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From the Morning Read inbox

Good clubs can do only so much for a golfer
Cheers to reader Bill Hutchins and his comments regarding the performance of various clubs, be they hot new technology or 20-year-old beaters (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 11).

I have the pleasure of watching my golf-professional son play each year with the hottest and most advanced products on the market. As he has moved positions, he has found himself playing with a host of the leading manufacturers’ clubs. Each new set elicits songs of joy and praise for a period of time and then equal sounds of dismay when suddenly they don't seem to work as well.

That always reminds me of a time when he told me to change my 20-year-old Ping putter for one of the many new models available. I offered him the same thoughts I have today: It's not the stick that makes the difference; it's the guy holding it. I am a decent putter, and always have been, and I neither praise nor blame the stick based on the outcome of the putt.

Baird Heide
Bradford, Ontario


High price of golf clubs erects barrier to game
This is a subject dear to my heart and what I view as the primary problem with golf today (“Soaring club prices ignore golf’s reality,” Jan. 8).

I have been playing for 40 years and have acquired a couple of hundred sets of clubs over the years (golf addict not fully recovered). The manufacturers set the prices to the retail outlets and do not allow deviation, so it does not matter where I buy the clubs. The price is the same. The difference most people observe is customer service and help with the product once purchased.

Club fittings certainly help and should be done every five to seven years as skills improve or diminish (because of age) and golf ability. However, the manufacturers controlling the pricing have killed the youth market as their clubs are ridiculously expensive as compared with other sports. A parent looks at the sports and is willing to pay $25 for a basketball rather than $2,000 for a complete set of designer clubs. This is one of the major reasons why golf is not growing today.

Ray Wood
Gulf Shores, Ala.


An elusive answer in Lucy Li case
I wish there were a solution for the Lucy Li situation that would not further complicate the relationship between the USGA and the golf community (“90 years ago, a precursor to Lucy Li’s case,” Jan. 10).

Perhaps this situation could hasten real change to the rules of amateur status, but unfortunately it likely won’t help a 16-year-old girl who was put in an impossible situation by factors far greater than a 16-year-old’s comprehension will allow.

Steve Jurick
Dayton, Ohio
(Jurick is the executive director of the Miami Valley Golf Association.)


A skeptic’s view of USGA
I enjoyed John Fischer’s article on Kate Brophy (“90 years ago, a precursor to Lucy Li’s case,” Jan. 10). The lines about Bobby Jones, Chick Evans, Francis Ouimet and others maintaining their amateur status despite being paid for books and articles about the game points to the politics and adjustable standards in the USGA.

I'll be interested to see how they rule in the Lucy Li case. I wouldn't bet money on either result. The rules might be the rules on paper, but in practice they are subject to being interpreted however the powers that be want them to be interpreted. It's hard not to view the process with skepticism.

Dave Andrews
Daytona Beach, Fla.


Oh, for the drama-filled days of Q-School
As part of the live tournament-production team for 18 years, I was privileged to sit in the producer’s chair for 18 PGA Tour Q-Schools. My three favorite tournaments to produce each year were the Nike/Buy.com/Nationwide/Web.com Tour Championship, the PGA Professional National Championship and, most of all, The PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, because there was always so much more on the line than a paycheck and a trophy.

Mike Purkey recalls the painful story of Joe Daley in 2000 (“On eve of Web.com opener, nostalgia ebbs,” Jan. 11). Though the man whom we called “The Conductor” because of the way he wore his hat had a tragic tale, it was just one of dozens of stories of agony and ecstasy we delivered to golf fans all over the world. Stories authored by David Gossett, Harrison Frazar (both shot 59 at Q-School), Roland Thatcher (played from the roof at Bear Lakes in the final round), and Cliff Kresge (he fell into a lake at PGA West while attempting to read a putt). We, figuratively, laughed and cried with Ty Tryon, Boo Weekley, Tim O’Neal, Jaxon Brigman, Brian Tennyson, Vaughn Taylor, Andy Miller (Johnny’s son), Gary Nicklaus, Bill Haas, John Holmes (before he was J.B.) and so many more.

But as good as Purkey’s piece was, I feel compelled to make one correction. Joe Daley’s misfortune on the green in 2000 actually happened on Saturday (round four of six). Daley did, indeed, miss his Tour card by a shot that year, but he had two more rounds to make up for the poor job done by the person who cut that hole at PGA West.

I understand why the PGA Tour made the change to the process, but as a golf fan I’ll forever miss the drama and delight that Q-School provided.

Keith Hirshland
Colorado Springs, Colo.


Applause for flexibility of new rules
I was entertained by reader Daniel Cahill’s comment about better equipment deceiving golfers into believing they can improve without working as hard. I am curious about his set makeup (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 10). Does Cahill play with hickory-shafted clubs and a “feathery” or a “gutty” ball?

Forged blades are fine if you hit the sweet spot 90 percent of the time, like a professional. We ordinary golfers miss the sweet spot 80 percent of the time.

And have you ever followed a foot dragger for 18 holes, or putted on a municipal course with greens like the surface of the moon? I have, and I am glad that the rules have changed.

Daniel Janyja
Jacksonville, Fla.


Course operators should line up behind rules
We are overlooking one area concerning the new rules that needs improvement. Golf courses are very lax at marking the courses properly.

The course to which I belong in Florida is semi-private. The only time the course is marked properly is before a tournament, usually done by the FSGA or USGA. Red and white stakes disappear, making it difficult to determine whether a ball is in a hazard (oops … penalty area) or out of bounds.

Those of us who play by the rules are quite disappointed by the lack of clear definition. Marking the course should be done on a weekly basis, ensuring that stakes are in place and areas are defined clearly by proper lines. This practice also would speed play.

Even some of the top clubs in the area are lax on marking the course properly. I suggest that golfers encourage the head professional and superintendent to mark the course properly, and do it on a regular basis. It’s all part of course maintenance and would be appreciated by the players.

Frank Smetak
Jacksonville, Fla.


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