Your article The Best 18 in America (Feb. 15 and 22) is the most ridiculous you have ever printed. It is impossible to pick the best 18 holes. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Joe Dey, Mr. Byron Nelson and Mr. Charlie Coe, but most of the holes they selected were from courses where a USGA event had been held. Some good courses do not allow tournaments, so your committee could not have played all the good holes in America. Two of the greatest golf courses in the world, The Cascade Golf Club, Hot Springs, Va., and Pinehurst (N.C.) Country Club do not have a hole on your so-called best. Portsmouth, Va., home of the Eastern Amateur, also has some great holes. And the Carolinas are full of golf courses with good holes.
HARRY L. WELCH
Let us not be provincial! Your headline should have read The Best 18 in the U.S. rather than The Best 18 in America. I can assure you there are many other fine, beautiful golf holes to be found all over the Americas from Canada to Argentina.
I am personally acquainted with golf courses throughout Mexico (in addition to the many courses I have played in the U.S.) and, in particular, my home course, the Club de Golf in Mexico City, which boasts quite a few excellent golf holes and which you yourselves called "one of the world's best" (SCORECARD, Feb. 15).
SANDRA CLIFFORD FULLMER
Check the 11th hole at Big Cypress Golf and Country Club in Naples, Fla. for a difficult par 3.
LE ROY HUNT
Pompano Beach, Fla.
Obviously Dan Jenkins never played in the Pacific Northwest!
J. RICHARD CROCKETT
To my chagrin I have played only one of your Best 18—Pebble Beach's 18th. I do feel, however, that the 12th at Olympia Fields (Ill.) North Course belongs on any "best" course. Others that have proved an almost impossible challenge to my game (11 to 13 handicap) and which I feel stand the tests of beauty and character are the first at Point Clear, Ala., the 2nd at Peachtree in Atlanta (another Robert Trent Jones masterpiece), the 4th on Dorado Beach (P.R.) East Nine and the 10th at Bob O'Link in Highland Park, Ill. or Blythefield in Belmont, Mich.
Thanks anyway for a fine story and great round of golf.
RICHARD W. KELLY
Terre Haute, Ind.
Trying to pick the best 18 golf holes in America is like trying to pick the 18 best-looking girls in Atlanta; a welcome challenge, but an impossible task. May the controversy reign forever!
WATCH THE FORDS GO BY
Never have I read such an excellent piece of honest, objective reporting as Bob Ottum's article on the Daytona 500 (Brutes, Brawls and Boosters, Feb. 22). I lived in the South last year and attended all major NASCAR events on the major tracks. Indeed, as Ottum said, nothing approaches this sport in brute excitement. But the 1965 NASCAR rules have boiled every major race down to just one issue: What color Ford will win?
DAVID C. CLEAVER
The Ford Motor Company need not worry about "the critics' question of whether or not it could beat Chrysler in an engine-to-engine showdown." It was answered last year when drivers of Chrysler's now-outlawed hemis, King Richard Petty, the late Jimmy Pardue and Paul Goldsmith (last year's Daytona 500 No. 1, 2 and 3 finishers), looked in their rearview mirrors and saw those Fords in futile pursuit.
We thoroughly enjoyed the beautifully written account of the jaguar hunt in the Mato Grosso by Virginia Kraft (A Meeting in the Mato Grosso, Feb. 22). We suffered with her the hardships of the terrain, insects, privations and frustrations and were delighted when she finally met el tigre. But the state of Campeche on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, only 75 minutes by Pan American jet from New Orleans, is closer and would have provided just as much sport. The jungle begins a few hours' ride from the city of Campeche and proceeds south to the border of Guatemala. A thoroughly enjoyable hunt takes about a week, with such comforts as beds with mosquito nets, hot or cold showers and food that is out of this world. Snakes are no problem.
Jaguar, puma, ocelot and other cats are there, too, as many as six having been sighted in 24 hours, and often on a six-day trip one sees at least one a day. Jose (Pepe) Sansores, the professional guide of Campeche, will not guarantee a tigre but usually puts a hunter pretty close to one.
HENRY T. BUNN JR.
•Hunter Kraft has not neglected Mexico's jungles altogether. Some years ago (SI, Jan. 26, 1959) she and her husband pursued el tigre on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to the south and west of Yucatan. They found heat, thorns, deer, tangled underbrush and a tapir as noisy as a rhinoceros—but no jaguar.—ED.
The article by Virginia Kraft disheartened me greatly. To me there is a difference between hunting an animal as she did and the final shooting of it. At that point the sport disappears. I hope many sportsmen would have enough respect for such a valiant opponent that they would not destroy it when it was cornered. Shooting a large jaguar out of a tree with a high-powered rifle is not sport. Would it not be enough to let the cat go, knowing that the objective had been achieved?
PETER S. WELLINGTON
"Diana the Huntress," mattress and all, made me a little ill.
A high-powered rifle, a sitting duck and four armed men for protection—you must be kidding.
C. R. HOLMES
We were delighted to read in your story Barrel Staves Are Back (Feb. 15), that Vermonters are taking up staves. However, I think your readers should know that barrel-stave skiing was revitalized five years ago in California at the Barrel Stave Slalom, which was co-sponsored by Paul Masson Vineyards at Powder Bowl near Squaw Valley. The Paul Masson winery supplies staves from 50-gallon wine-aging casks as well as prizes for the winners of the humorous slalom. Originally called Barrel Stave Olympics, the slalom has been held at this same place every year since 1960 and is again scheduled for this coming March 13.
ERNEST G. MITTELBERGER
The article brought back fond memories of my boyhood in the early '20s. Using discarded barrel staves from the nearby brewery, we kids fashioned a seat near one end and "rode" down the numerous hills with legs in the air, trying to maintain balance while holding onto the seat. We called such a contrivance a "bumper," because one really was jolted during the ride.
Re your SCORECARD item (Feb. 22) mentioning Mr. Justice Byron White as a possible successor to Ford Frick as Commissioner of Baseball:
I love baseball, and I assume that Mr. Justice White does also; however, the club owners must be grossly naive to think anyone schooled in the law would step down from the most honored position in our judicial system, that of Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, to take over as Commissioner of Baseball for a $70,000 salary, as alleged in some reports, or even for a $70 million salary. To even ask Mr. Justice White to make such a move would be an insult to both his intelligence and his sense of patriotism.
WILLIAM K. QUARLES JR.
Falls Church, Va.
•We doubt that Kenesaw Mountain Landis, in his day one of the most eminent jurists on the federal bench, would agree. He gave up a prestigious job as U.S. District Judge in northern Illinois to become baseball's first (and still best) commissioner at $50,000 a year.—ED.
I couldn't agree more on your suggestion that golf should be included in the Olympic program (SCORECARD, Feb. 15). Golf is one of the most popular summer games in America as well as in many other countries, and could be one of the most popular events in the 1968 Olympics and many others to come.
ALAN L. LAMBERT
The Olympic Games are universally considered the finest amateur sporting event today. Yet, as you pointed out, many sports with wide popularity and support are ignored in the Games. I find it ridiculous that such events as field hockey, which at best enjoy only limited amateur participation and support, should be on the program when golf, tennis and baseball are left out.
As a tennis pro, I am often asked "Why isn't tennis included in the Olympics?" I go through a smash and drop shot trying to answer by relating the Davis Cup to the Olympics—which, of course, is not true. As you said, tennis should be added to the Olympics.
As a resident of California, I didn't realize until I read Mr. Bob Rubin's letter (19TH HOLE, Feb. 15) that I was living in a sports poverty pocket. Until I read his letter I didn't know monuments were necessary for a baseball team. Now I understand: the most exciting things about a Yankee game are the monuments in center field. In Chavez Ravine we watch center field only to see Willie Davis making another spectacular catch, and the rest of the time we are watching our three monuments, Koufax, Drysdale and Podres, shatter the pennant hopes of the other National League teams or whipping the Yankees four straight.
Mr. Rubin took credit for the Knicks, which requires great courage, but he also took credit for the Celtics beating the Western Division leaders—the Lakers. I always thought the Celtics played in Boston.
Mr. Rubin also might like to know that most of California receives all the nationally broadcast games. California does not consist only of L.A. and San Francisco. Mr. Rubin's New York teams haven't got one announcer between them half as good as Vin Scully anyway. To sum it all up, I wouldn't trade a life-size picture of Willie Mays for Mr. Rubin's Jets, Mets, Giants, Yankees, Knicks, Rangers and Bills.
When the Yankees have hitters who can hit a Koufax or a Chance fast ball; when the Knicks have a team that can outscore West and Baylor; when the Yankee and Knick fans have sportscasters of the caliber of Chick Hearn (Lakers) and Vin Scully (Dodgers); when New York learns what real team support is, then, and only then, can New York consider itself the No. 2 sports capital of America.