The First Call Inbox

Is Phil Mickelson alone in his thoughts?

The First Call readers share what's on their minds, including Mickelson speaking out, the good in getting out and where does celebrating cross the line

Portsalon Golf Club, Portsalon, Donegal, Co.Donegal, Ireland
(Photo: Thos Caffrey | Golfffile)

> Question of the Week (Feb. 21-27): What's on your mind? Let us know your thoughts on any golf-related topic.   

Before the latest comments from Phil [Mickelson] I was a huge fan. He is one of the few who makes time for the fans. He does tend to speak without thinking about consequences a lot. I believe him when he says there are issues with the PGA Tour. I don’t agree, though, with his methods for fixing it. 

What I don’t understand is why he is the only person who is willing to speak up. Brooks Koepka has no problem talking bad about other golfers, but when it comes to speaking up for the good of the league he stays silent. Dustin Johnson has been on the Tour for 15 years but still he doesn’t speak up. All of you together have the ability to make changes for the better of current and future golfers. 

So when are you going to do something about it. You have publicly chastised Phil for speaking up, but none of you seem to care enough about the problems with the tour to do anything about it. It seems like you are a bunch of individual hypocrites. So when nothing changes and more players become disgruntled you have no one to blame but yourselves.

Mel Howsmon 
Vancouver, Wash. 

Phil Mickelson got we deserved. His apology was insincere and his crime significant. He sees the end of his significance to the Tour and was trying to stay relevant by undermining the PGA Tour without remorse. He's made tons of money, but complains about taxes in California when he could've moved at any time to a more tax-friendly state. He acts like a super genius, but severely miscalculated the way others view the PGA Tour. Mickelson is the greedy one. I feel no sympathy.

Eric Schmehl
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

[Phil Mickelson] is embarrassing. His sponsors should drop him and tour should suspend him. Same greedy, self-gratuitous attitude for 30 years. Nobody is bigger than the game.  He fooled everybody with his schtick, but he is not a nice person. I know from experience years ago in Arizona.

Larry Guli
Charlotte, N.C.

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It could have been minus-10 cold and people would have played. Getting out of the house with family members or golf buddies was all we needed to do to forget COVID for five hours. With all the public courses that have closed recently in Eastern Massachusetts, tee times have been sparse and green fees have gone up. Bring on the heat, 2022 will be just as busy.

Jimmy O’Malley
Needham, Mass.

There’s a lot of talk about alternate tours and money in professional golf. Can you explain why players who miss the cut at a typical PGA Tour event receive no money, zilch? If what I read is current and accurate, aside from the four major championships, which each pay around $10,000 to all pros participating in the majors regardless if they make the cut, the typical PGA Tour event pays nothing to pros missing the cut — no costs, no fees, nada.

But there’s $50 million going towards the top 10 players who move the needle in the new PIP program?  Most revolutions start at the bottom — the Greg Norman tour notwithstanding. And please ask Phil [Mickelson] and Norman — and golf scribes for that matter — why the name Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi-sponsored pro golf events never come up in the same sentence or article? Saudi Arabia murdered a USA based journalist yet the conversation is all about getting more money to Phil and friends? Or how the PGA Tour will respond?    

Don’t get me wrong, while I don’t much care for golf culture, I love the game of golf and play it regularly. And I totally respect that pros have to grind it out to get to the weekend for prize money.  But if some kid sleeping in his car trying to make the tour misses that cut, at least buy the lad a good craft beer, Jay [Monahan].

John Cullen
La Quinta, Calif.

There is golf and then there is the PGA Tour and other professional tour golf played for cash prizes. A lot of cash. Interestingly, the professional game represents a minuscule number of golfers in the world, but pretty much dominates any discussion of the game. 

Golf is almost unique in that about 99% of the the people who play the game are amateurs, most very amateur. The other major sports — NFL, MLB and NBA — have no such amateur dominance of play. There is just not that large imbalance in the number of participants. Even if you include what are referred to as elite amateurs, or tour pros in waiting, the game is dominated by the great unwashed who flock to golf courses all over the world. The vast majority probably even lack a world handicap, either blissfully ignoring this device entirely and not bothering to compete with anyone but themselves or applying their own stroke estimates as agreed upon in their group. Even the USGA, which supposedly represents the amateur game, seems to spend most of its energy obsessing over what's happening in the professional game. For instance its failure to eliminate the stroke-and-distance penalties for OB and lost balls was a disservice to the amateur game as is its obsession with how far the ball goes. Question: Are you hitting it too far? Didn't think so. These particular penalties are rarely observed outside of club or other official competitions at the non-elite level. Let's face it, walking back to the tee on a busy Saturday morning at your local muni is unlikely to be well received by the waiting group. 

Based on suggested subjects and the responses received at Morning Read there is apparently nothing to talk about or write about the game that tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of people play every day. I don't think that's true, the game of the Scottish shepherds is alive and well and worthy of attention and possibly lively discussion. In fact it is Golf with a capital G — the rest is just pro golf. At least I'd like to think so. Wonder if anyone else does?

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

The reactions to the two aces were insane, and the second one disturbed me the most. Also, Justin Thomas chipped in for a birdie on 16 on Sunday afternoon. He and the rest of his group were greeted with a shower of beer cans. The Tour needs to rein this fan behavior in before a player or caddie gets injured. I don't understand when golf became the NFL. The NFL would not allow a fan to drink for up to 8 hours within a stadium or throw objects onto the playing field. Golf gallery behavior has decidedly deteriorated over the last 10 years at regular Tour events. Ryder Cups on U.S. soil are one step away from a Euro player getting assaulted by a drunken fan. Protocols need to be developed to try to get a handle on alcohol consumption at events. Instead, the Tour has embraced the 16th in Scottsdale so that even more fans can be accommodated and it can stretch into the last three holes instead of just one. I hate to sound anti-fun, but this is reaching the point of physical danger for players and caddies.

Bill Galinas
Broomall, Pa.

I like the uniqueness of the 16th hole — the stadium design and crowd reacting loudly to each shot. I absolutely do not like seeing 16-ounce cans of beer flying at the green and the players. That tradition has to stop immediately. Sam Ryder almost got hit by two of those missiles. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Steve Jensen
Pleasant Prairie, Wisc.

I’m a big fan of the raucous atmosphere at the WM Phoenix Open. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience for a golf tournament. I’m also a big fan of drinking beer. However, a line was definitely crossed when the green on 16 was showered with beer cans. It may have been a little humorous to see it at first, especially the beer showers in the stands, but what happens if someone gets hit in the head with a near-full can. And it appeared some of the cans thrown were fairly full. How dumb are some fans to throw a near-full can that costs upwards of $10? The fans are going to ruin a good thing if this keeps happening. The PGA Tour will have no choice with making changes, such as only selling draft beer, banning alcohol sales or clearing the stands. I love the Phoenix Open atmosphere, but there are limits.

Dennis Burns
Joliet, Ill.

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