From The Inbox

From the Morning Read inbox

Purkey gets it right with call for drop on OB
I am in complete agreement with Mike Purkey on the ruling bodies' failure to change the out-of-bounds penalty (“Simplest rules fix of all: Allow drop on OB,” Oct. 16).

I told the USGA as much when it was asking for feedback on the proposed 2019 revised rules. The penalty received should not be dictated by where you happen to hit it sideways. However, unlike a ball in a “penalty area,” you would not have the option to play the ball from an OB position; you would have to take the penalty. Stroke and distance is, effectively, a two-stroke penalty, with the possibility of becoming even more when you have to drop and re-hit from the same spot. The rule should be the exactly the same for a lost ball; i.e., drop within two club lengths of the spot where the ball disappeared from sight.

Let us not forget the other great oversight in the new rules: hitting from a divot. The USGA has made it simpler and less penal in the “penalty area”; removing loose impediments, grounding your club, etc. However, the rules continue to potentially penalize for hitting the ball where you are supposed to hit it: in the fairway. If your ball comes to rest in a divot, it still is considered to be “rub of the green.”

They made progress, but they still have a lot of work to do.

Randy Wilson
Newport, Ore.

OB stakes keep clowns from playing out of yards
I own a home on a golf course. There is out-of-bounds along both sides of most holes on my course, because of the homes located there. You suggest removing those white stakes and replacing them with red stakes (“Simplest rules fix of all: Allow drop on OB,” Oct. 16). Great, I say as a player. I hit my ball into your backyard and play if from there, as I’m allowed to play a ball out of a penalty area. By the end of the day, several balls end up in the backyard, and the homeowner has a bunch of clowns playing out of his yard, flower beds or maybe a pool, which is allowed when an area is identified by red stakes.

The USGA and R&A made the right call with the new local rule. Most recreational players don't hit provisional balls, and most players won't go back for stroke and distance, but most players do want to play by the rules. This local rule permits a player to stay in the game, record a score and avoid being disqualified.

J.C. Coton
Palm Springs, Calif.

Sounding off about Miller
Good riddance to Johnny Miller on the NBC golf coverage (“Azinger enhances NBC’s sharp analysis,” Oct. 17)..

The difference between CBS and NBC coverage is that most CBS announcers are cheering for good golf, whereas Johnny Miller and Gary Koch want to see bad play.

It is one thing to analyze and offer critiques. It is quite another to be mostly negative. Miller, usually looking as if he just bit into a lemon, never could find that range.

I watch golf for entertainment and a mostly positive experience, even when players perform poorly. My thought for the Florida Swing was always, Oh, God, we have to watch NBC and Johnny Miller. But at least now, I won't have to mute NBC coverage.

Alan Fisher
Nashville, Tenn.

Miller deserves praise
Obviously, you are a huge Johnny Miller fan, as I am (“Azinger enhances NBC’s sharp analysis,” Oct. 17). He deserves the accolades.

Al Forcella
Palm City, Fla.

Fearless Azinger has proved himself to be worthy
John Hawkins is spot-on with the article about Paul Azinger (“Azinger enhances NBC’s sharp analysis,” Oct. 17). He is/was afraid of no one as a competitor. Consider Seve Ballesteros. Azinger could handle all of the gamesmanship that the late Seve could deal out and throw it back into his face.

Azinger is so much better as an analyst than Nick Faldo. What an ego. Very few American touring pros liked Faldo when he started in the broadcast booth. He has mellowed some, but he is still a snob.

Norman Taylor
Rowlett, Texas

Miller learned criticism from self-reflection
Extremely well-written and succinct (“Azinger enhances NBC’s sharp analysis,” Oct. 17).

Johnny Miller was willing to take off the gloves and go bare-knuckled, and he added great insights for those willing to be open to his caustic comments. “Sounded a little thin,” became a great quote from Miller’s recent broadcasts.

Paul Azinger will continue the course and do quite well. For the Miller haters, they should dig a little into his record and realize that self-criticism was very much a part.

One of the greatest upsets in golf was his victory at the 1994 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am over another 40-something, Tom Watson, while fighting a full-blown case of the yips; and one of the saddest was watching Miller vs. Jack Nicklaus in a “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” episode at Olympic Club, when his yips were so bad that it affected every golfer watching, and Miller had to pick up and just hit full shots for the rest of the round.

When Miller was at his best, no one has come close to the way he hit his irons. He will be missed, and he should be respected.

Frank Morris
Winston-Salem, N.C.

Remember, Azinger: It ain’t over till it’s over
When I read this sentence – “But come late Sunday afternoon, with the game on the line and suspense occasionally reaching a rapid boil, a lead analyst must rely on his instincts to say the right thing at the right time.” – I was reminded of Paul Azinger’s comments during the final holes of the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this year (“Azinger enhances NBC’s sharp analysis,” Oct. 17).

Ariya Jutanugarn looked as if she had the tournament sewn up, but lost a huge lead, and then appeared to hand the title to Hyo Joo Kim.

So, way before the last putt was dropped, Azinger was waxing emotionally with the women in the booth about what a devastating loss this would be for Jutanugarn, wondering how she would bounce back from it, etc. I was watching – saying out loud, actually – “Dude! The tournament isn’t over! She can still win! Hyo Joo could still screw it up!”

And that’s exactly what happened.

While the other announcers were commiserating in the booth, Azinger should have been the one to say, “Just hold on, now. This isn’t over yet. Anything can happen.”

But he didn’t. He joined the pity party.

And this coming from a guy who holed out a bunker shot on the 18th hole for a halve in the 2002 Ryder Cup late Sunday afternoon so he wouldn’t be the guy who let his opponent get the winning point, someone who lived the fact that it isn’t over until it’s over.

I sure hope he learned something from that USWO performance. Otherwise, I’m going to watching with the sound turned down.

Bob Jones
Salem, Ore.

Let’s hear it for the ‘cranky old men’ out there
Besides bringing readers interesting golf news, Morning Read offers a forum in the “Inbox” department for the various opinions, insights, rants and raves of its followers. Some readers/writers are more prolific than others.

Some of the submissions are well thought out. Others evoke a “what were they thinking?” reaction. Some may have been submitted because the remote-control batteries were running low. Maybe some because there is no one around to talk to and voice an opinion.

At a post-round discussion with contributor Jim Kavanagh, I suggested that I should write an Inbox letter with my thought that cranky old men with a modicum of golf knowledge are the major contributors. He said, “Do it.” And since Jim and I are part of the cranky-old-men population, hence this letter.

I write this even after I found the TV remote in the refrigerator.

Dave Richner
St. Johns, Fla.

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