Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

Golf’s great divide: Them vs. us
It seems as if some enthusiastic Morning Read readers have masochistic tendencies (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Dec. 17). Let's continue to stifle the growth of the game. No sense in making a difficult game easier.

Because the majority of course conditions aren't groomed to PGA Tour tournament standards and there is a relative minority of golfers taking care to rake bunkers and fix divots properly, why not bifurcate the rules? Why not relax the rules for the majority of golfers?

Let's get rid of the drop. Just place the ball. Yes, it becomes a preferred lie, but it makes the game easier and faster. The pros still have to drop. It would be partial appeasement to the traditionalists among us.

In bunkers, smooth the footprint and the deep rake furrows. Again, place the ball. The touring professionals’ caddies know how to groom a bunker, so the pros play it as it lies. If Joe Average should find himself buried under the lip, take relief with the penalty stroke, but place the ball. The average amateur needs the game to be easier and not be hit with a stroke and then have to drop into a fried-egg lie.

Regarding unrepaired or poorly repaired divots, many golfers ask how it is not deemed “ground under repair.” You're repairing it! Who has not invoked the old "winter rules" or the "leaf rule" under adverse conditions? Roll the ball 6 inches. Make the game easier and faster. The pros would continue to play it as it lies.

The hue and cry of the traditionalists about following the rules and maintaining the integrity of the game probably is lost on the once-or-twice-a-month golfers. Beer drinking is as integral a part of their game as clubs and balls. I surmise that following the rules for them is getting more ice and beer at the turn.

Now, for those of us who play a money game multiple times a week, on a public course, same deal. Make the game easier and faster. The new rules of golf are a baby step toward “winter rules” and “leaf rules” anyway. Keep the game hard for the guys playing for millions each week.

The integrity of the game would not be damaged. It might level the playing field because there would not be a reason for the “foot wedge” when nobody was looking by the ultra-competitor amongst us.

These thoughts might elicit some outrage by the traditionalists and those who passionately follow the rules. If so, remember to stop and not just tap the brakes at stop signs. And always follow the posted speed limit on our streets and highways.

Dave Richner
St. Johns, Fla.


Timeless lessons in caring for the game
The late Conrad Rehling taught me golf, once removed. My father was a physical-education instructor assigned to teach golf.

Rehling, who coached college golf at Florida and later Alabama, was my father's good friend and lived two blocks away, and we had a free driving range across the street. Rehling taught my dad to teach golf, with me as the student.

Rehling’s first lesson was, “The object of golf is to play 18 holes in as few strokes as possible, without losing the ball or your integrity. If you have to give up one, make sure it’s the ball.”

One of the most valuable things I was taught was how to care for the course: replace divots on bent and rye grasses, and repair divots on Bermudagrass so that they would grow in faster and were easily played out of until then (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Dec. 17).

Like repairing pitch marks on the greens, it is a learned skill, seldom taught and even more rarely used.

Boyd Welsch
Gainesville, Fla.


Fathers (and sons) know best
I really enjoyed watching the PNC Father-Son Challenge this past weekend.

It was ready golf, and fast-paced. They approached their ball, picked out a club, looked at the target, took one practice swing and hit the ball. (Even an announcer commented that the PGA Tour players could take note of that style of play.) The players didn't have to confer long with their caddies and didn't make three trips around the green, analyzing putting break or path. They played ready golf and still had great under-par scores.

Bobby Goforth
Bristol, Tenn.


Champions Tour needs a makeover
Mike Purkey’s article was spot-on and an excellent read (“It’s a Champions Tour in name only,” Dec. 5).

When the PGA Tour tires of supporting its financial hemorrhage, then rename it the U.S. Senior Tour. Open up the qualifying restrictions and enlarge the playing fields, and perhaps the TV audience might again tune in to watch the old farts compete.

Paul Marchewka
Oceanside, Calif.
(Marchewka is a retired PGA of America life member.)


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