LIGHT ON THE GAME
Holy mackerel, another series on how to hit a golf ball (Let Me Help Your Game, April 27 and May 4)! How about a break for the rest of us?
Hooray for the new Claude Harmon lessons!
Along with many others I rushed to the nearest driving range to try my hands and feet in the new "maneuvers." Being a tyro starting at the ripe old age of 41, I found my shots so improved they were bringing comments. One fellow commented, "You must have read the new SPORTS ILLUSTRATED."
I shall taste and retaste every word like a good steak—and see if I can get out of the 90s into the 80s.
MARTHA M. KEPPEL
Claude Harmon's article is beyond a doubt the best I have ever read. I have been teaching golf for 30 years, and I have been reading and rereading it for two days.
Having taught golf for years, I must disagree with Mr. Harmon's statement that control of the hands can be learned by the grip, thus enabling a player to hook or slice.
Almost all golfers who shoot over 90 tend to slice. A hook grip does not correct late wrist action, the cause of most slicing.
It seems that you have golf on the brain. Or is the guy who is supposed to find space for track, baseball, lacrosse, and the Olympics out on the course trying to break 90?
PETER M. POLLAK
My father and I took special interest in Claude Harmon's tip entitled "Start Down with a Hip Slide," because we both tended to turn our hips prematurely. My father took the club back, slapped his hip with his right hand and started his downswing. It was a continuous, fluid swing—until the club smashed a valuable Venetian chandelier on the way down. Claude is an excellent instructor, but please tell him to remain at Winged Foot and to keep away from our house. We will be airing our rackets for tennis this weekend.
M. SHELDON PRESS
New York City
Although I am only a poor little dinghy sailor, I am curious about the second British 12-meter currently preparing for the America's Cup races. Why have there been no pictures of Kurrewa? I understood that she was supposed to be a twin of the other British boat, Sovereign.
New York City
•See for yourself (below). In a brief flight through the air from a cradle at dockside to her launching in Scotland's Holy Loch, Britain's alternate 12, Kurrewa, was revealed for all the world to see as few boats her size ever are—ED.
STROKE FOR EQUALITY
Our warmest thanks for the story on our crew (The Race Problem at Howard Is How to Win, April 27). It will, I am sure, have an enormous effect on Negro interest in rowing. To correct a possible misimpression, however, I would like to emphasize that I am personally very much for total racial equality, and I feel that our efforts on the crew, which promote understanding and familiarity through constructive athletic competition, are much to be preferred where possible over belligerent approaches, which may only produce more hostility.
Coach, Howard University Crew
LONG STORY SHORT
For many years, I have designed golf courses here in Mexico, so it was with great interest that I read Edwin Shrake's article on the modern trend toward making courses too long, too difficult and too uninteresting (Pity the Poor Short Hitters, April 13). However, I cannot completely agree that this unfortunate trend should be blamed entirely on the golf architects.
One does not have to investigate far to discover that there are not too many real golf-course architects in existence, in the U.S. or in any other country. Many golf courses are designed by real estate developers with no qualification for that title whatever. In recent years a new type of expert has sprung up, calling himself a "land planner," whose main objective appears to be to stretch the courses as far as possible to increase the salable frontage. Some have even gone so far as to isolate the fairways in order to have lots on both sides.
From a golf standpoint this is ridiculous, and certainly no qualified golf architect in his right mind would ever design one of these monstrosities.
I sympathize with such fine, short-hitting players as Jerry Barber and Billy Maxwell. However, they cannot expect to equal Palmer or Nicklaus on a 6,000- or 7,000-yard course.
Palmer averages about 270 yards off the tee to Barber's 230. This is 40 yards, which amounts to a difference of about three clubs, but since Barber also hits his irons shorter it comes to about four clubs. Thus, when Arnie is reaching for his eight-iron, Barber is hitting a four-iron. When Arnold is hitting a three-iron, Jerry can't reach the green. So Jerry, of course, cannot put his longer shots on as consistently as Arnie—which makes Arnie the better player.
I think the short hitters are at a disadvantage on any golf course.
The complaints of the short hitters reflect a lack of knowledge of the history of the game of golf.
In comparing modern American courses to their older sister courses in England and Scotland the complainers seem to have overlooked the fountainhead of all golf, St. Andrews. Nowhere are there larger, more severely contoured greens, more tee positions, more looming bunkers or rugged rough than at the oldest of all golf courses. At St. Andrews, where the weather is always a strong factor, the tee markers are placed on the back of the tee only when the shot is downwind and on the front for an upwind shot, so as to even out the relative qualities of play on any given day.
The intent of the best modern golf architects is to reestablish these ancient and honored principles. The fact that a modern course measures 7,200 yards from the very back of each tee does not mean that it must be played from that position alone. Rather, the extra length provides room for each tee to be adjusted according to the climatic conditions of the day.
Larger greens afford not only a larger target for the pro and duffer alike, but also a greater variety of pin positions for everyday play as well as for the championships. If the pin is placed in a tough position for a championship, the fainthearted pro can still play for the fat part of the green. At least he will not be in a trap tucked around a small green. After all, par is the standard of excellence; a birdie is extra special and should involve the element of a heroic challenge, where a miss would be penalized.
It is true that with the recent proliferation of new courses some architects have confused greatness with severity. Some green-keepers and tournament chairmen have also misused the flexibility provided by good architecture and have added a trick of their own: more and higher rough at tournament time.
However, the overall trend of modern golf architecture, first conceived by my father and implemented in collaboration with his near namesake, Robert Tyre Jones Jr. at Peachtree in the late 1940s, should not be condemned because of a few abuses at an occasional championship.
ROBERT TRENT JONES JR.
Palo Alto, Calif.