From The Inbox

Player’s son wasn’t lone rogue marketer at Masters

Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player also foisted logoed gear onto TV viewers, so was it any more egregious than Wayne Player's act?

It is hard to argue with the fact that Wayne Player acted like a disrespectful clown in photobombing a sleeve of balls above Lee Elder’s head at the Masters’ opening ceremony, as Dan O’Neill wrote (“Don’t hate Masters in the Player game,” April 15).

Player might as well have been holding up rabbit ears, for all the class that showed. But I couldn’t help noticing the irony of the objection that he was improperly marketing a product, given the prominence of the Golden Bear and the Black Knight logos on Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, respectively, or the PXG logo on Gary Player’s hat. And, of course, the myriad other marketing logos on the competitors in the Masters.

The issue seems less about marketing at Augusta than about the clumsiness of the effort or, perhaps, just keeping caddies (honorary or otherwise) in their place. 

Erik Jaffe
Washington

Attaboy, O’Neill
Congrats to Dan O’Neill on his Wayne Player story (“Don’t hate Masters in the Player game,” April 15).

I loved this sentence: By the way, it’s no doubt a lovely ball, features a urethane cover with launch and compression readings not unlike the check Wayne Player bounced for a house rental at the 2018 Masters.

Robert Blumenthal
Charlotte, N.C.
(Blumenthal operates the website www.GolfSatire.com.)

O’Neill chugs too much of Augusta's Kool-Aid
I find this to be very amusing (“Don’t hate Masters in the Player game,” April 15).

Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters reportedly have banned Gary Players’ son Wayne for flashing the brand of golf ball that his father was using. I guess club officials think it commercializes the reverence of the ceremonial opening of their tournament. But there’s Gary Player, tipping his hat with the PXG logo, holding his driver in a way that everyone can see it’s a PXG and having his PXG staff bag, with PXG head covers and a full bag of, I assume, PXG clubs. A PXG staff bag full of PXG clubs, even though he’s hitting one tee shot.

And Lee Elder, with his Ping hat and Ping staff bag, even though he’s not hitting a shot. But Dan O’Neill writes, “At the Masters, there is no such thing as brand placement or shameless promotion.”

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

Black eye for Black Knight
Why does Gary Player get a pass? (“Don’t hate Masters in the Player game,” April 15).

Michael Kukelko
Oak Bluff, Manitoba

Don't look for Mahomes to be sacked by green jackets
In his article, Dan O’Neill mentioned rules at Augusta National Golf Club including no backwards hats by spectators (“Don’t hate Masters in the Player game,” April 15). There is a widely shown picture of Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, at the tournament with his hat on backwards. I’m guessing that he won’t be banned from future attendance.

Jeff Evagues
Chandler, Ariz.

Golf industry’s success doesn’t hinge on U.S. victories
It is both amusing and disturbing to see the xenophobic utterances spawned by Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters victory.

The latest is from reader John Douglas (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 14).

He alleges that because the U.S. has ceased to dominate golf’s elite events, the golf industry has come “to a screeching halt.”

Really? A screeching halt? How then to explain the recent boom in rounds played and new -layer participation? Could it be the pandemic has highlighted the delights of golf, which exist regardless of the fortunes of U.S. elite players?

Has not the globalization of golf in recent decades (including more victories by non-U.S. born players) been good for the industry? Prize money on the PGA Tour has increased tremendously, even though more non-U.S.-born players are competing and winning. Professional tours outside of the U.S. are growing. More countries have built more courses, providing access to more golfers. Surely, such growth outside the U.S. is an industry positive?

I would suggest that the inevitable boom/bust cycles in the golf industry have far more complex causes than the decreasing frequency of U.S. Ryder Cup victories.

It is one thing to root for U S. players in professional or college golf. However, it is the height of jingoistic arrogance to suggest that the very health/survival of the golf industry somehow depends on dominance by U.S. born players.

Peter Ludwig
Englewood, Colo.

There’s an economic reality fueling golf tournaments
Whether Hideki Matsuyama should learn a little English is not a debate about his obligations or shyness, nor is it about someone else's supposed “racism” or “nativism” (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 13).

Does the recent Masters champion from Japan technically owe anything to golf fans? Apart from massive wealth and near-deity status in his home country, no. Without golf fans, he probably has neither right now, but maybe he'd be satisfied with winning obscure, untelevised tournaments that feature $2,500 winners checks and free cab rides to the bus station. I don't know, and I suspect the only person who does is Matsuyama himself. 

Maybe he plays entirely for love of the game, and fame and fortune are just ancillary benefits.

My guess is that he'd prefer another $150 million in earnings and $300 million in endorsements – and maybe a Gulfstream G650ER, which would be far better than taking the bus from the Corndog Open – but that's just me.  

One indisputable fact is this: without golf fans and players who appeal to golf fans, television networks wouldn't be paying hundreds of millions of dollars for broadcast rights; corporate sponsors wouldn't be dolling out hundreds of millions to name-brand tournaments; professionals wouldn't be given ridiculous amounts of money to wear designer shirts or play a particular brand of equipment; and the professional tours would be absolutely nothing like they are.   

Without fans, players themselves probably would make more money as ringers in corporate scrambles than finishing in the top five at the Open Championship at St. Andrews. 

Furthermore, although I admit to having exactly zero personal experience with this, I'd still be willing to bet that corporate sponsors would love to be able to choose the winners of their tournaments in advance. Their list of preferred winners would be short, and most of that equation would be about what those few players bring to the party above and beyond their play. 

That's not “nativist insularity”; it's economic reality. 

Professional golf is a business, and it's largely about marketing. 

Whether any of that means Matsuyama owes anything to golf fans other than his mere presence at tournaments depends entirely upon how you look at it.

Jim Westerman
Hanover Park, Ill.

Sunday at Masters was like bad soap opera
Did anyone else watching the final round of the Masters on Sunday get the sense that the CBS broadcast had a few too many fake bird chips on a constant loop and that the beloved theme song, written in 1981 by Dave Loggins and adopted by CBS a year later, is too soupy.

When you add golf's perpetual king of golf drama, Jim Nantz, then what you get is a bad soap opera.

By tradition, Sunday at the Masters has earned the reputation as golf's high holy day. After watching the disastrous televised coverage provided by CBS Sports this year, I think there's a problem, either with the network or with the powers-that-be at Augusta National Golf Club.

For two generations of golfers, ANGC spends time telling gullible golf media and sports fans that the Masters is the best, the greatest, the most prestigious, the most challenging to win, and that the green jacket that goes to the winner is equal to the holy grail.

Despite constant self-promotion, the list of past Masters winners includes more than a dozen pedestrian players such as Gay Brewer, Charles Coody, Tommy Aaron, Fuzzy Zoeller, Craig Stadler, Larry Mize, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Mike Weir, Trevor Immelman, Angel Cabrera, Charl Schwartzel, Danny Willett and now Hideki Matsuyama.

By informal survey, most golfers say they would rather own a green jacket than a FedEx Cup crown, which I think is just plain stupid. It is much harder to win a FedEx Cup crown than a Masters. I wonder whether one of the one-shot wonders listed above would trade his major victory for a FedEx Cup?

Based on Sunday's performance, anchor Jim Nantz has become as stale as a saltine cracker. Nick Faldo and the entire crew at CBS Sports deserves a resounding "F" for participation in the five-hour broadcast travesty. Among the most noteworthy malfeasance was showing only 5-8 players for the entire four hours. CBS never showed a full scoreboard, although 54 players made the cut. It was rare to see a live birdie. The commentary was drivel and forgettable, especially when the eventual winner held a six-stroke lead at one point.

In my view, the Masters tries to be different, but watching last Sunday's final round ranks as the worst televised golf tournament I've seen in a long time. And I'd take a FedEx Cup title over a green jacket any day.

Tom Gorman
Boston
(Gorman is the publisher of NewEngland.golf.)

Another angle on distance debate
With all the talk about rolling back the golf ball to control distance on the pro tours, it occurs to me that maybe it’s not the ball after all (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 15).

It seems as if every broadcast and writeup on what’s in the pro’s bag, the ball is “off the shelf” while the clubs – heads and shafts, but mostly the heads – are prototype this and custom that and available only to the pros from the manufacturer. 

Perhaps the distance could be more closely monitored by banning the prototypes. If a clubhead or shaft isn’t available for retail, it isn’t legally allowed. You still should be able to modify the club with weights and bends, as has been done forever, but the basic club would be stock. Then let’s see if we need to look at the ball.

Ron Ariana
Western Springs, Ill.

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