Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

Champions Tour’s unstoppable downward trend
Gary Van Sickle wrote an excellent article about Steve Stricker (“Stricker plays it cool in ‘Summer of Steve’,” July 12). And he’s correct that Stricker is “No. 1 in the senior circuit’s unofficial rankings.” Van Sickle refers to Stricker as “king of the hill,” something Stricker hasn't been since his amateur days in Wisconsin (even though he has won 12 times on the PGA Tour).

A couple of weeks ago, there were some Morning Read contributors writing about the blandness of the Champions Tour. A couple said they preferred the LPGA to the Champions Tour. While Van Sickle accurately describes Stricker’s excellence on that tour, he’s also supporting the position of those earlier contributors.

How many of us not from Wisconsin who have attended PGA Tour events can honestly say that we looked at the pairings sheet to see what time Steve Stricker was playing? Or Scott McCarron, with his three PGA Tour wins? We didn’t follow them then, so why would we follow them now?

The Senior Tour was a good idea when it started in 1980. Purses weren't where two wins and keeping your card for 10 years sets you for life. Not anymore. It’s a bunch of journeymen who are looking to supplement their retirement dollars and probably keep their endorsement contracts in play.

Those earlier contributors are right. The U.S. Senior Open and Senior PGA probably will draw some bigger names, but the rest of the Champions Tour is trending downward, and nothing will change that.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

Miceli’s latest result: Missed cut and $0
With all due respect, Alex Miceli has it wrong again (“PGA Tour goes too far in spreading wealth,” July 9).

I was OK with his article until the “rewarding mediocrity” line, not knowing personally whether “mediocrity” is Latin for “media critic.” Writing that someone who might be in the top 200 players in the world is a mediocre golfer is short-sighted and a bit out of line. If you are in the top 200 in the world at almost any career choice, you probably make a good bit of money and/or have some respect from your peers, and should be proud of what you do. Such a person probably wouldn’t be saddled with the “mediocrity” label.

I have no idea what Miceli’s handicap is, but given his perspective, I am fairly sure that he had no idea of how hard it is to compete on the PGA Tour, or any worldwide golf tour. You do not get paid to play. It’s just the opposite, in fact, as any player pays his/her own expenses, looking only for an opportunity to compete and make money. Generally, only those making the 36-hole cut get paid.

Professional golfers are paid directly proportionate to how they perform each week. Play lousy, no money. There is a lot more opportunity worldwide to play somewhere and a lot more money available, thankfully, but without some structure for paying “mediocrity,” there would not be a flow of players to keep people playing and golf tours viable.

Now, there may be as many as 300 or so golfers in the world that can make a decent living today playing professionally, compared with maybe 50 or so in the 1960s and ’70s. The top 50 in the world are not worried about their next meal, for sure, and may lose sight of getting to be No. 1 for many reasons. Under the current structure, at least it keeps more golfers competing, and every now and then someone does something great after suffering through a lot of lean years. That gives us a chance to see the underdogs have their day in the sun every now and again – a person who might not have made it if he hadn’t had the time to learn his craft over a period of lean years.

Maybe Miceli should delve into his own craft, as there are far more writers/critics who make a living chasing their dream than there are successful professional golfers. How would the mediocre writers survive without some money and incentives along the way? Don’t most get better with time and experience? In tournament-golf parlance, Miceli missed the cut this week, so no money.

Start fresh. Better luck next week!

Mike Nixon
Nashville, Tenn.
(Nixon, who played the PGA Tour in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is the director of golf operations for the Tennessee Golf Trail.)

More stories about golf’s historical figures, please
John Fischer’s story on Max Faulkner was fantastic (“Colorful Faulkner adds pizzazz to Portrush,” July 10). I would love to see more stories about some of the great players of the past who are easily forgotten.

Dennis J. Clark
Te Puke, New Zealand
(Clark is a life member of the PGA of New Zealand and former player on the European, Australian and Asian tours.)

Insight about Faulkner hikes anticipation for Open
Excellent article about Max Faulkner by John Fischer (“Colorful Faulkner adds pizzazz to Portrush,” July 10). Once I started reading it, I could not put it down.

Now, that’s what golf is all about. I can’t wait for the British Open at Portrush.

Chris Seyer
Crystal Lake, Ill.

Topgolf could be answer to golf’s problems, after all
While reading Gary Van Sickle's article on Topgolf, I was reminded of the first time I ever heard of Topgolf (“Topgolf scores few points for golf savvy,” July 10).

Upon retiring and relocating to Texas from New York, I had a new neighbor move in next to me. He introduced himself and mentioned that he observed me loading my golf clubs into my car frequently. He said that although he does not play regular golf, he and some of his friends love to play Topgolf.

I had no idea what he was talking about and looked it up on my computer that evening. After spending a half hour reading and watching a couple of videos, I quickly determined that Topgolf quite possibly could be the best thing that could happen to golf.

All of the people whom I observed playing Topgolf in those videos are the exact people who should never go to a traditional golf course. Don't get me wrong. They appeared to be having a lot of fun, drank a lot, ate a lot, laughed and joked a lot, and once in a while actually took a couple of swings at a golf ball. It’s obviously good for the owners of the Topgolf site, as well, so this was a win-win situation.

I would have no interest in ever participating in that form of entertainment, but I could see that the people whom I observed playing Topgolf were having a lot of fun.

I play on about five different courses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I had noticed that the type of golfers that I was seeing lately seemed to be a bit more skilled than in the past. Things are looking up.

Ron Yujuico
Euless, Texas

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