From The Inbox

From the Morning Read inbox

An attraction that has been there all along
The issue with Augusta National Golf Club and women is one of perspective (“Augusta event won’t do much for women,” March 27; “Women make big impression at Augusta,” April 8).

The beef was that the scheduling of last week’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur conflicted with the first LPGA major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, and that Augusta National did not even consult the LPGA about this. A second issue was that, if Augusta National wanted to include and honor women's amateurs, why have a tournament with only one round at Augusta National? A third, less-mentioned issue, was that the timing of the tournament forced a number of young women to choose between a dream they've grown up with, to play in the ANA Inspiration, and the ability to fulfill another dream, to play at Augusta National. The first dream traditionally has been limited only by their ability. The second has, until now, been limited solely by their gender.

Kudos to amateurs Patty Tavatanakit, who shot even par at the ANA on an extremely difficult course; Albane Valenzuela, who also made the cut; Frida Kinhult and Rachel Heck; all of whom lived their dreams to play at the ANA Inspiration.

In his article (“Women make big impression at Augusta,” April 8), Alex Miceli wrote, "The competitiveness, the camaraderie and the genuine glee among the players as they walked the same fairways that have hosted generations of golf’s stars – Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, [Arnold] Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods among them – overwhelmed any reproach by those who questioned Augusta National’s intentions." I believe that the competitiveness and camaraderie was a beautiful example of women's golf, but I cannot agree that it overwhelmed any reproach about Augusta National's intentions. I can only suggest that one look up the word hubris, and consider how it influences a group of men to ignore the impact of their decision to throw a small bone to women's golf.

In his letter to the editor (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 9), reader Frank Morris wrote, "With apologies to the LPGA and USGA, the Augusta National Women's Amateur’s final round Saturday was the biggest day in the history of women’s golf. Men everywhere were standing and cheering."

And that about says it, doesn't it? Men, for a moment, got it. Many who "get it" understand why Carolyn Bivens failed as commissioner of the LPGA and why Mike Whan is beloved. She didn't get it, and he does.

What everyone saw on Saturday at Augusta National was the amazing game of golf played by women as equal to the excitement generated by what we see mostly on TV, which is directed toward the men's game. And while the sentiment and excitement are appreciated, Frank Morris is wrong. It wasn't the "biggest day in the history of women's golf."

Please, gentlemen, there have been many such days. You just haven't been paying attention, and we know why.

Robin Dea
Vancouver, Wash.


Applause for Augusta National’s recent strides
The history of discrimination at Augusta National should never be forgotten. But at the same time, the current membership at the historic club should be commended for the strides that have been made there in the past decade.

The Drive, Chip and Putt event is awesome and promotes the game for kids like nothing I’ve ever seen.

It looks like the club also hit it out of the park with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. I have no doubt we have witnessed the birth of the biggest women’s amateur event in the world.

Like the rest of the American culture, some things in our past are just plain shameful, but there is always hope that we are all moving toward a better future.

Let’s applaud that move.

Frank Blauch
Lebanon, Pa.


‘Augusta National couldn’t care less about women’s golf’
The fact that Augusta National Golf Club scheduled its women’s amateur event directly opposite the ANA Inspirational says it all. Augusta National couldn’t care less about women’s golf (“Augusta event won’t do much for women,” March 27; “Women make big impression at Augusta,” April 8).

This was nothing more than a public-relations move. Hopefully, next year the club will change the date.

The goal for the top amateurs is to get an invitation to play in the LPGA event. I will forever call it the Dinah Shore.

For the (male) members of Augusta to do this is simply tone deaf. I’m not surprised.

Betsy Larey
St. Paul, Minn.
(Larey is an LPGA teaching professional.)


Augusta bashing makes no sense
I couldn’t agree more with Mike Nixon’s comments regarding Augusta National Golf Club (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 9).

There seems to be a good deal of Augusta bashing going on recently, and I don’t get it. ANGC is a storied facility with a membership that is doing more than its part in attempting to grow the game of golf as evidenced by the Drive, Chip and Putt finals and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur last week.

On a second note, Augusta National is a private golf club, and that gives it the right to choose its membership as the club deems fit. I’m not sure it’s any of our business how the club goes about selecting those members.

The Masters begins in a day. I would hope that most of us who play golf just sit back and enjoy all that the tournament has to offer.

Bill Boutwell
Jacksonville, Fla.


Tribute to a neighbor and friend
Marilynn Smith, a great friend of mine and to all of golf, died Tuesday morning, just a few days shy of her 90th birthday.

I have known her for several years as we live in the same neighborhood, and I would go over a few times a week to see if she needed anything. I quickly found out that she is one of the greatest promoters of women in golf ever. In 1950, she and 12 others started what was to become the LPGA on what couldn't even be called a shoestring budget. Her book "Have Clubs, Will Travel" has been required reading for LPGA rookies, to show them what it took to get where they are. Smith won 21 times on the tour and played rounds with Louise Suggs, Patty Berg, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer but still had close friendships with current LPGA players. She didn't like computers and tried to hand-write a note to every tournament winner and the nearly 300 Christmas cards she sent.

She was still very active until the end. TV viewers might have seen her at the Founders Cup last month, behind the 18th green, congratulating the players.

Her charity tournament at our community course for the past 10 years has raised hundreds of thousands for golf scholarships for women. She always wanted everyone to be a better player. I frustrated her in that her lessons to me at her kitchen table never took hold. Her parting words when I left her house each visit, and the last words she spoke to me at the hospital: "Hold your finish!"

I, and all of golf, will dearly miss her.

Gregg Clymer
Goodyear, Ariz.


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