From The Inbox

Golf fans, angry? Well, now that you mention it ...

Illinois reader tees up more than a few pet peeves, and he’s no doubt feeling good to have found a release valve for all that steam

Keeping with the theme of Dan O'Neill's commentary about “angry golfers,” this is probably a good opportunity (excuse) to vent (“Why golf fans tend to anger more than other sports’ followers,” March 16).

These are a few things that bother me, some more than others, most of which address slow play:

  • Professionals take forever to hit a putt. Get rid of their instruction manual/cheat sheets and make them read greens based on what they see, feel and remember. The pros’ “forever routine” when it comes to hitting a shot is tiresome, and far too many people are copying what they see on TV.
  • Stroke-and-distance penalties are particularly severe now that cart paths line the boundaries of so many holes and tend to exacerbate a missed shot. If concrete launching pads had been installed along boundary lines in the 18th century, would the Royal & Ancient have made out-of-bounds a stroke-and-distance penalty? 

  • Speaking of cart paths: Those Who Make The Rules have determined that it's sometimes necessary to execute a relief drop on a path, even though there's a near-zero chance it will result in a legal/playable drop. The only legitimate reason to spend that much time in one place is if the beverage cart is involved. 

  • If there's a ball lying within the boundaries of the golf course and it doesn't belong to you, don't touch it, especially on courses that have parallel fairways. You don't need to pick up a ball to identify it, and whomever it belongs to didn't hit it there because he or she wanted to play “finders keepers.”  

  • Just because someone has a $500 driver or occasionally can hit a 275-yard tee shot somewhere near the fairway doesn't mean that he belongs on the championship tees.   

  • If your “stock” 7-iron carry routinely varies from 100 to 170 yards, depending on how well you hit it – most of us can relate to that – you probably wouldn't benefit much from exact, laser-verified distance to the pin.  

  • If you hit 5 inches behind the ball and chomp a divot the size of a beaver pelt, you're still obligated to replace the turf, even if you're having a bad day. 

  • Aside from “signature hole” status and making life miserable for beginners and players who lack the technique necessary to make consistently reasonable contact, what is the purpose of designing an island green or approach shot that features a forced carry longer than 50 yards? Whenever feasible from a water-management perspective, there always should be a bump-and-run path to the putting surface, even if it's off to the side (see 18th hole at Torrey Pines South).

  • Phil Mickelson can spin the urethane off a chip shot with a 64-degree wedge, but those of us who don't have private jets and corporate advertising on our shirts probably should play a different type of shot, such as bumping an 8-iron. (Being “not sexy” is one of the many concessions of golf peasantry.) 

  • I enjoy music on the golf course, but it's not a frat party or a Cardi B concert. Keep the volume at a reasonable level, please.  

  • Equipment manufacturers now feature irons that cost $500 ...  each (which I presume feature self-cleaning grooves and club-to-brain Bluetooth communications designed to auto-correct your swing).

  • Lastly, why are hazards now called “penalty areas”? If you hit a ball into a penalty area and find a way to play it out, you don't incur a penalty. Plus, calling a pond a penalty area doesn't change the fact that it's a pond. 

Robin Williams could've had fun with that.

Jim Westerman
Hanover Park, Ill.

A Players post-mortem
TPC Sawgrass’ fourth hole on the last day of the Players Championship, with Lee Westwood and Bryson DeChambeau, looked like guys from my foursome on various holes. I was sorry to see them throw shots away that turned out were needed. However, it was entertaining and a good chuckle (“Justin Thomas puts on a show to win Players Championship,” March 15).

Overall, the tournament was fun to watch and delightful with no sound and the ability to fast forward through commercials and announcers talking to one another and other sidebars. NBC needs to show more full shots with the tracking system and do away with all of the short putts, because the pros make 95-plus percent of them.

One thing that should be brought out is that the pro side of the hole is actually the lower side. The PGA Tour’s own stats show more putts missed on the low side by the pros. Why is the high side called the pro side?

Michael Merrill
McKinney, Texas

TPC Sawgrass’ ‘Broadway’ show
I love that name, “Broadway,” proposed by Gary Van Sickle for TPC Sawgrass’ closing three holes at the Players Championship (“Justin Thomas puts on a show to win Players Championship,” March 15).

I hope it sticks and that Van Sickle gets the credit.

John G. Donovan
Big Lake, Minn.

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