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As act of contrition, Hawkins should follow LPGA
John Hawkins is not "the only old-school knucklehead who thinks the R&A crossed the line by dropping the hammer on a club that for decades on end has remained a loyal and consistently superb host of its biggest championship" (“Muirfield admits women but not to be PC,” July 2).

But fortunately, there is a decreasing number. Hawkins wrote, "The notion that the R&A was willing to compromise the standards of its best product, if only slightly, in the interest of making a political statement is somewhat disheartening." So, admitting women as members is an act of compromising the standards of the club’s best product?

Hawkins continues, "Especially in golf, a game that has bent over backwards to accommodate people of any race, gender or nationality, in this case by making an example of a private organization by issuing an ultimatum based on some governing body’s version of right and wrong." I would say that golf has been dragged kicking and screaming to accommodate people of any race, gender or nationality by people just like the gentlemen of Muirfield, and to say otherwise is simply to ignore the words of those affected subgroups. As far as freedom of association, yes, they should have a right to remain male-only. But the organizations representing the international leadership of golf also have the right to say, That's fine, but those values are not our values, and we won't support them.

There is an obvious difference between the exclusion of any group from membership in a golf club, and the fact that we separate men's competitions from women's, respecting clear biological differences regarding performance, especially distance. Your argument equating the two is simply irrational. Would you be so quick to excuse the longstanding behavior of Muirfield if the club excluded blacks, Jews or people of Korean descent, and make a case that the R&A shouldn't penalize the club by withdrawing support?

We are half the population, and there's not a woman with whom I play golf who can't recount numerous stories of subtle and overt gender discrimination at courses. Is it getting better? Yes, and it's through the efforts of those very people whom you disrespect because of their efforts.

I suggest you follow the LPGA for a year closely. Get to know the players and pronounce their names. See if you don't think it is amazing golf.

Robin Dea
Vancouver, Wash.


Sure, Muirfield is changing, but likely with a motive
I do believe that folks have the right to associate with whom they chose, and if they want a private club in a certain way, that's their business. However, it doesn't seem to be that simple anymore (“Muirfield admits women but not to be PC,” July 2).

Everything that the members of Augusta National and the club chairman have done over the past several years is great, and serves the betterment of the game. If I were to guess, I'd have to put my money on the fact that Muirfield changed its membership solely due to the pressure, and probably financially so, of being dropped from the British Open rotation.

Much the same, because Pine Valley and Burning Tree don't host any tournaments, nor do they need the financial boost that one might bring, I don't anticipate that they will be forced into changing policies any time soon. At the same time, I find it ironic that Debora Spar, the former president of all-female Barnard College, thinks it is an embarrassment to have all-male clubs. What would be the reaction if a male were to sue the college for admission? And I would not like to see a male doing the same to be able to play on the LPGA.

I love women (I married one, and was raised by several), and enjoy my club membership with men, women and juniors of all races, religions, economic standings, identities, and whatever else. I'm only prejudiced against one species, and that's jerks.

Let’s just play golf, and enjoy one another’s company in the game. In the meantime, let's also celebrate our differences, and not go crazy trying to make us all the same. We're not. And that's a good thing.

Tom Boland
Northborough, Mass.


The hole story
We are halfway through 2019, and golfers are experiencing difficulties with the rule change and how to remove a ball from the hole with the flagstick in it.

In all instances, I communicate with my playing group regarding hole damage. Players with “ball grabbers” on the ends of their putters continue to attempt to remove balls, damaging the hole perimeter. The hole edges no longer are sharp but rounded where damage has occurred.

Some of the golfers with whom I play – men and women – cannot get the ball out without first removing the flag, so you can only imagine what happens.

From a maintenance perspective, when holes are damaged and a new plug is put into an old hole, a tremendous amount of hole healing is required. This not only is a problem for the hole but for players who must over an old, damaged hole.

Putting with the flagstick in the hole is a mistake. I want it in, and you want it out; you are away and want it out, but I am next and want it in. Etc. It actually slows play.

Bruce Ellig
Inverness, Fla.


No, it doesn’t all end with British Open
Gary Van Sickle made some good and humorous points supporting his thesis that the revised PGA Tour schedule is a mistake (“The end is near, and it’s only July,” July 3).

Van Sickle argues that there will be an immense void for him and other avid fans when the British Open concludes later this month. It marks the season’s end for major championships and, according to Van Sickle, thus the end of his and other fans’ interest for the year.

Methinks he overstates.

Yes, not having a PGA Championship is a buzzkill in terms of losing an August major to savor, but the condensed-majors schedule has been thrilling thus far. So, it seems like more of a tradeoff than a mistake. (And isn’t everything in life a tradeoff?)

Though Van Sickle downplayed the British Open in general, it was clear that he’s as stoked as many of us who are looking untempered toward the 2019 iteration. The pending Open is filled with compelling storylines (Brooks Koepka’s incredible run in majors; classic links golf at Royal Portrush; and a stellar group of players vying for Open glory, led by Woods Tiger and Rory McIlroy, back in his homeland).

As for rendering post-British Open tournaments uninteresting, most golf fans are relatively uninterested in many non-majors already. I don’t think this exacerbates it but rather rearranges it.

We’re a watchful bunch, we Tour golf fans. If we see good storylines brewing during the “lesser” tournaments, we’ll tune in. Same as it ever was.

Van Sickle began his piece by citing David Duval asking, “Is that all there is?” after winning the 2001 British Open. I submit that the question was less about the relative value of that major title and more to do with Duval’s penchant for questioning everything, on course and off. I played in a pro-am with him well after his peak years. When he learned that I had served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, he peppered me with questions about foreign policy and world events. “What’s next?” he asked. “A conflict with Iran? North Korea? Where does it end?” According to Van Sickle, “it” ends with the British Open.

Dan Shepherd
Purcellville, Va.
(Shepherd owns and operates Dan Shepherd Public Relations, a Washington-area public-relations agency that focuses on golf travel and tourism.)


After majors, golf feels ‘little less special’
When Gary Van Sickle referred to the PGA Championship as “The Last Train to Clarksville,” it made me laugh out loud (“The end is near, and it’s only July,” July 3). So subtle, and so perfect. I'm still chuckling about it.

Van Sickle’s point also was accurate for most golf fans. For as long as I can remember, as soon as the final putt dropped in one major, the countdown was on until the next. I will continue to watch each week, but after the majors are done, it really does feel a little less special. No different than waking up after the Super Bowl and knowing that there won't be any football the next week. It takes some getting used to.

Tim Ward
Palatine, Ill.


Stricker wins with accuracy and power
I find it interesting that little has been written about U.S. Senior Open champion Steve Stricker’s swing. Name another pro who swings like Stricker, please.

Although he missed several greens – most by just a few feet – during the last round of the Senior Open, his accuracy and power were impressive.

Mike Bernath
Charlotte, N.C.


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