When Andrea Kraus, a 50-year-old first time competitor in the USGA Senior Women's Open this month was disqualified because her caddy used a piece of yarn attached to a divot tool to gauge the wind (in violation of Rule 14-3b), it drove many golfers up the wall, and generated several windy letters from you. Here is a particularly passionate and persuasive one, taking off from the fact that Golf World humorously included the ruling in its Front Nine column.
It was with considerable dismay that I saw that you used the decision to disqualify a contestant in the USGA Senior Womens' Amateur championship, who's caddy had a 1 1/2 inch piece of yarn tied to a divot repair tool as it could "give her an unfair advantage" over the field, as an item for your joke column where you list 9 cute epithets.
You had an opportunity to address some of the ridiculous, draconian regulations the USGA manages to perseverate on. You had an opportunity to ask why someone would do something this hurtful to a prominent woman amateur at a time when womens' golf is on life support, participation in events is way down and its very survival is questionable.
You might have asked how, in anyone's imagination, could this tool have helped her and then asked why is such punitive, hateful behavior meted on contestants by an organization which seems to have outlived its usefulness. You could question how millions of golfers have been disenfranchised by the "grooves" issue, which after two years has made no difference in outcomes, but caused the purchase of millions of unnecessary new clubs in an economy which has been responsible for a huge decrement in participation in golf. You might have asked why the USGA continues to fuel the controversy of the long putter, which is a staple for so many players. Can you imagine what would occur if they proscribed their use? Instead you chose to make a mockery of the event, not thinking about how dispiriting this useless, utterly mindless, decision was.
Well said, Mr. Auerbach. The ruling made no sense to us, either. In mentioning the grooves rule and the long putter, however, you demonstrate why "cleaning up" the rules is so difficult. You want to eliminate the this goofy rule, but think banning long putters (which some think is an actual violation of the spirit of the game) is idiotic. I dare say you would get loads of agreement on point one, a serious debate on point 2. Nonetheless, your basic argument is correct: A game with rules this difficult to decipher is doing itself no good with people who are thinking of taking up the sport. I'm tempted to say that most novices don't give a hoot about the rules, but the fact is some would-be golfers are indeed intimidated by both the rules and the etiquette of our sport. And that's no yarn.
For more back and forth on the issue, check out the comments
following Geoff Shackelford's post on the incident earlier this month.