The core of this blog, a bit of an experiment, will be letters. Your letters drive the conversation. We get tons of them every month and can print only a few. So here we'll be able to use them to start and finish a few conversations and in general give you a bit more attention, which, frankly, you deserve. You write. We respond. We suggest links that shed light on the issues you raise. You'll tell us whether it's working with by responding further.
No better way to begin than with the greatest player of all time, Jack Nicklaus. His comments in March, "How I'd Change the Game," hit a nerve or frayed a few nerve endings, depending on whom you ask. It was Nicklaus' comments about rolling back the ball drew the most comment. David Lamm lost patience completely with the Golden Bear, speaking for guys, like himself who "are thrilled with a 225-yard drive....
__"Do you think that the majority of golfers will plunk down their hard earned cash to play a course with 600- to 750-yard par 5s? Or do we keep the pretense for a few, favored and financially able under the guise of purity of the game. Please don't let your ego get in the way of designing fun courses for the rest of us."
Lamm favors separate standards for the pros and the masses, including different pars. I hear you, David. But I don't think it's Jack's ego that this is about. He's trying to save those courses that you like. One of them might be his own, Muirfield Village, site of the Memorial. "The Nielsen Family" had the the most intriguing idea.
__"Wouldn't it be interesting if Mr. Nicklaus, golf's premier icon, forced PGA Tour players to use a REDUCED ball at his tournament?...Tiger would show up (and probably win) and Mr. Hogan would have shown up (and probably have won)."
Jack started with the raking of bunkers last year. But "interesting" doesn't quite describe what it would be like if he went to the ball.
By the way, Jack's idea of building 12 hole courses drew some support. Dr. Aaron Wu Tsai of St. Paul loved it:
"Playing 12 holes in under 3 hours would be great—just enough to get warmed up, hit my one or two bad shots, balance that with one or two great shots, and get home there fore the day gets long the kids get antsy.
I bet Jack's proposal would save more than a few marriages."
Cool, Jack Nicklaus, marriage counselor!
Pending construction of those 12-holers, here's another idea: Offer foursomes (alternate shot play) early on weekends so the family men can walk all 18 and get home for breakfast. Most of us would do to hit half as many shots anyway...
-- Bob Carney, Golf Digest
*Nicklaus photo: Chris Buck; Bunker photos: Stephen Szurlej