But afterall it's not the winning that matters, is it? Or is it? It'sto coinawordtheamenitiesthatcount: thesmell of the dandelions, the puff of the pipe, the click of the bat, the rain on the neck, the chill down the spine, the slow, exquisite coming on of sunset and dinner and rheumatism.
All Presidents start out to run a crusade but after a couple of years they find they are running something less heroic and much more intractable: namely the presidency. The people are well cured by then of election fever, during which they think they are choosing Moses. In the third year, they look on the man as a sinner and a bumble and begin to poke around for rumors of another Messiah.
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So the British, of all ages, still walk the course. On trips to Florida or the American desert, they still marvel, or shudder, at the fleets of electric carts going off in the morning like the first assault wave at the Battle of El Alamein. It is unlikely, for some time, that a Briton will come across in his native land such a scorecard as Henry Longhurst rescued from a California club and cherished till the day he died. The last on its list of local rules printed the firm warning "A Player on Foot Has No Standing on the Course."
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For many years I had an impression of my golf swing, which was that I vividly resembled Tom Weiskopf in the takeaway and Dave Marr on the downswing. Unfortunately, there came a day when I was invited to have my golf swing filmed via a video camera. Something I will never do again. When it was played back, what I saw - what you would have seen - was not Weiskopf and Marr but a man simultaneously climbing into a sweater and falling out of a tree.
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The emblem on the necktie reserved for the members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews - The Vatican of golf - is of St. Andrew himself bearing the slatier cross on which, once he was captured at Patras, he was to be stretched before he was crucified.Only the Scots would have thought of celebrating a national game with the figure of a tortured saint.
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[In 1889] the last big tract of Indian land was declared open for settlement, in Oklahoma. The claimants and the speculators mounted their horses and lined up like trotters waiting for a starting gun. The itchy ones jumped the gun and were ever after known as Sooners-and Oklahoma was thereafter called the Sooner State.
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Sir Guy Campbell's classic account of the formation of the links, beginning with Genesis and moving step by step to the thrilling arrival of 'tilth' on the fingers of coastal land, suggests that such notable features of our planet as dinosaurs, the prairies, the Himalayas, the seagull, the female of the species herself, were accidental by-products of the Almighty's preoccupation with the creation of the Old Course at St. Andrews.
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More than anything else, though, to anyone who would write about it, golf offers a four-hour drama in two acts, which becomes memorable even in the tape-recorded reminiscenses of old champs, and which - in the hands of someone like Herb Wind - can become a piece of war correspondence as artfully controlled as Alan Morehead's account of Gallipoli.
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The Scots say that Nature itself dictated that golf should be played by the seashore. Rather, the Scots saw in the eroded sea coasts a cheap battleground on which they could whip their fellow men in a game based on the Calvinist doctrine that man is meant to suffer here below and never more than when he goes out to enjoy himself.
To watch an American on a beach or crowding into a subway, or buying a theater ticket, or sitting at home with his radio on, tells you something about one aspect of the American character: the capacity to withstand a great deal of outside interference, so to speak; a willing acceptance of frenzy which though it's never self-conscious, amounts o a willingness to let other people have and assert their own lively, and even offensive, character. They are a tough race in this.
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I wrote to Mr. McEnroe, Senior. I said: "Here is the sentence once written by the immortal Bobby Jones. I thought you might like to have it done in needlepoint and mounted in a suitable frame to hang over Little John's bed. It says, The rewards of golf - and of life, too, I expect - are worth very little if you don't play the game by the etiquette as well as by the rules." I never heard from Mr. McEnroe, Senior. I can only conclude that the letter went astray.
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When that happens [the demise of golf], old men will furtively beckon to their sons and, like fugitives from the guillotine recalling the elegant orgies at the court of Louis XV, will recite the glories of Portmarnock and Merion, of the Road Hole at St. Andrews, the sixth at Seminole, the eighteenth at Pebble Beach. They will take out this volume from its secret hiding place and they will say: "There is no question, son, that these were unholy places in an evil age. Unfortunately, I had a whale of a time."
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In the best of times, our days are numbered anyway. So it would be a crime against nature for any generation to take the world crisis so solemnly that it put off enjoying those things for which we were designed in the first place: the opportunity to do good work, to enjoy friends, to fall in love, to hit a ball, and to bounce a baby.
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