Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

Fans worship mythology linked to Woods
I attended two tournaments last year that Tiger Woods played. At both of them, the crush of spectators around him was intense, and other players were going around the course with nary a follower. TV coverage is far more balanced than the live experience.

What fans are reacting to is not Tiger Woods the man, but the mythology, embedded in the human psyche since early times, of a fallen god who is attempting to regain divinity. All superhero movies revolve around a god-like figure who struggles against a (temporarily) greater power, eventually overcoming mortality to regain his former god-like invincibility.

In the case of Tiger Woods, what we are witnessing is this mythology playing itself out in real life. It cuts deep into the collective human psyche, causing this intense desire by fans to witness myth turn into reality.

It is interesting that there are people who are not susceptible or are resistant to this archetypal story, and I'm sorry that they must endure it. But I am glad for myself and all the others who are yearning for the magical to become reality in a mundane existence, that there is media coverage of Woods’ travails, because trying to see it play out in person is nearly impossible, given the crowds he draws at PGA tour events.

Go Tiger!

John Toenjes
Champaign, Ill.

Common-sense solution to a nonsensical problem
There has been much discussion during the past few weeks regarding the pace of play on the professional tours. The main problem, of course, is the tours' refusal to do anything in a meaningful way about it.

A common-sense and simple way to enforce slow play exists. I would think that 4 hours, 48 minutes (a pace of 16 minutes per hole) would be more than a fair amount of time to play a round of professional golf.

You could station a rules official at the fourth and 13th holes with a shot clock, and require that groups have the final ball in play in 50 minutes (16 minutes for each of three holes, plus another 2 minutes for teeing off). The first group not to keep pace would be put on the clock, with the shot clock following them.

Once a player or caddie is at the ball, the shot clock starts. A player who does not make a stroke at the ball in the allotted time would be automatically assessed a shot. This would continue for the rest of their nine, and by this time they should be back on pace. As for the following groups that might not make the 50-minute time limit due to the slowness of the first group of scofflaws, adjustments to the required time can be made.

You would need a few shot clocks at each of these tees, but the tours have so much going on logistically that adding one more gadget should be no problem. But, the tours need backbones to actually do this.

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

4 points about the state of the game
Four things that seem to be roiling the world of golf:

Slow play – It is not going away. The PGA Tour will not be slapping strokes on slowpokes, and your public course will not be kicking paying customers off the course. This may disappoint many, but it's a fact.

Tiger is the man, the needle, the G.O.A.T. – The constant coverage angers some, but this is the guy who brings more viewers to golf events, in person and on air. You may not agree, but your moaning and groaning will not reduce coverage.

The ball goes too far – If you think that anyone is going to be playing with a reduced-flight ball, you are sadly deluded. The PGA Tour isn't going to do anything, because viewers love those smashed drives. The ball doesn't go far enough for the rest of us.

Growth of the game – To grow means attracting new people, non-golfers, to the game. The powers that be seem clueless about this. “Play nine” was one suggestion by the USGA. Well, duh. No one has ever thought of that before, and how did that grow the game?

Most sports have widely available and inexpensive ($100-$200 for the summer or other season) programs that provide regular coaching and competition. Golf is only beginning to have any effective programs. The First Tee and Kids on Course are good beginnings but are not widely available and poorly promoted to non-golfing parents.

If public courses want to ensure a supply of future patrons, they need to step up and be a part of attracting and nurturing tomorrow's golfers. Municipalities usually offer youth programs for baseball, basketball, football, soccer and more through their parks and recreation departments. Golfers need to ask their representatives why golf is treated differently and demand similar programs through the municipal course(s).

Four things, but only one of them matters at all. You probably can guess which one.

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

Blauch and his buddies qualify as endangered species
I’m 63 years old and have been playing golf for 50 years. I know I’m in the minority, but my regular group and I play by the Rules of Golf.

We “play it down,” take stroke and distance when we hit out of bounds or lose a ball and call penalties on ourselves, even when nobody else sees it. My average score is about 85. When I’m playing well, I strive to break 80; when I’m struggling, I try to break 90.

Are we the last of a dying breed?

Frank Blauch
Lebanon, Pa.

WGC might as well mean ‘We Grab Cash’
These WGC events have run their course. They are nothing but a cash grab.

The Chapultepec Golf Club course in Mexico City was just OK. The Puerto Rico Open was much more compelling.

Forget about guys wearing shorts. Eliminating the WGC events would be smart.

David Coleman
Toledo, Ohio

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