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From the Morning Read inbox

Era of selfishness leaves no time to fill divots
Ted Bishop's comments were spot-on (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6). Course etiquette has been abandoned in this time of selfishness and entitlement.

Raking bunkers, filling divots, repairing ball marks and littering (think cigarette butts, snack wrappers and occasionally orange peels) are probably a sign of the times.

The suggestion that etiquette violators watch a post-round video: That's not going to happen. “Assisting” the maintenance crew at your home course through good course etiquette should be a standard to which we all should strive to do.

As with speeding up pace of play, course etiquette will not change, and both cannot be legislated. Players will do what they darn well please.

Just following their normal lifestyles, I guess.

Dave Richner
St. Johns, Fla.

Rules sound great, but can they be enforced?
I wonder how many players’ privileges have been revoked for failing to follow Ted Bishop’s guidelines (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6). The Legends Golf Club is a public course, so I seriously doubt that all those who play follow his “rules.”

I think these kinds of rules are great. The problem is that no one enforces them. Golf courses are closing, and many others are struggling to make ends meet. Private clubs are coming up with gimmicks to attract new members. Public courses are offering deals for up-front annual payments to help manage cash flow. So, there’s a reluctance to take action that might cause a decrease in revenue.

Also, in today’s world, removing someone from a course, revoking privileges or saying something that an individual or group might deem offensive could result in legal action or social outcry.

If clubs think Ted Bishop’s “player expectations” will work, I suggest adding one more: “Please allow faster players to play through.”

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

Courses play role in care of our ‘common space’
Golf courses play some role in course maintenance as well. Despite Jim Kavanaghs’ comments (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Dec. 7), I am happy to do the little things: replace divots, repair ball marks, fill divots with sand, rake bunkers, etc. I even pick up garbage (chip bags, wrappers, empty bottles) that others leave on the course. It is a common space we all share, and anything we can do to make it better is not asking too much.

However, some of the courses I play frequently send out carts with empty sand bottles, have no rakes or broken ones in the bunkers, maintenance crews that leave tire tracks on greens and in muddy fairways and do not seem to have a plan for fixing problem greens, So, they play a part, as well.

Many seniors drive their carts as close to the greens as possible. They frequently are very nice guys, but they really feel entitled about not walking the 20 or 30 yards from a path to the green or wherever their ball is. If you can swing a club, you ought to be able to walk a little.

There are easy solutions. Put cards with reminders in the carts or around the course regarding “the right way to replace a ball mark,” “replace your divot,” “use the sand bottles” and “how to rake a bunker,” with illustrations. The fancier places with the GPS monitors could even insert short videos.

Requiring licenses for golfers is a little too much, but a short “how to maintain our course” video is within the reach of anyone with a smartphone. Ask first-time players to watch it while waiting to check in.

Emphasize how it is to everyone’s benefit to leave the course the way you want to find it.

Peter Rosenfeld
Albany, Calif.

Course marshals need big batch of honey
I find it interesting that different readers criticize seniors, inexperienced and/or younger players, public-course players and private-course members for poor etiquette, slow play and every golf sin under the sun. Our sport has a systemic problem with pace of play (and course maintenance) that permeates every category of player. Calling out specific groups is not productive, likely inaccurate and ultimately self-reverential.

Solutions are few. Two points did resonate with me. Too often, I have noted course marshals who are extremely passive in the performance of their role. They are the front line of defense in these matters. I appreciate that the most effective marshal is a combination of charm and grace (in order to engage and not confront paying customers); steadfast commitment to pace of play, including moving groups up a hole if they have badly fallen off pace; and active involvement in course maintenance, including raking traps, fixing ball marks on greens and replacing divots if necessary. It’s not an easy job. However, marshals can and must directly influence on-course behavior. While the task of changing attitudes to slow pace must be ongoing, it takes time and is difficult to measure. Marshals changing behavior, one group at a time, will be a significant step in dealing with this issue.

The second point is application of the principle that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I strongly believe that rewards for timely play must be paired with punishment for slow play. The use of technology to track pace of play on a hole-by-hole basis can lead to recognition and rewards for groups playing at a good pace, even when they are stymied by slower groups in front. Imagine recognition to groups for meeting hole-by-hole pace-of-play standards in a shotgun setting. Consider the impact on the traditional five-hour shotgun round if such incentives existed. (I am not averse to identifying dawdlers, as well.) Incentives for pace of play engage the players themselves in the task of managing and encouraging better pace of play by slower groups.

Like the game itself, pace-of-play improvement is accomplished shot by shot. Incremental improvement is the key to managing this problem.

Michael Kukelko
Oak Bluff, Manitoba

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