Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

Fond memories of pro-ams

Adam Schupak’s column brought back the best of memories from my younger days (“Tour’s new pro-am: 9 and 9, minus the whine,” Feb. 1, http://bit.ly/2DTfqTy).

I had the privilege of playing in 18 Western Open pro-ams, from 1982 to 1999 (half each at Butler National and Cog Hill). I drew many big names and several major champions, including three who hold multiple major titles. All but a handful of the pros were super-friendly, engaging gentlemen, and my groups loved every minute. Over the years, I have run into some of the pros at various venues, and we have exchanged everything from a casual hello to an extended nostalgic conversation.

I did get to play with Tom Weiskopf. I was very excited about it, aside from his stature as one of the world's best players of my age bracket. I planned my conversation along the lines that I attended Michigan while he attended Ohio State. I was familiar with his architectural accomplishments. He was 49 at the time, getting ready to play the then Senior Tour. As a former Western Open winner, he had been extended a sponsor's exemption. I often have been described as someone who could carry on a conversation with a wall. Afterward, my amateur partners (who along with me have been very active volunteers for various Chicago-area golf associations, including the Western Golf Association) remarked about how hard I tried.

Bob Stracks
Winnetka, Ill.

 

All hail the ‘honored guests’

Having worked all but two editions of the Wells Fargo Championship, I find that one must-do on my list is to use my volunteer credential to get in a couple of hours at the Wednesday pro-am. I like the banter and cutting up that some of the PGA Tour pros exhibit with their amateur playing partners. And I have seen the worst of it. A Tour pro who keeps his distance from the amateurs, people who paid a bunch of money to play and mingle with their assigned Tour player. 

One item must be made abundantly clear to the pros: these people are to be treated as honored guests. The “nine and nine” is a good idea. 

On a side note, with the cost of a spot in a Wednesday pro-am being prohibitive for all but the wealthy, I'd like to see some sort of lottery for us regular people to have a shot at getting into one of these pro-ams. 

Why not? Maybe the tournament could offer, say, 10 slots for the golf fans. 

As long as they can play, know the rules of etiquette and agree to extend the spot the appreciation that it deserves, I cannot see why this cannot be done. 

Ken Young 
Indian Trail, N.C.

 

Earning his stripes

The next time I go shoot pool at the local bar, I will take my own striped cue ball and replace the cue ball on the table, aim it toward my next shot. How will that fly, with shades of the movie “The Hustler”?

In golf, not so bad, as all players are using it. I'm interested in how we can replace a ball with a stripe, twist and move the ball around to aim the ball toward the cup. Are we aiming the ball off the tee yet? Probably. Maybe the fairway next.

I can see how the USGA missed the long putter (anchored) but not this stripe. 

John Gaffney
Kalispell, Mont.

 

Steer clear of Simsbury, J.B.

They all play slowly on the PGA Tour, but J.B. Holmes is ridiculous (“Keeping score,” Jan. 29, http://bit.ly/2EqwRb8). I was very aware of the crap he was pulling Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open, but what he did on 18 was more significant as all that screwing around served to freeze out his playing competitors who still had chances to win the tournament outright.

Yes, they are professionals and shouldn't be frozen out like a field-goal kicker when the opposing coach calls a timeout right before the kick, but it does work sometimes. Why else would the coaches continue to do it?

But after watching that act all day long, it just has to start to grate on a guy trying to win. Holmes was selfish. 

Can you imagine Johnny Miller in the tower? I’m surprised that anybody will play with Holmes. It’s a good thing that they were the last group and didn’t hold up anybody behind them. At my club, there’d be fisticuffs.

I hope there is something the Tour can do to this clown.

Dom Cersosimo
Simsbury, Conn.

 

Mosey on over to Van Buren, J.B.

I love to play golf. Period. I also love to watch pro golfers play golf. It doesn’t matter to me if they take four hours or six hours to play 18 holes. I can choose to watch or get up and do something else.

What I do know is these players are hitting shots that count for $1 million, not a $5 Nassau. I would take as much time as I needed before I pulled the trigger. 

Darrell Shook
Van Buren, Ark.

 

Tales of the turtles: Holmes vs. Spieth

Everyone seems to be commenting on the slow play by J.B. Holmes, but the time is nowhere near the time that Jordan Spieth took at last year’s British Open.

Poor Matt Kuchar had to sit on a towel while waiting for Spieth to make up his mind about his second shot on the 13th hole at Royal Birkdale. The media seemed to heap praise about how Spieth was a genius to figure out what to do. Anyone can have the vision if given all of the time. I would have praised Spieth if he had quickly decided the route to follow but surely not with the time that was allowed.

Slow play should be condemned no matter who the player is, and that will influence the juniors and others starting golf.

I have seen amateur golfers shooting in the 100s take their glove off when their turn comes to putt, walk two or three times around to get a line and do the three-stroke practice routine before they are ready to pull the trigger.

Guess who is influencing such behavior. These guys will think nothing of improving their lie when hitting the second shot but think it is wrong not to take a gimme.

Praveen K. Vohora
Surrey, British Columbia

 

Another dart for Spieth

J.B. Holmes is now the target of golf fans for his slow play. Have we already forgotten Jordan Spieth in the British Open? I believe he consumed more than 4 minutes and 10 seconds to play his shot.

Ken Staroscik
Firestone, Colo.

 

Just win, baby … no matter the time

I read with interest how many are quick to condemn J.B. Holmes for his slow play. Listen to what he said: “I was trying to win a tournament.”

The only people who should have issues are his playing competitors, and it's obvious that their play did not suffer.

This was the 72nd hole of the tournament and the last grouping. If Holmes gets his shot off 1-2 minutes earlier, how does that affect the outcome? It doesn't. The playoff still would have gone to a Monday finish.

If it had been Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas in that situation, no one would have complained.

Steve Hoffman 
Hickory Hills, Ill.

 

Inconsistency in the rules

I have heard on the radio and read the posted commentary concerning J.B. Holmes’ play on the 18th hole of the final round at Torrey Pines. However, I believe the bigger issue involves the inconsistency of the governing Rules of Golf. For instance, Rule 27-1c (“Ball Not Found Within Five Minutes,” http://bit.ly/2ErhVcE) allows a player five minutes to look for a lost ball. If the player fails to locate his ball after the time limit, he is penalized one stroke. Yet, Rule 6-7 (“Undue Delay; Slow Play,” http://bit.ly/2EefufX) does not define a time limit as to what constitutes “slow play.” 

With the pending modernization of the rules scheduled to take effect in 2019 (http://bit.ly/2FJpGdq) and a player to be allowed only three minutes to search for a lost ball, why can’t the USGA introduce a one-stroke penalty under Rule 6-7 in an effort to speed play? 

The rules allow slow play but penalize a player for exceeding his time to look for a lost ball. Where’s the consistency?

Cameron White
Orlando, Fla.

 

There’s a lesson to be learned

Interesting article by Gary Van Sickle about the DMDs, but I have a different take on those things for more than 80 percent of the golfers in the world who shoot 90 and above (“DMDs narrow the distance for Tour use,” Jan. 31, http://bit.ly/2E0bccX).

They don’t help.

Somebody who can’t hit the green from 50 yards sure as hell can’t hit it from 183 from a bunker. But he will spend three minutes reading a cellphone app, the cart GPS, binoculars and, in the case of my friend, a wrist watch for distance as well as the other three devices. He breaks 100 about every fourth or fifth round. Since I have known the guy, who is tech savvy, he has insisted on having the latest technology at his disposal. Instead of taking my suggestion and visiting a local pro for much-needed lessons and then relying on the fairway markers for the distance.

Go ahead and tell me how inaccurate those sprinkler heads really are. Tell me about how the green bushes planted on the side of the fairway from 100 and 150 yards are at least five yards off, or any other yardage marker that almost every course in the world already has made for you (for free) is not nearly as accurate as the $400 Leupold range finder. You would be correct.

How many people benefit from it? Really benefit? One out of 1,000, maybe. The rest can’t hit the green from 100 yards but will pull out the latest golf gadget and top the ball or blade it anyway. Can you imagine the game improvement that every golfer would see with $400 worth of lessons?

Range finders are nice and a neat toy, but yardage markers already on the golf course are more than good. A scratch golfer who needs to know within a few feet where the hole is located could benefit from DMDs. Everyone else should take lessons. When you get to be a single-digit handicap, then you could look into something a bit more accurate. As for me, I carry a 9 handicap, and the yardages on the sprinkler heads are good enough. If I could putt, I would be a 3 or 4, but they don’t make a range finder for a putter.

Kenneth C. Taylor
Fort Worth, Texas

 

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