Thank you very much for the finest golf tournament preview I have ever seen in print (U.S. Open, June 13). The models of the holes in Quake Corner and Ken Venturi's lucid analysis of the Olympic Country Club course serve notice to all golfers that their game involves more than hitting a ball with a club.
Too many courses are being built today on the premise that size is challenge. I am not opposed to the long hitter. In fact, his advantage should not be taken from him by narrowing his landing zone. But neither should it be broadened or freed from the hazards that face other players. Leave it to the Olympics, the Oakmonts and the Merions to provide golf's real challenge; i.e., that the player not only be able to hit the ball but that he know where it's going and how it's going to get there. More golf course architects should realize that huge greens are robbing them of the very "challenge" they are trying to create with length. Give the expert putter a 10,000-square-foot green to hit to, and you're giving him duck soup. Of course, you can also create wild undulations in those big greens, but then you're getting close to the unreal trickery of miniature golf.
Perhaps today's trend is irreversible. I hope not. Somewhere there is the happy medium where length, hazard and terrain blend into a test of skill for the golfer and provide him with a genuine challenge. We need more Olympics, and I hope we'll always have an SI to tell us about them in yet other unique ways.
John Underwood surely scored a birdie with his article, A Nobody at the Open (June 13). His heartwarming account of George Thomas' dream come true of teeing off with the greats in the U.S. Open was well worth the price of my subscription. Given such a chance, a lot of nobodies could very well become somebodies.
The ending was a bit sad but the rest was thoroughly enjoyable. Being able to rub shoulders with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer would certainly be a grand experience for anyone, and I'm sure that George's feelings were expressed correctly. I have seen a home pro compete in the Colonial National Invitation, and the pressures are greater than imaginable. A nontouring golfer has to have a lot of guts to compete with the seven-day-a-weekers.
DONALD F. JONES
Every man who has ever wanted to excel in any sport should be able to stand in Thomas' shoes while he reads your article.
ROBERT A. WISCHMEYER
George Thomas is not a nobody. He is one of the comparatively few "near greats." He was a competent pharmacist and is a dedicated professional golfer. the sport is enriched by people like George. He never was and never will be a nobody.
GILBERT S. SMALL, D.D.S.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Indeed, George Thomas is a nobody and he is likely to remain so. For a man with a college education, he shows complete disrespect for his education and the profession of pharmacy for which he has studied. There is quite a distinction between the pill-peddler, soda-jerk, money-minded druggist and the true pharmacist. The pharmacist is capable of offering complete pharmaceutical services to the public, hospitals and members of the allied professions. He is a vital member of the American society and has earned this position through years of dedicated research. I am a pharmacist and I take great pride in being a member of the pharmaceutical profession. I resent any defamatory remarks concerning pharmacy by anyone, particularly a "druggist" like George Thomas.
Mr. Thomas can go on making chocolate sodas and counting pills, and, as the article says, he will continue to be "a nobody."
Your article on Bill DeWitt (Cincinnati's Brain-picker, June 13) was great, but it doesn't give enough credit to one of the best baseball minds of this generation. DeWitt would have made an ideal commissioner. If baseball had more men like him it would not be playing second fiddle to football.
I was glad to read that Mr. Bill DeWitt is "hard working and methodical, frank and a great brain-picker." The people of Cincinnati have been wondering what some of his good characteristics were. The Reds, picked by many to win the National League crown with their great young talent, are now dawdling in the second division. One reason for this poor showing is that DeWitt wants to have a puppet manager so he can run his club his way, which seems to be proving disastrous.
Young ballplayers need a brash, outspoken manager to gain their respect and to help them reach their peak potential. The Reds have just the opposite type of manager. Earlier in the year it was rumored that they had had a chance to get Leo Durocher. Undoubtedly Durocher's price was too high—both in dollars and amount of control, things which DeWitt was unwilling to give up. Because of this, the people of Cincinnati suffer.
WILLIAM W. COWGILL
Mr. DeWitt may have a great eye for balancing his budget, but he's a little weak in botany—he thinks Frank Robinsons grow on trees.
I am glad that Mr. DeWitt has "learned something from everyone I've ever been associated with" and that he "has become interested in the player-rating system of Ed Berry," but I wish SI would learn my real first name. It's Al, not Ed.
ALFRED P. BERRY
Mount Dora, Fla.
Your SCORECARD article (June 13) quotes odds by Jimmie (The Greek) Snyder of Las Vegas on Marichal or Koufax winning 30 games this year. I recently spent five months in Las Vegas and found that if I bet against The Greek I was much better off most of the time. At this writing, Marichal and Koufax are both 12-2. With 98 games remaining for the Giants and 100 for the Dodgers, their chances have to be better than 3 to 1. So, Jimmie: I suggest you do not put your money where your mouth is. It could be expensive!
RICHARD E. PORCH
New Brunswick, N.J.
It was indeed heartening to read George W. Hilton's plea (19TH HOLE, June 6) that the statue of Honus Wagner be allowed to remain on the University of Pittsburgh campus when Forbes Field is razed and the Pirates move to the North Side. Those of us who are on the Pitt track and cross-country teams will always have a special place in our hearts for old Honus. Whenever anyone of us tightens up near the end of a race, teammates sadly shake their heads and say, "He's turned to stone, just like Honus Wagner." It would be sad indeed if future University of Pittsburgh runners were denied this fine old tradition.
Allow me to add my olés to the letter written by Mr. Hilton. As one who has spent many hours in the ancient confines of Forbes Field—and who still roots avidly for the Pirates and other Pittsburgh teams—I am all for building a new stadium. But, like Mr. Hilton, I hope that the sports leaders of the city allow the statue of Honus Wagner to remain in its present location, as a reminder of the memorable events that have taken place there. It will be difficult to relate, even a few years from now. the excitement and thrill of the 1960 Series-winning home run by Bill Mazeroski without a familiar landmark to bear out the existence of the old ball park.
I have read so many snide references—the last one in your 19TH HOLE of May 30—to Mel Allen's vocal breakdown at the close of the 1963 World Series that I feel it is time to set the record straight. As any regular listener to the Yankee games that year can attest, Allen suffered from a severe case of laryngitis during the last two months of the 1963 season. It was so bad by early September that he took an enforced vacation until the opening of the World Series. The layoff apparently did some good, as Allen's voice came back and held up until the eighth inning of the final game. But finally Vin Scully was forced to relieve him. Yankee haters may still argue that the Yankee "humiliation" (total hits: Dodgers 2, Yankees 6) in that fourth game hastened Allen's laryngeal downfall. But to this, I can only say that Mel's voice held up perfectly after Amoros' catch in the 1955 Series, Mazeroski's home run in 1960. and throughout the entire 1959 season, when the Yankees went 79-75 and lost five straight games to the Boston Red Sox.
PFC. WILLIAM LINN, USA
U.S. Armed Forces, Germany