From The Inbox

The Masters and golf’s final 4

Debate pitting PGA Championship against Players Championship misses bigger point: Masters features weakest field of all

Recently, there was some back and forth about whether the Players Championship should be considered the fifth major championship (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 24; March 25; March 29; March 30). Some letter writers contended that there can be only four majors, mostly because, well, mostly just because. However, many of the “only four” fans were happy to throw the PGA Championship under the bus and replace it with the Players. 

This being Masters week, it seems to be an excellent time to suggest that a better choice would be the Masters. It’s the weakest field in major-championship golf, similar in some ways to other limited-field events. The PGA features a stronger field but lacks the iconic course. Maybe the PGA of America should consider correcting that concern.

Although golf writerdom fawns all over Augusta National Golf Club every year – otherwise, you might be barred – it's just a golf course. It's also a private club, with a lot of troubling baggage from its past and a tournament name that might bring some unwanted attention to that past. To be fair, the club has done a lot to change things as more enlightened and public-relations-savvy leaders have taken charge. 

I'm not really sure when the term majors came into being. The U.S. and British opens were big-time because amateurs still were competitive at the highest levels of golf into the 1930s, and those were tournaments in which all of the top players could compete for the big prize. The PGA Championship probably gained in importance as the professionals came to dominate the competitive game. The 1950s and TV seemed to elevate the Masters to a more important status, and it didn't hurt that Bobby Jones still was alive to host the tournament. I wonder how it would have gone if Cliff Roberts had been the host. 

I'm a five-major guy. The U.S. Open and British Open are locks for majordom; no question. The PGA could do a better job with its venues and setup, but it definitely is a major; it just needs some work. The Masters is what it is: a lovely little jewel box of a tournament on a great course with a field that could be much, much better. If the PGA is to be criticized for the club pros it allows, weakening the field, the Masters is even weaker with the past champions who just won't give it up. The amateurs in the Masters at least have had to play their way in. The Players has the strongest field in golf, on an iconic course with the potential for fireworks on the closing holes.

Sounds familiar, except for the field.

So, who decides? The writers, I guess. If respected golf writers begin to refer to the Players as a major, the golf world eventually would get over it.

So, go boldly into a new “major future” and don't cling to the past. There once was a time when no one thought about the Masters as a “major.” 

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

Stroke-play qualifying would help WGC Match Play
Why can’t the first two days of the WGC Match Play be stroke play, with the top 16 qualifying for match play on the weekend?

It would be a little less golf being played by all, because you’d be having the usual Thursday start, which might help to ensure better golf by the time they get to Sunday.

And I think you might see the better players getting to the weekend more often, which certainly would make the networks happy.

Frank Blauch
Lebanon, Pa.

Women deserve more respect with course setup
That was a very easy setup at the ANA Inspiration: 1 over made the cut.

These officials who set up courses have no respect for female professional golfers. The ANA Inspiration is supposed to be a major championship, yet the tees were moved way up, with easy pin placements.

Any men’s or women’s major championship should be a difficult test and not so easy.

These women are really good, so why not give them a major setup and not this phony one, with most of the field under par?

Gregory Tatoian
Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Maybe the 'NBC' means 'nothing but commercials'
I’m watching the Valero Texas Open on NBC and, because of the vast number of ads, the telecast is almost unwatchable. Literally, every time the leading group has hit and is between shots, NBC cuts to a split screen or full screen for more ads.

I can’t tell you how annoying it has become trying to watch golf on NBC.

Lou Body IV
Jacksonville, Fla.

An uprising against the lords of the manor
Could someone explain to me why English accents are a necessary prerequisite on Golf Channel?

As someone of Irish ancestry, from a country rich in golf history and lore, I ask: How ’bout an Irish accent instead of the former landlords all the time? Better still, an American.

Larry Ashe

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