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June 2004 Letters to the Editor

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Apparently Tim McDonald has the inside on the how to not buy drugs or get arrested in the Caribbean. I am sure that his personal walk through the underside of the Caribbean was not santioned by any law abiding agency or individuals. His message would surely be useful to his buddies.

Speaking for most of the people who are so blessed to live in Caribbean communities, individuals like Mr. McDonald are not welcomed here and I am happy that the drug dealers and the police made his experiences such that he does not want to return.

Linda, Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands

Sometimes course design is the culprit . When you tee off to a blind area it always slows it down. The crude attempts with Bells and broken signals. Sometimes you just have to drive up in the cart to make sure you aren't driving into a person , after all safety should be first.

David LaPlante, via email

May be instead of pushing all the expensive golf sites which you do in you column, you could give some time to the inexpensive golf bargains which populate every state. There are many great courses where you don't need to fork out the $50-$150 to play an 18 hole round. These courses are the ones which will perpetuate the game for most dollar conscious golfers that probably would make up 60% of the true avid golfers. I fully understand though your need to make money, so I don't expect to many lists of great municipal courses nor public courses in the under $50 per round category(which by the way includes a cart if desired). These courses don't have to pay your freight nor anyone else's, just their own overhead.

Mike Hackett, via email

Great article on the golf group organizer. You really have some good insights. You mentioned the Myrtle Beach Golf Association in the article. I noticed that they currently have Angel's Trace in their top 20. Do you have any insights on whether or not it is worthy? I have played it before and I thought it was decent but not necessarily top 20. Also, any idea why the Pearl's rates have gone up recently. Used to be able to play it in the summer for under $30

Dan Knapke, via email

I believe that slow play is in large part due to Tiger-mania. Tiger's success and outstanding achievements have brought an unprecedented number of new players to the game. Unfortunately, these players don't learn the rules, etiquette, or how to hit the ball and think that they can play like Tiger. I've seen: big athletic black men tee off from the blues and can't consistently hit it past the ladies tee; asian men with the latest technological advanced equipment hit it all over the course; and of course white men who are out for the beer and dig more holes than the gopher from "Caddy Shack."

I think that Tiger and the PGA should get together and make some commercials that address these problems. Something like "Golf's a great game; but, you need to learn the game at the driving range or from a pro before going to the course." I play to an unofficial handicap of 7-12 depending on my health and like to play 18 holes in less than two hours. My motto is "Miss them quick." If everyone learned the game before playing it, then that could be everyone's motto and a round of golf could then be 3-4 hours!

James Brenkus, via email

I agree but you failed to mention the foursome that all walk to each ball and wait for that person to hit and then all four to the next ball. They think this is what they see on TV. If each would go to their own ball then hit in turn it would help a lot of slow play in our area. I just had a 5 hr. round by the group ahead driving their carts to each ball & sit until the person got out selected his club & hit and they sit until he put the club away and then move to the next ball. And don't say play through because they said no. I golf with 3 guys in their 70s and usually a round takes three and 1/2 to three 3/4.

Del Landfried, Greenville, Pa.

I think there were some good points made in the article about slow play, but there are others that become major factors to completing a round in the prescribed 4 hours as well. They include the following:

1) Improper usage of carts - instead of one player dropping off another and going to their ball, players wait until their cart partner has hit their ball, then they will travel to their own ball. Rounds would be quicker if carts were used efficiently.

2) Holes that have hazards are oftentimes not marked properly. Players then wrangle about where the drop area is and what they should do. Oftentimes scorecards do not have the requisite info on them either. This causes delay particularly in the case of players that have a skin game or some other bet on the line. Heaven forbid they pull out a PGA rule book on the course to determine the proper way to proceed.

3) There seems to be a growing stubbornness among some people to allow faster players to play through. The philosophy of "I paid my money just like the guy behind me" seems pervasive at some courses. For heaven's sake, let faster players of better ability level through, even if they're walking. Besides, carts don't guarantee a faster round anyway!

4) Many public courses do not have adequate rangers monitoring slow play. I like courses that have GPS on the cart that tell you what type of pace you're group is keeping. In that instance, you don't necessarily need rangers, but rangers still add value in other ways.

5) Players searching for lost balls together as if they were looking for the holy grail. People, let your cart partner help you and everybody else go to their ball and hit; regardless if you're away or not. Also, who cares if you'll lose a quarter on the hole; hit from the point of entry and take you stroke medicine.

6) Rake the sand traps when you're done! At many courses, people don't rake the traps and you end up doing maintenance on the trap (after showing the other people in the foursome the quandary and getting permission of course). This is a waste of time to have to consult the other players and perform the necessary raking.

Derek Rhodes, via email

I am glad you mention golf course design as a bane to fast play. There is a course I play in Middlefield, CT, where the cart path had to be designed by a golfer with a bad slice who shanked a lot. Every cart path runs down the right side of the fairway. On one occasion, my tee shot was on the left side of the fairway and from the closest point on the cartpath to my ball was 67 yards - one way. I shoulda called a cab. The second point is when the ball washers are put back at the beginning of the tee and the markers are 80 yards further down the tee. I use a wet towel, but I've seen people get out, stop, wash their golf balls, bs about this and that, get back in the cart and drive up to the markers. If that takes 4 minutes and you do it 18 times, that's 72 min or an hour and change.

Stan, Meriden, CT

What a great article. Several of our local courses need to read it also. The one thing I think you forgot is the people who do not play ready golf. I am all for proper golf etiquette but on several occasions have been paired with groups do not allow you to 'hit away'. You may be just inside their ball, but they are not ready due to many of the reasons you mentioned, wrong club, can't find distance, etc. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the whole 'drag' on the game.

David Johnson, Austin, TX

Most newer courses are laid out in residential developments which results in OB on virtually every hole. If the outer boundaries of the course were marked with white stakes and the interior holes as a lateral hazard it would eliminate the time associated with loss of stroke AND distance as well as time spent looking for and identifying lost balls. It would also be more fair and result in scores more reflective of the golfer's ability. I have seen this done with dense woods and sharp dropoffs ( Alabama Golf Trail) and it works well. Why not for yards as well?

Jim Tanner, Raleigh, NC

Several years on the RTJ Golf Trail in Birmingham our foursome was behind a threesome, a bunch of young male punks who thought they were hot shots. We waited for them to tee of on a par 3 on the back side and I watched as one guy made jack Nicklaus look fast. he picked up the grass two or three times, waggled the club til hell wouldn't have it. Finally after literally four minutes he hit his shot well left of the green. The next hole we waited as he did the same routine in the fairway. I screamed from the tee, "hit it already!" He turned around and gave me the finger and screamed an obscenity. Minutes later, a marshal who had observed this came by and gave me a good chewing out for taking over his duties, which he apparently was not about to undertake. It was perhaps the most unpleasant experience of my life on a golf course and I told my partners I hope I don't see that punk in the parking lot because I was very angry and things could easily have gotten ugly.

Alan Nichols, Bethesda, MD

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