Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

There’s nothing funny or OK about Haney’s comments
I found it to be a bit depressing to see other readers defend Hank Haney’s comments as humor, the truth, and much ado about nothing (“From the Morning Read inbox,” June 3).

Here's why Haney’s comments about women’s golf are unacceptable:

1. There seems to be a thought that Asians (specifically Koreans, in this case) can be joked about because they are identifiable by their appearance. Singling them out and making fun of them using a last-name joke based solely on their appearance is racist. Would Haney have made similar comments if the dominant golfers were white females from England? Would Haney be excused if his jokes were made about black female golfers if they were the top players?

2. I anticipate that your comment about the popularity of women's golf not being affected by race will be proved incorrect, because some readers will show their tendencies when they talk about not watching women's golf because of the number of Korean golfers dominating the LPGA. Would they keep watching if white female golfers from other countries were the dominant players (such as Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb)?

3. What would some viewers think if the top American golfers were Michelle Wie, Danielle Kang, Lizette Salas, Angel Yin and Mariah Stackhouse? Shouldn't we instead wonder why American female golfers have fallen behind other countries on the links and figure out how to compete better? Isn't competing and aiming to be the best part of what drove the growth of America?

4. Haney dismissed the importance of a major championship in women's golf with his glib comments. He is saying this not simply as a fan but as a well-known instructor. I doubt that he would blow off a men's major by making jokes about the players and the event. I expect better of Haney as an instructor, unless he honestly believes that golf should be played by men. If so, he should just say it and accept the criticism plus any loss of business that would result from it.

I'm sure there will be many viewpoints. Haney may not be a true racist, but his comments definitely show a lack of respect for the women's golf game along with an ability to lump one group of female golfers together simply because of their race. I don't think Haney should be fired from his show on SiriusXM Radio, but he should face a suspension (about a month to show he received a real penalty) plus host an episode of his show with women golfers as guests to discuss his comments.

Robin Fujii
Torrance, Calif.


Luddites line up behind Haney
Watching the tweets and follow-up opinion pieces to Hank Haney’s shank about women’s golf has been nearly as interesting as the shank itself. Dave Seanor’s attempt to nearly vindicate Haney simply reinforces the lack of understanding among those who levy rather Luddite perspectives (“Haney gets it right as Lee6 wins USWO,” June 3).

The LPGA tour is an international sports body, and it’s widely known that Korean women have been doing quite well for a long time. Haney’s joke (and Seanor’s attempt at a defense or explanation) about there being a lot of “Lees” falls flat, because it reveals his own jingoism regarding the LPGA, which is not an American thing. And yet the “joke” reveals a feeling of disappointment in that fact.

Is Haney’s disappointment that more Americans aren’t dominating, or that Asian women are dominating? If you split the hair, I think the sentiment is not as patriotic as one might think. If it had come from a flair for country, then the comment would have been about the Americans, not the Koreans.

Furthermore, Seanor attempts a “Gotcha!” moment when he cites Jeonguen Lee6’s own response to the question about what she’ll do with her prize money (to which she replied, “Eat more ramen!”). You see? Even Lee is perpetuating stereotypes, so c’mon. Maybe take it easy on Haney, right? Wrong. Ramen is actually a food staple in several Asian countries. It would be like an American woman saying, “Eat more pizza!” It’s a completely innocuous reply, until you apply your own cultural bias toward the words. Stereotypes exist because the beholder applies his or her own negative filter on words and behaviors of people with whom they generally don’t empathize.

Haney saying that he can’t even name six LPGA players is the greater transgression, because he’s a star figure in the sport and should know better. And Seanor seems as if he’s revealing a surprising fact that the LPGA “never” has elicited great fandom or following.

If Haney or Seanor desire greater levels of success for the LPGA, they should make an effort to use words to lift women’s golf, not criticize it. Haney could take some of the $15,000-per-day lesson fees, fly to the LPGA’s headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla., and get to know the organization and the players, and subsequently use the microphone to lift them. If he doesn’t care about LPGA success, then just keep quiet.

We all know there are inequities and different levels of achievement between the men’s and women’s tours. Comments such as those from Haney and Seanor serve only to lock in preconceived notions, when many are striving to bury them. And when it’s obvious how hard the LPGA is working, why stick your leg out and trip them, even if inadvertently? And hiding behind journalism or just stating the facts won’t be an excuse. Writers and radio hosts make choices.

This stuff of culture, gender, race, and equality is really complicated. It requires hair-splitting and deconstructing why people say what they say. And the only way to make progress is to understand it and make different choices.

Golf needs leaders and voices willing to spend the time deconstructing and rebuilding the reality and the narratives around golf. Congratulations are in order to the USGA for running a wonderful event in Charleston and making some strides for women’s golf, and to commissioner Mike Whan for being a step ahead and embracing globalism.

Jay Karen
Charleston, S.C.
(Karen is the chief executive officer of the National Golf Course Owners Association.)


Haney speaks the truth
Everyone needs to take a chill pill. For the most part, what Hank Haney said was true (“If Haney feels remorse, next step is key,” May 30). Five of my golf friends ran out of names of LPGA players at between four and seven. They had others in mind but can’t pronounce their names. Inbee Park was the only Asian mentioned.

We used to have an LPGA event near my home in Ilinois. It never drew well. I attended twice. Five- to six-hour rounds were not uncommon. A lack of English is problematic. The LPGA needs to do something or nothing is going to change. Most of our American big names (Lexi Thompson, for example) are inconsistent, display little personality or just are not good enough.

Everyone should play ready golf. That would be a start in the right direction.

Dennis A. Stone
Aurora, Ill.


Low score wins, regardless of nationality
A big part of the reaction to Hank Haney's comments is the poor play by Americans on the LPGA tour, and poor attendance and TV ratings for the LPGA in the U.S. are the result (“From the Morning Read inbox,” June 3).

American male pro golfers are dominant winners on the PGA Tour compared with the rest of the world and, accordingly, enjoy a large viewing audience in the U.S. American sports fans like to see American players win any time there is international competition. It's as simple as that and nothing more. Are the Olympics any different?

It's not going to change until the American women start working as hard as their Asian counterparts and start winning. Accusing Americans of “racism” is getting old now, and those who use that tactic for everything that others say that displeases them are being ignored.

Congratulations to the Asian players for their excellent play. The best players win.

Ron Yujuico
Euless, Texas


Could the South Koreans be the biased ones?
I enjoy watching the LPGA on TV at times, so I have nothing against the tour. I prefer watching the PGA Tour because I am more familiar with it.

There are international stars on the PGA Tour whom I like. I am not confused by their names. Unlike on the LPGA, even the Asians and Korean male golfers have different names. I don’t think it makes me “biased” or “racist” or “sexist” to prefer the PGA Tour for my entertainment.

I watch the NBA, but I don’t watch the WNBA. I watch the NFL and not the other leagues. I watch Major League Baseball and not softball. So, though I prefer men’s sports, I don’t think it’s fair or remotely accurate to use trite and cliche terms such as bias, racist, or sexist to describe me. It is also wrongheaded to blame me for the status of the LPGA or women’s sports in general.

The real shame in all of this is that genuine racism and sexism exist and are getting lost in the sea of overused words.

I worry about girls from South Korea. I don’t worry because of perceived racism from the United States. I worry about a system that produces these overachieving athletes. Does that system allow for personal growth and preferences, or is it some type of dehumanizing golf factory? Is that system dependent upon an overbearing teacher/coach or father to further a girl’s abilities? Could it be an entire system built upon male dominance and female submission? Wouldn’t that be real sexism?

I do not know the answers. It could just be an innocent difference in culture that propels South Koreans to disproportionate accomplishments in women’s golf.

I hope that is the case, but I fear it is something else.

Daryl Lott
Houston


Point about unequal Open purses doesn’t add
Dove Jones' guest commentary about how the USGA should make the men's and women's U.S. Open purses identical uses faulty reasoning to make her point (“It’s time for USGA to ante up for equality,” June 3).

On one side, she says she doubts that the average fan knows or cares what the men's payout is and doesn't attend or watch the event based on that amount. Then, she uses the money argument to say that equal purses will increase fan interest and maybe revenue for the women's event. Either fans care about the money or they don't.

As an avid golfer and fan of both tours, I don't really believe that the purse has much to do with fan interest. Yes, it probably takes more effort to get familiar with the women’s players because they don't get equal coverage, but their games are more relatable to the average golfer.

We know the men because of the greater coverage, but for most of us, the game they play is akin to watching 7-footers play basketball.

The USGA should equalize the purses because they can, but don't expect everyday tournaments to do so because they are dependent on the revenue that they generate. They have no league or organization to underwrite them.

Greg Cameron
Chandler, Ariz.


Kuchar got a bad ruling, so lighten up, folks
I watched Thursday’s telecast of the Memorial as the players were struggling to stay within shouting distance of the projected cut line. Matt Kuchar was playing the 17th hole and level par for the day when he hit a drive that landed in the fairway yet stayed in a pitch mark created by the ball’s impact. Assuming the pitch mark was made by his ball, Kuchar called for an official to get a ruling and a drop with no penalty, according to Rule 16.3. Then things got interesting.

When PGA Tour official Robby Ware drove up to inspect the situation, he expressed skepticism of Kuchar’s request and asked questions. Coming to Ware’s aid was the official scorer of the group, who apparently thought he was in a position to see what happened. He could not have been more wrong. He immediately chimed in that he saw Kuchar’s ball hit 10 or more yards short of where it ended up and rolled into an old pitch mark. At that point, Ware’s mind was made up: no drop.

A CBS cameraman, prompted by commentary from Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo, produced video that rebutted the scorer’s version. Even after seeing proof that Kuchar’s ball, in fact, hit inches from its final resting place, hopped into the air behind the pitch mark, and spun back into it, Ware did not budge. He was even reluctant to allow Kuchar to mark and lift his ball (which is allowed under the rules) and examine the pitch mark.

Eventually, after a lengthy delay during which playing competitor Phil Mickelson holed out while Kuchar and Rickie Fowler waited in the fairway, another official was summoned. Kuchar summarily was dismissed without much of a hearing with the second official, who told Kuchar that they had seen the video in the truck and for him to play on.

It apparently was the first time that Kuchar had asked for a ruling of this nature, but the time lost was grating on the Tour’s nerves.

What has bothered me since this incident is all of the opinions I have read on social media making an issue of Kuchar’s character for questioning his situation with two Tour officials and briefly asking for a third, facetiously, when his plea was ignored. Most of the piling on stems from the fiasco with a club caddie earlier this year in Mexico, a mistake that Kuchar recognized and corrected. Some even said that Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Tom Watson never would have acted in such a way.

That isn’t true, either, as Palmer created quite a controversy in the 1958 Masters by playing a provisional ball on the 12th hole, hoping for a favorable ruling, which he later received en route to a one-stroke victory. Ken Venturi went to his grave thinking he lost the Masters on that hole, even though he finished fourth, two shots back.

Kuchar got a bad ruling. As with Hank Haney’s recent incident, I wish that people could be more forgiving and less intolerant. No one is perfect – not Haney, nor Kuchar, nor certainly the PGA Tour’s rules officials.

Bill Pelham
Houston
(Pelham played the PGA Tour in the late 1970s and early '80s and is the author of “Burke and Demaret: The Wit and Wisdom of Golf’s Most Colorful Duo.”)


Kuchar misses mark with pitch-mark claim
In more than 55 years that I have played and watched golf on TV, I have never seen any ball make two large pitch marks in the fairway, as Matt Kuchar contended Thursday at the Memorial.

That's just ridiculous. That second pitch mark was extremely deep, and there is no way that a second bounce would create that large of a pitch mark. This fiasco took 9 minutes to decide, and it was a total waste of time. I’ve lost all respect for Kuchar.

It's too bad that Bryson DeChambeau was not in the same group because he could have saved everyone nine minutes by explaining to Kuchar that what he was suggesting was impossible.

Layne Yawn
Jonesboro, Ark.


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