From The Inbox

Relax, amateurs. Your golf gear will be safe

Reader challenges Morning Read to mount campaign in support of divots being regarded as ground under repair

Why is this so complicated to some? (“USGA, R&A advance distance discussion,” Feb. 3).

There will be no effort on the part of the USGA and R&A to rein in the performance of equipment for amateurs. This is strictly an initiative not to make traditional great course layouts obsolete due to the ability of today’s bombers to make mincemeat of some fabulous tracks.

And, frankly, I also have no interest in watching professional golf if it’s driver, wedge all day, and every par 5 is a long par 4. The solution is quite simple: bifurcation of the rules. Anyway, anyone who thinks he is playing the pro game is kidding himself. In order to approximate the PGA Tour players, most amateurs would need to be playing a 5,000-yard course.

Here’s a simple solution: one set of rules, with restricted equipment for professional tournaments.

For amateurs: more leeway in equipment specs, get rid of stroke-and-distance penalties, and, for God’s sake, make moving your ball off of a divot an option.

If Morning Read can accomplish something noteworthy in the history of golf, mount a campaign to allow moving your ball off of a divot. It’s the very definition of ground under repair.

Terry Fraser
Brooksville, Fla.

It’s not broken, so don’t fix it
Those in authority have the belief that something has to be done (“USGA, R&A advance distance discussion,” Feb. 3). I have watched the past two PGA Tour tournaments and can absolutely say that if they touch a single thing other than to cap driver length at 46 inches, then they’re nuts. The level of play is simply incredible.

My position is based on the players. If you look at the past 20 years, the players have evolved as a group in the strength category. That is here, now and forever. They’re all studs. The incremental gains going forward will be far less than before in the macro. In the micro, if a guy gains 40 pounds of muscle, then it could be weird for a bit. The equipment, especially the shaft manufacturers, are giving the pros the best ever. So what? The balls are perfect. So what?

The game is still tough, and during the final round of the Phoenix Open, officials hid the pins and elevated the risk/reward to a fever pitch.

Awesome. Whoever the people are who think they must try to “fix” something, please consider this: Table it all till 2025 or later, then zip it.

I’ll bet that exactly what I’ve said pans out. The players have all worked their butts off to provide a level of play that inspires and entertains golfers. Just appreciate it, concede that it’s not broken, and think about something else for the better part of a decade.

Al Fiscus
Searcy, Ark.

Nailed by Detective Sughrue
You don’t need Statcast or Sports in Motion analysis to know the ball was not embedded and Patrick Reed cheated (“Patrick Reed, golf’s No. 1 villain, strikes again on PGA Tour,” Feb. 1). No, you just need to put on your trench coat, channel Detective Columbo and use a little common sense.

Go drop 100 balls – heck, make it 1,000 balls – from 18 inches above ground covered in 4 inches of thick rough. Then, inspect each drop. Not a single ball would break the ground surface.

The big outstanding question is, what did Patrick Reed do to the ground that made it appear to the official that the surface was broken?

Check his nails. 

Matt Sughrue 
Arlington, Va.

Out of contention and out of sight
OK, enough of the Patrick Reed bashing (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 1; Feb. 2; Feb. 3; Feb. 4; Feb. 8).

It's history, much like your last lateral golf shot. It’s time to forget it and move on, folks.

Since the TV coverage focuses on the top contenders on the leaderboard, we have no moral compass, aka video evidence, of the actions of the players at the bottom of the leaderboard. Might there be some shenanigans of a move or a nudge, to save a stroke, and make the cut and thus earn some cash for expenses? 

We will never know. 

Dave Richner
St. Johns, Fla.

Money, especially large amounts, can change everything
Enough of Patrick Reed. People either think he was within the rules for taking his drop or they think he cheated. Both sides make valid points, so nothing further is going to change opinions (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 1; Feb. 2; Feb. 3; Feb. 4; Feb. 8). 

But another group talks about players in the old days, their respect for the game and how much integrity they had. Not so fast.

In the 1983 Skins Game, Tom Watson accused Gary Player of cheating in winning a $170,000 skin. A couple of quotes from a Golf Digest article about the dispute are interesting: 1) Watson said to Player, “... I’m tired of this ...,” which would seem to indicate it wasn’t the first offense; and 2) Player said to Watson, “...I was within the rules....”

That sounds very similar to what happened in San Diego except, unlike Watson, none of Reed’s competitors accused him of cheating. They accused him of not doing what they said others would have done. 

The bottom line is that money can change everything, especially when large amounts are at stake. What we do in our regular $2 Nassau foursome is irrelevant compared with the amounts at stake on the PGA Tour. Just look at this past weekend.

The PGA Tour was the first major professional sports league to reopen during the pandemic. The Tour convinced sponsors to hold events and not reduce purses, even though the sponsors were losing revenue from tickets, parking and concessions. So how did Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Tony Finau, four of the biggest draws on Tour, return the favor to Waste Management? By taking seven-figure guarantees to play in Saudi Arabia. 

So, let’s not put the blame on Patrick Reed for challenging the integrity of the game and its players. There’s plenty of it to go around. It takes various forms, and it’s not new.

Charlie Jurgonis 
Fairfax, Va.

Jordan Spieth has got a long way to go
No, Jordan Spieth is not back (“Jordan Spieth ‘moves needle in right direction’,” Feb. 8).

I want him back. He is 236th in fairways hit and 218th in greens in regulation. I root for the guy. I yell “attaboy” when he hits fairways and hits greens in regulation. He doesn’t do any of these things very well these days.

When fairways and greens are hit, his confidence will increase on the putting green, which will in turn will win tournaments. Going 1 or 2 for 3 will not work for any professional.

Ron Korowin
Trenton, Mich.

‘Worst driver of a golf ball on PGA Tour’ can’t expect to win
It was great to see Jordan Spieth in contention (“Jordan Spieth ‘moves needle in right direction’,” Feb. 8).

I wish he could see that the only thing holding him back is his inability to drive a golf ball somewhere near a fairway. He has mastered the two-way miss but not the straight ball.

Unless he has a fluky tournament, Spieth cannot get back to winning by being the worst driver of a golf ball on the PGA Tour. It simply makes golf too difficult. I would hope he’d have learned this lesson by now, but it appeared Sunday at the Phoenix Open still to be his problem.

A wonderful short game won’t always bail out terrible driving. It didn’t Sunday for Spieth.

Lou Body IV
Jacksonville, Fla.

That would give new meaning to hookers on tour
That betting site at the Phoenix Open was a distraction, and I wish the PGA Tour wouldn’t embrace it (“PGA Tour goes all-in on simulcast gambling,” Feb. 5).

Gambling should be confined to the bookies. Nobody I know wants to see it on golf broadcasts.

So, now we have the selling of drugs as legal, and bookmaking is legal. What’s next? Prostitution?

Al Capone’s got to be laughing in his grave.

Larry Ashe

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