From The Inbox

From the Morning Read inbox

It’s time to take a stand, European Tour
There is nothing “no-win” about European Tour CEO Keith Pelley’s choice regarding the inaugural tournament in Saudi Arabia (“Pelley’s Saudi sand trap: Cancel or play?” Nov. 1). The choice is between money and saying “no” to an authoritarian regime that will not let international borders prevent it from hunting down and destroying its enemies.

The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is just the final straw in a string of egregious domestic and international criminal acts linked to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. To hold the tournament as scheduled is giving tacit approval.

State-sanctioned kidnapping and killing is beyond where the line needs to be drawn. I cannot see how the European Tour would even see this as a difficult choice.

One fewer golf tournament won’t break the tour. And don’t let me hear anyone say golf should stay out of politics. If you’re taking about, say, whether you think the tax cut was a good idea or not, I would agree. But these are heinous crimes committed by a regime that thinks it can operate with impunity on the world stage.

It’s a moral choice to cancel the tournament. Sometimes you have to take a stand. Now is the time.

Bob Jones
Salem, Ore.

Could a Terrorism Swing be next for European Tour?
The word reprehensible has been thrown around quite a bit recently (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Nov. 1). Consider Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods or your favorite player to hate. Scheduling a European Tour event in Saudi Arabia was reprehensible before the regime is alleged to have killed Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey (“Pelley’s Saudi sand trap: Cancel or play?” Nov. 1).

What a great place, Saudi Arabia. Maybe visitors to the European Tour event in January can take in a public lashing or the beheading of women who have “dishonored” their families. Being celebrities, players might be invited to a private drowning of a daughter who has looked at men who are not members of their family. Honor killings are such fun events.

If you think we must respect this “culture” because of, well, multiculturalism, you need a quick morality check.

This tournament is all about money, which makes this move even more disgusting. Hey, maybe the European Tour can schedule an event in North Korea. Think of the fun to be had touring the camps. Call Dennis Rodman. He’s tight with Dear Leader.

By the way, don't have a drink while you're at the Saudi event or you might find out more about those public lashings than you'd like.

Money makes everything OK, I guess.

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

Bunker proponents stick their heads in sand
Alex Miceli is spot on when he suggests eliminating greenside bunkers (“Bunker-busting strategy would help golf,” Nov. 1).

While these bunkers may pose little worry to the pros, they are, at best, an annoyance to the majority of amateurs. Beyond the cost of maintenance, many golf courses use substandard sand, if sand at all.

It is very common here in New England to find grainy dirt in the bunkers. That leads to nearly unplayable lies in the spring, fall and when it rains. And, most amateurs don’t bother to rake the sand after their bunker shots, further penalizing the sand experience. Many others typically use the hand wedge to extricate themselves from the sand, particularly after a failed attempt or two.

Please tell me, then, why are greenside bunkers thought to be an integral part of the golf experience?

Ted Comstock
Lancaster, N.H.

Credit the wind for bunker formation
I just read your article on bunkers and disagree a bit on their origin (“Bunker-busting strategy would help golf,” Nov. 1).

I am a member of Carne Golf Links in County Mayo, Ireland, a course designed by Eddie Hackett among towering sand dunes which, before being a golf course, was commonage where 14 farmers wintered their cattle. The course is as natural as you might find, although there are very few manufactured bunkers. What is prominent are the large areas of sand on the faces of many dunes, which the wind has blown clear of vegetation. I often look at them and say to myself, S,o this is where the concept of the sand bunker came from.

Certainly, the cattle and sheep found shelter among the high dunes, but I believe it was the wind, not the sheep, that created the bunkers.

I so love the untouched natural course that is.

Robert Reilly
Albany, N.Y.

Psst, ASGCA: Are you paying attention?
The term faux bunker has been coined by Bill Blackburn, a long-time Smith Turf Toro executive, on his nine-hole short course, Lightning Bug, which he built on his family farm in Triune, Tenn. Greenside bunkers are shaped just like the real thing, except they have 2½-inch rough grass that is nicely mown, instead of sand (“Bunker-busting strategy would help golf,” Nov. 1). The visuals are awesome, and the results are even better and well documented.

It is fairly easy to extract oneself from the faux area. You usually can get the ball onto the green, but a tap-in takes skill and some luck with your lie in this so-called hazard.

It’s perfect for kids and the bogey golfer, yet it’s just inconsistent and iffy enough to drive a higher-skilled player to second thoughts.

The cost eliminates bunkers and rakes, and renovations of existing bunkers are not very painful. Pace of play is a welcome byproduct.

A faux bunker’s grass height can vary as well as the texture and variety: Bermuda, fescue, a combo, and even its tint.

Spread the word to the American Society of Golf Course Architects.

Dick Horton
Nashville, Tenn.
(Horton is the recently retired president of the Tennessee Golf Foundation and will be inducted into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame in February.)

Miceli’s ‘ingenious’ suggestion
Thank you, Alex Miceli, for your insight regarding bunkers (“Bunker-busting strategy would help golf,” Nov. 1).

In a day of high tech and great fitness regimens, methods to return the game to the challenge it should be (for professionals) has gone by the wayside.

Players continually are lauded about “knowing the rules and using them to their advantage.” However – and I’m not condoning Phil Mickelson at the 2018 U.S. Open; that’s what he did and was lambasted for it – when a pro hits a poor shot but is blocked by grandstands and equipment, he relies on rules to benefit him. Consider Jordan Spieth on the 13th hole in the final round of the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale.

The game is too simple for professionals, and sand bunkers have not been penal for years. The solution posited by Miceli is simple, ingenious and inexpensive.

Everyone is looking for a way to level the playing field by penalizing long hitters. No one has suggested that putting be made more difficult for good putters. Leveling the playing field by returning the game to when it was difficult is the way to go. Greenside bunkers should be made difficult or eliminated in favor of at least rough-conditioned bunkers.

Kudos to you, Alex Miceli. It is a suggestion that has been in my mind for years now.

Steve Hoffman
Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.

Bell tolls for end of gratuitous bunkering
Check out the recent article in Where To Golf Next (“Montgomery Bell Golf Course,” Oct. 31).

Bunker reduction and maintenance-cost reduction have been good for Montgomery Bell Golf Course in Burns, Tenn., and I agree that a lot of courses could do the same thing.

Mike Nixon
Nashville, Tenn.
(Nixon is the director of operations for the Tennessee Golf Trail.)

Golf rules could use some common sense
I’m assuming that Gary Van Sickle’s article was an early April Fool’s joke satirizing the pettiness of the rules committee (“Golf’s new rules could turn pros into cons,” Oct. 30).

If so, you can add disqualifications for having shoelaces that don’t match. If not, we need a new golf association, the CSGA (Common Sense Golf of America).

Most of the early golfers must have been lawyers, CPAs and sad folks diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder to have created the current rule book.

James Grimmer
Bloomington, Minn.

Hit ’em where it hurts: On the scorecard
Add strokes to the pros for slow play, not just on the greens but all shots (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Oct. 31). One warning, then, bam! – a one-stroke penalty no matter whether it's a star or a rookie.

This hopefully will alleviate tedious waits for those groups behind and make golf more enjoyable, even for us amateurs.

Kitty Russell

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