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June 2004 Letters to the Editor

The U.S. Open paled in comparison to the Masters!? Sorry, but I disagree. Shinnecock showed us some real golf. At Augusta the stategy is simply hit one long then hit one high. At the Open players had to use feel and play different kinds of shots all day every day. We've see the same holes played in the same way year after year in Georgia. My hat is off to the USGA for having the gumption to really challenge the best to bring out their best. This is a banner year for the majors with three of four played on real links courses. Links layouts on fast and firm turf are the way to counteract the huge advantages that soft courses give to the bombers with their high tech clubs and juiced up balls. I say quit whining and golf your ball.

Pat Brockwell, Black Mesa Golf Club

The right person won the U.S. Open. In case anybody is paying attention the winners of most U.S. Opens are the "laid back, patient, under control, non-plussed, no whiner, grinders." Retief, Ernie, Jim Furyk, Scott Simpson, Corey Pavin, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Lee Janzen, etc are all cut from the same mold. Sure there are exceptions to every "rule," but virtually all USGA Championships test the patience and character of the field, and that is why so few are "wired" to even have a chance. Sorry, but neither Billy Mayfair nor Kevin Stadler, nor most of the field who competed, had a chance to win the Open under any conditions, so their "observations" are irrelevant and irritating, self-justifying for poor play, gripes at best.

Joe, via email (Boynton Beach, Fla.)

Enjoyed your newsletter comments on airlines and the quest for the perfect airline. Just an FYI for international travelers. The KILO issue is becoming a travel problem. If you ticket with say Air New Zealand International and you use a domestic airline say Virgin Blue (similar to using Southwest Domestic no frills), be careful you are not over KILO. Especially with your clubs you run the risk of being over charged. We had guests recently with clubs, clothes, scuba gear charged $300 over. Until they all sort out territory, like United works with Air NZ Domestic, and Air NZ International works with Qantas Domestic..these new bread carriers will be treated as budget busters and really second class. Make sure you check with experts on these arrangements, or your travel agent.

Cass Colbourne, Golf Wine Travel

The golf course is the subject of the blame of Weed's article, but golfers who are no-shows can take part of the blame for the 8-minute tee intervals. Courses overbook because of these inconsiderate morons. Courses can usually count on losing at least two or three bookings a day because some players reserve tee times, then don't bother to show or at least call to cancel. The only line of defense for some courses is to book more tee times per hour. If everybody shows up, then they've got the least costly problem (although it may be damaging in the long run because players have bad memories of arriving for a 9 a.m. tee time and getting off at 9:30).

Steve Williams, Reidsville, NC

On course design, designer must pay attention to cart path design as well. Too many courses have a sand trap between the green and the cart path. The golf has to find his way around the sand trap to go putt. Designers - no sand traps on the side of the cart path please.

David Herr, Lafayette, IN

Hey chicken little, the sky isn't falling. if you live in the carribbean, you must reside in their deepest ghetto. i go there annually and have never encountered any such incidents as you describe. one thing you mention, poor roads, does inhibit playing different courses, however it is much less expensive to pay a little more $up front and purchase an all-inclusive vacation where you pay only for cart or caddy, along with food, drink and tips. an incident on one of these courses, no way jose. it's a hell of a lot more dangerous driving through any american city.

John McGonigal, Aston, Pa.

Great article. Long Beach public courses are the worse, the norm is a fivesome! Not possible you say, oh yes, in Long Beach it is always five players per group. It always a six hour round.

Dee Borries, Long Beach, CA

Excellent article on slow play. Someone should send this to Candlewood GC in New Milford, CT. Their course layout is a disaster with 1/4 mile walks between several greens and tees. Also they have unmarked tee boxes, poor signage and a bad attitude when it comes to women golfers. We played the first nine holes in 1 hour, 54 minutes, walking and were informed we were slow. This course has a history of harassing women.

Julie Farrell, Brookfield, CT

After reading your article on slow play I thought I would comment. I play golf all over America and have found that the main reason for slow play is the lack of marshalls on the courses. The marshalls seem to ride around more than direct the players through the slower ones. At the same time marshalls must learn to let the players play the game. I have played courses where a 5 hour round was nearly the average due to the lay out. At the same time no one likes playing a round always waiting on the group in front to slowly walk off the greens as though it were their last round to ever play.

Gordon Poe, via email

Golf is a pleasure not a race. American efficiency is taking the pleasure out of golf. I play in courses that you can walk and surprisingly it takes about the same time to complete a round, if the cart course is unknown. The only difference is the time taken when putts are given versus sinking the ball on the hole. It is now a pervasive culture to give the putts, thus rushing the foursome ahead who is taking his time to sink them. Unknown course time is mistakenly estimated 4 hours, when an average 20 hcp on an unknown course, seldomly will take less than 4 1/2 hours. Due to this continually rushing pleasure has been taken out of golf. Enjoyment with interaction with the environment, with your fellow partners and with the game is being converted into more stress.

Golf was not created to be a race, it was since the beginning a social game. It is very uncomfortable to pay a $95 green fee, as I recently did in Myrtle Beach, have a bad day of golf having your worst score on 6 months, run into trouble on each hole, and have a marshall on your back to complete the round in 4 hours because all players on your back are low hcps. It takes out the fun of the game. So your conclusion is wrong, what is scaring golfers is not the time, is the pressure. If a person needs the rush let him try the track course but not the golf course. Bring back golf to what it was meant to be a time of enjoyment.

Lino Clemente, Caracas, Venezuela

After my last 5 hour 45 minute round at one of the Myrtle Beach Courses I immediately cancelled my next day tee time and expressed my displeasure to the pro shop attendant. His "I don't give a damn" attitude made it clear to me where the problems started. He knew my tee time would be filled and didn't care if I came back at all.

Larry Schoppmeyer, Covington, Va.

In the best of all possible worlds tee times spaced twelve minutes apart would get more golfers on the course IF THEY ALL DID NOT WANT TO START BETWEEN 8:30 AND 9;45!!!!! Sorry Bobby Weed, but course operators are forced to space tee times at 7 and 8 minute intervals due to the customers' demands. Most every course is empty in the afternoon, at least in Florida, hence the death knell pricing of ridiculously low amounts for golfer willing to "suffer" playing in the afternoon. Of course, that's the only time I play so I say "Let them eat cake" (by playing in the morning) so I can have my own course to play on in the much preferred time of late afternoon!

Joe Sciortino, MP, Boynton Beach, Florida

Great comment re: slow play - the bane of my golf existence. With 3 kids, a weekend round is impossible unless before 7 am or maybe 9 holes after 5:00 pm. Thanks for the continued good insights.

Les Sweeney, via email

My club, Bretton Woods, dealt with slow play by giving all foursomes four hours to play on weekend mornings. If you come in with a hole or more open ahead of you and take over four hours you cannot get a tee time for a month. We had lots of complaints at first but - surprise - everyone found that they could finish in four hours.

Ian McCarthy, via email

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