Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

Faulkner’s legend grows with impromptu lesson
To add to Max Faulkner’s colorful life (“Colorful Faulkner adds pizzazz to Portrush,” July 10): For many years, while a member at Cooden Beach Golf Club, I lived in The Dormy House at Bexhill-on-Sea, England, Faulkner’s birthplace. While there, I had the pleasure of meeting Faulkner many times and found him to be a delightful character.

On one occasion I sought him out at Storrington, West Sussex, where his son-in-law, Brian Barnes, himself a fine tournament golfer with three top-10 finishes in the British Open, had opened his own golf course. Faulkner, dispensing with flamboyant attire in such rural surroundings, would dress down while helping around the course. Often seen wearing baggy old trousers, with bailing cord tied around the ankles and topped off with a scruffy “cheese cutter” cap, he easily could be mistaken as one of the green staff.

What happened on that day, the story (now legend) is told of how Faulkner came upon two middle-aged newcomers to golf, attempting to tee off and getting into all sorts of trouble. “Gentlemen, I can see you’re doing it wrong,” he said. “Let me show a couple of ideas that will make your game easier.”

Faulkner then set out to demonstrate controlled hooks, fades, high and low balls, long straight drives; the works. The two old boys were speechless. Later, in the clubhouse, they set out to tell the tale of this remarkable encounter with a tramp. “What did he look like?” the steward asked. So, they described his dress.

“Blimey, a singular honor,” said the steward. “You’re the first players in over a decade to have received a lesson from the 1951 Open champion.”

David White
Bizeljsko, Slovenia

Way to go, Fischer
That was a wonderful story by John Fischer about Max Faulkner: the war, the British Open, Bobby Locke and so much else (“Colorful Faulkner adds pizzazz to Portrush,” July 10).

Thank you for writing and sharing.

Greg Dunn
Kansas City, Mo.

Van Sickle’s analogy bowls over reader
The problem with Gary Van Sickle is that sometimes he makes too damn much sense (“Topgolf scores few points for golf savvy,” July 10).

I have been to Topgolf, and when he called the concept “the equivalent of bowling alleys with gutter guards,” I started laughing because it is a perfect description. The structure and event presentation are so much like a bowling center that you almost think AMF or Brunswick are behind the scenes.

The entire "performance" is set up to sell concessions and limit customers’ interest/success in hitting golf balls. It is a great business model – get date nights instead of the movies and dinner, hit golf balls (as few as Topgolf can allow), drink martinis and eat finger food – and the outcome is $150 spent.

OK, do you think that you got your money's worth? That is a question only the customers can answer.

I don't think Van Sickle is Topgolf’s model customer.

Bob Geismar
Boca Raton, Fla.

Topgolf makes ‘golf-related activity’ fun
Gary Van Sickle and I went to the same place and had similar experiences, but we chose to see entirely different things (“Topgolf scores few points for golf savvy,” July 10).

Golf is hard. It isn't enjoyable for a beginner. I love the sport and wouldn't wish the game on anyone. Topgolf has made a golf-related activity enjoyable for non-golfers. I didn't think that was possible.

A serious golfer such as Van Sickle can go to Topgolf with a crowd of non-golfers. That isn't possible on a regular golf course.

I always enjoy hearing differing opinions, which is clearly the case here.

John Conley
Edina, Minn.

PGA Tour opposed cart, not Martin
I enjoy getting Morning Read but must take exception to a blatantly slanted phrase in Alex Miceli’s article (“In telling Daly to take a hike, R&A trips,” July 8).

In reference to the case from years ago, Miceli wrote that the PGA Tour was trying to “stop Martin from competing.” Not true. The Tour wasn’t trying to prevent him from competing; it was trying to block the use of a cart while competing.

Big difference.

Tom Tays
West Des Moines, Iowa

‘Why does Miceli care?’
Basically, I disagree with Alex Miceli’s entire article (“PGA Tour goes too far in spreading wealth,” July 9).

I guess Miceli’s premise is that the winners don't get paid enough and the others get too much. Other than apparently offending Miceli’s sensibilities, what does it matter? He never offered even one argument that it would make any difference in anything. Does Tiger Woods really need another $40 million? Is there any golfer out there who has said, “$1.9 million for winning the Open isn't enough. I'm going to skip it this year”?

If the top prize in the Open were reduced to “only” $1 million, would that discourage anyone from playing?

As Miceli wrote, the payouts changed when the PGA Tour split from the PGA of America. So, apparently, it was the players' decision to change the payouts. Why does Miceli care?

Actually, there is one good argument that could have been made for changing the payout, but Miceli didn’t make it. The current payout structure probably allows more marginal players to keep playing on the Tour. Maybe making it less profitable would flush out many of those players, as it wouldn't be worthwhile for them to continue. This would allow more new players to join the Tour.

Mark Liquorman
Land O’ Lakes, Fla.

It’s not easy for a pro to dominate for long
John Hawkins’ article on the demise of yesterday’s young guns kicked off something I’ve been thinking about for a while (“Can’t-miss kids sure do whiff a lot lately,” July 11).

Some great athletes can really play golf at 22-23 years old, win a couple of tournaments and a couple of majors, and voilà! They have more money than God and everybody fawning on them, offering them everything free, and the world suddenly is theirs for the having. Unless they’re as driven to win as Tiger Woods was, they likely have nothing to prove to themselves or others and get the urge to enjoy some of the bounty. It actually amazes me that they keep working at it as hard as they do. But the edge is off.

With the game becoming more athletically driven, another wave of big, strong kids who are tour-ready right out of college or after a year or two on one of the minor-league tours are hungry to prove themselves. They’re totally fearless and don’t have the mental scars.

It’s just harder and harder to dominate. There are so many players out there each week who can get hot for three or four days. The really great ones get hot for a year or two, and then it’s girlfriends, wives, babies, legal battles, agents, sponsors eating at the time they used to spend honing their skills.

Injury can change a swing enough to hurt performance, and then the swagger and confidence starts to go before he’s just another good player making great bucks.

We should not be surprised that most touring pros don’t maintain the highest level of golf for long periods. We should be amazed when someone does maintain that excellence over an extended period of time.

The golf writers just have to stay on their toes and do some research. The days of Dan Jenkins writing only about Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and then Tiger Woods are over. Stay on top of your game. There are lots of great stories out there.

John T. Doyle
Lakeland, Fla.

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