From The Inbox

From the Morning Read inbox

For U.S. women, this could be as good as it gets
In Thursday’s Morning Read, Gregory Tatoian asked "where are the American players?" (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 4). The answer is, they're not here any longer, and we’d better get used to it.

Of the 72 contestants in the Augusta National Women's Amateur, only 31 are represented by our American flag. I haven't gone into the detail, but I suspect a significant number, or maybe even a majority, of the 41 non-Americans in the ANWA are playing for American college programs.

Foreign golf parents recognize, just as the NBA recognizes with its one-and-done rule, that there's no better minor league to get teenagers ready for professional golf than a high-level college program.

Everyone wants to play professional sports in the United States. This is where the big dollar rewards are. Many of hockey's best players are no longer Canadians; they're from eastern European countries. The same with professional basketball; more and more Europeans are either drafted from Europe or have come to the U.S. and enrolled in our schools. Baseball is now dominated by players from South America, Mexico or the Dominican Republic.

The sports landscape in this country has changed, and what we have now may be as good as it gets.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

No, it’s not your imagination
Is it just me or is the pace of play getting even slower?

I have friends who tell me they would rather watch grass grow than watch golf on TV because it is so slow.

The professional golf tours have to step up and start handing out more warnings and penalties to those who are slowing the game down.

A shot clock, as in used in other professional sports, is the way to go, or to even play ready golf. What would be the chances of two balls colliding in flight or landing so close to each other to strike each other in the fairway or on a green?

The rule changes are all about making the game better. The pro tours need to start enforcing the rules more stringently regarding pace of play.
Do the tours post statistics on warnings or penalties issued during rounds or as a statistic on each player? In other professional sports, players who cause infractions are identified.

Let’s get the game moving and speed up the consistently slow players on all pro tours.

Tom Nenos
River Ridge, La.

It’s time to install a shot clock in golf
A simple solution borrowed from basketball and football would remove the scourge of slow tournament play: a shot clock.

The reluctance of officials to take responsibility for application of the rules regarding time could be easily managed by putting a countdown clock atop each score carrier’s board. Resetting it for each player could be accomplished by pressing a mounted button or remotely by an official viewing a screen. If the time runs out before the shot is struck, a stroke is immediately and automatically added to that player’s score on the board. The accompanying official need only notify the penalized player. Appeals allowed only upon completion of the round, thus preserving the pace of play.

The fear of accumulating penalty strokes that cannot be argued on the spot would fix slow play on the PGA Tour promptly and forever. If the governing body lacks the gumption to apply this sorely needed fix, it could test drive and debug it on the Tour first. It would serve the dual benefit of indoctrinating future PGA Tour players. The viewing and playing public would be beneficiaries, along with sponsors and the tournament players themselves.

Brian Davern
Kelso, Wash.

True reason to welcome Masters: It’s spring
That lovely piece from John Hawkins about the Masters and our love for it had everything bar one little item that is actually the most important of all to every keen golfer living north of Florida or Spain: It's spring again! (“Masters stands alone as best sports event,” April 2).

We don't care that the Masters has a relatively weak field for a major championship. We forgive all the strange little quirks (who says "Fore, please" to let "patrons" know the starter is about to speak?). We do know this: The Masters notifies us that we are about to start another episode of our own golfing story, and some of it will be memorable for the right reasons. Plus, occasionally in the next six months, we'll play a hole on some course that is just as pretty as one at Augusta National. That's the real reason the Masters is so welcome.

Meanwhile, as I am in eight knockout competitions, my April and May calendar is stuffed full of golf already, much of it with guys I haven't played in a long time or don't even know yet, in addition to the usual stroke-play competitions and "roll-ups" with my Saturday group (and occasional Mondays and Wednesdays). Five-mile walks, beautiful Hampshire views, good company, a little competition … what a game.

As for conceding short putts and the Sergio Garcia-Matt Kuchar situation, a very good golfer whom I knew 30 years ago always told his opponents on the first tee, “I never give putts.” No argument, then. If you're 6 inches away, you mark it. If you have to ask, it's not a gimme. After all, most close matches are down to who misses 2- or 3-footers. Or who cack-handedly misses a tap-in, then expects to be let off their own carelessness.

Terry Wall
Winchester, England

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