Readers Write: Emails, Notes Keep Writers on Toes
It may be the writers who turn out the articles that fill the pages of a newspaper, but it’s the readers who make it happen. Without them, writers would serve no purpose.
I’ve always enjoyed correspondence from readers during the 47 years that I’ve been allowed to pen news articles, features and columns for various publications, and I’ve been taken to task quite a few times, most of them warranted.
The column published on these pages last Sunday didn’t prove very prophetic, but it certainly attracted some attention from Phil Mickelson fans.
It wasn’t meant to be a putdown of Lefty’s talents, but it did cast aspersions that Mickelson’s career was on the downside.
So what happens? Mickelson goes out and shoots 28 under par and wins by four strokes. And just to make his point, he opened that laser show with a 60 in the first round at Phoenix.
Here’s the paragraph from the column that riled Phil’s fans and earned me a large helping of crow:
“I’m just hungry for some head-to-head jousting for No. 1. Now that Phil “The Thrill” Mickelson is obviously fading, Rory appears to be the only real threat to Tiger’s regaining the No. 1 player status.”
Fading, huh? Yeah, that brought some static.
Like this missile from “Olbar”:
“Re your comment that Phil ‘The Thrill’ Mickelson is obviously fading: Is this the same Phil Mickelson who is 25 under (after three rounds) and leading the Phoenix tournament by six shots?
“Sadly, your writing has gone the way of your golf game.”
Now that really hurts. If my writing has reached the status of my golf game, somebody needs to take some drastic action.
Then there was this from Gus, a little more genteel, but making his not-so-subtle point nonetheless:
“Golf is not being good to you. Now you have to write about fading Phil’s near flawless comeback in Scottsdale. Is he ready for the Tiger?”
In self defense, it must be pointed out that the cited Sunday column was written for a Thursday deadline on the same day that the Phoenix event began. You can bet that if the deadline had been on Friday, the day after the sensational 60, it would never have been written.
Last Sunday also marked the first appearance of “Dueling Divots,” a pro-con opinion piece co-authored by myself and the multitalented Betsey Mitchell that will appear periodically.
In it, we argued a little about the use of the long, or anchored, putter. And once again readers responded.
This from “patochek”:
“Hey, Howard, you and your fellow writers need to join Gary McCord and David Feherty and become much more vocal on this proposed rules change.
“A handful of whining PGA professionals are driving the rules of golf. McCord already pointed out that (only) five of the top 100 professionals use the anchored putters. If it was an advantage, they would all be using it. Feherty points out that the USGA should be focused outside the ropes, not on the elite few professionals.
“This rule change will mean that I and 19 friends/retirees will no longer be allowed to play in our local club events. There was never a danger of any of us winning, but now we cannot even play! Huh?
“Our only recourse is to drop our USGA memberships and never again volunteer for any USGA events, including the 2014 Opens (in Pinehurst). We will still use our long putters and ‘play forward’ as we age.”
That’s serious talk, but I don’t think the “anchor” rule is ever going to be put in effect for local events.
Just remember, this is a prediction by the same guy who wrote that Phil’s thrill was gone.
All these comments are good, helping to keep an old hack on his toes. But the one that really hurt most, cut closest to the bone, was one from Fred Zinn, of Pinehurst.
Zinn wrote, “Howard, your recent debate with Betsey Mitchell was fun. You made some good points, but her great humor prevailed.”
Well, thanks for taking the time to write, Fred. But you really do know how to hurt a guy, don’t you?
Do you realize the humiliation I have to face after that comment, Fred?
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