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Readers Letters - March/April 2014

THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT (REALLY) WAS!

Perusing the likes of The Year in Gear and your World Tournament News section in issue 121 made me realise just what a great season golf had enjoyed in 2013. It started with the anchoring debate, where we can only assume those opposed to the ban put some valid points given the slightly bizarre decision to outlaw only certain modes of anchoring and not until the start of 2016. Throughout the year there were many contentious rules controversies and inconsistent penalties applied that certainly spiced things up. There were terrific new directions taken in equipment – for example counter balanced putters, forward COGs, and the continued advance of the spikeless shoe. And we had the good guys prevailing in the majors, the Fed Ex cup and the Race to Dubai (with Poulter and Stenson’s cheeky side bet nicely adding to this final event). What a year!

Anyone who thinks golf is not interesting needs their head examined. And if 2014 is even half as good (and how could it not be with a Ryder Cup being staged in Scotland?) we’re in for a fantastic treat. I look forward to reading all about it in Golf International’s inimitable style – serious without being pompous, and gently subversive without being disrespectful to golf’s traditions.

Peter Walker, via email

TIME FOR CHANGE

Golf has always prided itself on sportsmanship and fair play, but Simon Dyson’s recent disqualification for a violation of Rule 16-1a at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, and subsequently being charged by the European Tour, has left repercussions for its inconsistencies on the game.

The rules state you can repair a pitch mark but not a spike mark, which in all probability would have been left there by another competitor. So why are we allowed to repair pitch marks on the line of out putts, but can’t pat down a spike mark left by another competitor? This ruling seems a little ambiguous. If you are in a final group late in the day the likelihood of encountering a pitch mark would be far greater, right?

In an ideal scenario you’d like to think that the authorities would look at this and would be able to ‘level the playing field’, literally. Otherwise players are penalised through no fault of their own.

Having been disqualified from the tournament itself is a form of punishment, but to receive an additional twomonth ban – suspended for 18 months – in addition to a fine seems a little harsh to me. Has Dyson got previous form in relation to rules violations? I don’t believe so. ‘Mud sticks’ and now Dyson has to live with his rules violation whilst earning a living on the European Tour.

Compare Dyson’s scenario with that of Tiger Woods, who only got a two-shot penalty in the Masters after incorrectly signing. He made a genuine mistake and drew attention to it by mentioning where he illegally dropped the ball in the interview afterwards. Yet he made a mistake and was allowed to continue. Three times in 2013 Woods violated the rules. Why was Colin Montgomerie not reprimanded for the incorrect positioning of the ball in the bunker at the 2005 Indonesian Open? Again, inconsistency in the application of the rules. Why are players like Tiger and Monty are afforded greater leniency and not Dyson, when the game of golf is supposed to be played on ‘a level playing field’?

Hardeep Basi, Southampton

TIGER’S INTEGRITY INTACT

New year, new season – and I hope a new attitude in the media towards Tiger Woods. I hope everyone is fairer to Tiger than they were about the four rules incidents that he was involved in last year. Despite Woods having consulted his fellow-competitors in two of the incidents, being supported by the Augusta National rules committee in the third, and not being aware of the infringement in the fourth, his honesty was frequently questioned in 2013.

If players have any slight doubts about rules matters the first thing they must do is to consult their fellow-competitors and only call in the referee if the players cannot agree how to proceed. If the referee was called for every minor incident, matches would be much slower than they already are. Woods should not have been criticised for the incident at the BMW in Chicago when the slo-mo camera indicated that his ball had moved a minuscule amount downwards.

It must be unique that the ball moved vertically rather than horizontally as the position of the ball markings did not change and to the naked eye the ball seemed not to have left its original position.

Interestingly the Rules of Golf have now been revised so that such infringements that are not visible to the naked eye will not be penalised. I hope this will exonerate Tiger.

John Rogers, London

STAR MATERIAL

I was reading again recently your Q&A section with Ian Poulter in issue 119 (Sept/Oct 2013) and noticed you had spelt Sam Horsfield incorrectly (you had spelt it with an e – Horsefield).

The reason I am writing to correct your error is that you will be writing an awful lot about this young man for the next 20-odd years, as he is the best young golfer in the world. Amazing. I first met Sam and his family in Florida when Sam was 12 years old and his Dad asked me to look at his game as I am a volunteer PGA coach. Well, I just watched him hit his tee shot and told his Dad it was the best set-up and swing I have ever seen.

I played off 4 handicap at the time and we played 9 holes and this 12 years old kid beat me by one shot even though I was hitting the ball 100 yards past him. Since then I have played at least 100 rounds of golf with Sam and never beaten him.

Sam shot a 59 round Highlands Reserve Golf Club in Florida off the junior tees (at 13 years) and has shot 60 many times off the back tees and it won’t be long until he shoots 59 from the back tees.

It was a disgrace he was not picked for the Walker cup. I have placed a bet that Sam will one day win a major championship and I am confident the bookies will be paying me out lots of money.

Keep up the good work – Gi is a sensational magazine.

John Vint, via email

WMD (WELCOMING MEASURING DEVICES

I recently invested in a laser range finder and I’ve found it invaluable around the course. It has really been helping me with my shots – once I’d got used to the idea that I did not in fact carry the ball as far as I thought I did!

Given that they are the one piece of equipment with the ability to speed up play I’m surprised by the opposition to their use that I’ve encountered. Time and again I meet someone who is insistent that “part of a golfer’s abilities should be the skill to judge distances”.

But if judging how far away things are were the skill required then there would be no yardages on the scorecard, no signage on the tees, no markers at 150 yards or anywhere on the course, and no pacing out allowed. (No pacing out could get tricky. What if a player wanted to wander up to the green to see its contours – would that also be helping with the yardage?) And let’s not even talk about how visually impaired golfers would be further disadvantaged…

So should judging distance by sight alone be essential for golf? No, of course not! The skill a golfer should be tested upon is his or her ability to select the right shot and hit the ball the right distance.

The sooner the pro tours allow the use of these measuring devices the sooner all this talk of speeding up the game might actually grow some legs – and that will surely benefit all of us in the long run.

S Letts, Coulsdon, Surrey

Editor’s note: With speed of play such an issue I’m sure it will be just a matter of time before the tours accept the inevitability of allowing them; recent press releases from the R&A and USGA confirm that such devices will be allowed in all major amateur tournaments this season (limited to devices that measure only distance, and not wind speed or direction, temperature or elevation).

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 


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