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Inspirational Golf Writing

George Plimpton once observed about sports writing, "The smaller the ball, the better the prose," and we couldn't agree more. Golf offers some fantastic, observant, entertaining and whimsical prose. We offer some of our favorites below as inspiration for collectors of golf books.

"I have a good dinner in the evening in my room, prefaced by two good, stiff highballs, the first taken in a tub of hot water; the finest relaxing combination I know; and then a few cigarettes and a bit of conversation, and bed at 9 o'clock"

 -- Bobby Jones from Down the Fairway (1927) describing how he relaxes when playing a tournament

“A most comfortable railway boat lying alongside. The nightcap (with soda) before the big open coal fire in the saloon. Bed in a warm and well-appointed cabin. The awakening to early morning tea in Belfast harbour…The soft Irish air.”

-- Dell Leigh from Golf at Its Best on the LMS (1925) describing his journey across the Irish Sea to play golf in Northern Ireland

“I had spent my youth in a cloistered precinct of the middle class where golf was a rumored something, like champagne breakfasts and divorce, that the rich did.” 

-- John Updike from Golf Dreams (1996)

"My own opinion of the qualities of this course is so high that I am almost afraid of stating it too strongly. I had a fear that Mr. Macdonald might be seeing a swan in what was really not a more glorious bird than a goose when he gave me descriptions of his course in the making. It has no weak point."

-- Horace Hutchison describing the National Golf Links of America in C.B. Macdonald's Scotland's Gift (1927)

"I shot a golf ball into the air;
It fell to earth, I know not where;
For when I peered by bush and lawn,
I only saw my caddie yawn."  

-- Grantland Rice from The Duffer's Handbook of Golf (1926)

“Golf…is the infallible test. The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play his ball where it lies, is the man who will serve you faithfully and well.”

-- P.G. Wodehouse

"Golf is a game. Nothing more. You are convinced. Then a funny thing happens on the way to work during the week. You meet other golfers, your friends and business acquaintances, and the talk gets around to slicing a drive or making a birdie, and the pulse quickens, the face flushes, the raw courage inside you begins to assert itself. Golf lunacy is getting ready to strike again. You think about your game on the way home. This is bad. "

– Rex Lardner from Out of the Bunker and Into the Trees (1960)

"Anyone who has  experienced the peculiar lure of Cornwall's remote places: anyone who has stood on a Cornish shore and sniffed the air and listened to the wild dirge of its great sea : lived its sequestered, simple life, will be with me appreciatively in the spirit while I dwell for a moment in the abstract on one of the St. Enodoc tees."

-- E.P. Leigh-Bennett from Some Friendly Fairways (1930)

"The joyous awakening in the sleeper at Pitlochry in the early morning; the up-flung blind to the panorama of loveliness of loch and crag and sun-splashed streams; the cup of tea and the first cigarette lying there in regal luxury"

--Dell Leigh from Golf at Its Best on the LMS (1925) describing his train journey to play at Dornoch

“All swing thoughts decay, like radium. What burned up the course on Wednesday has turned to lead on Sunday. A swing thought is the golfer's equivalent of the rock climber's Don't Look Down.”

-- John Updike from Golf Dreams (1996)

"What is the secret? Partly, I think that before playing any shot you have to stop and say to yourself, not, 'what club is it?' but 'what is it exactly that I am trying to do?' There are no fairways in the accepted sense of the word; just a narrow strip of golfing ground which you use both on the way out and the way in, together with huge double greens, each with two flags. From the tee you can play almost anywhere, but, if you have not thought it out correctly according to the wind and the position of the flag, you may find yourself teed up in the middle just behind a bunker, and downwind. At this point fools say the course is crazy. Others appreciate that the truth lies nearer home. It is more like a jig-saw puzzle than a golf course."

-- Henry Longhurst writing about the Old Course at St. Andrews

"Golf is the Great Mystery. Like some capricious goddess, it bestows its favours with what would appear an almost fat-headed lack of method and discrimination. Giants of finance have to accept a stroke per from their junior clerks. Men capable of governing empires fail to control a small, white ball, which presents no difficulties whatever to others with one ounce more brain than a cuckoo-clock. Mysterious, but there it is."

-- "The Oldest Member" speaking in P.G. Wodehouse's The Clicking of Cuthbert (1922)

"If ever you see a man who has tied with another for a medal, toying in the luncheon interval with a biscuit and a lemon and soda, you may go out and bet your modest half-crown against that man with a light heart. But if you see him doctoring himself with a beef steak and a bottle of beer, or, better still, a pint of champagne, you may go forth and back that man with as stout a heart as though you had yourself partaken of his luncheon. The golfer will not do good work unless he is fed." 

–Horace Hutchinson from Golf The Badminton Library Series (1890)

"When he reads of the notable doing of famous golfers, the eighteen handicap man has no envy in his heart...The joy of driving a ball straight after a week of slicing...Every stroke we bad players make we make in hope. It is never so bad but it might have been worse; it is never so bad but we are confident of doing better next time. And if the next stroke is good, what happiness fill our soul. How eagerly we tell ourselves that in a little while all our strokes will be as good. And so, perfectly happy in our present badness and perfectly confident of our future goodness, we long handicap men remain."

A.A. Milne from Not That it Matters (1920)

A green you must use as a cure for the blues--
  You drive them away as you go.

We're outward bound on a long, long round,
   And it's time to be up and away;

If worry and sorrow come back with the morrow,
   At least we'll be happy to-day.

-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from Songs of Action