From The Inbox

From the Morning Read inbox

Masters offers lesson in how to treat customers
NFL and Major League Baseball owners could learn a lot about how to treat their fans from the Masters (“Masters stands alone as best sports event,” April 2).

Not only does the Masters offer a world-class venue in Augusta National Golf Club, but the tournament hosts go out of their way to offer “patrons” an amazing experience coated in Southern hospitality and charm at every turn.

Where else can you set down a chair at 8 a.m. in a prime viewing location and return three hours later to find it in the same spot, unoccupied? What other major sporting event offers free parking just a pitching wedge from the front gate? Where else can you purchase a barbecue sandwich, a beer and a peach ice cream sandwich and get change for a $20 bill?

Several years ago, I had tickets for a Monday practice round. After thunderstorms closed the course after only a few hours, my buddies and I headed home disappointed but happy that we had been able to spend a few hours walking the course. Imagine my surprise when I received an email that day from ANGC apologizing for the cancellation and promising a refund for the tickets and guaranteed tickets for the following year.

Mark Nelson
Vienna, Va.

Masters rates pretty well across Atlantic, too
As a golfing Scot, I love the Masters (“Masters stands alone as best sports event,” April 2).

Sitting up late with my dad and watching Seve Ballesteros is my earliest memory. When the Masters came on, the seasons were about to change – even in Scotland – and the golf season could really get going.

But, with the greatest of deference …

“Best-mannered galleries in the universe”? The Open Championship, when played in Scotland, might disagree. I cannot think that the Masters galleries are as knowledgeable about the global game.

I agree that your comparison to the rest of sport in the U.S. puts the Masters head and shoulders above anything else, but the world is bigger than the U.S.

I have been to the football (soccer) World Cup finals, the Olympics, the Boat Race, the Grand National, nights of European football (Celtic vs. Barcelona) and of course the oldest international football match in the world: Scotland vs. England, with the odd 1,000 years of history coming into play between the two nations.

Is the Masters the greatest sporting event? I don’t know, as I have never been there. But I have my tickets for the Friday this year, so I will let you know.

Stephen Smith
Epsom, England

Perfect in every way
John Hawkins nailed it (“Masters stands alone as best sports event,” April 2). Great piece, great description and 100 percent the truth.

I dream of going to see the Masters, but chances are I never will, but I can live the dream through the TV and still be moved by it.

Kenneth C. Taylor
Fort Worth, Texas

The search for golfers and ivory-billed woodpeckers
Letter writer Bob Geismar recently opined that growth in golf comes only through familial connection, passed down from parent or grandparent, and that other programs purporting to grow the game are ineffective or doomed to failure (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 28).

If true, golf is in trouble. Participation is down, so fewer family mentors are available. Further, not all offspring of golfers will take to the game. Does this sound like diminishing returns? Are golfers doomed to become rare birds, like the ivory-billed woodpecker, and seen only in rare sightings at Winged Foot?

You will find kids in organized municipal leagues playing baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer and other sports who were signed up by parents who can't hit, catch, dribble, skate or walk and chew gum. Many of those same kids will, as adults, be found playing city-league softball, in YMCA and YWCA pickup basketball, adult soccer leagues, and here in Minnesota, adult hockey. Kids whose parents didn't play learned to enjoy a sport to which they were introduced and were mentored by someone else.

So why not golf? Municipal and county courses are frequently operated by the same parks-and-recreation departments as those ball fields, gyms, ice rinks and soccer pitches and which run those leagues. Why are there no similar programs for golf that could engage potential future golfers?

No reason at all, really. If you like golf and think that growing the game is a good idea, why not speak up and support such an idea in your town? I suspect that golfers are part of the problem. Just ask the average golfer about having more kids on the course on a regular basis.

Remember that fewer golfers equals reduced demand equals fewer courses and less opportunity to play.

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

USGA faces ruling with some urgency
If the USGA wants to modernize the game, it must address pace of play.

For public golfers, a round played in less than five hours is the exception, not the rule. Even playing in twosomes on Sunday, touring professionals are taking more than four hours.

So, changing terminology, drops, and flagsticks is a Band-Aid. It’s time for the USGA and PGA Tour to start enforcing pace-of-play rules. Maybe not allowing caddies to give advice (it seems harsh, but the interactions are becoming all too common and laborious) and giving out penalties with regularity will increase golfer participation.

Gary Cohen
Great Neck, N.Y.

We’re all to blame
Why didn’t Martin Kaufmann and others pick up on this lack of diversity when I did (a month ago), when there was still time for Augusta National to extend an invitation to the current U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur? (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 27).

Maybe the Augusta National leadership might have paid attention, had there been some pressure from respected golf journalists rather than a letter to the editor from somebody who probably needs the six degrees of separation to identify with Augusta National.

Morning Read and its contributing freelance journalists dropped the ball on this one.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

Mixed emotions regarding Kuchar
I am torn about the recent treatment of Matt Kuchar. I agree with Alex Miceli’s assessment of Kuchar’s actions in last weekend’s match with Sergio Garcia (“Match Play reveals a few warts on Tour,” April 1; “From the Morning Read inbox,” April 2). For Kuchar to state that he did not want to win the hole on Garcia’s innocent mistake but not avail himself of obvious remedies is evidence of great hypocrisy.

However, I suggest that Paul McGinley keep his comments to himself. The Europeans, especially the late Seve Ballesteros, were notorious for not conceding short putts. As a past Ryder Cup competitor and captain, McGinley is well schooled in such gamesmanship.

Michael Kukelko
Oak Bluff, Manitoba

Kuchar wins a few but loses much more
Matt Kuchar should have conceded Sergio Garcia’s putt no matter in what fashion the result was determined (“Match Play reveals a few warts on Tour,” April 1; “From the Morning Read inbox,” April 2).

By making it public or stating that he had not conceded the putt before Garcia’s swipe, Kuchar was taking advantage of the “purist perspective” regarding the rules and traditions and spirit of golf. Another way of stating it is that he was abusing such.

And to say that the event did not in the end affect the result of the match is dead wrong.

It is ironic and unfortunate that as Kuchar has won a couple of tournaments in recent months, he simultaneously has damaged his good-guy image.

Robert Kelley
Asheville, N.C.

Don’t let the smile fool you
Matt Kuchar is the player whom I enjoy watching the most. Because Matt Kuchar always has a smile on his face, people tend to think he is some kind of a pushover. I don't (“Match Play reveals a few warts on Tour,” April 1; “From the Morning Read inbox,” April 2).

In addition to his obvious talent as a player, he is fair, has good manners and is very smart.

The guy has put in his time both as an amateur, in college and as a PGA Tour pro, and he has done extremely well. I enjoy watching him work his way around a course. He has a very steady and controlled game.

Ron Yujuico
Euless, Texas

Golf Channel should ditch seniors and show LPGA
I agree with reader Bill Sandigo (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 2).

The women on the LPGA put their heart and soul into their game and product and deserve more respect than what they received last Sunday. I thoroughly enjoy watching the LPGA far more than watching a bunch of old guys holding on to long-past careers, hoping to earn a few extra bucks instead of selling insurance.

It's time these young women receive the respect they have earned. The Champions Tour is holding on by a thread. Golf Channel should be showing a product that has a chance to grow the game, not a product that has nearly a faint heartbeat left.

Robert Fish
Prescott, Ariz.

Ottawa viewer won’t be muted
I understand how it's necessary to adhere to a strict schedule for the first two days of a stroke-play tournament and ensure that everyone has a morning tee time and then an afternoon tee time (or vice versa). But for the recent WGC Match Play tournament, was it really necessary to stick so absolutely to a pre-ordained schedule? All that was necessary was that each of the duos in any four-man group would tee off within a few minutes of one another. But because the organizers stuck to their pre-planned schedule, we missed out on the much-touted face-off between Henrik Stenson and Jim Furyk.

Whom do the advertisers think they're fooling? The “Playing Through” segments are one of the most annoying turn-offs and do nothing for the sponsors. Because we can't hear any announcer's description of what's going on, I have no desire to listen to a company's pitchmen and simply hit the mute button and get close to my TV so I can maybe see what's going on. If there's nothing interesting there, I simply fast forward because I record everything anyway.

Tim Schobert
Ottawa, Ontario

Tiger and his mock turtleneck … for real?
I just browsed the top stories on the Golf Channel website: “Tiger’s Masters scripting features mock turtlenecks.”

I wish I had something pithy to say, but the headline says it all.

This is just another example of the press fulfilling its own prophecy that Tiger Woods moves the needle. The press is moving the needle and expects us to swivel our heads as if in a tennis match. The person responsible for this inane headline and article needs to step back and take a hard look at what he or she has become.

Jack Snow
Fort Collins, Colo.

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