper pockets to get off the dime.

Eat your corporate heart out, Bushnell.

Ken Olshansky
Wellington, Fla.

Headline act
Thanks for Steve Harmon’s piece on Chris Kirk (“Chris Kirk hits ‘reset button’ on golf and life,” Jan. 19).

Personal and in-depth stories of our favorite players are very refreshing, especially when revealing adversities such as those that Kirk overcame.

It’s great to see that Harmon is more than just a funny guy who headlines the letters to the editor.

Ken Chojnacki
Delran, N.J.

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.

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