Well, it's Summer--that's what the thermometer is saying anyway (more like screaming, at temperatures in the 90's and 100's)--so it's a corking time to reprint the article on THE GAME...
Chess? Marbles? Horse-Shoes? Perhaps volley ball? No, the game of Kings is—now, if I told you right off the bat some of you would have already said, “Well, enough reading for the night, Jeeves, an early bed-time I think,” because the game of which I speak is Golf. OK, it’s not necessarily a game for Kings, but it is a game (it’s not actually a sport) for gentlemen! Bear with me here—about 4 years ago I had as much interest in golf as I do now in knitting a sweater, or being stung by a bee. Why, you may be asking, do I stun your eyes with words like “golf?” Consider these gentlemanly virtues, brought about by the game of golf in a way that few other games can match:
- Honor. There are no referees in golf. You can be honest, or not. Only God and you know if you quietly kick the ball to a better position for your next shot. The honorable man will play fair even under these circs, though he be sorely tempted to cheat (and this temptation will arise…)
- Patience. With yourself, with your mistakes and bad shots, with your teammate who is perhaps either too slow, or too good.
- Humility. Golf almost looks easy. What could be simpler, after all, than whacking a ball with a stick into a hole in the ground? Simple, however, does not mean easy. Not easy: hit a small ball 300 yards accurately, avoiding lakes, streams, sand pits, tall grass, geese, and other golfers, so as to be able to get it into the few-inch diameter hole in only 3 or 4 shots—or less. As any one who has played one mere hole or two of golf will admit—this game will teach you humility, and honor—this is where the temptation to cheat comes in, because when you hit the ball everywhere but where you want it to go the temptation will arise, hideously, to covertly move the ball to where you can knock it into the hole in at least under 12 shots. You were upset when at the 5th shot you still weren’t near the hole, but now at 10, you are about to kill one of those geese with your 3-wood.
- Self-control. After you successfully avoid taking out a few geese, you will be tempted (and this is only 10 or 15 minutes in, perhaps) to twist every club, including and perhaps especially, the putter, into a masterpiece of bent-metal modern art. See #’s 2 and 3.
- Concentration. The amount of concentration it takes to hit a golf ball is staggering. When people are watching this can cause the beginner to smack the ball so far that he can’t see it, because he just clipped the ball, and it rolled an inch in front of him. Yeah, that counts as one stroke—only 2 or 3 left, and you're over the allotted number. Concentrate. Repeat #’s 2-4 if necessary.
- Nature. Right-ho, that is not a virtue. I’m pleased you’re still with us here at number 6. Golf is usually played amongst beautiful scenery. The course is serene, (except for the honking of fleeing geese and the sound of breaking metal), there are ponds, trees, the sound of wind rustling the leaves, the sun, the fresh air. If you are at a links course, that means you are also by the sea-side, with wonderful, salty ocean air. It is a great place to spend time, even apart from golf, and during the game it helps relax one between fits of violent lunacy. If you are not impeded by time or nature, avoid the golf cart—golf should be played, when possible, by walking from one place to the next, enjoying the scenery, the camaraderie, the exercise, the knowledge that your next shot will be perfect.
- Obsession. Toward the end, when you realize that you have done a few things well, many not, but have remained an honorable gentleman, this thought may occur to you: “I know I can hit the ball straighter and more accurately—I was just standing/swinging/aiming/
taking the wind direction into account all wrong. Do we have to leave? Just one more game…
A final note. A few of you may be desirous of quoting Mark Twain at this point: “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” I, too, used to quote Twain in this regard, until I realized he is totally wrong. If golf were a walk, it would indeed be “a good walk spoiled.” But golf is not a walk—it contains walking, but golf is a game, not a walk. They are separate things entirely, and both have their place. There is nothing like a good walk. But for building gentlemanly virtue and character, golf is a king amongst other games.