From The Inbox

Golf leaders should groom elite talent in U.S.

Hideki Matsuyama’s victory in Masters plus growing foreign contingent in college golf highlight Americans’ 2nd-class status

Hideki Matsuyama won the Masters, which is a watershed event for his country of Japan (“Take a bow, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama,” April 12). Upon reflection, I also think this historic victory can be looked upon by Americans as being watershed, as well, albeit for a much different reason.

Since our dominance of this game throughout the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, we have experienced a gradual slippage that now has become alarming. During our decades of dominance, the golf industry boomed.

Once we lost this dominance, our industry came to a  screeching halt. Rather than admit that we had lost our competitive edge, we have decided to focus on growing the game rather than developing elite-level talent capable of winning at all levels of the game.

As an example, my home club of Bent Pine hosted the Sunshine State Conference Women's Championship early this week. While looking at the tee sheet, I was amazed to find only a small handful of American players in the field. This an NCAA Division II tournament. I have long known of foreign dominance in Division I schools, but did not realize that this invasion had reached this level of play.

Augusta National has done an incredible job in promoting amateur golf, in Asia and South America. I suggest that the club and the game’s other power brokers take a close look in their own backyard and put in place a coordinated effort to regain America's dominance in this great game. If not, our country in the near future will be looked upon only as genial hosts for these foreign players to follow their dreams.

John Douglas
Vero Beach, Fla.

A well-struck golf shot is understood in any language
A recent letter by reader Bob Ractliffe to Morning Read questioned why Hideki Matsuyama, the winner of the recent Masters, hasn’t learned English (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 12). The insinuation is that English be a prerequisite to participating (i.e., winning) on the PGA Tour. Ractliffe is using a coded version of an underlying bias.  

Should all golfers be required to learn the language of the country in which they compete – Arabic in the United Arab Emirates or Spanish in Mexico, for example – or just in the United States? If so, this appears to be another dog whistle and a poor attempt at trying to hide one’s biased beliefs. While learning basic English is a requirement for American naturalization, it really has very little, if anything, to do with a person’s skill at a sport such as golf. 

In 2008, the LPGA went so far as to mandate English-language sessions for the women’s tour’s growing number of Asian players. This attempt was not successful for a variety of reasons, and did not continue. If the English language were to be mandated for participants in sports in the U.S., how many participants would be unable to compete? And, if it were mandated, there also tis he economic reality to consider such as the potential loss of some viewers and some sponsors. 

Skill, not language, should determine competition. 

Doug Warring 
Minneapolis

Matsuyama knows more English that you might realize
Many may find an interpreter to be awkward and often not worth our time, so count me as one who’d prefer that Hideki Matsuyama tried to speak English. Be that as it may, I’m not forced to watch, and usually don’t, so it’s his loss. He could become a U.S. sensation, if he chose to do so. I’m not convinced that’s what he wants.  

As it turns out, he can speak some English. Presidents Cup team members said as much in Masters interviews.  

Check out this video promo for the 2019 Japanese skins game with Matsuyama, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day. It’s hilarious and features Matsuyama speaking some basic golf English. He’s reported to be a shy guy who likely doesn’t feel comfortable or confident with all the media prying, plus additional prying from a U.S. media, in a foreign language.

Gary Stauffenberg
Phoenix

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