Congratulations to Alfred Wright for his splendid article on Alfred Vanderbilt (Vanderbilt vs. Racing's Establishment, Aug. 12). The prominence you have given Mr. Vanderbilt for his ability to take a stand against harmful trends in racing today and "the stifling atmosphere of all officialdom" is truly refreshing. It is too bad that, after he came back from active service in World War II, his old job at Belmont was not returned. It surely would have been better for all of us who have enjoyed good racing before and hope to again.
MARGARET V. PERIN
Three cheers for Alfred Vanderbilt. Please prevail upon Mr. Vanderbilt to keep up the good work until steps are taken to give the public a racing program with some variety in it.
EVAN L. ELLIS
In the story devoted to my views on Thoroughbred racing, the figure of 35% purse distribution for Aqueduct, while correct, gives an unfair picture. Overall, the New York Racing Association distributed 41.19% of its share of the handle in purses at Aqueduct, Saratoga and Belmont. I would like to repeat that I feel it is necessary for the New York tracks to get the additional 1% we seek if we are to rebuild Belmont and maintain even the present purse distribution. The 5% allowed NYRA, now the lowest in the country, is threatened with being further reduced to 4% next year. No track can operate on that small percentage.
Furthermore, my suggestion for holding stakes values down to $50,000 was made in 1938. I think $100,000 added would bring that figure up to date now.
ALFRED G. VANDERBILT
Oyster Bay, N.Y.
August 25, 1963
APPLES AND ORANGES
I see that tempers have again become ruffled on the subject of fishing schooners vs. racing yachts (SCORECARD, Aug. 5 and 19TH HOLE, Aug. 19), and I think that the reason that this comparison frequently stirs up somewhat excited comment is that the boats themselves are so different that a true comparison really cannot be made. It is the old problem of apples and oranges.
It would be more constructive and realistic to consider the fact that each type has been developed for a specific reason and that in all sporting competition the best contests take place when the contestants meet certain established restrictions and, preferably, are rather evenly matched.
The J boats and the 12-meters are built according to certain class rules, which makes for good sport when they race in their own classes. The schooners Bluenose and Gertrude L. Thebaud were built to entirely different restrictions that provide for substantially greater dimensions, making for speed. Also, they meet certain commercial fishing requirements.
As one would expect from radically different boats, the best performance of each type is under its own conditions. The big fishing schooner probably could attain the highest maximum speed, especially when reaching, but I think there is no doubt that the J boats were a lot faster to windward and that normally a J boat would give a fishing schooner a bad beating around a triangular course.
The much smaller 12-meter, which, of course, could not stay with a J boat, except under light and fluky conditions, probably still would give the fishing schooner a good race around a course, including a reasonable proportion of windward work, but could not be expected to stay with the schooner on a reach in a strong breeze.
Ease of handling is still a matter of opinion, but of course both the racing types, the 12s and J boats, are arranged so that the sails can be very quickly handled. However, it takes a skillful crew to get the most out of them. I should think that the 12, being the smallest boat, would be the "easiest" to handle, while the fishing schooner would take the largest crew.
On the other hand, the fishing schooner, being built for offshore work, would be the safest to handle under strenuous conditions.
As a matter of opinion, I cannot help suggesting that any serious interest in the J boats or fishing schooners is primarily historical, in that we have newer and better boats which neither of the previous correspondents have mentioned. These are the typical ocean racers of today. I believe that the best of these can be kept going in weather in which even the fishing crew would not be very happy, and that the all-round speed and ability to perform is very close to that of the out-and-out racing type. In other words, today's ocean racers have combined the virtues of both the older types.
OLIN J. STEPHENS II
New York City
My Volkswagen cost $1,595 and weighs 1,631 pounds. That's not $1.02 a pound as the advertisement claims (The Beetle Does Float, Aug. 19). It's 97¢. Who goofed?
New York City
•VW's arithmetic was bad. Copywriters (a "creative group without a computer") at the Doyle Dane Bernbach advertising agency divided cost into poundage instead of the other way around.—ED.
CALL OF THE WILD
Robert Cantwell's article, High Road to a Wild Paradise (Aug. 5), left me a little homesick. I am a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard now stationed in Texas, and after a few months here I long for the mountains and trees of the Northwest. Your article brought back fond memories.
While at home I had several opportunities to hike over parts of the Pacific Crest Trail, although not as often as I would have liked. The experience of seeing the areas to which the trail provides access and the enjoyment of time spent in the wilderness should be shared by many more people.
I am concerned about the condition of the trail and the relatively small interest being taken in it. Your article described some of the organization that originally went into creating the trail. Apparently there is very little effort being put into it now; or, if there is, it is not adequate, in my opinion. I feel that if more individuals would take an interest, many improvements could be made that would attract more travelers.
I hope to return to the West Coast before too long and, perhaps, I can do my part to make the Pacific Crest Trail more enjoyable for all of us.
HERBERT D. MCQUARRIE
BIRDIES, PARS AND BOGEYS
For years, golf handicaps have been based upon medal scores. Almost without exception, however, handicap tournaments at a country club are match play, and many—if not the majority—of these tournaments are four-ball or team match play. Certainly, the usual Nassau agreed upon in a foursome is match play or four-ball match play.
In team match play, the number of pars is usually much more important than the medal score. For example, a player who has nine pars and nine double-bogeys presumably will make a far greater contribution to his team than a player who has 18 bogeys.
The rules of golf have decided variations for medal play, match play and team match play. Wouldn't it make sense to devise for the weekend golfers a match-play handicap based on a player's average number of 1) birdies, 2) pars, 3) bogeys and 4) all other scores for the rounds on which the handicap is computed? It seems to me that such a weighting system could be devised that would be more equitable and appropriate for the weekend golfers for whom the concept of handicapping was devised. After all, medal tournaments are largely confined to the pros, and they play from scratch!
HAROLD A. SEGALL
Your Palmer series (My Game and Yours, July 15 et seq.) is great, I guess, but I am getting tired of having my golfing friends tell me how many strokes it has taken off their handicaps. I "reached within myself" for 18 holes, and all it got me was 106 instead of my usual 108. One of our club members hit a shot into the woods, "played it bold," and hasn't been seen for three days. I suppose, though, that Arnie is getting buried in mail from braggarts claiming their golf is now sensational. Just out of curiosity, what is the biggest claim of improvement he has received? Also, I always wondered what his handicap was when he was an amateur.
•Golf teacher Palmer reports: "I have a letter from a man in Texas who claims he has improved 20 strokes after reading the first three parts of the series. Of course, he hadn't read the 'Be Bold' section yet. The year I played in amateur tournaments in Cleveland I gave scratch golfers four strokes."—ED.
My prior score—115; read lesson I—104; studied lessons II and III—97; memorized lessons IV and V—86. Merci, Arnold Palmer!
JOHN B. THUNE
Re Fun On the Links (19TH HOLE, July 22, Aug. 5), I agree that Mr. and Mrs. Jim Cass and Mr. and Mrs. Al Hauptman have accomplished noteworthy hole-in-one feats. If I did not live in Olympia, Wash., I would probably consider that they had indeed set the records. However, the Olympia Country & Golf Club counts among its members a couple by the name of Taylor (Bill and Elsie). Bill has made four holes in one and Elsie has chalked up three. We in Olympia feel this is not only noteworthy, it is almost unbelievable.
MRS. IRVING M. PETERSON