Hypocrisy reigns in modern golf
I find it interesting that golfers are railing against alcohol consumption and fan behavior on the golf course (“Beers, jeers on Tour: Time to tighten tap?” March 20).
Name another sport’s equivalent of the 19th hole in golf. John Daly, Lee Trevino, David Feherty, Roger Maltbie and numerous others are as well known for their predilection to party as their golfing ability.
The Phoenix Open, which bills itself as “The People’s Open,” actively and extensively promotes the sale of alcohol. To its credit, it has numerous police officers providing free, portable breathalyzer testing on the way out of the event.
A sport that has a history of association with alcohol-company sponsorship, a postgame tradition of having a drink or several, history of colorful players who also like a drink or several, and the promotion of alcohol sales at its events is perhaps a little disingenuous in its response to boorish fan behavior.
Unfortunately, the nature of fandom is to root against rivals as to root for your team, to yell and scream when something positive (or negative) happens. It was a sight to behold (and an auditory revelation) to hear New York Rangers fans chant “Potvin sucks.” Perhaps Rory McIlroy should be asking fans to demonstrate a little more decorum and discretion when he makes a putt as opposed to when he misses a putt or hits one into a hazard.
Since the arrival of Tiger Woods, golf officially has moved beyond the myth of polite clapping by fans, player celebrations that consist of little more than a tap of the bill of their visor and predominantly white golf shirts.
I expect a more nuanced, sophisticated and modern response to issues of fan behavior. I also respect that players are human beings and that everyone likes to be cheered and few like to be booed – unless you are Gary Bettman or Roger Goodell.
Oak Bluff, Manitoba
Toss the louts
The ridiculous behavior by fans, whether drunk or sober, is unacceptable, and they should be escorted off the property.
Curtailing alcohol sales probably is not a viable solution because events are trying to pay the money that players require in purses, perks, childcare, etc.
They now have three-number calls you can make at other sporting events to report poor behavior, and everyone has a phone, so why not invest in that where a decent fan can report out-of-line behavior?
Shot clock, penalty threat would work
I am in total agreement with Chuck Rhoades that warnings for slow play don't work, but penalties would (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 20).
Years ago, the North Carolina basketball team was famous for using the four-corners stall offense. That tactic instigated the use of the shot clock for college basketball.
The PGA Tour should take similar action. I'm not sure of the specifics, but an example would be that a golfer approaching his ball after hitting a tee shot should proceed to the ball with undue delay. Once the player is at the ball – say, within a 10-foot radius – he has 40 seconds to make a stroke. This would mean that the constant gazing at a yardage book, tossing grass into the air, chatting with the caddie, etc., would have to be kept to a minimum. Get the yardage and wind direction, grab a club and have at it.
Even if a player has an exact yardage to the inch and the exact direction to within half a degree, the ball may not be struck correctly or the wind could change direction and/or speed, so all of that grinding (and wasting time) is for naught anyway.
On the green, I'm at a loss, because a player may not be able to line up a putt while another is away and lining up his putt. Maybe give him a minute or so once it is his turn.
I'm sure the folks who make those books of the greens layouts with all the arrows on them would not be happy if they were banned, but the majority of us hackers certainly don't have the benefit of those for our rounds, nor do we have a caddie to chat with for the entire round.
Whatever the Tour decides as a reasonable time to play a shot, I'm sure the majority won't find it unreasonable as they most likely play without undue delay anyway and it won't bother them at all. What it may do is put those who are notoriously slow on notice that they will suffer a penalty stroke, and that most certainly would speed them up.
James A. Smith
Virginia Beach, Va.
Course dictates club selection
How many times during the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational did the pros use a driver, and how many times did they use something else?
Without going into the stats, I would say it was 50/50. Rory McIlroy hit a massive banger 351 yards straight down the pipe on a par 5, then on the next hole he hit it into the trees with the same long ball. Then the next hole, he hit a 2-iron. Did the ball give him an advantage?
Tiger Woods hit his driver on three holes, and so did Henrik Stenson. Was the ball to blame for the clubs they chose?
The ball is not the problem with distance, as that seems to be the hot spot of contention. Bay Hill tamed the long hitters and then exemplified them all in the same tournament: irons on 414-yard par 4s because there was water in play; 351-yard drives on 600-yard par 5s because there was nothing in the way. The argument is moot. The course dictates the tee-box club selection, not the ball.
Did you happen to notice the holes with the longest approaches were the ones that had the fewest birdies? Subsequently, the holes with the shortest approaches yielded the most birdies.
I love seeing the long ball as much as I love seeing a 180-yard 8-iron stick within 10 feet, but don’t tell me the balls are the advantage. That’s absurd. The course – every course – has the final decision on club selection, not the ball.
It’s a stupid argument.
Fort Worth, Texas
Just hit it
I totally agree with the reply from Mike Kluba on banning yardage books (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 21).
Do you really have to consult a yardage book before your pre-shot routine, and then once again immediately after your pre-shot routine? What? Did you forget it already?
I'd take it a couple of steps further to suggest that caddies not be allowed on the putting green, with the exception of tending the flag, and verbal communication between caddies and players should be restricted, much in the way coaching is restricted in professional tennis during play. Let's let the players play and the caddies caddie.
Observe during a normal golf telecast the time wasted while PGA Tour players discuss world events, yardage, elevation, slope, wind, sun and club selection with the guy whose job is really supposed to be, "Show up, keep up, and shut up."
I would suggest that Tour pros who can't determine the yardage for their next shot, which club to pull, and can't read the wind, elevation or pitch of the green are in the wrong line of work. Also, if these caddies know so much about how to play and win at golf, why are they lugging a 50-pound bag around for five hours instead of playing?
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