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A Golf Monologue


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Editor's Note: I'm back from my honeymoon trip. Yes, it was fantastic. Thanks for asking. Now, it's back to golf business as usual.

And the starting point upon my return to reality is Percy's next golf monologue. He writes these passages so that the reader can absorve his golf lessons through a fictional dialogue.

Rather than splitting the monologue into several parts, I decided to publish it in one big entry. This is because I did not want to interrupt the flow of the story. Enjoy.

"OH, good morning, Mr. Boomer.-You are Mr. Boomer, aren't you? . . . I'm Mrs. de Vere de Vere; you know, Mrs. Pro Quid Quo sent me along to you, to get my swing fixed up. . . . Nothing much, but of course you know I'm an old golfer; so I'd better tell you all about my case.

Possibly you have met my husband somewhere . . . he has played golf all his life more or less . . . plays very well too; no style, you know, but hits a very long ball and plays his irons to perfection . . . and his putting, my dear fellow, you should see his putting; it's marvellous. You see, he was taught by that St. Andrews Pro . . . famous chap. . . ."

"Kirkcaldy?" I suggested.

"Yes, that's the fellow. People say he is funny. I can't see it. . . . I did have one lesson from him, but I didn't get his humor at all. ... Gruff, I thought he was; good with the men, no doubt, but not with ladies. . . . We do like a little finesse, you know . . . still he did say I had a style like Vardon's - or was it a grip? . . . and he said something about a greyhound, too.

I put that down to my being fond of coursing, but of course he may have meant it as a compliment to my figure . . . they do like to pay you a compliment every now and then just to encourage you."

"Oh!" was all I had time to reply.

"Oh yes. . . . Now it appears that I have a very special swing. So, naturally, I don't want you to alter it ... of course, I never could pivot or keep the left arm straight or any of that elementary stuff you tell beginners . . . but they tell me that I had a most perfect and delicate grip . . . 'something worth contemplating' was his phrase ... he sings you know . . . between you and me, I think he is a bit poetical. . . . Well, as I was going to say . . ."

She paused for an instant as she caught sight of the caddy, who was having a snooze out in the rough; then she was off again - "Well . . . as I was saying, I've hardly played at all since I played at North Berwick last year . . . no, not last year, two summers ago. I had a few tips there from old Ned Redwood . . . you know him; at least he knows you, and thinks a lot of you too . . . he said he wouldn't mind handing me over to you.

He beat you once, didn't he? ... he tells the story very well. We had it for dinner one evening, stroke by stroke, and it lasted five courses! But I remember that the family didn't seem over-interested, as if they had heard it before . . . maybe they had.

Ned is getting on, and one is apt to repeat oneself ... as that rude comedian Bobbie said about sardines.

Personally I don't like them, sardines I mean, . . . but as a matter of fact he is quite right about them. . . . Oh yes, I was coming to this. I developed a simply terrific slice . . . you wouldn't believe! Now let me get it right. I know how particular you silly Pros are about details. . . . Yes, it was at Gullane on No. 1 course-or was it No. 2? ... numbers are so confusing and there are so many courses there, you know, I get quite lost. . . .

Anyway I remember the day because I had a caddy, such a cute little chap . . . and quick-he had a sort of second sight, and more than once he was half-way down the street after my ball before I had hit it ... and every time he retrieved it before it got as far as Wack Jite's shop.

That's the best of always having the same caddy . . . they get to know your style and it saves you money, in Scotland, anyway."

"But . . ." I tried to edge in.

"Oh yes, of course, my slice! . . . Well, someone gave me a very simple bit of advice-was it Ned or was it Tyril Solley? . . . you would know because you know their styles.

Anyway, they said, "turn your left hand a little more over the back of the shaft and bring your left foot back a little" - whoever it was who told me, and I still think it was Ned.

Hey presto! I not only cured my slice but pulled my ball slap into the rough on the left. ... I must admit that the rough on the left is no better than the rough on the right, but the moral effect was astounding. . . .

Do you know, we actually won 5 and 4 that day, which only shows how simple it is when one knows."

"Knows what?" I queried, mesmerized.

"That's just it," she continued. "It's so difficult to meet simple people. Do you know what one fellow told me? . . . you don't mind, do you?But he was a Pro . . . but there, I always say that all Pros are not alike; some are better brought up than others . . . present company excepted, of course!

But the Hon. Billy Bunk told me such a good story which he read in Simpson's book about the Pro who taught Balfour-the Premier, you know . . . fine man, Balfour; he wouldn't have let things get so complicated, my husband says. . . . Oh, where was I?"

"The Pro," I suggested.

"Oh yes, the story Billy told, only it was really Simpson's story, of course, was that one of them said . . . I forget if it was the Pro or Balfour . . . that, 'the ground on which golf is played is called links. Links are too broken for cultivation; but sheep, rabbits, geese, and professionals pick up a precarious livelihood on them' . . . you don't mind, do you . . . it's so true."

"Especially about the geese," I said.

"Well, now, where was I? Oh, the fellow who told me, told me not to open the face of the club as I took it back, and yet, do you know, my husband says that the first thing Vardon told him was to open the face of the club as he went back . . . it just shows, doesn't it? . . . then poor old Ned asked Totton why he opened the face of his club on the way back and Totton told him not to ask silly questions . . . devastating wasn't it? Or so my hubby says."

"Who really taught you, Madam?" I got in.

"Oh, how silly of me. . . . I quite forgot you would want to know that. . . . You know, last summer, I think it was, we went to Gleneagles for the week, and on the way back we stayed a day or two in London and had a lovely week-end out at Sir Bunsen Burner's place-some Park-Lent Park, is it?... Such lovely daffodils - only they were over then, of course . . . and there is a dinky little course there . . . you must know it."

"Yes, I do."

"They have a special Burgundy there . . . my goodness, but there's a fine drink - not good for the tip of your nose, of course . . . but what's powder for anyway? Yet, would you believe it? There was a woman in the party who said she made her Burgundy by tipping a glass of port into a carafe of vin rouge ordinaire. ... As a matter of fact I tried it myself later on some not important guests, and it came off ... anyway, it went down!"

"So when you were at Lent Park, I suppose you had a lesson from Skeet?"

"Oh no . . . we had no time . . . only a few hours ... so I had my lesson at a school, in London . . . Park Street, was it? ... anyway, the Pro there is a very definite kind of chap . . . 'straight arm' and all that elementary stuff. I really didn't take to him . . . he was so cocksure of himself, which is silly when you only know 'beginners' style,' isn't it? ... Anyway I only had one lesson because he nearly pulled my arm out of its socket. Do you know, it made me so stiff all down the left side that I had to walk out of the bloody place sideways."

"Oh," I gurgled, pushing a fit back into my throat.

"What's that funny noise?" she inquired. "Sounds like a squirrel. . . . Do you have squirrels here? . . . you have such lovely trees. Are they natural? . . ."

"No," I said, "it wasn't a squirrel. It was probably the caddy having a day-dream."

"How silly of me! I forgot the caddy. Oh yes, now I remember what I came for. Someone told me you have a wonderful theory . . . just the thing for me, they assured me."

"Who told you that?" I asked suspiciously.

"Well, it's difficult to say. . . . You see, we had you at a knitting-bee ... an all-hen show, of course. If you had heard all they said about you, you would have blushed . . . do you blush? Anyway, one woman told us you put a hundred yards on her drive, and another that you got her handicap down 15 strokes in as many days . . . one stout old dowager declared you had made her pitch better with her eyes shut than she did with them open . . . and there was that American woman - dames they call them, don't they?- she was upset with you because you taught her how to play stymies, and then the Ambassador told her they didn't play stymies any more in the States . . . yet you know she had roped in three perfectly good husbands in her time . . . and none of them paupers! Strange, isn't it?"

"No," I said just to see what would happen.

"What do you mean. . . . 'No'!" She said, with such alacrity that I took it back.

"Sorry - I should have said, 'Yes' But what about your swing, Madam?... Time is getting on."

"Oh yes-we really must. You see, I can't hit a ball. Put me down a peg, will you, and I will take a few swings."

She took a few swings - or, more precisely, swipes. They told me all I needed to know.

"Madam," I said, "who am I to meddle with such a swing? ... As your friend said, it's something to contemplate. . . . Only don't say Percy Boomer told you so, please . . . my regular pupils might become jealous. But there is one thing I would like to ask you before I go on to my next pupil, and it might help you if you could answer."

"Well, what is it?"

"When Ned told you to turn your left hand more over the back of the shaft and to draw your left foot back a bit, you say it worked at first. Now are you sure, quite sure, that he did not say right foot?"

She paused, she gaped, she gasped.

"Why how stupid of me! . . . of course it was my right foot. . . . What a lucky thing you thought of asking me such a stupid question. You don't mind, do you, but of course it was stupid. Of course it was my right foot, as I said . . ."


Take Home Lesson...

The impression here is of the arms stretching upwards . . . but the essential feel of the arms stretching down through the ball is retained.

The hips have turned almost horizontally. They are braced together, the left hip has not been thrown out.

The weight of the body has not been completely transferred to the left foot, the left leg is slanting slightly back, and in consequence weight is still being taken by the big toe of the right foot.

The right leg and hip are twisted inwards: hence the fine vertical balance of the whole movement.

The hands are almost closed, as they were at the address (very important). The wrists are close together.

The shoulders are almost horizontal.

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