READ, DON'T WEEP
Mr. Starter: I prefer playing without a caddie. My opponent in a club competition got the caddie who's the best green-reader at our course. Wasn't this unfair to me?
— Greg Davidoff, Grosse Pointe, Mich.
Don't get me started, Greg. I love caddies, and I know the Rules of Golf are against me, but I'm totally against loopers reading putts. You read that right. A keen-eyed caddie is an unfair advantage and violates the spirit of the game. One of golf's basic skills is weighing the lay of the land. I always hated when Fanny Sunesson would crouch behind Nick Faldo, then scurry away when his putterface was where she wanted it. It's within the rules but shouldn't be. My kind of fellow reads his own putts, so be proud—you played like a man.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN
Dear Stan: My good buddy always shushes me on the tee, but I'm a talker. When's the time to hush?
—Dan Schuler, Orem, Utah
Dan, think of the peg going in the ground as a warning, like when they flash the house lights before a Broadway show begins. As your playing partner starts his routine, finish your conversation. When he's over the ball, be quieter than Ben Hogan in a library.
NO PICKUP ARTIST
Stanley: I play with a guy who makes a lot of "others," like 10s or 11s. Shouldn't you pick up on a hole when the wheels come off?
—Fred Rosenzweig, Armonk, N.Y.
If you're holding up play, yes. If not, a golfer's entitled to take his punishment. Now, if you're bad and slow, or if you're ruining the group's overall flow, my rule? Put it in your pocket when you reach double-par.
Stan the Man: Our club champion is 70 and plays to a 3 handicap, but in our weekend skins game, he plays from the forward or "senior" tees. He urges me to join him, claiming that our age entitles us to bite off a few yards, but it feels wrong to me. What's your take?
—Anonymous, via e-mail
First off, this guy doesn't sound worthy of his championship title. Anybody who plays to a 3 but chisels off 25 extra yards on long holes will wait a lifetime to tee it up with Stan. Second, forward tees have nothing to do with age. They're for shorter hitters who need help getting home in regulation. And then there's this: If your guy moves up whenever he's inclined, it mucks up the handicap system, which is based on full rounds played from the same set of tees. So my advice, Anonymous, is to do what it takes to spank this guy next year. Your club deserves a real "champ."