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About a Golf Maniac: An Interlude For Reminiscence


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The Golf Maniac.

One of the perennial joys of golf is the way it fits in with and illuminates the character of the fellow who knows all about it: The Omniscient Golf Maniac.

There are more maniacs in golf than there are in any other sport, and they have more fun too!

You see, the golf swing is such an unknown equation to most people that any fellow with the gift of gab and twenty years experience of pulling and slicing can make it sound as though he knows what he is talking about when he expounds it.

There are five or six of these cranks in nearly every club, and when they get together the feathers are apt to fly!

The one characteristic of every member of the clan is that he is entirely impervious to every idea and theory except his own.

I remember three of these fellows all round about the (sympathetic) 3 handicap mark having a rabid argument in our shop about that fertile subject, the shut face, and proving—to their own satisfaction any¬way—that one or two suggestions that Aubrey and I made were nonsense.

Well then, they took Aubrey out into a four-tall.

They gave him one up and he proceeded to beat their best ball 4 and 3.

They were so wrapped up in their own game and their own theories that they failed to notice that he had gone round in 64, which was eight under par.

Still, when they came back they continued to tell us how to take the club back and so on.

They knew Aubrey had just beaten them, but it never occurred to them that he knew more about golf than they did.

We Pros do know quite a bit about the game.

If we seem to differ a lot in our methods, it is because method is not the ultimate aim in golf, and methods (like fashions) are always changing.

One thing that the Pro nearly always has and the maniac nearly always lacks is a balanced psychophysical conception of how to go about the game so as to get par figures for 18 holes in a round for four rounds in succession, or a dozen if necessary.

These cranks spend the greater part of their lives not so much hitting the ball as figuring out how to hit it.

They will tell you they are realists but actually they are the most visionary idealists in the world today!

Their world is utterly remote from reality.

There was a time when I used to play a lot with a very wealthy old boy; he was about sixty and had been a crack polo player in his youth.

He was 3 handicap and never could take strokes from me, but one Boxing Day (it being the day after Christmas) he beat me.

Well, for a few years after that I did not see him again (yes years not days), and I forgot the incident and nearly forgot him. Then one day when I was out he turned up to ask me to fix a game with him any day Hiked.

When the assistant gave me the message he said, "You look surprised!" "Well it is odd," said I. "I haven't seen him for years."

My assistant grinned.

"That's it," he said. "The story of how he beat you is getting a bit stale, so he wants to freshen it up!"

Well, believe it or not, that was his idea, so I took care to beat him as early as I could, which was on the 13th. So on the way back he consoled himself by telling me again that if he had taken up the game younger he would have won the Championship. Well, maybe he would!

At one time I had under me at St. Cloud three of the finest players ever found together at one club. They were Charles Mignin, a huge driver, a plus 2 player in Andre Chintron (French champion), and of course my brother Aubrey.

Well, one day an American came up and wanted to play me.

It happened that I was engaged, but he was told he could play my assistant. He acquiesced and tumbled into Charles who obliged with a 69.

The American thought Charles was very, very good, but he would still like to play me.

So he came up again the next day, but his luck was still out, and he accepted a game against Andre, who turned in a 67. Well, it was almost too good to be true, but next day he missed me once more and took out Aubrey who went round in 65.

That fairly shook our friend from the States. "If these are the Assistants," he said "What the hell does the boss go round in nothing?"

Well, he did not see!

One day a very well-known player turned up at St. Cloud and wanted a round with "the boy who did the 61."

All he could remember, besides the score, was "Aubrey, St. Cloud."

Aubrey happened to be away so it fell to me to take him round and I turned up a remarkably good round.

But I simply could not convince him that I was not "Aubrey."

So far so good, but then he positively insisted upon me going to dinner with him in Paris.

I went full of apprehension which proved justified!

No sooner were we settled in one of the best res-taurants in Paris than one of my members caught sight of me and came over, with the typically Parisian greeting, Quest-ce que tu fais? — What are you doing here?"

"Oh," said I in French, which I knew my host did not understand, "I am an impostor."

"Why, who are you supposed to be?"

"Aubrey," said I.

"Nom de Dieu!" he cried. "Qui te prend pour Aubrey?"

I nodded towards my host.

The member went over to him, patted him on the shoulder and said in a loud voice in English, "I lift my glass to the finest golfer in France, Aubrey Boomer."

Cheers from all over the room and cries of "Speech! Speech!"

Well, of course I had to reply.

I did it in French and I can truthfully say that though most of the laughter that I evoked was at the expense of my blissfully unconscious host — he certainly got more amusement out of the performance than I did!

But to see the Golf Maniac most completely in his element, you want to watch him designing a golf course!

We did a lot of that work at one time, both in France and in the Argentine. And it is very difficult to do it well when the club is run by a Green Committee who do not know how much they do not know — and who anyway can never agree among themselves.

I remember on one such occasion we had been tipped not to argue with one old chap who happened to be the Captain of the Club—and felt the responsi¬bility.

Well, one day we were fixing the position of the fifth tee and putting it as close as we could get it to a big oak tree for shelter, when up came the Skipper.

He thought we were laying out the fourth green (which we had already placed some thirty yards away) and proceeded to tell us just where and how the bunkers should be arranged.

Having finished that he trotted off in high good humor and we did not see him again until the day the course was opened eighteen months later.

For the opening round Aubrey and I played the two local cracks.

Among the gallery was our friend the Skipper, and when we reached the fourth green, he sidled up to me.

"I don't remember that tree," he said, pointing to a big beech about twenty yards beyond the green.

"Ah, you see" said I "some people are superstitious and won't have an oak tree near a green or a beech tree near a tee — so to please them we just changed those two trees round," and I pointed to the oak with the fifth tee beside it.

"Yes! Yes!" he said. "Quite right — and very good of you I'm sure."

As the oak tree was at least three hundred years old and the beech sixty or eighty, the way he accepted that proved (if it proved anything) that some people at least have a very high opinion of the capacity of the golf Pro!

But to return to the Golf Bore (as also we so fre-quently have to!). One world-famous English club numbered one of the greatest among its members.

He was no great performer on the course, but in the club room he could (and did) tell exactly how every shot should be played and exactly what and why his partner and opponents had done wrong. In theory he was omniscient.

His fellow-members, feeling perhaps that they were too much honored in being the sole recipients of so much golfing wisdom, decided to give it wider circulation.

So, to the delight and surprise of the omniscient one there appeared one day on the table in the club reading-room a beautifully bound book titled "All I know about Golf" with the omniscient one's name as author.

Delight and surprise, did I say?

Well he was certainly delighted by the beautifully printed title page (how well his name looked!), by the brief but almost fulsome introduction by an amateur champion, and by the preface by a celebrated golf journalist — the surprise came in the body of the book, where All-he-knew-about-golf was set out on two-hundred-and-forty-six utterly blank pages! (Go to URL)

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