Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

What a difference a generation or two makes
Thank you, John Hawkins, for writing what no one else has the courage to do (“Winning ought to mean more than it does,” Sept. 14). Your article was the best I’ve read in many years.

When there is so much money to be had so deep down the roster, winning kind of becomes irrelevant.

The guys from the 1960s and earlier would be stunned at what professional golf has become.

Betsy Larey
St. Paul, Minn.
(Larey is an LPGA teaching professional.)

It’s great work, if you can get it
Winning on the PGA Tour has been minimized to some extent, so I will agree with John Hawkins (“Winning ought to mean more than it does,” Sept. 14). But the PGA Tour has and always will be different. It’s hard to beat 143 other guys. Virtually everything has to go right. It is a bit different than team sports.

The epitome of your point is Charles Howell III: two career victories and 21st on the all-time money list, with $35.6 million. Amazing, and he hasn't won in more than a decade.

The Tour clearly is designed for most of its members to make a living, not necessarily being the best. Tiger Woods is just happy to be 42 and playing golf. Next year, he might turn back into his turn-of-the-century form because of loftier expectations.

Bob Geismar
Boca Raton, Fla.

Having fun and winning certainly can coexist
John Hawkins struck a good ending with the words, “Winning isn’t everything, and it certainly isn’t the only thing, but for crying out loud, Johnny [Miller], it should mean a lot more than it does these days.” (“Winning ought to mean more than it does,” Sept. 14).

For third-graders, it should be mostly about fun, but it is more fun when winning.

For even more perspective, I remember two comments Fuzzy Zoeller said to me a long time ago: “Give me a chance to choke every Sunday” and “first is better than second; second is better than third.”

Alan Dale
New Braunfels, Texas

Winning no longer is everything
Your frame of reference fits perfectly in the Vince Lombardi/John Wayne years, but I’ve got to tell you that a lot has happened in the past 50 years (“Winning ought to mean more than it does,” Sept. 14). Right or wrong, money has become as or more important than winning for most of the folks in the working world and the world of sports.

When winning is the only thing, it is but a vehicle to more money. Even the master of must-win, Tiger Woods, has taken a softer, more 21st-century point of view.

The world and the folks on it have and continue to change. Though you miss the winning-is-everything ethos, those days are long gone and probably not coming back.

Suppose you had Dustin Johnson’s abilities and you win tens of millions of dollars in your first decade on the PGA Tour. Add a gorgeous, famous wife, lovely children, with the whole world at your feet, and the ability to go anywhere and buy virtually anything that you might want. How important would it be to have to prove to everyone that you’re No. 1? Most of us would work just hard enough to keep the money flowing in.

John T. Doyle
Lakeland, Fla.

Winning still should matter, especially in majors
Well done. I could not agree more with your comments about winning on the PGA Tour (“Winning ought to mean more than it does,” Sept. 14).

It's a shame that there is no longer the same emphasis on winning as there once was, but that is due in part to the massive sums of money for which these players compete each week. Unfortunately, I don't have the answer, but why not go to a system with points given for first, second, third and so forth and award extra points for majors?

Ted A. Biskind

World rankings work over time
Sorry, but I do not agree with most of your article/rant (“Winning ought to mean more than it does,” Sept. 14).

Let’s look at Justin Rose and his ascension to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and this does not take anything away from Brooks Koepka's fantastic year. Rose, over time, consistently has performed to move himself up the world rankings while others – Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy among them – have faltered and lowered themselves. Koepka also is rising based on his performance, but in the past few weeks he has faltered when Rose has not. Koepka could have taken No. 1 if in the past two tournaments he would have outperformed Rose, but he did not.

The world rankings should reflect consistency over a longer period of time rather than more erratic, shorter periods. Why not just state that whoever wins a tourney is No. 1 in the world? Well, for that week he (or she, on LPGA) was the best who played. Many quickly would dismiss this ranking for many reasons.

World rankings are fine. On a weekly basis, the tournament winner is quite happy winning. He has conquered the field. If he continues to play well, he will start to vie for No. 1 in the world (consistency) rankings.

Bill Martin
Quitman, Texas

Parel story rates as nonpareil
I really liked Adam Schupak’s piece on Scott Parel (“Parel brings dream to life the hard way,” Sept. 14). Schupak was right; it is one of the best stories in golf, and it would have been lost without his effort.

Thank you for sharing.

Steve Sacks
San Diego
(Sacks is a co-founder of Sacks Parente Golf Co., a start-up putter manufacturer.)

Parel Fan Club grows by 1
Thank you for the nice article on Scott Parel (“Parel brings dream to life the hard way,” Sept. 14). It's great to read about players from tours other than the PGA Tour, and I learned a lot about Parel.

My next volunteer slot is in Pebble Beach, at The First Tee Open, and I will look for Parel in the field.

Starr Campbell
El Dorado, Ark.

Rooting for Mickelson not to slide into infamy
I find it interesting that Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson share the record for most losses by a U.S. player in Ryder Cup history, at 20 (“Mickelson, Woods win another Ryder shot,” Sept. 5).

By selecting Mickelson as one of his captain’s picks, Furyk almost assuredly has managed to remove his name from that woeful Ryder Cup distinction.

Because this likely will be the last Ryder Cup appearance for Mickelson as a player, I hope he goes undefeated.

Ken Byers
Kennewick, Wash.

Blowing the whistle on golf rules officials
In every sport, there is the letter of the rule and the spirit of the rule (“Shedding light on golf’s dirty little secret,” Sept. 14).

In basketball, defensive hands on an offensive player is a foul in the book. It’s never called when that player is far from the ball and not trying to move. Why? The defense simply has not gained an unfair advantage just by “feeling” where the opponent is while looking elsewhere.

Golf officials wouldn’t last one quarter in basketball. Too many times, they have proved their lack of judgment. Look up “loose impediment” and see whether a picture of a 7-foot boulder is there, ala the fans’ rescue of Tiger Woods at the 1999 Phoenix Open.

When Dustin Johnson approached his drive on the 18th hole in the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits, the fans were all over “the court” and should have been moved back, way out of the “bunker,” by the official. You never hand the ball to a free-throw shooter with his foot on the line. Zero proactive officiating by the ref led to a penalty. With fans around, it wasn’t nearly as clear that he was in a “bunker” as the player has the right to clearly observe.

Also, in the 2017 ANA Inspiration, Lexi Thompson’s ball was about a foot from the hole when she re-marked her ball a fraction of an inch around the coin. Yep, sounds like a four-shot penalty to me. Put the hammer down.

Can you imagine the laughingstock that pro golf was around the water cooler for the next week?

It is not gaining an unfair advantage. If it requires video to catch it, then look up laughingstock in the dictionary.

The officials in every sport must be competent. Through the years golf officials have tunnel-visioned the letter of the law for their rulings. The players simply don’t view that as good for anyone in professional golf, or golf in general.

I am not advocating that “anything goes,” but if you’re looking for players to birddog their playing competitors, then you’re kidding yourselves.

Al Fiscus
Searcy, Ark.

Creative interpretation of rules
Alex Miceli's article about cheaters on the PGA Tour is no surprise to me (“Shedding light on golf’s dirty little secret,” Sept. 14). Working several years ago as a volunteer at a Tour event, I witnessed two blatant acts of total disregard for the rules.

In one instance, a player took relief from an unplayable lie. His drop ended up in a poor position next to a fallen branch. He called across the fairway to a competitor and informed him that his ball had rolled forward and had to be redropped. His assessment of the situation was extremely creative. I was next to him the entire time and witnessed the procedure. Not enough TV cameras cover every situation.

In the same event, two players had similar shots to a small green in windy conditions. Player A hit his shot and had to twist his body like a pretzel in order to stick the sole of his club in the face of Player B. We usually define such an action as giving advice.

I spoke with a caddie friend after the round and told him about the two instances. His response was that the players will do anything to get a win or move up the leader board. Although he did not use the word rampant, it came through loud and clear.

Incidentally, one of those players had full status this year on the PGA Tour, and the other won an event on the Champions Tour.

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.
(Kavanagh is a senior rules official with the Florida State Golf Association.)

Only player, scorekeeper should resolve disputes
I question the 44 percent of golfers who witnessed cheating (“Shedding light on golf’s dirty little secret,” Sept. 14). Some people think they know better than the player.

A few weeks ago, I saw a player in one of our tournaments take a drop near an out-of-bounds fence. I called out to him before his shot that he was not entitled to drop from an OB fence and was embarrassed when he said that he was taking a drop from a sprinkler head. He thanked me for protecting him.

My point is, if I didn't talk to him, I would think he took an illegal drop. I wonder how often one player sees another supposedly violate a rule and thinks he/she knows it all.

Another example is the pro tournament a few years ago when Tiger Woods saw his ball cross a water hazard in one place, agreed to by his playing competitor, yet TV analyst Johnny Miller was certain that it was a wrong drop. Seeing where a ball crosses a hazard, 100 feet in the air, is pretty hard to do.

Any question should be resolved by the player and his/her scorekeeper.

Joe Matula
Palos Park, Ill.

One solution: Reduce size of hole
If the ball is cut back 10 percent, the longest hitters would lose 30-plus yards in distance. But at the same time, the shorter hitters would lose 25-plus yards in distance. So, we're right back where we started (“Want to limit distance? Try 2 sets of rules,” Sept. 13).

One thing it should do is raise scoring; it would take much of the second-shot wedge out of the game for a lot of these guys.

The ball discussion has been going on for more than 20 years – and has gone nowhere. In fact, you can argue that along with club and shaft technology, and fitness, the ball actually has gotten longer.

Golf doesn't compare to team sports such as baseball, football and basketball. There's no one-ball rule in bowling. So, let's concede that the ball isn't going to change.

If determining par is a good score again as the objective, and we can't control distance, professional tournaments basically become putting contests. There are four non-human elements to putting: the green, the putter, the ball and the hole. Can't do anything to the ball. They've tried to control putting by banning the anchored stroke. They're doing away with the green slope books. That leaves the hole.

Make it smaller.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

Morning Read invites reader comment. Write to editor Steve Harmon at Please provide your name and city of residence. If your comment is selected for publication, Morning Read will contact you to verify the authenticity of the email and confirm your identity. We will not publish your email address. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and brevity.

Related Stories