From The Inbox

From the Morning Read inbox

Golf etiquette mirrors real-world decorum
Reader Daniel Cahill is so right when he suggests that etiquette is vital to maintain the standing of golf (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 10). Golf should be an example of how to behave in the real world. Repairing divots, and making sure the green is in its best condition as you leave are, of course, part of that courtesy to other players.

However, even if every player does this, there still would be many occasions when the carefully replaced divot has been tossed aside by a crow looking for lunch, and it isn't always possible to tamp down all of your spike marks as you walk off the green, though these are more likely to be soft-spike depressions these days. So, I agree with reader Dave Richner (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 7) in saying that there should be relief from fairway divots, but only to the extent that you may roll the ball to the nearest point of relief.

The authorities have ducked this one, presumably due to the difficulty of deciding when a divot is or is not a divot, and perhaps what is fairway (and it should only be the fairway of the hole you are playing). But does it matter in anything below the elite-competition level? If my opponent declares every fairway lie to be an old divot mark and rolls the ball away, that's OK with me. His lack of ability and confidence will tell against him eventually.

I still recall losing a scratch knockout match in the 1980s when, having found my opponent's ball for him in the rough as he had no idea where it had gone, I discovered my ball virtually hidden in a huge divot gouge in the middle of the fairway. I assure Daniel Cahill that there was no level of skill that could have rescued me from that situation. Sadly, that was on the second extra hole of the replay of a match that had been halved the first time – the 38th hole!

Like Cahill, here in England we have been experimenting with leaving the flag in while putting. Strangely, it was a benefit for my fourball opponents Wednesday (twice) as their ball rapped against the stick and dropped. When my ball did the same, it rebounded against the edge of the hole and spun out. I think I'll revert to having the flag out every time. A county champion partner of mine had the flag removed for all chips as well, as he preferred to do without the flukes that went in to avoid the near-perfect ones that bounced away.

Terry Wall
Winchester, England

Elite amateurs deserve compensation
John Fischer's article on Lucy Li was spot-on (“90 years ago, a precursor to Lucy Li’s case,” Jan. 10).

Eliminate the 1800s notion that “pure” amateur athletes can't be compensated for their athletic feats. Anyone should be allowed to produce income based on who they are and their worth to someone else – whether it be personal appearances, teaching (Bobby Jones) or performing tasks, other than playing their sport.

Stop allowing institutions (i.e., colleges, associations, etc.) exclusive rights to our amateur athletes, and let them benefit financially for their hard work.

Maybe if our athletes were better compensated as amateurs, they wouldn't bolt so quickly to the professional ranks.

Ed Capek
St. Augustine, Fla.

USGA and R&A need to update amateur rules
Concerning the case of Lucy Li and the USGA's investigation of her appearing in an ad, it's long overdue that the USGA and R&A revise their rules of amateur status (“90 years ago, a precursor to Lucy Li’s case,” Jan. 10). The rules are way outdated and do not reflect any sort of reality to today's professional game.

What does appearing in an ad, even if Li were to receive money, have anything to do with playing professional golf?

Nothing. Back in the day, Jay Sigel made tons of money as an insurance agent that allowed him to play amateur golf and practice as much as he wanted. You could say that an amateur making money off of his or her golf skills away from the course is an unfair advantage over the competition, but didn't Sigel also have an “unfair” advantage in this regard? How you obtain the money makes no difference.

And as an employee of a golf teachers organization, I also don't see any connection whatsoever with teaching the game and playing professional golf, which are two completely separate professions.

There should be only two provisions for anyone to lose amateur status: 1) Playing for prize money in a tournament; 2) Declaring and/or identifying oneself as a professional golfer. That's it.

Virtually every other provision in the current rules of amateur status is completely irrelevant to the profession of playing professional golf. The question is, will the USGA and R&A come out of the dark ages on this?

Mark Harman
Ridgeland, S.C.
(Harman is the national course director for the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation.)

Price aside, clubs work only as well as golfer
I agree 100 percent with Gary Van Sickle (“Soaring club prices ignore golf’s reality,” Jan. 8).

Like almost all of the golfers I know, I play once or twice a week, and my biggest problem is consistency. When I do the firm left arm, full shoulder turn, no sway on the backswing, focus on the ball and don’t look up, I can hit some nice shots. When I don’t swing properly, it doesn’t matter whether I’m hitting my $450 Callaway Big Bertha or my $29.95 (purchased slightly used) Nike Sasquatch. Both go 50 yards on the ground or slice into the woods, or hook into the pond or…. And when I swing properly, they both go pretty much the same distance, down the middle.

The same goes for my Pinemeadow ZR3.0 knockoff irons versus the new Callaways that I tried at the range. They all go if you hit them, and don’t if you don’t. Sure, there are differences in look and feel, but the cheapies are perfectly nice clubs, and the cost difference is far beyond any difference in build quality or performance.

Here’s to 250 down the middle and tap-in birdies … and affordable clubs.

Bill Hutchins
Jacksonville, Fla.

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