Golfer Calls Criticism of His Actions Unfair

This letter is in response to Rich Tosches' column (July 3) which followed my victory over Brian Lamb of Newbury Park in the State Amateur Golf Championships (June 26). I am upset by the manner in which Mr. Tosches has leveled an unjustified attack against me and questioned the integrity of the match referees.

Although Brian Lamb admits to twice breaking the rules of golf, he and Mr. Tosches have come to the conclusion that it was unfair for Brian to be penalized (perhaps they could make a list of rules which don't apply to Brian). Mr. Tosches uses innuendo, his own venomous comments and Brian's version of the events to blame me for Brian's loss.

Did Mr. Tosches verify the facts by speaking to me or the referee before writing the column? No, he did not.

Brian's first violation was to play out of turn from 20 feet when it was my ball from 60 feet (all golfers know the importance of playing in turn during a match-play event). Consequence: Brian was required to replay his shot in correct order without penalty. Brian claims to be upset because the referee and I "stood next to him and watched" as he played out of turn, calling the infraction only after he hit a great shot. This is untrue. The referee was standing behind the green, watching me address my ball, some 75 feet from Brian. Neither of us watched him play his shot (the referee can verify this).

After forfeiting the 17th hole because he tested the sand (raking the bunker before he hit his shot), Brian again blames me. He stated in the article: "That was it. I didn't say another word to him." He then tries to excuse his actions by saying that he had raked his footprints "50 feet from his ball." The distance from his ball is irrelevant. But the fact remains that I watched him (why would anyone enter a bunker 50 feet from his ball?). Mr. Tosches labeled Brian's penalty for this infraction as "loss of perspective" and my calling the infraction as being a "stickler for the rules." He apparently does not understand the importance of this rule and the huge advantage gained by testing the depth and texture of the sand.

Using innuendo and apparent mind-reading abilities to question my character, Mr. Tosches told the readers that I only called the infraction after "waiting to see if Brian hit his next shot into the Pacific," and then went to the next hole "celebrating my most recent poke in the eye." Mr. Tosches knows very well that Brian's next shot was of no consequence. The hole was forfeited the moment that Brian tested the sand. Also, I was not celebrating. I wondered how this young man felt after twice caught breaking the rules.

I understand Mr. Tosches' desire to support the young local player. But he has a greater responsibility as a journalist to tell the truth and to be fair in his writing. I find it interesting that Mr. Tosches uses only the most positive and complimentary terms to describe the player who admittedly broke the rules but resorted to many insulting terms and innuendoes when describing me.

After Brian was required to play his shot in correct order, he said to me, "That's not the way we play golf where I come from." In contrast, where I come from we not only play by the rules, we do not wait for an opponent or referee to call the infractions. We call them ourselves.

JOHN ZETTERQUIST

Aptos, Calif.

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