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Title: Fifty Years of Golf
Author: Hutchinson, Horace G. (Horace Gordon), 1859-1932
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fifty Years of Golf" ***

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    _First Published in 1919_

[Illustration: The writer, the first English Captain of the Royal and
Ancient, buying back, according to custom, the ball struck off to win
the Captaincy.]






(_Written in 1914_)

I agreed to the suggestion that I should write these reminiscences,
mainly because it seems to me that circumstances have thrown my life
along such lines that I really have been more than any other man at the
centre of the growth of golf--a growth out of nothingness in England,
and of relative littleness in Scotland, fifty years ago, to its present
condition of a fact of real national importance. I saw all the
beginnings, at Westward Ho! of the new life of English golf. I followed
its movement at Hoylake and later at Sandwich. I was on the Committee
initiating the Amateur Championship, the International Match, the Rules
of Golf Committee and so on. I have been Captain in succession of the
Royal North Devon, Royal Liverpool, Royal St. George's and Royal and
Ancient Clubs, as well as many others, and in these offices have been
not only able but even obliged to follow closely every step in the
popular advancement of the game. I do not mention these honours
vaingloriously, but only by way of showing that no one else perhaps has
had quite the same opportunities.

Possibly I should explain, too, the apparent magniloquence of the phrase
describing golf as a "fact of real national importance." I do not think
it is an over-statement. I use it irrespective of the intrinsic merits
of the game, as such. When we consider the amount of healthy exercise
that it gives to all ages and sexes, the amount of money annually
expended on it, the area of land (in many places otherwise valueless)
that is devoted to it, the accession in house and land values for which
it is responsible, the miles of railway and motor travel of which it is
the reason, the extent of house building of which it has been the cause,
and the amount of employment which it affords--when these and other
incidental features are totalled up, it will be found, I think, that
there is no extravagance at all in speaking of the golf of the present
day as an item of national importance. At least, if golf be not so, it
is difficult to know what is.

It is because I have in my head the material for the telling of the
history of this rise of golf to its present status that I have ventured
to write these personal reminiscences, and underlying them all has been
the sense that I was telling the story of the coming of golf, as well as
narrating tales of the great matches and the humorous incidents that I
have seen and taken part in by the way.


(_Written in 1919_)

Reading the above "foreword," and also the pages which follow it, after
the immense chasm cleft in our lives and habits by the War, I find
little to modify as a result of the delay in publication. What does
strike me with something very like a thrill of terror is the appalling
egotism of the whole. I can truly say that I feel guiltily aware and
ashamed of it. I cannot, however, say that I see my way clear to amend
it. If one is rash enough to engage in the gentle pastime of personal
reminiscence at all, it is difficult to play it without using the
capital "I" for almost every tee shot. I will ask pardon for my
presumption in plucking a passage from one of the world's great
classics, to adorn so slight a theme as this, and will conclude in the
words of Michael, Lord of Montaigne:--"Thus, gentle Reader, myselfe am
the groundworke of my booke: it is then no reason thou shouldst employe
thy time about so frivolous and vaine a subject."[1]


    CHAP.                                                             PAGE

    I THE BEGINNING OF ALL THINGS                                   11

    II HOW GOLF IN ENGLAND GREW                                     17


    IV THE SPREAD OF GOLFING IN ENGLAND                             29

    V THE WEAPONS OF GOLF IN THE SEVENTIES                          35


    VII GOLF AT OXFORD                                              47


    IX GOLFING PILGRIMAGES                                          59


    XI FIRST DAYS AT ST. ANDREWS                                    71


    XIII ON GOLF BOOKS AND GOLF BALLS                               84

    XIV THE FIRST AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP                              90


    XVI THE SECOND AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP                            102

    XVII THE FIRST GOLF IN AMERICA                                 108

    MOST WONDERFUL SHOT IN THE WORLD                               114

    XIX JOHNNY BALL AND JOHNNY LAIDLAY                             120

    XX A CHAPTER OF ODDS AND ENDS                                  126

    XXI A MORE LIBERAL POLICY AT ST. ANDREWS                       132




    XXV THE COMING OF THE THREE GREAT MEN                          156

    XXVI THE REVOLT OF THE AMAZONS                                 162

    XXVII THE MAKING OF INLAND COURSES                             168


    XXIX THE COMIC COMING OF THE HASKELL BALL                      180

    XXX AN HISTORIC MATCH AND AN HISTORIC TYPE                     186

    XXXI THE INTERNATIONAL MATCH                                   192


    XXXIII THE AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP OF 1903                        204

    XXXIV TRAVIS'S YEAR                                            210

    XXXV HOW GOLF HAS GRIPPED AMERICA                              216

    XXXVI THE END OF THE ROUND                                     223


[Footnote 1: _Montaigne's Essays_, Florio's translation.]



    The writer, the first English Captain of the Royal and Ancient, buying
    back, according to custom, the ball struck off to win the Captaincy

    Borough House, Northam                                          12

    Mr. Peter Steel driving the gravel pit at Blackheath            13

    At Pau: the oldest of non-Scottish Golf Clubs                   16

    Captain's Medal of the Royal North Devon Golf Club              17

    The Ladies' Course at Pau, in the Days of the Crinoline         20

    Miss Cecil Leitch                                               21

    Westward Ho!                                                    26

    An Old Hoylake Group                                            27

    An Old Westward Ho! Group                                       32

    Thomas Owen Potter                                              33

    "Old Tom"                                                       70

    Douglas Rolland and Archie Simpson                              71

    John Ball                                                       80

    A.F. Macfie                                                     81

    A.J. Balfour                                                   100

    Crawford                                                       101

    John Ball, as a Yeoman                                         120

    J.E. Laidlay                                                   121

    The Chasm on the Old Biarritz Course                           144

    Arnaud Massy                                                   145

    J.E. Laidlay, John Ball, junr., Horace G. Hutchinson, and P.C.
    Anderson                                                       150

    H.H. Hilton                                                    151

    Freddy Tait                                                    154

    J.H. Taylor                                                    156

    Harry Vardon                                                   157

    James Braid                                                    160

    Horace Hutchinson and Leslie Balfour Melville                  161

    Amateur Championship, St. Andrews, 1901                        174

    Amateur Championship, St. Andrews, 1895                        175

    Old Leather Ball, etc.                                         180

    Gutty _v._ Rubber Core                                         181

    The Amateur and Professional Sides at Sandwich in 1894         186

    "Fiery"                                                        187

    Walter Travis                                                  210

    Charles B. Macdonald                                           211




I believe it is a little more than fifty years really. I do not mean to
imply that I have been for that length of time actively engaged in the
serious pursuit of the golf ball, but I expect that I began to take
interest in what I understood as golf about the age of four. At that
time my father was at Government House in Devonport, as General in
Command of the Western District, and my Uncle Fred, Colonel Hutchinson,
used to come there and tell us of some game, the most wonderful in the
world, that he had lately learned to play when he was in Scotland, as
Adjutant of the Fife Militia. He lived at Wemyss Hall, in Fife, and used
to ride over to St. Andrews, breakfasting _en route_ with Mr. Bethune of
Blebo, and taking him on along with him, for a round or two rounds.

I used to hear a great deal of talk about this wonderful game, between
my father and my uncle, the former having scarcely a more clear-cut idea
of what it was like than I myself; but I can well remember his
attempting to give some description of it, in my uncle's absence, to a
friend, and hearing this remark: "A man knows his own weapon, that he
uses in the game, and it is as important to him to have the weapon that
he knows as it is to a billiard player to have his own cue. And they use
several different kinds of weapon at the game, for strokes of different

All that seems quite credible now; but it hardly seemed possible of
belief in the South of England in the early sixties. I even knew what
the weapon was called--"a club"--for I often asked my uncle about it,
and he tried, with poor success, to make me understand its character;
for I tried, in turn, to describe it to one of the orderlies, who was a
particular friend of myself (or of my nurse), and he made me what he
thought fitted the description. It fitted the name of "club"--for it was
much like what the cannibals, in our boys' books, were depicted as using
on the heads of their victims; but when I showed it to my uncle he shook
his head sadly. It did not appeal to him as having any likeness to the
delicate works of Hugh Philp, that master club-maker, with which he was
familiar. Still, I did beat a ball about with it, and thus began golf.

When I arrived at the age of five, we went to live at a house called
Wellesbourne, in North Devon, about halfway between Bideford and
Northam. Westward Ho! in those days did not exist. There was one
farmhouse where all the houses of the watering-place now are. The very
name belonged only to Charles Kingsley's fine book, and was only taken
for the name of the place a year or so later than this. Captain
Molesworth, to whom English golf was to owe a big debt, lived at a house
called North Down, just at the entry into Bideford, and it was in this
house that Charles Kingsley was living while writing _Westward Ho!_ That
is the story of how the name came to be given to the place, and Borough
House, by Northam, was about half a mile from our Wellesbourne. This
Borough House, since restored, is where Mrs. Leigh, with her sons Frank
and Amyas, were placed by the novelist.

[Illustration: Borough House, Northam, in 1855,
where Mrs. Leigh and her sons Frank and Amyas, the heroes of Kingsley's
_Westward Ho!_ lived. (It has since been entirely reconstructed.)]

[Illustration: Mr. Peter Steel driving the Gravel Pit at Blackheath,
with forecaddie in distance.]

The Reverend I.H. Gossett was Vicar of Northam, and related to the large
family of Moncrieffes, of whom there were several resident then at St.
Andrews. About that time one of its members, General Moncrieffe, came on
a visit to his relative, the vicar of Northam, and from that chance
visit great events grew. For Mr. Gossett, as it was likely he should,
led out General Moncrieffe for a walk across that stretch of low-lying
common ground known as the Northam, or Appledore, Burrows, to the famous
Pebble Ridge and the shores of Bideford Bay; and as they went along and
reached the vicinity of those noble sandhills later to be known to
golfing fame and to be execrated by golfing tongues as "the Alps," the
General observed: "Providence obviously designed this for a golf links."

To a man coming from St. Andrews it was a fact that jumped to the eyes.
It was not for a clergyman to stand in the way of a design so
providential. Mr. Gossett was a very capable, effective man: he had a
family including some athletic sons for whom a game such as described by
General Moncrieffe seemed likely to provide just the outlet which their
holiday energies would need. He threw himself heartily into the work of
getting a few to join together to make the nucleus of a club; but that
first of English Golf Clubs, next after--very long after--the fearful
antiquity of Blackheath, and absolutely first to play on a seaside
links, did not involve all the outlay on green and club-house without
which no golf club can respect itself to-day.

Clubs and balls--"gutty" balls, for the feather-cored leather-cased ones
had already been superseded--would be sent, as needed, on General
Moncrieffe's order, from Tom Morris' shop at St. Andrews, and when that
was done all was done that was needed for these little beginnings of the
seaside golf of England. The turf grew naturally short, and the
commoners' sheep helped to check any exuberance. The course, as designed
by those primitive constructors, acting under the advice of General
Moncrieffe, started out near the Pebble Ridge, by what is now the tee to
the third hole. Those pioneers of the game did not even go to the
expense, in the first instance, of a hole cutter. They excised the holes
with pocket knives. The putting greens were entirely _au naturel_, as
Nature and the sheep made them. Assuredly there was no need for the
making of artificial bunkers. Nature had provided them, and of the best.
Besides, were there not always the great sea rushes? It may be
remembered that the old golf rules have the significant regulation that
the ball shall not be teed "nearer than four club-lengths" to the hole.
That indicates both a less sanctity ascribed to putting greens of old
and also a less degree of care lavished on teeing grounds. There were no
flags, to mark the holes; but the mode was for the first party that went
out on any day to indicate, if they could discover it, the position of
the hole, for those coming after them, by sticking in a feather of gull
or rook picked up by the way. If, as might happen, the hole was not to
be discovered, being stamped out or damaged by sheep beyond all
recognition as a respectable golf hole, this first party would dig
another hole with a knife, and set up the signal feather beside that. In
this period of the simple golfing life it goes without the saying that
no apology, or substitute even, for a club-house gave shelter to these
hardy primitive golfers. The way was to throw down coat, umbrella, or
other superfluity beside the last hole. They were safe, for two good
reasons--that they were not worth stealing and that there was no one to
steal them. And it is to be supposed that in those good old days there
was none of the modern "congestion," of which we hear so much. Golfers
and their needs, in England at all events, were alike few and simple.

The Club was instituted in 1864; therefore it has now passed its
jubilee; but I, unhappily, have to look back upon many of those early
years as so many periods of wasted opportunity. That same Uncle Fred who
had condemned the club of the cannibal, gave me my first true golf club.
Years afterwards an anxious mother asked him, "At what age do you think
my little boy should begin golf: I want him to be a very good player?"

"How old is the boy now?" my uncle asked.

"Seven," the mother replied.

"Seven!" he repeated sadly. "Oh, then he has lost three years already!"

I was given a club long before I was seven, but our house was two long
miles from the course, and miles are very long for the short legs of
seven. There were the fields, but though it is reported of Queen Mary
Stuart that she found agreeable solace in playing at golf in "the fields
around Seaton house," I did not find golf exhilarating in the fields
around Wellesbourne House. But the atmosphere of golf was about the
house. The Golf Club prospered, as golfing prosperity was rated in that
day of small things. The extraordinary news went abroad that it was now
possible to play the game of Scotland on real links turf in this corner
of Devon. Men of renown, such as Mr. George Glennie, Mr. Buskin, and
many besides came from the ancient club at Blackheath, and stayed for
golf at the hotel recently built at that place which had now received
its name from Kingsley's book. Sir Robert Hay and Sir Hope Grant, the
former one of the finest amateurs of a past day and the latter more
distinguished as a soldier than a golfer, came as guests, for golfing
purposes, to my father's house. My two brothers, both in the Army and
from twelve to nineteen years older than myself, played a few games when
home on leave. I was too young to take any part in a match, but not too
young to listen to much talk about the game and to look with profound
veneration on its great players.

[Illustration: At Pau: the oldest of non-Scottish Golf Clubs.

Sir Victor Brooke (driving). Colonel Hegan Kennard.]

[Illustration: Captain's Medal of the Royal North Devon Golf Club,
showing the old approved way of driving with the right elbow up.]



There are two outstanding events in golfing history--the bringing of
golf to Westward Ho! by General Moncrieffe in 1863, and the bringing of
golf to Blackheath by James VI. of Scotland and I. of England some three
centuries earlier. When golf was started at Westward Ho! it was the
worthies of the Blackheath Club that gave it a reputation which went
growing like a snowball. The North Devon Club began to wax fat and so
exceeding proud that at meeting times--for challenge medals were
presented and meetings in spring and autumn were held to compete for
them, after the model of St. Andrews--a bathing machine was dragged out
by coastguards to the tee to the first hole, and therein sandwiches and
liquid refreshment were kept during the morning round and actually
consumed if the weather were wet. In fine weather the entertainment was
_al fresco_. Then the Club acquired a tent; and an ancient mariner,
Brian Andrews, of Northam village, father of the Philip Andrews who is
now steward of the Golf Club, used to hoist this and care for it, and at
length, as of natural process of evolution, came the crowning glory of a
permanent structure of corrugated iron, built beside and even among the
grey boulders of the Pebble Ridge.

This permanent object of care entailed the permanency of Brian Andrews
as caretaker. Enormous was the career of extravagance on which the Club
now embarked, engaging a resident professional all the way from St.
Andrews--John Allan. He was the first Scot ever to come to England as a
resident golf professional, and there never came a kinder-hearted or
better fellow. He established himself in a lodging, with his shop and
bench on the ground floor, in Northam village, which stands high on a
hill above the level of the links, and was best part of a mile and a
half from the present third, and then first, tee. A few years before, in
the earliest days of the Club's history, old Tom Morris had been down to
advise about the green, and when I came to my teens and therewith to
some interest in golf, and to a friendship, very quickly formed, with
poor Johnnie Allan, he told me that when he had asked old Tom for
information about this new course in the new country that he was going
to, he found that the old man (though he was not of any great age then)
could tell him little enough about the course, but that all he seemed to
remember was that there was a terrible steep hill to climb, after the
day's work was done, on the way home.

So there is--Bone Hill, on which the village stands, so called from the
bones of Danes killed in a great battle there, and of which bones, as we
piously believed, the hill, save for a thin coat of soil over their
graves, was wholly made--but it is quaint and characteristic of the old
man that this steep place should have stuck in his mind and that all the
salient features of the new course should have slipped out. It seems as
if not even any of the points of the big rushes could have stuck and
gone back to Scotland with him.

Soon after there came South from Scotland to the Wimbledon Club another
most perfect of Nature's gentlemen, in Tom Dunn, of a great golfing
family and father of several fine professional players.

And now, with a club-house, though it was but an iron hut, a resident
professional and appointed times of meeting, the Club was a live thing,
and the complete and final act of its lavish expenditure was to engage a
permanent green man--only one, but he had what seemed the essential
qualification of an education as a miner in the Western States of
America--an excellent and entertaining fellow, Sowden by name, a North
Devonian by birth, with a considerable gift of narrative and just about
as much inclination to work on the course and knowledge of his duties as
these antecedents would be likely to inspire in him.

While the Club was thus growing, my small body was growing too; but the
way of my growth, all through life, has been rather that of an erratic
powerful player, falling continually into very bad bunkers of
ill-health, but making brilliant recoveries in the interims. My father
tried two schools for me, but I was invalided home from both, and I
expect it would have ended in my escape from all education whatever if
it had not been that the United Services College was started at Westward
Ho! only two miles from our house. But that was not till I reached the
august age of fifteen or thereabouts, by which time English golf had
developed largely. The first really fine English golfer that we produced
in the West of England was George Gossett, son of the vicar of Northam.
When the big men came down from Scotland and from Blackheath, to the
meetings, they found a local golfer able to make a match with the best
of them. And hard after him came Arthur Molesworth, a very fine player
even as a boy. I remember that while he was still a Radley schoolboy,
his father, the Captain, begged a holiday for him to enable him to come
and play for the medal--I think he would have been about sixteen at the
time--and he came and won it, in a field which included Sir Robert Hay
and other well-known players. There were three brothers of the
Molesworths, good golfers all, but Arthur, the youngest, the best of the
three. The two elder have been dead for many years, but the father[2]
and the youngest son still live at Westward Ho!

At this time I had an elder brother at home, invalided from his regiment
in India. I was also assigned an almost more valuable possession, in the
shape of an Exmoor pony which could jump like a grasshopper and climb
like a cat any of the big Devonshire banks that it was unable to jump.
So, in company with this big brother and this small pony, I used to
follow the hounds over a country that seems specially designed for the
riding of a small boy on a pony; and in company with the brother, the
pony being left behind, I used to go badger digging--my brother had a
kennel of terriers for the purpose--all over the countryside.

Of course it was a misspent youth. Of course I was neglecting great
opportunities, for to tell the truth I greatly preferred the chase of
the fox and the badger at that period of life to the chase of the golf
ball. This sad fact should have been brought home to me by a severe
comment of my Uncle Fred on the occasion of our playing for some prizes
kindly given for the juveniles by some of the elder golfers. As I hit
off from the first tee--all along the ground, if I remember right--he
observed sadly, "There's too much fox and badger about his golf."

[Illustration: The Ladies' Course at Pau, in the Days of the

[Illustration: Miss Cecil Leitch.]

And so there was, but, for all that, I won a prize in that competition.
I think it was in the under twelve class, for which I was just eligible
by age, whereas my only rival in the same class was a child of nine.
Therefore I returned in triumph with a brand-new driver as a reward of
merit--my first prize--and I think it made me regard golf as a better
game than I had supposed it to be, for, after all, a driver is of more
practical use than a fox's brush, and this was the highest award that
the most daring riding could gain for you. A boy's property is usually
so limited that any addition to it is of very large importance.

About a year later I began to take my golf with gravity. The ball began
to consent to allow itself to be hit cleanly. A very great day came for
me when I beat my big brother on level terms. You see, he had only
played occasionally, at intervals in soldiering, nor had he begun as a
boy, whereas I had played, even then, more than he, and had begun, in
spite of the wasted years, fairly early. I know I felt I had done rather
an appalling thing when I beat him; I could not feel that it was right.
But doubtless it increased my self-respect as a golfer and my interest
in the game. The Blackheath visitors were very kind to me, and used to
take me into their games. Of course I could not expect to be in such
high company as that of the George Glennies and the Buskins, but Mr.
Frank Gilbert, brother of Sir Frederick, the artist, Mr. Peter Steel and
many others invited me now and then to play with them. I began to think
myself something of a player. The most dreadful event, most evil, no
doubt, in its effect on my self-conceit, happened when Mr. Dingwall
Fordyce, who was a player of the class that we might to-day describe as
"an indifferent scratch," asked me to play with him. He offered--I had
made no demand for odds--to give me four strokes, and asked at what
holes I would have them. At that date, be it remembered, there were no
handicaps fixed by the card, nor were the holes determined at which
strokes were to be taken. It was always at the option of the receiver of
strokes to name, before starting, the holes at which he would take his
strokes. I told Mr. Fordyce I would take the four he offered at the four
last holes. He said nothing, though likely enough he thought a good
deal. What he ought to have done was to thrash me, for an impertinent
puppy, with his niblick; but what he did, far too good-naturedly, was to
come out and play me at those strange terms, with the result that I beat
him by five up and four to play without using any of the strokes at all!
It was precisely what had been in my mind to do when I took the strokes
at those last four holes, but I expect the reason I won was that he was
a little thrown off his balance by my cheek.


[Footnote 2: While writing the later pages of these reminiscences I
heard, to my great sorrow, that Captain Molesworth had died, at Westward
Ho! of pneumonia, at nearly ninety years of age.--H.G.H.]



My way down to the links, from our house, led right through the village
of Northam, wherein Johnnie Allan, the professional, had set up his
shop. Now if there is anyone who, being a golfer, has not appreciated
the delight of the compound smell of the club-maker's shop--the pitch,
the shavings, the glue, the leather and all the rest of the
ingredients--if anywhere there lives a golfer with nose so dead, then I
am very far indeed from thinking that words of mine can excite him to a
right appreciation of this savour. But if not, if the reader has the
truly appreciative nose, then he will realize what a delight it was to
me to look in each morning on the way down to golf to enjoy this, to
exchange a word with Johnnie Allan, to get something quite superfluous
done to a club, and if possible get my friend to come down to the links
with me. Often I would find him sitting on his bench with a golf ball
moulded, but not yet nicked, turning it about with his fingers in the
cup designed for its holding, and hammering it with the broad chisel end
of his hammer made for the purpose. This was in the days of
hand-hammered balls, before the mode had been invented of having the
marking engraved on the mould so as to turn them out what we then
called "machine hammered."

In course of the walk down to the links, if I could persuade him to be
my companion, he used to tell me tales of the great men in the North, of
Old Tom and Young Tommy, of Davie Strath and the rest of them. He was a
Prestwick man, and had come from there to work in Old Tom's shop at St.
Andrews before he journeyed South. He had never done as well as he would
have liked in the championship, but had twice won the first prize given
by way of consolation for those to play for who had not gained a place
in the prize-list in the championship proper. That will indicate his
class as a golfer as more than respectably high. It was about this time
that arrangements were made for bringing down Young Tommy and Bob Kirk
to Westward Ho! (the place was now thoroughly baptised with its new
name), and they played, with Johnnie Allan, a kind of triangular duel.

I well remember the immense excitement with which I followed those
matches. They did not play a three ball match for the prizes offered,
but a species of American tournament in singles, and my delight was huge
when our local friend defeated the renowned Tommy Morris. Then Tommy
defeated Bob Kirk. Now if our Johnnie could only beat Bob Kirk (as he
certainly would, we said, seeing that he had beaten Morris who had
beaten Kirk), why then he would prove himself beyond denial best man of
the three. Unhappily the propositions of golf do not work themselves out
as logically as those of Euclid, though often arriving at his conclusion
"which is absurd," and Bob Kirk had the better of our local hero most of
the way round. He was dormy one. Then, at the last hole, came a great
incident of golf which made on me so deep an impression that in my
mind's eye I can see the whole scene even now. Coming to that last
hole--mark this, that our favourite hero was one down, so that feeling
ran high--Bob Kirk got his ball on one of the high plateaux, with steep
sand cliffs, which at that date jutted out into the big bunker. His ball
lay just at the edge of the plateau, and on its left verge, as we looked
towards the hole, so that to play it in the direction that he wanted to
go it seemed that he would have to stand eight feet below it, in the
bunker. And, he being a little round man, we chuckled in glee and said
to one another, "He's done now." But what do you suppose that pernicious
little Scot did then? He went to his bag and selected a club--a
left-handed spoon! He had a couple of practice swings with it. Then he,
a right-handed man, addressed himself to that ball left-handedly, and
drove it, if not any immense distance, at all events as far as he needed
in order to make morally sure of his half of the hole, which was all
that he, being dormy, required. It was a great _tour de force_. It
exacted our grudging applause. We admired, but at the same time we
admired with suspicion. It was scarcely, as we thought in the
circumstances, a fair golf stroke. It savoured of the conjuring trick if
not of sheer black magic.

Really, considered after this lapse of years which allows cool
reflection, it was a good piece of golf. There are not many right-handed
men who trouble themselves to carry a left-handed club, even if they
have the ambidexterity to use it. In fact it is the only stroke of its
kind, played with a full swing in the crisis of a match, that I have
ever seen.

Young Tommy paid us another visit in the West not long after, and this
time in company with his own dearest foe at St. Andrews, Davie Strath.

So, even in the far West we were not without our great examples, and
Johnnie Allan himself was a golfer well worth following. As the course
then started, out by the Pebble Ridge and at the present third tee, we,
coming from Northam, had to walk out over the flatter part of the
Burrows which the first and second, and, again, the seventeenth and
eighteenth holes occupy now. That meant, of course, that we would take a
club with us and practise shots as we went along; and since I so often
had Johnnie Allan as my companion on those walks, it would be very hard
for me to say how much of golfing skill and wisdom I did not
unconsciously pick up as we went along and he watched me play the shots
and criticised them. I have never in my life been through the solemn
process of a set lesson with a professional, but have no doubt that I
assimilated wisdom in the best, because the unconscious and the
imitative, way, in those walks and talks, varied by occasional precept
and example, with Johnnie Allan.

And by the same route came Captain Molesworth and his three sons, but
they, having further to go, used to drive, the Captain generally
manipulating the reins in strictly professional style--as a sailor
clutches the rudder lines--and their carriage, going at full speed of
the horse, making very heavy weather of it over the ruts and bumps, and
only the sailor's special providence ever bringing them safe to port
before the Iron Hut. There the Captain would tie his horse, by a halter,
to the wheel of the cart and leave all to get itself into a tangle that
only a nautical hand could unravel, while all the world played golf.
Sometimes we too would ride or drive, and I have in mind a great
occasion on which my brother, home from India, and I were driving down
in my sister's donkey-cart. The cart broke down in Northam village, so
we left it there, in charge of the blacksmith, to repair, while we
proceeded on, both mounted on the donkey. Now my brother was very much
of what at that time was called a "dandy"--since "masher," and at the
present moment "nut." He was arrayed in Solomon-like glory of white
flannel trousers and red coat--for men did play golf in red coats in
those days. Now the donkey was a good donkey and strong, but he knew
how to kick, and he thought no occasion could be better than when he had
two on his back and the central and fashionable high street of Northam
village for the arena. Therefore he set to and quickly kicked us both
off, I being involved in my brother's débacle, and he, though a very
good man on a horse, not being accustomed to a saddleless donkey. The
glory of Solomon disposed on the village streets was a splendid
spectacle. But we rose, nothing daunted, though with the glory a little
sullied, and, my brother then excogitating the great thought that if we
put his, the greater, weight behind, with mine in front--it had been the
other way at our first essay--the donkey would then find it the harder
to lift its hindquarters for the act of kicking, we disposed ourselves
in that manner, and the donkey, whether for mechanical reasons or
because he perceived that we were not going to let him off the double
burden, proceeded with the proverbial patience of his kind and we
reached the links without further accident.

[Illustration: Westward Ho!

The Molesworths, father and three sons, returning from the Iron Hut,
with Major Hopkins, the golfing artist, in the forefront.]

[Illustration: An Old Hoylake Group.

The names, reading from left to right are: Milligan (Captain, 1875),
Alex. Brown (Captain, 1880), Major Hopkins, James Rodger, James Tweedle
(Secretary, 1873-81), F.P. Crowther, Jack Morris, ---- , Robert Wilson
(the "Chieftain"), Rev. T.P. Williamson, Dr. Argyll Robertson, Colonel
E.H. Kennard (Captain, 1871-73), John Ball, sen., ---- , J.F. Raimes, H.
Grierson (Captain, 1876), John Dunn (Captain, 1873-75), J.B. Amey,
Theophilus Turpin, ---- , T.O. Potter (Secretary, 1882-94), A. Sinclair
(Captain, 1887), Mat Langlands, Robert ("Pendulum") Brown, A.F. Macfie.
The Royal Hotel at that time had the Club rooms adjoining it.]

Mr. Gossett and his sons would be coming from the other direction, from
Westward Ho! for he gave up the cure of Northam about this time and went
to live at Westward Ho! and with others coming on the same line there
would be a great re-union at the Iron Hut before starting out on
matches--a great match-making too, for in those days we did not make our
matches very long beforehand, and such things as handicap competitions
were not known among us. They were soon evolved, but the idea of any
fixed handicap, by which each man should know his value, was not so much
as thought of. Matches were made by a process of stiff bargaining
between the parties concerned. "How much will you give me?" "A third."
"Oh, my dear fellow, I couldn't possibly play you at less than a half!"
The humility that was displayed was most edifying. We had twice the fun
over our matches then, just because of this bargaining and all the
talents of Uriah Heap that it brought into sharp prominence. One of the
best of the match makers, and one of the bravest, though very far from
the best of the golfers, was Captain Molesworth, familiarly known to all
and sundry as "the old Mole."



It seems to me that the establishment of the Club at Westward Ho! and
the discovery that it was possible to play golf, and the very best of
golf, in England, even as in Scotland, sent a new thrill of life into
all the dormant golfing energies of the country. It stirred up the
Blackheathens; then it led to the institution of the Golf Club
associated with the London Scottish Volunteers, which was later to
develop a schism, of which one division became the Royal Wimbledon Golf
Club. The great man of the volunteers was the still present Lord
Wemyss,[3] then Lord Elcho, and he was as keen a golfer as rifle shot.
To us at Westward Ho! the Wimbledon Club sent down Henry Lamb, Dr.
Purves and many more; but these two were perhaps their strongest. Of the
Blackheathens I have spoken, but I want to give a special word to Mr.
Frank Gilbert, both because he was especially kind, of all the others,
to me as a boy and also because his gift of nomenclature survives in the
popular name still often ascribed to one of the Westward Ho! holes. At
times of excitement his aspirates used to fly. He was perfectly aware of
it and did not in the least mind gentle chaff on the subject. I even
think he often sent them flying purposely, for sake of effect. After
all, he used just as many aspirates as anyone else, only that he used
them in rather different places: that was all. The hole that his genius
named was that which is now the ninth, and its naming was on this wise:
after hacking his ball out of first one bunker, thence into another, and
from that into a third, he exclaimed in accents of inspiration and
despair, "I call this 'ole the halligator 'ole, because it's full of
gaping jaws waiting to devour you." Therefore the "halligator 'ole" it
remained for many a year afterwards and is so known to some even to this
day. I remember another exclamation of his that gave us purest joy at
the time, when, having made what he believed to be a lovely shot over a
brow to a "blind" hole in a hollow he ran up to the top of the brae in
exultation, only to turn back with tragic dismay on his face and on his
lips the eloquent expostulation, "Oh, 'ell, they've haltered the 'ole."
I used to play him for a ball--a shilling gutta-percha ball--on the
match, and for a long while, when I was a boy, we were fairly equal, and
how often, towards the end of the match, he would miss a short putt in
order that he might pay me the shilling, and not I him, I should be
sorry to say. I know it was pretty frequently.

And then this thrill of new golfing life started at Westward Ho!
communicated itself to the many Scots established in Liverpool, so that
in 1869 they so far organised themselves as to institute that which is
now the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, playing at Hoylake. What that meant
for us at Westward Ho! was that men of Hoylake came down to play matches
with our local heroes and to take part in our medal competitions. There
were Mr. John Dunn and Mr. John Ball, the father of our many times
champion. Colonel Hegan Kennard was another who was associated with the
Hoylake club, though his association with Blackheath was closer--of that
venerable Club he was Field Marshal for very many years. But some of the
first of the big matches, matches with sums of money depending on their
result which seemed to me fabulous in days when a sixpence in the pocket
was a rare coin, were those which were planned by the enterprise of
Captain Molesworth--himself and Johnnie Allan in partnership against Mr.
John Dunn and Jack Morris, who had come as professional to Hoylake. Now
John Dunn made very much more show as a player than the old Mole. "The
mole--an animal that keeps to the ground" was a definition which we used
to be fond of quoting as we grew out of the years of veneration to those
of impertinence. He had an absolute inability to drive the ball any
height in the air. No other man ever played golf so cheaply as the old
Mole: he had but three clubs, sometimes profanely stigmatized as Faith,
Hope and Charity, a driving weapon of sorts, an iron and a putter, which
he carried himself, never taking a caddie, and his ball was generally of
the colour of a coal from long and ill usage. But he would bet you £50
on a match if you cared about it, and would play you with fine pluck to
the very finish. He was in fact a miserable driver; nor was there any
"class" or science at all about his iron play. But he would shovel the
ball along, and up to the green somehow or other with his iron: he had a
knack of getting there; and when once on the green there was not nor
ever has been a better putter.

Now the man who has his wits about him, to perceive what this
description implies, will see that it is the description of an uncommon
good partner in a foursome. And he was all the better partner on account
of the way in which the chances of any match in prospect were likely to
be reckoned; for John Dunn might argue it out, "I can give Molesworth a
third," which he probably could, "and John Allan cannot give Jack Morris
a third," which he surely could not, "therefore we have the best of it."
That looks logical, but it leaves out the important fact that the
Molesworth qualities were just those of most value to a strong driver
like Johnnie Allan, while his short game and his pluck were clear assets
to the good. In fact he and Johnnie Allan used to get round the course
in scores that Allan himself would not think amiss, and they had all the
better of these matches against the men of Hoylake.

The Hoylake men came to Westward Ho! and Captain Molesworth took himself
and his sons to Hoylake. Arthur Molesworth won the medal there when he
was only a boy at school, and I remember with awe and admiration hearing
his father describe how the boy had to sit beside the Mayor of Liverpool
at the Club dinner and of all the mighty honour done him. And the
present-day golfer should make no mistake about it nor doubt that this
Arthur Molesworth was a very fine golfer. George Gossett beat him, in a
set match that they played, but I think that Molesworth, who was several
years younger, was really the finer golfer. Certainly he had greater
power. He played in an ugly style, with a short swing, but his driving
was long and he could play all his clubs. There were several years
during which he was certainly the best amateur golfer that England had
then produced, and I think he was better than any in Scotland. A few
years later he went far towards proving it; but I will come to that
story in its place.

[Illustration: An Old Westward Ho! Group.

From left to right: Mr. P. Wilmot, Mr. T. Oliphant (of Rossie), Major
Hopkins, Hon C. Carnegie, J. Allan, Admiral Thrupp, General Maclean, Sir
R. Hay, General Sir Hope Grant, Mr. T. MacCandlish (putting), Rev. T.
Gosset, Colonel Hutchinson, Mr. J. Brand, Mr. Peter Steel, Mr. R.
Molesworth, Mr. Lindsay Bennett, General Wilson, Mr. Eaton Young.
Sitting: Mr. Baldwin, Colonel Hegan Kennard, Mr. George Gosset.

Mr. John Dunn (driving), Captain Molesworth, R.N.]

[Illustration: Thomas Owen Potter (Hon. Sec. from 1882 to 1894 Royal
Liverpool Golf Club).]

What I am trying to show for the moment is not only a gallery of great
players in the past, but also the way in which the game was brought home
to us at Westward Ho! how golf gradually spread in England and gathered
in players, more Clubs being started, and for how much the influence of
Westward Ho! and its golfers--of that most enterprising of all of them,
in particular, the old Mole--counted in the diffusion of knowledge of
the game. We were still, of course, far from the era when a man could go
about travelling in England without causing quite a sensation among
those who saw his clubs. The Englishman, as a rule, believed golf, if he
had heard of it at all, to be a game that was played on horseback. And
about that time, I being then sixteen years of age, so that the year
would be 1875, there happened what made a bigger impression upon me than
any event that has ever occurred since--I won the bronze scratch medal
annually given by the club for competition by boys under eighteen years
of age. Having a year to spare, of the age limit, I possibly might have
won it again the next year also, but by that time I had done even
greater things. I thought comparatively little of that second medal;
but, as for that first, I gazed at it as if it were the Koh-i-noor, and
certainly should not have valued it as highly if it had been. I can get
some of that glamour back by gazing at it now, but it is only a rather
faint reflection. Still, it gives far more comfort than the view of any
other trophy that I ever won in later years, and I am grateful to the
burglar who took all my gold medals some years back that he regarded
this thing of bronze as beneath his notice. Arthur Molesworth must just
have crossed the age limit which put him out of the play for this boys'
medal; but there were a number of boys there at that date, in the
holidays--Brownes, Burns, Roddy and Hugh Owen--there was quite a big
competition. It is very sad to think how many of them are dead--Herbert
Burn, the best player of the lot, among them. But Charlie (now Colonel
and M.P.--he went into the Royals) was quite of the scratch class at his
best. But still the leaders of the golf were older men: Henry Lamb, Dr.
Purves, George Glennie, Mr. Buskin, Mr. Adamson, Colonel Kennard, Sir
Robert Hay, Tom Oliphant. And I am sure there are a great number of good
men whom I have forgotten. My Uncle Fred was only a little behind the
best of them, but he had by this time given up his house at Westward Ho!
and was living abroad, so he only came down occasionally. There was a
small local contingent of very zealous golfers, men who never missed
their two rounds every week-day--we had no Sunday golf.

Thus we bring down the story to a point at which golf is really launched
in England with a full sail, and myself having a taste of just so much
success as to make me firmly believe henceforth, for some years, that
success in golf was the one thing worth living and working for. I might
still have a hankering after the occasional fox and badger, to say
nothing of the rabbits, partridges and wild fowl; but these began to
seem only the relaxations, and golf the true business of a well-spent


[Footnote 3: He died during the War.]



You could not travel about with golf clubs in the seventies without
exciting the wonder and almost the suspicions of all who saw such
strange things. I am not quite sure that you would not excite almost
equal wonder if you were to travel now with a set of clubs such as we
used then. In the seventies, and in my own teens, I was laboriously, and
with rigid economy, working my way to the possession of a variety of
wooden clubs such as it would puzzle the modern golfer even to name.
There was the driver or play-club--that is understood. Then there were
the long spoon, the mid-spoon and the short spoon: they may be
understood also. But then, besides, between the driver and the long
spoon, making such a nice gradation that it was really hardly to be
distinguished, came what was called the "grass" or "grassed" club. I
hardly know which was the right name. The idea, I think, was that, being
almost of the driver's length and suppleness, but with the face not
quite so vertical, it could be better used when the ball was lying on
the grass--not teed. At the same time we used to talk of a club being
"grassed" with the technical meaning of having its face set back a
little. So I hardly know what the right nomenclature was, nor does it
matter. This "grassed" or "grass" club was rather a refinement: it was
only the golfer who was very determined to have no gap in his armour
that would carry it; but the three spoons were almost _de rigueur_. No
self-respecting golfer could well be without them. It may surprise the
student of history not to find the "baffy" put down in the list; but as
a matter of fact the baffy had passed out of common use by this date. A
few men of the old school, as Sir Robert Hay, continued to play it to
admiration, but the genius of young Tommy Morris had already initiated a
whole school of disciples into the mode of approaching with iron clubs,
so that the baffy was out of vogue. The professionals that came from the
north to visit us at Westward Ho! as well as our resident Johnnie Allan
himself, were all followers and exponents of the relatively new mode of
jabbing the ball up to the hole with the iron clubs and with a great
divot of turf sent hurtling into the air after the ball. Thus the green
was approached; and up to just about the date of which I am writing the
subsequent operations of holing out were always performed with a wooden
putter. There was also a weapon known as the driving putter, which was
just like the ordinary putter save that its shaft was longer and more
supple. It became, in fact, very nearly a short shafted driver, and its
special purpose was to drive a low ball against the wind when there was
no bunker to carry. Of iron clubs there were the cleek, the iron and the
niblick. It was even then possible to go into the niceties of
driving-iron and lofting-iron, but many a golfer thought his set perfect
and complete with a single iron, for all purposes.

Now you will see, from this list, both what superfluities of wooden
clubs it held, according to modern notions, and also what essential
instruments, to our present thinking, were lacking. There was no such
club as a mashie. Young Tommy, ever an innovating genius, is credited
with being the first to use the niblick for lofting approaches, but the
niblick of those days was peculiarly ill adapted to such delicate uses.
It was very small and very cup-shaped in its head. The head was only a
very little larger in diameter than the ball. Therefore it required
extreme accuracy to hit the ball rightly with it and avoid that
disastrous error of "piping"--hitting the ball with the hose--of which
many of us have been many a time guilty with clubs whose relative
breadth and length of blade make such error far less pardonable. The
recognized club for the approach stroke was the iron, the ordinary
"maid-of-all-work" iron, unless you were one of those extra particular
people who had two grades of the iron. And another conspicuous absentee
from the list is the brassey. Such a club was not known, but I can
remember that about this day I became the proud owner of a club just
then coming into vogue under the name of the wooden niblick. Its head,
made of wood, was very short, like that of the iron niblick, for the
purpose of fitting into ruts. It was the original of the "brassey," for
the idea of a rut suggested the idea of a road. There were more roads
then than now, in proportion to the rest of the golfing hazards in the
world--as at Blackheath, Wimbledon, and Musselburgh. And the purpose of
the brass on the club's sole was to protect it from the stones, etc., of
the road when used for play off such unfriendly surface. The brassey was
just the wooden niblick with a sole of brass, and as all wooden niblicks
began to be brazen upon the sole their very name passed into oblivion
and that of brassey superseded it.

I have written here of all putters being of wood; and so they were. But
somewhere, at some time, some inspired craftsman of the mystery of Tubal
Cain must have bethought him, even before this, of making a putter of
iron, for the following reason. In the old Iron Hut at Westward Ho! on
days when the rain kept us in and the time hung heavy, we used to solace
its tedium by bringing out our clubs from their lockers and trying to do
a deal with each other, whether by exchange or by sale and purchase, and
during one of these barterings an utterly unknown weapon was brought out
with the rest of his bundle, by a young Scot of the name of Lamont,
brother of that Major Lamont as he now is, who until quite lately lived
at Westward Ho! and to whom I owe a great deal of the golf that I picked
up as a boy. He was the Lamont of Ardlamont, the estate in the Mull of
Cantyre, which came into fame in consequence of a certain notorious
criminal prosecution in the Scottish courts. The strange weapon which
this younger brother of his unearthed, on that day of rain, was, though
we hardly knew then how to name it, an iron putter. It was inches deep
in rust. Nevertheless, as I handled it, I liked the feel of it. I gave
for it, in exchange, an old and much mended spoon, and it was that iron
putter which I have used for forty years since, which has been copied
countless times, of which the replicas are in many hands and many lands,
and one copy of which, adorned and glorified, used to lie, and may so
lie still, for all I know, on the table on the occasion of the dinners
of the Match Dining Club. At that first date of its resurrection (Mr.
Lamont could give no account of how it came to his possession) it was
greeted with unhallowed laughter, and so too whenever I brought it out
to putt with it. But I used to be rather a good putter as a boy, and
that club is still the best balanced (though its old shaft has been
broken and the new one is less good) that ever came out of a
club-maker's shop, and I soon changed those sounds of derision at its
appearance into a more respectful form of greeting. That was the first
iron putter ever seen in the West, and I believe it to have been the
virtual parent of every iron putter that ever has been seen since.

It was the wooden age of golf clubs, as of battleships, and I hope the
wood of our ships was better seasoned than that of our clubs. Shafts, as
a rule, were of hickory then, as now, though we made strange experiments
of ash, of lance-wood, of green-heart and divers species. For the hard
balls of those days you had to have a certain softness in the heads of
the wooden clubs which is not wanted with the resilient rubber-cored
balls. Beech was the wood for the heads, though apple and other kinds
were tried; but beech, and of a soft quality at that, drove the most
kindly. And if a man were at all a hard hitter, and had a fit of heeling
or toeing, the head of the club was sure very soon to show a crack
across it, which would spread wider at each successive mishit. And even
if you kept hitting the ball "dead centre" every time, a hole in the
club-face would gradually be worn out by that repeated hitting,
especially if the ground were wet and the grass long. Then we used to go
to Johnnie Allan to have him put in a leather face, that is to say a
patch of leather where the face was worn; and this would drive just as
well, except it got sodden with wet, as the original wood. So, with so
many of the clubs made of wood, and not always like the butter used by
the Mad Hatter for watch greasing, the best wood, and the balls so hard
and stony of impact, it is no wonder that golf was rather an expensive
game for a boy whose shillings were not many. Though the ball only cost
a shilling, while the modern ball costs half a crown, the club-smashing
abilities of the shilling's worth made it a much dearer ball, to say
nothing of the longer life of the half-crowner. And just about this date
they introduced a novelty in the balls also--the "hammering," as we used
to call it, that is to say the nicking or marking of the ball's surface,
being done by indentations engraved in the metal moulds in which the
balls were cast. This obviated all that labour of "hammering" the nicks
in by hand, which was the ancient fashion. Yet it was some while before
these "machine-hammered" balls, as we called them, found general favour
with the golfing public, certain Conservatives asserting that the
"hammering" was essential to the right tempering of the stuff of the
ball, while others, like that great little man Jamie Anderson, then at
the top of his game and fame, confessed, with a perfect knowledge that
the reason was only subjective, that "he could na' strike" a
machine-hammered ball. He soon learned to strike it, however, as the
further course of golfing story sufficiently testified.



In the year 1875, I having then arrived at the advanced age of sixteen,
and being admitted as a member of the Royal North Devon Golf Club, in
the autumn committed the blazing indiscretion of winning the scratch
medal which carried with it the Captaincy of the club. How glaring the
indiscretion was may be gathered from the fact that this Captaincy, thus
conferred, entailed the obligation of taking the chair at the general
meetings. I do not know that I made a much bigger hash of it than any
other boy forced into the same unnatural position would have done. It
had not been contemplated, apparently, that a schoolboy was likely to
beat all the reverend seniors, and one good effect was that the
regulation was altered, and winning this medal did not much longer
confer on a person who might be the least fitted for it the function of
presiding at the meetings. But it had given to me a dignity which could
not be changed by legislation. At the spring meeting of that very same
year I had received no less a handicap than twelve strokes, so I must
have been very much of that nuisance to the handicapper, the "improving
player." I became a "scratch player," however, from the autumn of that
year. In those days, before handicaps were fixed, golfing society was
divided into two classes--those who were scratch, and those who were
not--and there was no idea of such a thing as a penalty or _plus_
handicap. Some of the so-called "scratch" players of the day were
exceedingly scratchy ones, and only supported their dignity at a
considerable expense: there was one in particular of whom it was said
that it cost him three hundred a year to be a scratch player or, that is
to say, to play all and sundry amateurs on level terms.

Beside this event of my winning this medal, which was no doubt an affair
of more importance in my eyes than in those of anyone else, the autumn
of 1875 was big with great issues, under the management of the
enterprising "old Mole," who went up to Scotland with his three sons in
search of adventure and with a great programme before them. Captain
Molesworth had been playing a good deal with Mr. (later Sir) W.H.
Houldsworth, and gave the challenge that he would bring up his three
sons and play Mr. Houldsworth and any three Scots amateurs that Mr.
Houldsworth should choose in single matches, the side that won the
largest aggregate of holes to be the winner of the stakes. Now the Mole
had the better of Mr. Houldsworth: that was really, though no doubt
tacitly, acknowledged on both sides. Arthur Molesworth was likely to win
his matches, no matter who was brought against him. But George, the
second brother, though a brilliant player at times, was very uncertain,
and Reggie, the eldest, and slightly lame, was the weakest vessel of the
three. Say that the Captain and Arthur should gain some holes, it was
the hope of Scotland that an equivalent number, at least, might be
hammered out of the other two brothers. Unfortunately for Scotland it
was the former part of the calculation which was realized more fully
than the latter. The matches were played at St. Andrews and Prestwick. I
think there is little doubt that at that time, as indeed for many years,
Leslie Balfour (later Balfour-Melville) was the strongest amateur player
in Scotland; and at St. Andrews Mr. Houldsworth's team was himself,
Leslie Balfour, Dr. Argyll Robertson and J. Ogilvie Fairlie. Arthur
Molesworth won two holes only (they were thirty-six hole matches) off
Leslie Balfour, and Argyll Robertson took seven holes from George. But
then Reggie rather upset calculations by beating Ogilvie Fairlie by two
holes. Lastly came in the father of the flock with nine holes to the
good, and that settled it. At Prestwick, Mr. Syme, a minister of the
Kirk, and Andy Stuart took the places of Dr. Robertson and Leslie
Balfour, and here Ogilvie Fairlie got back his own with interest from
Reggie Molesworth, winning by seven holes, and Mr. Syme beat George by
two, but Arthur knocked six holes to the family credit out of Andy
Stuart and the Captain came in again with his big balance--ten up on Mr.

So they carried through that adventure with credit and renown, and, I
suppose, some profit, and then later in the same year, Arthur
Molesworth, with his father as backer and henchman, went up to St.
Andrews again to do battle on his own account.

This adventure came about owing to an idea very prevalent, though I
hardly know whether it had existence in fact, that Young Tommy had a
standing challenge open to back himself at odds of a third against any
amateur. Captain Molesworth took it up on behalf of Arthur, and to St.
Andrews they went again, in the dreary month of November, to bring the
matter to an issue. Altogether they played for six whole days, two
rounds a day, and all through the piece Young Tommy had the better of
it. I cannot believe that in this match Arthur Molesworth did himself
full justice. It is true that during the latter days snow lay on the
ground, so that the greens had to be swept and the game really was not
golf at all, but then it is no less true that Tommy held the advantage
just as consistently in the days when real golf was to be played as on
those when the snow spoilt it. An onlooker did indeed tell me that Young
Tommy showed his skill wonderfully in lofting off the snowy ground to
the small circles that had been swept round the holes. "Molesworth could
loft there just as well," he said, "but Tommy, using his niblick, made
the ball stay there as if it had a string tied to it, whereas
Molesworth's ball was always running off on to the snow on the other
side." But, be that how it may, and crediting Young Tommy Morris with a
full measure of that genius for the game which all who have seen him
reported, I am not going to believe that the golfer ever was born, be
his name Morris or that of any Triumvir, who could give a third and a
sound beating (for it was no less than this that Young Tommy
accomplished) to Arthur Molesworth when he was playing his true
game--and this, with all due allowance made for Tommy's knowledge of his
home green. There was a peculiar pathos attaching to that match and
Young Tommy's triumph, for it was his last. His wife had lately died,
and interest in life, even in golf, had gone out for him. It was in
November that he was thus beating Arthur Molesworth, and on Christmas
Day of the same year he followed his young and loved wife. His memorial,
recording a few of his greater victories--he was four times in
succession open champion--is in the St. Andrews' graveyard. Indisputable
was his genius for the game; impossible to calculate is the comparison
between his skill and power and that of Harry Vardon, let us say,
to-day. Doubtless he was a far better putter, for while he was so good
at all points of the game he was at his strongest of all on the green. I
do not think we shall get a better account than that which Leslie
Balfour gave when an Englishman asked him how he thought Young Tommy
would compare with the heroes of to-day. Leslie thought a moment, and
then he said, "Well, I can't imagine anyone playing better than
Tommy"--and at that I think we had best leave it.

After that year Arthur Molesworth was not so much at Westward Ho! He
went to London, to an architect's office, and at once begun to win
medals at Wimbledon, where Henry Lamb and Dr. Purves were perhaps the
best of the older men. The next year some of them made a match for me to
play him at Westward Ho! and this was a great affair for me, being the
first "big match," as we called these set encounters, for a money stake,
that I ever had a hand in. We started in a bad fright of each other, if
I remember right, and neither played his game, but I had the fortune to
get really going first and won rather easily. About the same time Johnny
Allan, finding his work growing, had down his two young brothers, Jamie
and Mat, to join him in the club-making and the playing. They brought in
a new element of interest, for even as a mere lad Jamie Allan, in
particular, was a wonderful golfer. He had been there but a short while
when Captain Molesworth, always the enterprising spirit, issued a
challenge on his behalf to play any man in the world on four greens, two
rounds on each. Poor Young Tommy being no more, Bob Kirk was the great
man, for the time being, at St. Andrews, and he was chosen as the
Scottish champion. The first part of the match was played at Westward
Ho! We hardly knew how young Jamie Allan would carry himself, in this
his first match of importance, but he delighted us by showing that
faculty of rising to a great occasion without which no golfer, however
fine a player, can win fame. That first round of his remains in my mind
still as an exhibition of just the most faultless golf I ever saw. They
said hard things about poor Bob Kirk afterwards when he came up to
Scotland, and especially to the last stage, at St. Andrews, a beaten
man. I believe that in that last phase his play was contemptible. But
the Scottish critics, who were not there to see, made a vast mistake
when they said that he did not play anything like his game all through
the match. What he did at Hoylake and at Prestwick, whither,
necessarily, they journeyed and golfed, I do not know, but I do know
that at Westward Ho! he played quite a sound game. But a sound game was
not enough to give him a chance of standing up to the sample of golf
that Jamie Allan produced against him. Hole after hole slipped away from
him, just by a stroke each, as they will when the one man is playing
with more than human accuracy. That was the story of that match--it was
won by Jamie's extraordinary golf at the first encounter. But that is
not the way in which the Scotsmen have heard the story told.



When I went up to Oxford in the Christmas term of 1878 I found that
Royal and ancient city sunk in an ignorance that is scarcely credible in
regard to all connected with the royal and ancient game. I do not mean
to say that golf was altogether unknown. There was already a University
Golf Club in being, which I quickly joined, and we used to play on the
cricket fields in Cowley Marsh. That, of course, implied that there was
no golf in the summer term when the marsh was occupied by the cricket.
But the golfers were very few. Mr. "Pat" Henderson (now
Wright-Henderson) the Wadham don, was one of the most moving spirits.
Then there was the Principal of Hertford, there was Jim Lockhart, a
fellow of Hertford and a lecturer at my own college of Corpus, and
Lodge, then history lecturer at Brasenose. These and a very few others
of the dons used to play, and of undergraduates the ones I best remember
were Cathcart of Christ Church, son of old Mr. "Bob" Cathcart the
Fifeshire laird and for very many a year Convener of the Green Committee
of the Royal and Ancient Club, Baynes of Oriel, now a bishop, Pearson of
Balliol and several more. But their doings were a black mystery to most
of the undergraduates, and either the game was not heard of by them or
it was believed that the golfers practised some unholy rite in the not
very cheerful surroundings of Cowley Marsh.

I had known Jim Lockhart before I went up, for he was one of the
Westward Ho! lot and a cousin besides of Jack Lamont, to whom I owed
very much of my golfing education; so he saw to my election to the Club
as soon as I came to Oxford. Considering the nature of the ground on
Cowley Marsh, how singularly well it was suited by its dreary name, and
that the only hazards were the cricket pavilions and the occasional
hedges, it is wonderful how much real interest might be got out of the
golf there. Whatever else a cricket pavilion may be as a golfing hazard,
it is an uncompromising one. You have to be beyond or to the side of it.
If hard up against it, even the strongest driver cannot send the ball
through it; and it gives occasion for pulling and slicing round it which
are good fun and good practice. Jim Lockhart was a friend of my tutor at
Corpus whom we irreverently called "Billy Little," and it was on the
occasion of his taking his fellow don up to Cowley to be introduced to
golf that Little delivered himself of the immortal definition of the
game as "putting little balls into little holes with instruments very
ill-adapted to the purpose." In later years I have heard this brilliant
definition attributed to Jowett. It is thus that sayers of good things
attract to themselves, magnet-like, and increase their credit, with many
good things said by others.

At that time of day all who were golfers reared on the seaside links had
a very high and mighty contempt for all in the shape of inland golf. In
spite of the antiquity of Blackheath, the art and labour by which an
inland course can be brought up, when the weather is favourable, to a
condition almost rivalling that of the seaside links were quite unknown.
One of the earliest founded of the inland type--of course long ages
after such an ancient institution as Blackheath--was the course at
Crookham, near Newbury; and thereby hangs a tale of tragedy and comedy
commingled, associated with my golfing days at Oxford. There was a
certain trophy, open to all amateur golfers, given by the Club, and
called the Crookham Cup. The conditions were that it was to remain as a
challenge prize to be played for annually unless and until any man
should win it thrice: in which case it should become his property. Poor
Herbert Burn, who met his death not so very long after in a
steeplechase, had won this cup twice, and I was invited to go to
Crookham to see if I could put a check on his victory and keep the cup
for the Club. We were hospitably put up for the meeting by Mr. Stephens,
the banker, at his place near Reading. I had the luck to win the cup,
and again, going down the next year, won it again. If I should win it a
third time it became my very own, and, strong in the zeal of
pot-hunting, I went down the third year too. I remember that on this
occasion, for some reason, Mr. Stephens did not act host for the
meeting, but Captain Ashton and I stayed with Major Charley Welman at a
little house he had near the course; and what fixed the visit very
firmly in my mind is that Ashton and I returned to the house, after a
round on the first day of our arrival, with "dubbed," not blacked,
golfing boots. It appeared that there was no "dubbing" in the house, for
the next morning our boots were sent up to us black-leaded--with the
stuff that grates, I think, are done with. The effect was splendid. We
went forth quite argentine as to our understandings, like knights in
armour clad, and, thus glistening, I contrived to win that cup for the
third and final time, which made it my own. Now we come to the
tragi-comedy of the story. On the way back to Oxford there was the
inevitable change and wait at Didcot Junction, and there whom should I
see, with golf clubs under arm, but George Gossett? He was then living
at Abingdon. I greeted him and asked with interest where he was going.

"Well," said he, "there's a cup to be played for at Crookham, near
Newbury, to-morrow. I've won it twice and I'm going down to see if I can
win it again, because if I do I keep it."

"Oh dear," I had to reply, "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid you must have made
a mistake in the day. It's to-day it was played for, and what's more I'd
won it twice before, too, and I won it again to-day, so that it's mine
now, I'm afraid," and I opened its case, which I had in my hand, and
showed it to him. I was obliged to tell him; for it would have been
worse still if he'd gone on all the way to Crookham to find he was a day
behind the fair. As it was, it was comedy for me, but rather cruel
tragedy for him. No man ever took a knock more pleasantly: he was the
first to start a laugh against himself and to give me congratulations,
and express gratitude for being saved the journey to Crookham. So he
took train to Abingdon and I to Oxford, and shortly after, whether as
the effect or no of this blow, he went out to New Zealand, where he won
the championship of that country more than once.

What used to astonish all my friends in College almost more than
anything else, when I used vainly to try to describe to them what manner
of game golf is, was the fact that I did not "dress" for it. "Undress"
is rather what they meant. You see, they were accustomed to cricket,
where you flannelled yourself, and to football, rowing and athletic
sports wherein the mode of dress was to have as little of it as might
decently be, and that one should go forth in the very clothes in which
you might attend a lecture and play a game in them seemed hardly
thinkable. They used to take up the clubs and regard them curiously.
They began to think there must be something more than they had supposed
in the game when I showed them the Crookham Cup. They wanted to see how
it was done. The quad of a small College like Corpus makes rather a
small golf course. The only way was to tee the ball well up and flog it
out over the College buildings into Christchurch Meadows, or wherever
else it might choose to fall. Occasionally we used to try to astonish
Merton by a bombardment. But it meant a lavish expenditure of golf
balls, for there was no prospect of getting any of them back again. The
best possible tee to use, if you are driving, or ironing, off a hard
surface like a quad, is a clothes brush. It hoists the ball well off the
ground, so that you can do anything you like with it--that is, always
supposing you have had the blessing of a sound golfing education. But
there was not one of my friends of Corpus who had enjoyed this blessing.
On the other hand, it appeared to them a very simple matter to hit a
ball thus standing still: some of them were quite skilful at the job of
hitting balls in quick movement at various games. So of course I must
give them the club and they must have a hit at the ball too. They were
humiliated to find how possible it was to miss it altogether, but
infinitely terrified at the result when they did happen to hit. The
quadrangle was inadequate as a golf links. Nevertheless it was of more
than ample size as a racquet court. Yet that golf ball, stoutly, if
unscientifically, propelled, would fly round those old grey walls,
rebounding from one to other with a terrific force and pace. Finally its
career would generally terminate by a crash through somebody's window or
a resounding knock on the President's door, after which the golf meeting
broke up, like a dispersing covey, and disappeared till any suspicions
aroused by the outrage were calmed down.

About the middle of my time at Oxford we had a mighty accession to our
golfing strength in "Andy" Stuart. He came up to Christ Church, and took
part with me, not very gloriously as I am able to remember, in the first
Inter-University match against Cambridge.



The institution of the Inter-University Golf Match was due to the genius
(which we will define in this instance as the zeal and enterprise) of
one of the very finest putters that ever put a ball into a hole, Mr.
W.T. Linskill. Linskill was the inspiration of the golf at Cambridge,
and he did a great deal more than any of us at Oxford to get the Oxford
and Cambridge Golf Match going. We only followed. And it "went," in a
very small fashion at first. I remember it all now--the start in an
early dawn from Oxford, a long journey to London, then a long drive from
Paddington to Waterloo, then train to Putney, then drive up to the
London Scottish Iron Hut--some luncheon there, and then a round of golf.
In that single round the golfing fortunes of Oxford v. Cambridge for the
year were decided. It was not altogether satisfactory; especially as we
had to do the journey all over again, the reverse way, and had to get
back to Oxford the same night. It may well seem a question to-day
whether it was worth going through so much for the sake of so little--as
Mr. Weller said in respect of marrying a widow--but still it was, at all
events, a start.

It cannot be said that so far as some of us of Oxford were concerned it
was a very good start. I think that "on paper," as is said, we had by
far the better of it. I forget all the team, but I know we started with
Andy Stuart and myself and I also think I know that neither of us had
any idea we were going to be beaten by anything that Cambridge would
bring against us. The others were all good fighting men, and should at
least hold their own. In the event, as for myself, I was not only
beaten--by Mr. Paterson, whom I regret that I have never met since--but
beaten rather disgracefully, for I was several holes up--I think
three--with only five to play and lost every one of the remaining five.
Then as to Andy Stuart: he had to play Linskill, and I suppose that at
St. Andrews, where both were practically at home, Andy would have given
him a half--certainly a third would not have brought them together--for
though Linskill was just about the best putter I ever saw, the rest of
his game was not very formidable. They arrived at the last hole just
before the Iron Hut--I can see the scene now in my mind--all even, and
Linskill had the better of the hole. He was dead and Andy had quite a
doubtful putt to halve the match, and I can remember a doubt arising in
my own mind as to whether I wished him to hole it or not. Of course I
did not want to see another match lost to Oxford, as well as my own; but
still, if the news should have to go to St. Andrews that Andy had been
beaten by Linskill, level, it would be such a fine joke that it was
almost worth the lost match. However he holed that putt with the courage
of a lion--he was always a good putter at the last putt of a match--and
so the match was halved. The fortunes of the rest of the team were
vastly better. On the whole, as I see by the record, Oxford won by
twenty-four holes on balance, on that first encounter, so our evil deeds
did no great harm. This was in the autumn of 1878.

Next year the match was played again at Wimbledon. Indeed, it is not
very evident where else it should have been played, unless perhaps at
Blackheath. There was in existence that course at Crookham, near
Newbury, which would have been convenient to us, from Oxford; but it
would not at all so well have suited the Cambridge men. Besides there
was little play on it except at the meeting times, and the course was
not permanently kept in any order. It is worth mentioning that for one
of the holes, a short hole, the play was over an avenue of tall trees.
In the years since, while inland courses have been multiplying, so too
have the tree hazards; but they are generally brought in as flanking
hazards, at the sides. Here we had them in a line right across the
course, and you had to be over. It was not a "blind" hole, for you could
just get a glimpse of the flag between the stems. Some of our course
constructors might make a note of this hole; and might do worse than
copy it. At the same time, I should say that one of its kind, in a
round, would be enough. I see that this Crookham is given rank in
Nisbet's _Golf Year Book_ as the "third oldest course" in England, but I
do not know whether we can allow it such a venerable claim as that,
remembering Blackheath, Westward Ho! Wimbledon and Hoylake, to say
nothing of the old Manchester Golf Club which carries its history back
to 1818. But I am not sure but what the history of this last has its
breaks in continuity, its silent places.

The Oxford and Cambridge match continued to be played at Wimbledon right
up to 1896. I have some recollection of the second match of the series,
in 1879. We started it, I think, from the Wimbledon end, not the Putney
end of the common. For my own part I did better than in the first year,
beating Mr. Welch, who afterwards was a mathematical don at Cambridge
and used to keep the record and the medals at Macrihanish in his pocket
for many years. I much regret that I never encountered him again, any
more than my opponent of the first year of the match. On the whole
transaction in 1879, Cambridge beat us by ten holes, and yet we had some
good men. There was Archie Paterson, who was President of the Boat Club
afterwards, A.O. Mackenzie, who was also in the 'Varsity boat, and, I
think, Sir Ludovic Grant, now a professor at Edinburgh University and
Captain in 1912 of the Royal and Ancient Club. Ernest Lehmann, who
writes so well and pleasantly about the game, was a member of the
Cambridge team that year.

I have no recollection whatever of the 1880 match, nor even whether I
took part. I may have been ill or in the Schools or doing something
equally foolish, but I see that Oxford won that year by eight holes. In
1881, for no reason that I can remember, no match was played--and that
was the end of me as an Oxford undergraduate golfer. I had passed the
last bunker and taken my degree before the next year's match.

All this while the only golfing playground at Oxford was still the
cricket grounds on Cowley Marsh, and still there was no play at all in
the summer term, when the cricketers occupied the ground. But a few
years later some of us were asked to go up and take part in an informal
kind of Past _v._ Present match, more or less to celebrate the fact of
the Club taking occupation of new ground in Mr. Murrell's park, on
Headington Hill. Andy Stuart and I went up, among others. We found the
course rather pleasant, in its inland way, with hedges for the chief
hazards and undulating gradients that formed rather a blessed change
from the sheer flatness of Cowley Marsh. And what the match was that we
played, or its result, I do not in the least remember, but one remark of
a distinguished lady in the gallery I very well recollect--for it was
retailed with great joy to Andy and me by one who overheard it--"Those
men," she said, indicating him and me, "are very nicely dressed--for

That is the kind of compliment one really does appreciate, because it is
of the sort that is so rarely paid. I speak for myself, only, in this:
Andy Stuart was always most careful in his attire, so as to merit such
appreciation frequently, and doubtless may have received it often. Of
course it would be impossible even for a lady of the kindest heart and
most flattering tongue to pay such an encomium now. The professionals
are by far the most smartly clad of all golfers. It was not so much so

I do not know whether I have given the impression that the golf was very
good at Oxford. It is rather a mistaken impression, if I have conveyed
it. On the other hand, Oxford University was not a bad place for the
golfer. It had the large merit that its vacations were long. Then I
would go home to Wellesbourne and play golf from there, at Westward Ho!
all day and every day, and it was during my time at Oxford that there
came to Wellesbourne as "odd boy"--that is to say, to do certain odd
jobs in the morning--a little, singularly white-flaxen-haired boy from
Northam village. It may seem surprising that the coming of such a little
boy to Wellesbourne should be worthy of a place in this grave page of
golfing history, and I do not know exactly what the duties of an "odd
boy" are, but you may be very certain that he performed them very
efficiently when I tell you that his name was John Henry Taylor. He used
to do these odd jobs, whatever they were, like a champion, I am very
sure, and then he used to go down to the links and carry my clubs for me
whenever I was at home. The pay of a caddie at Westward Ho! in those
days was not exorbitant--sixpence a round, and a hard walking and sandy
round too, of eighteen holes; and they had to walk down a mile and a
half from Northam village to begin to earn it. But all wages were low
and all living was cheap in North Devon at that date and the boys were
glad to earn it, particularly with a bottle of ginger beer generally
thrown in of the royal bounty of the employer. On occasions, and for
valid consideration, they would develop a spirit of independence which
made money seem no object, as in the instance, which has become
historic, of the small boy throwing down, in the middle of the round,
the clubs of his master, a gallant general officer, and making his way
without a word across the Burrows. "Where are you going, boy?" the irate
man of war shouted after him. "I be goin' 'ome," came the firm reply.
"There be goose for dinner."



It is a singular thing that not a seaside course was designed, or opened
for play, in the decade from 1870 to 1880. I, at least, cannot remember
nor can find record of any such institution. In 1880 the Felixstowe Club
was started. I have a vivid recollection of my first visit to it, for I
tried the wrong line of approach, going to Harwich, which left the whole
of the river estuary to be crossed before Felixstowe could be reached.
It was late in the evening, the ferry had stopped running, but I got
myself and portmanteau and clubs put across in a row-boat. The mariner
landed me on the far side in the gathering dusk, got into his boat and
commenced to row away home again. "But," I said, as he moved off, "how
far is it to the hotel?" "About two miles," he answered, resting on his
oars. "But how am I to get there?" I asked. "I don't know," he said; and
then rowed away. I sat in the fast increasing gloom on my portmanteau,
and wondered. Then I saw the light of a providentially sent farm cart in
the distance. I hailed it. The carter was a kindly man, and in due time
I arrived at the Bath Hotel. Felixstowe course was of nine holes only,
if memory is a true servant, at that date, and the club-house was that
Martello tower which even now comes in as something of a hazard. So this
was the third of the English seaside courses. In 1882 four more were
added, Minehead, Hayling Island, Bembridge and Great Yarmouth.
Therefore, by the time I left Oxford there was already that beginning of
the chain of links around the island which has now been riveted so
close. Coming South, down the West coast of England, there was Hoylake,
a far cry from there brought you to Minehead, then Westward Ho! thence
round the Land's End and the South Coast till you came to Hayling Island
and Bembridge, then Felixstowe and up the East Coast to Great Yarmouth.
The golfing plot is thickening.

Bembridge had always a charming little course, though crossing like a
cat's cradle in places and more dangerous than most battles when there
were many players. I gave dire offence there by writing that after my
first tee shot, which was heavily pulled on to the seashore, the ball
was at length found inside a dead and derelict dog--emphatically a bad
lie! But there was not more than the licence almost permissible taken in
this account: the ball actually was very near a dead dog; and why should
there be offence in the suggestion? It was not implied that it was part
of the duty of the Bembridge green committee to scavenge the seashore.
However, the dog has been washed away now, and, I hope, the offence

But the chain of links did not stop, northward, at Great Yarmouth. As
long ago as 1869 a nine-hole course had been made and a Club started at
Alnmouth, only a little South of the Border. I believe it will surprise
most people to know that there was this girdle of links thus early--in
1882--although the gaps were long and many.

An Oxford education is all very well, but it does considerably interfere
with the whole-souled attention that a man ought to apply to golf.
Nevertheless it has the aforesaid merit that the vacations give leisure
for many a golfing pilgrimage, and it was in course of these pilgrimages
that I made acquaintance with most of the English sea-links, as they
came into being. It was in 1879 that I paid my first visit to Hoylake.
Several of us went there from Westward Ho! to the autumn meeting. There
was much going to and fro between golfers of Westward Ho! and Hoylake,
and indeed of Scotland too, at this time. So much was this the case that
in arranging the dates of the spring and autumn meetings we used always
to have a care that they did not clash, and it was usually contrived
that the Hoylake meetings should fall sandwich-wise between those of St.
Andrews and of Westward Ho! so that Scottish golfers might work South
and take Hoylake on their way to Westward Ho! The golfing population of
the day was not a very large one, but it was very friendly. All, with
few exceptions, knew each other. Moreover, partly because they were a
small brotherhood, there was more _camaraderie_ amongst them than there
is now, and a term in common use then "the Freemasonry among golfers"
had its meaning. At that time if you met a man in the train or waiting
at a station with golf clubs, you would be sure to say to him, "I see
you are a golfer," and he would respond with a glad pleasure, saying,
"Yes--are you?" and you would begin comparing notes. To meet a fellow
golfer was something analogous to the meeting between Stanley and Doctor
Livingstone in the heart of Africa. It was a date at which such white
men as golfers were rare.

Going to Hoylake, therefore, we were sure of finding ourselves among
friends. I think there were at that time, at Hoylake, in pilgrimage from
Westward Ho! besides myself, Captain Ashton, a sound golfer of the
second class, Major Hopkins, the golfing artist, Captain Logan White,
most amusing and caustic-tongued of companions. The native people showed
us no little kindness. Only a short while before I had taken part in a
match at Westward Ho! got up by the never-failing keenness of Captain
Molesworth--he and I against John Dunn, a famous man at Hoylake (there
is a hole named after him there to-day) and Jack Morris. We had won that
match handsomely, but there was no scrap of ill-feeling. Then there was
Kennard there--Colonel Hegan Kennard--ever most courteous, and arrayed
with beautiful neatness; a player of great neatness besides, and winner
of many scratch medals. There were also three generations of John Ball
at the Royal Hotel, and already the youngest of the team was of great
local repute and of such skill that his father would often issue the
proud challenge to the company assembled in the bar-parlour of the
hotel: "I and my son'll play any two." But those two were not very eager
in coming forward. The rooms of the Royal Liverpool Club were in those
days under the same roof as the Royal Hotel itself and the course
started with what is now the eighteenth hole. Argyll Robertson was
there, from Scotland, a first-class golfer, and surely the finest
advertisement of his own profession, which was that of oculist, that
ever was seen, for he was a singularly handsome man altogether, but the
most striking feature of his fine looks was an eye more eagle-like than
I ever saw in any other human face. There was also another little Scot
of very different aspect, short, rather round-about with sloping
shoulders like a champagne bottle, yet a terrible golfer and a
thrice-champion--Jamie Anderson. Him I knew, he had been down to
Westward Ho! taking part against Jamie Allan in a campaign of revenge
for that defeat which the latter had put upon Scotland (for we looked on
Jamie Allan's golf as wholly English) and on the man whom Scotland had
previously pitted against him, Bob Kirk. Jamie Anderson, playing him on
the same four greens of St. Andrews, Prestwick, Hoylake and Westward Ho!
had defeated him--not heavily, but sufficiently. But Jamie Allan at that
time was not playing as he had played against Bob Kirk. It was a fine
game enough, but it had not the same force and sting. I had even enjoyed
the honour of playing a foursome at Westward Ho! with Jamie Anderson,
and had wrung from him a compliment which pleased me more than a little,
for at one hole I had pitched up a long iron shot with some cut on it,
and a happy chance decreed that the ball should stop about six inches
from the hole. All Jamie said to me at the moment was "Ah--that's the
sort that saves a lot of trouble;" but afterwards he had counselled me,
"You should come up to St. Andrews: they shots of yours that pitch sae
deid are just what's wanted there."

I quote that saying principally for the sake of my own greater glory,
but secondarily because it is noteworthy as a comment on the St. Andrews
of that day, for if there is a quality of St. Andrews now which is
eminent above others it is that which puts value not on the pitched, but
on the running up approach. It may be noted that this was all before
the introduction of the mashie and while the use of the niblick for the
approach was still looked on as a _tour de force_. We did all that work
with a broad bladed iron.

Jamie Anderson walked round with Ashton and myself when we played for
the Kennard medal at Hoylake on that occasion. I played fairly well and
won it with a score which was then good--I am not sure it did not make a
competition record--of 83. Jamie was very friendly, though he did not
say much all the way round, but I was told that afterwards he had
remarked to somebody about my play that "It's a fine game, but it's no
gowf." I think I know what he meant by the dubious compliment. In those
youthful days my great idea was to hit as hard as ever I was able: the
result was numerous mistakes which were sometimes sufficiently redeemed,
when fortune favoured, by recoveries. Jamie Anderson's theory of the
game was very different. He never put anything like his full power into
the shot, but he was so desperately accurate that Mr. Everard has it on
the record that the little man (and he was anything rather than a
boaster) once told him that he had played ninety holes successively
without a shot that was not played as he intended it to be played. Quite
certainly, if that and that only was golf, it was not golf that I



In 1882 I left Oxford, with the intention of reading for the Bar, and
actually did go so far as to eat a number of Inner Temple dinners at the
extraordinary hour of six o'clock. I do not think they are quite
digested yet. I had been suffering from a series of severe headaches all
through my last year at Oxford and perhaps the dinners put a finishing
touch on them. At all events the doctors advised me to give up all
reading for a time--an instruction which I have observed rather
faithfully up to the present. Their very wise counsel gave me all the
more time for golf--the rules were not quite so many and headachy then
and a man could play golf, or so it seems to me, with a lighter heart.
Perhaps it is only because the heart had less weight of years to carry
on it then, but it strikes me that the game and its players had more
humour. I do not mean that they were more witty; but greatly because
they were so immensely serious and solemn and earnest they were more
amusing. Their tempers were more tempestuous, their language was
infinitely more picturesque. At Westward Ho! I am inclined to think that
there were some with special gifts of the kind. We had many old Indian
officers, with livers a little touched, and manners acquired in a
course of years of dealing with the mild Hindoo, and because the golf
ball would not obey their wishes with the same docility as the obedient
Oriental, they addressed it with many strange British words which I
delighted to hear and yet stranger words in Hindustani, which I much
regretted not to understand. But a sight that has been seen at Westward
Ho! is that of a gallant Colonel stripping himself to the state in which
Nature gave him to an admiring world, picking his way daintily with
unshod feet over the great boulders of the Pebble Ridge, and when he
came to the sea, wading out as far as possible, and hurling forth, one
after the other, beyond the line of the furthest breakers the whole set
of his offending golf clubs. That the waves and the tide were sure to
bring them in again, to the delight of the salvaging caddies, made no
matter to him. From him they were gone for ever and his soul was at

Of course he bought a new set on the morrow, so it was all good for
trade and Johnny Allan. It also afforded a splendid spectacle to an
admiring gallery. Really we have lost much at Westward Ho! even if we
have gained much, by the bringing of the Clubhouse across the common. It
was delightful, after golf or between the rounds, to bathe off that
Ridge, or sit on it and watch the sea tumbling.

There were more "characters" in the golfing world in those days. Who is
there now like the Chieftain at Hoylake or like Mr. Wolfe-Murray and
many more at St. Andrews? But Hoylake, more than the others, had its
humorists not so strictly of the unconscious type. There was great fun
in the musical evenings in the Bar Parlour of the Royal Hotel--bar
parlour sounds a little ominous, but I never remember seeing a man in it
who could not talk straight nor walk straight out of it--and some of the
golfers had great voices. Tom Potter, well-known with the Free
Foresters' Cricket Club, was honorary-secretary of the Club, then and
for many a year, and he was a fine singer. There was "Pendulum" Brown,
singing about "The Farmer's Boy," and ever so many more; and these
evenings were the occasions for great match-making. Mr. Brown, nicknamed
Pendulum, by reason of something clocklike about his swing, on one
night, unlighted, so far as I remember, by a moon, but with some stars
in the sky, backed himself to play the five holes round the field, then
and there, in an average, I believe it was, of fives. Whatever the bet
was, I know he won it easily, and also that he did those five holes in
several strokes less than he took for them in the competition, played in
broad daylight, the next day. The only stipulation he made with the
gallery that turned out to see this nocturnal performance was that they
should be silent for a moment after he drove off, so that he might hear
the ball pitch. The night was very still and he seemed to get the place
of the ball with wonderful precision by the sound of its fall. I know
that his putting was extraordinarily good--far better than an averagely
good putter's daylight putting.

There were many mirth-makers at Hoylake, besides the song-makers. Of
this number were Alec Sinclair, with a fund of anecdote that never
failed and was very seldom guilty of vain repetition; George Dunlop,
bubbling over with wit and always ready to make a good after-dinner
speech, and a crowd more.

At St. Andrews the fun of the fair was less hilarious; there was less
noise about it; but there were some witty and many amusing people. My
first host there, Logan White, was the very best of company in himself;
there were George Young and Mr. Hodges of a most sardonic humour, and
very many with that sly and dry sense of fun which the Scot calls
specifically "pawky."

Also, there was Old Tom Morris--"born in the purple of equable temper
and courtesy," as Lord Moncrieffe, I think it is, well describes him. It
would be a mistake to picture Old Tom as a witty man, or even as a
clever man, unless a tact and temper that never fail be the very best
kind of cleverness. But we do not find any very witty or pungent sayings
attributed to Old Tom. It was his rich nature, with its perfect
kindliness and charity, that made him so lovable, and such a valuable
possession to St. Andrews in reconciling the golfing interests, which
ran with counter currents, of the Town and of the Club. As a peacemaker
he had no equal. I, deeming myself wronged by some infringement of
golfing rule or etiquette on part of another, might go to Tom--would go
to him as a matter of natural course--and pour out my woes. He would
listen with a charming smile in his old eyes under their bushily arching
grey eye-brows, and when I had done he would take his pipe out of his
mouth and say, "Ou aye." That was all, but it was enough to convince of
his perfect sympathy. Then, from the big window of the club, or from
Logan White's house on the links, I would see that wicked man, my late
opponent, go up to the old man--for the scene was always that eighteenth
green, just before Tom's house, where he would usually stand and smoke
his old clay pipe after his two daily rounds were played--and there I
would see exactly the same smile of sympathy for my opponent's
recounting of his woes likewise, and at the end the pipe being withdrawn
from the mouth; and I might know, though I might not hear, that
precisely the same two words were being given for his sufficient
consolation likewise--"Ou aye." So we both went away from him greatly
comforted and in a disposition to make it all up again before the sun
should go down on our wrath.

Old Tom was good enough to give me his friendship from the very first
moment I came to St. Andrews, prompted thereto, as I think, largely by a
comment that one or two of the old stagers made to him that my style was
not unlike young Tommy's. I am sure that even at that time this must
have been a comparison not quite just to that great young player of old,
for although it is more than likely that I have cherished very many
illusions in regard to my golf, I am quite sure that I have never been
so deluded as to deem my style either good or graceful. But the
criticism was endorsed by Tom and gave me a place in his heart. There
was another point in which he gave me praise (he could give no higher)
for a likeness to his talented lost son:--"Ye're like Tammie--ye'll tak'
a' as much pains over a short putt as a long yin." Anything that had to
do with a short putt touched the dear old man in a very sensitive place,
for he was the worst short putter, for a great golfer, that ever was. It
is known that Mr. Wolfe-Murray once addressed a letter to him, when on a
visit to Prestwick, "The Misser of Short Putts, Prestwick," and the
postman carried it straight to Tom. His own way was, in his sheer
terror of missing the putt, to get done with it as quickly as possible,
and often he would just go up to the ball and hit it in a nervous hurry,
without looking at the line at all, so that he hardly gave himself a
ghost of a chance of holing. He had a way, too, of dragging back the
ball, with a quick movement of his putter, the moment it had missed the
hole, to try the putt over again, and this habit had such possession of
him, that I am quite certain I have often seen him snatch the ball back
long before it came to the hole at all, and even, sometimes, when it
would have gone in had he not done so. Once, but once only, I saw him
beat his putter on the ground so hard after a missed putt that the shaft
broke. I think it must have been sprung before, for he did not really
give it such a very severe strain, but of course that was quite
overlooked, and the joke served for many a day to tease the old man
with--as "Tom, what is this I hear? Getting in such a rage that you're
breaking all your clubs! Awful!" The poor old man would smile
despairingly and generally solace himself with some quotation from his
dearly loved poet Burns. "Scotland wi' a' thy faults I lo'e thee still"
was his most favourite text for consolation.

[Illustration: "Old Tom."]

[Illustration: Douglas Rolland and Archie Simpson (driving.)

(Archie was younger brother of the Jack Simpson mentioned in this



I have always had, and always shall retain, a very lively and grateful
recollection of the kindness with which all the local members of the
Royal and Ancient Golf Club and others at St. Andrews received me when I
first went up there, a Sassenach among the Scots. I was very fortunate
in my host, Logan White, and found there also others that I had known in
the South, Harry Everard, most keen of golfers and best of all judges of
the game, Victor Brooke, most eager, most charming and most Irish of
Irishmen, and many others who had been old friends of my boyhood at
Westward Ho! Besides, there were many who retained a memory and an
affection for my Uncle Fred, whose locker, with his name upon it, was
still in the big room. I took possession of it as a heritage, though he
still had many good years of life left in him at that date. I well
remember, too, that at one of the first dinner parties I went to at St.
Andrews, at the most hospitable house of Captain "Dan" Stewart, Mr.
Wolfe-Murray greeted me warmly, saying that he had known my grandfather
who, as he affirmed, was in the habit of declaring that he had "the best
left leg in Bond Street, and," added Mr. Wolfe-Murray, "I think my left
leg is better than my right." He was gloriously arrayed in the dining
dress of the Queen's Archers, which permitted a display of legs; but
this story of a day when legs were so draped as to be critically admired
in Bond Street took the mind's eye back a long way. The point of my
grandfather's claim, however, as to the beauty of his left leg, was that
the symmetry of the right had been somewhat spoilt by a French musket

And the kindliness that I met with, from many who had not any of these
special links, was not to be forgotten--Mr. Gilbert Mitchell Innes, Mr.
Balfour, the father of Leslie--now Balfour-Melville--Mr. Whyte-Melville,
to whose surname the former succeeded, and very many more. Gilbert Innes
was still, I think, the best golfer of all those named, and David Lamb
and Jim Blackwell were about the best of the actual residents. Leslie
Balfour came over from Edinburgh and I had many good matches with him.
But on my first arrival there I found that a match had already been made
for me by Victor Brooke, that I should play Tom Kidd, at that moment
thought to be playing the best game of all the professionals at St.
Andrews, receiving the odds of a third from him. Tom Kidd had been
champion some ten years before, but, champion or no, I had no idea at
that time of day of being beaten by anybody, professional or otherwise,
at odds of a third. Besides, I had come rather fresh from a small
triumph at Westward Ho! Somebody had made up a little purse for the
three Allan brothers to play for, and in order to make an even number I
had been asked to play with one of them. The prize was for the lowest
score, and I was a proud man when I came in with the best score of the
four. We had no formal definition of an amateur in those days, but in
any case I should not have wished to take the prize, which, indeed, I do
not suppose would have been given me. But this small victory put me into
fairly good conceit with myself in respect of this match against poor
Tom Kidd, who was certainly not as good a golfer as Jamie Allan; but the
truth is that the Scots were rather sceptical in those days about the
golfing ability of any Southerner. It was not very long before that
young Tommy had given Arthur Molesworth a third and a beating, as
recorded in a previous chapter. How that could have come about I could
not, nor can now, conceive; but at any rate Tom Kidd was not Tommy
Morris. I remember that I went out the first nine holes in 42. It does
not sound very grand nowadays, but it was respectable then, and
sufficiently good to work up Tom Kidd into elaborate explanations as to
how impossible it was to give a third to a score of that kind. When a
man gets into that explanatory mood it is generally all over with him;
and of course it was not to be thought, if I could play anything of a
game at all, that he could give such odds. I won an easy and inglorious
victory, which would not be worth mentioning except to show the estimate
likely to be made at St. Andrews at that time of the probable form of an
English amateur in comparison with that of one of the native

Just about that time, that is to say 1883, Old Tom, who had been playing
for him very poorly, began to enjoy a delightful Indian summer of his
golf, which gave the old man and all the many who were fond of him
immense delight. I do not mean to say that I suppose him to have played
anything like the game of his best days. I could generally beat him,
but he would always play me level and liked to gamble heavily.
Generally there was a dozen of balls on the match, and a dozen on the
score, for we used to keep the scores too, and often a dozen that I
didn't, and another dozen that he didn't, go round in some set
figure--say 87. A dozen balls meant only a dozen shillings, in those
days, but the number he was owing me soon arrived at huge figures.
However, I used to knock the debt off his playing fee, and he was
perfectly happy, and so was I, in the arrangement. He was very
methodical, invariably half-filling the bowl of a short-stemmed and
ancient clay pipe as he hit off to the Short Hole Going Out, and
knocking out its ashes as we came to the Short Hole Coming In: and that
was all the smoke he ever took till the match was over.

On the occasion of this, my first visit to St. Andrews, I was not a
member of the Club, but they did me the honour to elect me by next
spring, and three of us tied for the first medal at the not very clever
score of 91. Mr. Willie Wilson was one, I forget the other; and Wilson
won on the play off. I remember that all went well with me till the
sixth hole in the tie, where I got into a small bunker from the tee,
took two to get out and left some of my temper behind in it. I had to
take second honour then, but I won the first medal in the autumn, though
I think it was rather that the rest played worse than that I played very

And then, immediately after the medal, came a message from Elie and
Earlsferry--"Would any pair at St. Andrews give a match in a foursome to
a couple of stonemasons from Elie?" Leslie Balfour asked me if I would
play with him against them. I knew I was not in good form, and I do not
think that he was, either, but still we said we would play them. They
came over and seemed very nice young fellows indeed. The name of one was
Douglas Rolland, and that of the other Jack Simpson. We had never heard
of them before. We continued to think them very nice young fellows until
the ninth hole, at which point we were two up. The truth is the masons
had not got their hammers going at all. But we did not know that. On the
way home we began to doubt whether they were as nice as we had thought.
Rolland began hitting the ball to places where we had never seen it hit
before, and Simpson so followed up that they were reaching with a drive
and an iron holes that it was at that date scarcely decent to approach
in this metallic way. They were "gutty" balls, mind, which did not fly
away off the irons like the rubber-cores. They finished that round to
the good of us, and in the afternoon made us look very foolish indeed. I
do not think that Leslie or I ever got over that match till we read the
result of the open championship, played very shortly afterwards at
Prestwick. It went "Jack Simpson first, Douglas Rolland second." After
that we could make a better reply when we had to listen to the very kind
and pointed enquiries of friends as to "What sort of golfers are the
stonemasons of Elie? Are they any good?"

I think, but am not sure, that it must have been in the interim between
that match of ours and the championship, that there was a great home and
home match, with something of a Scotch and English flavour about it, got
up between Douglas Rolland and Johnny Ball. Captain Willy Burn wrote me
an account of the first part of the match at Elie, which he went over
from St. Andrews to see, and one of the phrases in it I remember now:
"Both men drove like clockwork." It seems that Rolland, for all his
great hitting, had nothing the better of Johnny--who was a very fine
driver in his youth--in that respect, but hole after hole went from
Johnny on the putting green. He came to Hoylake, for the second half of
the match, no less than nine holes to the bad. The local people said
that he would pick it all up on his own green. But he did not: on the
contrary he lost more holes. Then, on the following day a second match
was arranged--of thirty-six holes, all to be played on his own Hoylake.
Of course he must have started with the moral effect of his previous
hammering still deeply impressed upon him, but his friends still had all
confidence in him. And he seemed to justify it grandly, playing such a
fine game that he was five up and six to play and the match was
virtually, as probably Rolland himself deemed, over, when suddenly he
struck a very bad streak, lost hole after hole until all the lead was
gone, and Rolland, winning the last hole too, actually won this
extraordinary match. It was a very sad day for Hoylake, and that is the
aspect of the match which seems to have impressed everybody. But, after
all, there is another aspect--perhaps well realized at Elie--what a
first-class fighting man that Rolland was! Johnny Ball had in fact to go
through a very long baptism of fire before he was able to bring his
wonderful powers and skill to their full use at the moment they were
most needed.



Golf had jogged along very comfortably up to this time with its one
championship, open to amateurs as to professionals, but never as yet won
by an amateur. Then, in the winter of 1884-5 it occurred to some
original genius of the Club at Hoylake--"why not a championship to be
restricted to the amateurs?" I do not know whose great brain first
flashed out the idea, but they wrote and explained it to me, asked me to
serve on a Committee for the purpose, and gradually the scheme was
licked into something more or less like shape. It was decided to hold,
under the auspices of the Royal Liverpool Club, a tournament, under
match play rules, open to all amateurs. The Club gave a handsome prize,
or, rather, two prizes. I went up to Hoylake a little while before the
affair came off, and there found the Committee in charge in something of
a difficulty. Douglas Rolland had sent in his entry and they did not
know how to deal with it. You see, at that date we had no definition of
a professional, nor of an amateur, and had to decide on the analogy of
other sports. I was all for accepting Rolland's entry then, and I am of
the same opinion now--that it ought to have been received.

His offence was that, having come in second to Jack Simpson in the
previous year for the open championship, he had accepted the second
prize money, thereby violating the law common to several sports and
pastimes forbidding an amateur to receive a money prize when in
competition with professionals. That would have been all plain sailing
but for the unfortunate fact that it was discovered that Johnny Ball,
some years before, and while still quite a boy, had played himself into
the prize list at an open championship and had been offered, and without
a thought about the matter had accepted, a sum that I think amounted to
no less than ten shillings. It was, of course, unthinkable that Johnny
should be deprived of his birthright as an amateur for such a boyish
error as this. There never was the faintest suspicion of professionalism
about any act of Johnny Ball's extraordinary golfing life, but
technically, at that date, his case and Rolland's were very much on all
fours. I saw that the Committee, or a majority of them, were resolved to
reject Rolland's entry. I did not care to be a member of a Committee
which rejected, for a cause I could not quite approve, the entry of one
who would certainly be a very formidable competitor for a tournament
which I had a distant hope that I might possibly win. I therefore asked
leave to resign from the Committee, before the vote was taken on the
point, and did so, with perfectly amiable sentiments all round. I have
been rather long-winded perhaps in this explanation, but I wanted to
make clear to those who are not informed about it the reason why the
present amateur definition is drafted just as it is, with a time limit
beyond which--that is to say before sixteen years of age--a man shall be
held guiltless of having done any action to spoil his amateur status in
playing for a money prize in competition with professionals.

So that was settled, and Rolland's entry disallowed. It passed off with
less trouble than I had expected, perhaps just because Rolland was such
a thoroughly good fellow, whether he were professional or amateur, and
not at all of that small spirit which is apt to take offence where none
is meant.

We set to work to play our tournament. It was considered best not to
entitle it a championship, seeing that it was the installation of a
single club only, and had no official recognition. Funny things began to
happen from the start. It gave much delight to the men of Hoylake that I
should have drawn, as my first foe, my old enemy at Westward Ho! Arthur
Molesworth. Him I managed to beat with tolerable ease. I think he had
even then begun to lose the sting of his game. After that I rather
forget my fortunes until the semi-final heat, when I came up against
Johnny Ball. In a previous heat, by the way, he had committed the crime
of parricide, knocking out his own father, who put up a stout fight
against him, nevertheless. Johnny and I had a great contest, and I
thought he was going to beat me, for he was two up at the turn; but I
began to play rather well from there onwards and beat him by two upon
the last green.

In that tournament we had not the arrangement which was made as soon as
the amateur championship was put on an official footing--that is to say,
in the very next year--of all byes being played off in the first round.
The effect of that was that Alan Macfie, the other semi-finalist, had a
bye in the morning. The final was decided in a single round to be played
in the afternoon. I had been wound up to high concert pitch by that
morning round with Johnny and could not play a bit in the afternoon.
Macfie, on the other hand, putted like a demon and never made a mistake,
so very likely the result would have been just the same if I too had
been idle all the morning. He beat me, I think, by eight holes.

So that was the conclusion of it, and really it was most unfortunate for
Macfie that he had not official right to place his name at the head of
the list of amateur champions, for this was in all respects, except the
title, equivalent to a championship. Leslie Balfour was not there, but
Johnny Laidlay was. It was the first time that I made his acquaintance,
though I did not have to play him. He was knocked out at an early period
of the campaign. In fact I am pretty sure that he was not playing as
fine a game then as he developed later. His putting, in particular,
improved greatly, and so did the direction of his driving. His iron play
was always, from the first, unsurpassed. I think that according to the
arrangements of that tournament all ties must have gone on into the next
round, for I well remember that Walter de Zoete tied twice with Macfie
and was beaten by him on their third time of meeting, when Macfie,
amongst other atrocities, did the short hole (the Rush Hole) in one. De
Zoete went very strongly in the tournament. One of his victims was Mure
Ferguson, whom he beat by eight and seven. There must, of course, have
been something wrong here: I am not sure that gout would not come into
the diagnosis.

And somewhere or other, among the crowd of lookers on at that
tournament, with a heart very black with rage against me at my
presumption in daring to beat the local hero, Johnny Ball, would have
been a little boy of the name of Harold Hilton: a name to be heard of in
later years.

[Illustration: John Ball.

(From a water-colour drawing by the late T. Hodge.)]

[Illustration: A.F. Macfie.

(From a water colour drawing by the late T. Hodge.)]

That was the beginning, the preface, the preliminary canter, of the
amateur championship, and it is to the initiative and enterprise of the
men of Hoylake in getting up that tournament and conducting it to
success, that we owe all the fun and all the tears we have had out of
that championship since. No doubt it, or something like it, would have
come sooner or later, whether or no, but it was due to the Hoylake Club
that it came just as soon as it did. In the later course of that year it
was taken properly in hand: the chief Clubs in the Kingdom gave it their
sanction and subscribed to buy a challenge cup for it; rules were drawn
up; the definition of an amateur was framed, and the first amateur
championship meeting on these lines was put on the programme to be held
at St. Andrews the following year.

Now, seeing that this veracious and highly egotistic record aims at
being a serious contribution to the golfing history of modern times, as
well as a sketch of my little personal share in it, it might be worth
while just to note the names of the Clubs which subscribed for that
amateur championship cup. For the subscribers were all the principal
Clubs of Great Britain at that time, and anyone who has not looked over
the list lately may very well feel something of the same surprise that
the little boy experienced when he found himself in Heaven--surprise
both at some of those who were there and also at some of those who were
not there. All the more notable of the great inland golf Clubs, for
instance, are conspicuous by their absence; and for the perfectly sound
reason that they had not yet come into being, nor indeed had inland golf
yet begun to be deemed at all worthy of consideration. There are, to be
sure, the Royal Blackheath and the Royal Wimbledon. These are great in
respect and veneration, but they no longer lead. St. George's at
Sandwich was admitted to the sacred number of contributing Clubs many
years later, when it came into existence and when its merits were proved
well to warrant the inclusion of its course among the championship
greens. And during all the first years of the amateur championship's
existence it was my duty, acting on instructions from the Royal North
Devon Club, to point out how very worthy was Westward Ho! to be the
scene for that encounter, and also (but this was ever received with a
bland smile in which, after a course of years, I began to join) how very
central was its situation and how easy of approach from all directions.
It has taken a lapse of many years and a more moving eloquence than mine
to convince the management of the championship on these so obvious
points; but now that they are convinced they accord the links of the
West all their due recognition. The original subscribing Clubs then, who
gave the weight of their authority to the new championship, were the
following:--Royal and Ancient; Royal Liverpool; Royal Albert, Montrose;
Royal North Devon; Royal Aberdeen; Royal Blackheath; Royal Wimbledon;
Alnmouth; North Berwick, New Club; Panmure, Dundee; Prestwick Club;
Bruntsfield Links, Edinburgh; Dalhousie Club; Edinburgh Burghers;
Formby; Gullane; Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers; Innerleven;
King James VIth, Perth; Kilspindie; Tantallon; Troon; West Lancashire.
Is it not the case, that there are surprises in this list, both in the
form of those who are in it and those who are not?



In the year 1886 I perpetrated a book on golf. The only excuse to be
made for it is that which was offered in another famous instance, that
"it was a very little one." It was a much more notorious thing in those
days to write a book about golf than it is now, for who is there now who
has not done so? But in that golden age the whole bibliography of the
game was comprised, I think, in four volumes--_Golf, a Royal and Ancient
Game_, by that gallant old warrior at the game, Mr. Robert Clark;
Stewart's _Golfiana Miscellanea_; and two small didactic treatises, the
one by Chambers and the other by Forgan. I had a great many compliments
paid me on my little book, _Hints on Golf_, when it first came out. I
sent the manuscript to Mr. "Bill" Blackwood, and he eagerly consented to
publish it, "for," he wrote, "I am sure there must be something in that
book. Ever since I read it I have been trying to play according to its
advice, and the result is that I've entirely lost any little idea of the
game I ever had." That was gratifying praise, and an edition or two was
soon sold out. Then it occurred to me to illustrate its wisdom with
figures in single lines. A little later I was dancing with a young lady
I had just been introduced to in London and asked her whether she
played golf and she replied, "Oh, yes, we all play, and we learn out of
a most idiotic little book we've got." "Ah, yes," I said, "is it a
little book with single line figures illustrating it?" "Yes, yes," she
said eagerly. "That's it. Do you know it?" "A little," I replied.

One remark in the book took the popular fancy--that "Golf is not
agriculture." It was made to point the moral that the golfer should
replace his divots. But the only passage that seems to me at all worth
quoting at length, although I did write the whole book myself, is one
which illustrates the temporary and historical importance of a
controversy which is entirely forgotten now. The passage is Number I. of
"The Miseries of Golf," and runs thus:--

"Discovering, as you walk down to the tee, to start a foursome, that
your partner has never in his life played a round with a 'putty'
(eclipse) ball, while you yourself know that you cannot play within one
half of your game with a 'gutty' (gutta-percha) ball."

All through the early eighties a good deal of experimenting had been
going on with the view of discovering a substitute for gutta-percha for
the golf ball. When I first went to St. Andrews, Commander Stewart was
there, having just produced his "Stewart Patent" balls. They were of
some composition, and were filled with steel filings. They had some
merits, but were very heavy. All golf balls used to be numbered then: 27
and 28 were the usual sizes, supposed to signify the weight in drachms,
and I remember Logan White telling Commander Stewart, "We tried weighing
your balls yesterday. We put a 27 of yours in one side of the balance
and we had to put a 28 gutty and the coal-scuttle in the other, to make
it level." Slight exaggeration, but pointing towards a truth!

It was the fault of these balls that they were too heavy. Then some firm
in Edinburgh produced a ball called the Eclipse, and after several
modifications they put out a ball that had distinct qualities of its
own, in some points superior to gutta-percha balls. They would not carry
so well--they were dead, and with wonderfully little resilience when
dropped on a stone--soft, so that a finger and thumb squeeze could
compress them sensibly, but the compression came out again. That was one
of the merits of this ball, which inevitably--its qualities being such
as they were--received the nickname of "putty," to rhyme pleasantly with
"gutty": it would come out again, resuming its spherical shape without
any disturbance of contour, even after the most desperate hammering on
the head with an iron. It was indestructible. Then it was a wonderful
ball for keeping its line on the putting green--far the best putting
ball that ever has come into being during the half-century or so of golf
that I have known. But the quality, which perhaps was its highest
virtue, was that it did not go off the line nearly as much as the gutty
when pulled or sliced. I used to play with a "putty," as a rule, when I
played against Old Tom. The old man hated the ball, as indeed did most
of the professionals. Trade reasons weighed heavily with many of them,
but I do not think that the old man was commercial-minded enough for
these to have the slightest effect with him. He might have made a large
fortune had he possessed but a little more of this spirit, but it was in
his utter freedom from it that much of his charm consisted. Still he
cordially hated "the potty," as he called it. Of course it was possible
to pull or slice the putty, if you played badly enough, though it did
not take the cut nearly as freely as the gutty, and whenever I pulled or
sliced one of them to perdition the old man's delight knew no bounds.
The fun would come twinkling out of his eyes under their shaggy brows
and he would say, "Eh, they potties--I thocht they potties never gaed
aff the line."

Willie Fernie was the only one of the professionals who ever
condescended much to them, and I have been playing with him when he used
a putty going out at St. Andrews, in the teeth of the wind, and then
took a gutty coming home down wind. But he did not make much of it. The
two balls required such a very different touch for the short game that
it was very difficult to go from one to the other--it is in that that
the point lies of the above quotation from my "idiotic little book." But
Willie Fernie was a man of infinite ingenuity. The ball, evidently from
what I have said of it, was a fine ball against the wind--it kept so low
and so straight. On hard ground it would make up in its run for its loss
in carry, and therefore it was a better ball on the flatter than on the
more mountainous links. But in this account of its qualities, I have
also indicated its defects. Running as it did when it pitched, it was an
impossible ball to stop on the green off a lofted shot; and just as it
would not take much cut, so as to go far to right or left when heeled or
toed, so it would not take a cut when one purposely tried to put a cut
on to stop it.

On the whole I liked the ball. It was very economical, because it would
last for ever and because its soft substance did not inflict such damage
on the clubs as the hard "gutty." I won both the first two amateur
championships with a putty ball. I do not mean that I used the same ball
in each. But Andy Stuart had a putty ball with which--the same identical
ball--he won three St. Andrews' medals. The great argument against them
was the difficulty aforesaid of stopping them off the pitch. That, and
their lack of carry, were their weak points: their straight travel,
especially off the putter, was their strong point. And then, all at
once, the manufacturers began to make them less good. Just what happened
I never knew. I think that they changed the mixture in order to get them
harder, and, so, more like the "gutties"; but whatever the reason, the
effect was that they lost much of their merits and never overcame their
defects. Result--exit the putty ball towards the end of the eighties,
and the gutty holding the market until the Americans sent us what at
first were called Haskells; which is another and more modern story.

I had written, at the commencement of my little book, that I had seen a
recent advertisement of an outfitting firm, "The Game of Golf Complete,
in a Box." It suggested a _multum in parvo_. I went on to say, "if
anyone would only write us 'The Art of Golf, complete, in a Book'--why,
what more could be left to wish for?" But I added, "I am afraid no one
will ever be quite bold enough to attempt that." And hardly were those
words published before out came Sir Walter Simpson, greatly daring, with
a book actually called _The Art of Golf_. He did not add "complete, in a
Book"; but no doubt that is how he meant it. And an admirably witty and
humorous book it was, and is. Its wit and humour abide with us. Just
what value it ever had as an education in the art I hardly know. Walter
Simpson, poor fellow (he died while comparatively a young man), never
was a first-class golfer, though he was a first-class companion for a
round. We who were pleased to rate ourselves the best of the amateurs
could give him about a third, and there were many strokes in the game of
which he had no idea, but his book, like himself, is excellent company.
Quite a modern book, having the same title (which is rather a pity), has
come out lately, by Joshua Taylor, the champion's brother. I will
refrain from comparisons. But I suppose that at the date I am writing
of, the world, for the time being, had enough of golf literature, for I
cannot think of any work in book form on the great subject until the
Badminton Golf Volume, in 1890; and I remember an article of Professor
Tait's written in the late eighties in which he speaks of "the
magnificent Clark, the voluminous Simpson and the sardonic Hutchinson,"
with the suggestion that these three virtually comprised the whole of
the bibliography of golf as generally known to the public. How far pens
have travelled over how many of the reams of the paper so appropriately
termed foolscap in the quarter of a century or so since, we may consider
with much amazement--and here am I still piling up the leagues!



The first amateur championship, as by law established, was played at St.
Andrews, and started for me, as I suppose did most things at that time
of life, on the note of comedy. It must be understood that this
institution meant a great gathering of clans and of clansmen not very
well known to each other. I dare say some of us had our own ideas that
no one was likely to be unearthed from the dark places able to upset
reputations more or less established; but everything was possible. I
had, carrying for me, one of the numerous family of Greig at St.
Andrews; I presume some connection of the fine golfer of that name and
of his brother, the lion-voiced starter. Of course, the prospects of the
championship were the great subject of discussion, and during my first
match of the tournament--I think things must have been going fairly
easily, and that I had my opponent pretty well in hand--he said to me,
"There's a mon Fogie, frae Earlsferry, and they say he's gaein' tae win
the chompionship. He's a terrible fine player an' he daes na' mind the
gallery a dom." This was terrific news to me. By "the mon Fogie" I
understood him to mean a Mr. Foggo of Earlsferry, whose name I had
noticed on the list of the draw, and had noticed further that this Mr.
Foggo would be my own fate in the second round of the tournament. That
is, of course, always on the assumption that he and I both survived; and
of his survival, after Greig's remarks, I had no doubt. When I came in I
heard to my surprise, as well, I may say, as to my relief, that this
terror of Earlsferry had actually been defeated and knocked out on the
last green by Dr. McCuaig. Of Dr. McCuaig I did not know very much; and
then, on the evening of that day, it was reported to me that he had
said, "I shall beat Horace Hutchinson to-morrow. I believe he is a good
player, but he is a young player. You'll see; I shall beat him." This
was retailed to me, and whether it were a true saying of the doctor's or
whether the retailer had merely invented it to see how I should take it,
and to raise my ire, I do not know to this day; but I do know that it
did raise my ire, and that I went out in the morning with a very grim
determination to play my hardest. I had no idea of any amateur starting
out with the expectation that he was going to beat me, unless, indeed,
it were Johnny Ball. I played steadily; the doctor was not at all at his
best, and I won--I think it was the first seven holes. At all events, it
was such a number as made the match a very comfortable one. The doctor
took his beating in the best of spirits, and bore no ill-feeling

Altogether that was a comfortable championship. After the first thrill
of the terror inspired by the reputation of "the mon Fogie," it went on
oiled wheels. Mure Ferguson, I remember, whom I met in a later heat, was
a hole up going to the eleventh, and I was a little anxious, but he let
me win in the end, though only by a hole, and then it looked very much
as if I should have to play Johnny Ball in the final--which was never to
be regarded as a holiday. But the unexpected happened. In the semi-final
he had to meet Henry Lamb. Henry Lamb was a beautiful golfer. It was he
who invented the "bulger," that club with its convex face, off which the
ball flew with a straightness that was a revelation. You see, before the
bulger was invented, the faces of our wooden clubs, by the perpetual
contact and hammering of the hard "gutty" balls, always got worn away,
so that instead of being flat, they were very decidedly concave. And you
may understand what the effect of that gradient of face would be--to
emphasize and aggravate every sin of heeling or toeing to which golfing
flesh is heir. Therefore, the good influence of the bulger was not
really so much in introducing the first convexity, though that in itself
helped the ball to go straight off it, but it also corrected that fatal
concavity which all clubs soon assumed of which the faces were flat to
start with. Instead of being concave, after much battering, the face of
the bulger became merely flat.

So it was a blessed invention; and as to its inventor, he was not only a
player of a very fine and graceful game of golf, but he was also the
most delightful fellow to play with that could be imagined. He had a
temper which in its perfect serenity was a most valuable golfing asset
to himself, and also most valuable in the charm of the companionship
which it brought into a round of golf with him. His mode of addressing
the ball was remarkable, for he stood as if he were going to drive at an
angle of at least forty-five degrees to the right of the hole. I
remember, at some inland course in the South, where his strange method
was not known, a caddie calling out to him as he was on the point of
driving from the first tee: "Stop, stop, you're playing to the wrong
hole." Henry Lamb gave the boy one of his sweetest and most lamb-like
smiles, and proceeded to drive the ball two hundred yards straight down
the middle of the course--to square leg. He used to swing round so far
as he came down that really it was to the cricketer's square leg that he
drove; and yet his style was a singularly graceful one, which seems as
if it could not be. It was a singularly effective one no less, and he
was a medallist on most of the courses then known to the golfer. Still,
he was not a Johnny Ball. On that day, however, he proved himself a
greater than Johnny Ball, who was far from being at his best, and when I
came in from my own semi-final effort I learned, with a breath of even
deeper relief than I had given to the shade of the defunct "mon Fogie,"
that Henry Lamb and not Johnny was my man for the final. Neither of us
started well in that final round--it was only of eighteen holes in those
days; but I began to get going after the fourth hole, and Henry Lamb
was, I think, a little done after his match with Johnny. At all events,
he let the holes slip away very quickly, and I had an easy win, on which
he was the first to offer his congratulations--a very courteous

The intelligent student of golfing history up to this period might very
well note, and with some surprise, that whenever reference is made to
Johnny Ball it always seems to be as of one disappointing expectation.
And that, in truth, was very much the case. Men of Hoylake used to come
to me almost with tears in their eyes, because they knew that they had
my full sympathy and understanding. They knew that I knew what a terror
Johnny Ball really was on his own course and when playing his right
game. But what afflicted them almost to hysterics was that he never
seemed able to produce this wonderful best of his when he went away to
play anywhere else than at home; and the consequence of that was that
the other folk, the Scotsmen, laughed at them, saying: "This local idol
of yours has feet of very poor clay"--or gibes to that effect. They took
it very badly. It is hardly to be believed now, when we know what a
brilliant lot of victories in all fields Johnny has to his credit, that
he had to wait a very weary while, and to suffer a number of
disappointments, before he began to come to his due. When he did come,
he was not to hold nor to bind.

Johnny Laidlay did nothing effective in this first championship. He,
too, had to "bide a wee" before he did all that was expected of him; but
I made his much better acquaintance about this time and acquired the
greatest respect for his game, especially for the accuracy and delicacy
of his approaches with the mashie. It was a new club to me, and
something of a revelation in its possibilities. For it would, of itself
and without any special effort of the player, do all to the ball that
might be done with our old irons only after a deal of cut had been
carefully put on. I do not at all regret that labour; it was an
excellent education; but there is no doubt that the mashie simplified
the approaching problems. It made an easier game of it. I have been
looking up the details of this championship, and find one of its
"points" to have been the meeting of Johnny Ball and Johnny Laidlay, the
first of very many encounters of its kind, resulting in the English
Johnny's win by three and two. So that was the fate of the Scot; he fell
by no unworthy hand. There is always consolation in this reflection.
Henry Lamb, as I read on the same record, had fought his way to the
final over the corpses of some stout foes. The first round gave him a
bye; but then he had to meet Mr. Charles Anderson, forgotten by golfers
of to-day, but a stalwart in his time. Next, Harry Everard fell to him;
and then he had a bigger man than either, especially at St. Andrews, in
Leslie Balfour. He beat Leslie at the last hole. Then, in the
semi-final, he beat Johnny Ball by no less than seven and six to play,
and it was by the same sufficient margin that I defeated him. What
Johnny can have been doing I hardly know. That he must have been playing
some game widely different from his real one is very certain.



It is not on first sight very obvious how the appointment of a statesman
to the Chief Secretaryship for Ireland can have an intimate bearing on
the history of the game of golf. Nevertheless that appointment, in the
year 1886, of Mr. Arthur Balfour had, in my humble judgment, an
important influence and bearing on the game. It so happened that about
this time an eminent weekly journal had propounded the statement that
none but stupid people played golf, and even that the successful playing
of golf demanded, as an essential condition, that the player should be
stupid and destitute of all imagination and of all intellectual
interests. It was rather an extravagant statement. At the same time also
the office of the Irish Secretary was invested with a peculiar
importance in the public eye. It was not long after the tragic affair in
the Phoenix Park. Ireland was seething with murderous discontent. The
man who accepted the secretaryship took his life in his hand with that
acceptance, and this risk Mr. Balfour took with all his characteristic
coolness and courage. He became at once, both on this account and
because of his record as a still rather untried statesman, as a
"philosophic doubter" and as a distinguished figure in a certain set of
Society to which the name of "Souls" had been rather foolishly given,
perhaps the most popular figure in politics. The public eye was upon him
and it was known that this man of so many and so varied gifts was an
enthusiastic golfer. He went round the links as an object lesson to
contradict the unfortunate pronouncement of the aforesaid respectable
paper about the stupidity essential to the man who would confess himself
a golfer.

He also went round the links accompanied at a decent interval by two
detectives. I used to play a good deal with him at North Berwick at that
time, and it was rather curious to know that we were being stalked every
step of the way by these guardians skirmishing among the sandhills and
the fringes of the course. It did not in the least interfere with Arthur
Balfour's equanimity and concentration on the game. Of course he was not
a great golfer, though he brought to the game that faculty which was so
invaluable to him in politics of rising to an occasion. You were in good
hands if he were your partner and you left him with a putt of just the
doubtful distance to win the match at the last hole. But though he was
not a great golfer, he was a very great figure in golf; and just because
it is very human to be influenced by an example, the effect of his
example was to make many a man play golf, on the principle that "there
must be something in a game if a fellow like Arthur Balfour plays it."
He had been a fine tennis player at Cambridge, and was an
extraordinarily good shot at a stag. I used to stalk on the splendid
forest of Strathconan which he sold to Mr. Combe, the father of
Christian Combe, the present owner, and the stalkers there have spoken
to me with bated breath of his deadliness of aim with those
old-fashioned rifles which tossed the bullet along in a high curve, and
with black powder that made all nature invisible for a minute after the
shot. Twenty-six stags without a miss, was his record, as reported to me
by one of these stalkers, for one season, and it is a wonderful record
in the conditions, especially as he was short-sighted. But then he had,
by compensation, not only an accurate vision, but a coolness of nerve
which made any idea of "stag-fever" an impossibility to conceive in
connection with him. And "putt-fever" at golf was equally far from him.

I am very far indeed from saying that if golf had not been at this
moment just ready for a "boom" the example of Arthur Balfour would have
set the boom going, but as a matter of fact it was just ready. Courses
were being made and Clubs founded all over the country, the amateur
championship was both a cause and an effect of the new impulse, and then
came the beat of the Balfour drum and the note of "Ca ira" came from it
triumphantly. I date from that year, and principally as arising from the
sources indicated, that "boom" which has never ceased to march and which
is marching still. So much for what the incentive of one man's example
may be in a race still generously capable of hero-worship.

For a while at North Berwick Arthur Balfour's chief henchman was
Crawford, Big Crawford, as he was most appropriately called, about whom
many a legend clings in North Berwick tradition. The big Crawford was
also the caddie of little Sayers in any of the important matches played
by that great little man. The Crawford legend might run to far lengths,
farther than I care to spin it now, but of all the instances of his wit
and repartee the best I think is that which he produced, perfectly
impromptu, so far as I know, when there arose a great discussion as to
the precise nature of a toad-stool in course of a match which Sayers,
his little man, played against Andrew Kirkaldy at St. Andrews. It was
lifted, the lifter saying that it was a dead and loose-lying toad-stool,
the objector that it had been rooted in the ground and therefore was not
legally liftable. The discussion instantly raised numerous side-issues,
as to one of which Crawford, having delivered his opinion, heavily, of
course, in favour of the view of the case that would assist Ben
Sayers--pronounced, finally, "Weel, het's the rule o' the game, an'----"
at this point he paused an instant and lifted an enormous fist, "an',"
he repeated, indicating this leg of mutton bunch of knuckles, "there's
the referee!" It is not the first time, nor the seventh time, that I
have told this story; nor do I care if I repeat it seventy times seven.
It is good enough to bear it.

At the conclusion of an historic home and home foursome in which Sayers
and Davie Grant defeated Andrew and Hugh Kirkaldy, Crawford would demand
of any whom he could get to listen who it was, in their opinion, that
had won the match, and when they professed a doubt, he would draw
himself up with enormous dignity to his immense height, and striking
himself dramatically on the chest, would exclaim with conviction, if not
with grammar--"Me!" and really it was not altogether too large a claim.
His overmastering size and the fearsome aggressiveness of his manner
might very well give pause to any tactics of an aggressive nature on the
other side. He was a tower of moral (or immoral) support to little
Sayers, and his presence at the hole when a hostile putter was
attempting to approach it had all the effect of a black cloud
overshadowing the atmosphere. But beneath all his dourness, and his
sardonic air, he had a kindly nature, and of his loyalty to him whom he
regarded as his chief, and incidentally the greatest man that ever
lived, Arthur Balfour, there is not the slightest question.

With his rugged independence, he might stand as the type of the old
Scottish caddie, now practically extinct. In later years he set up a
booth at the far end of the North Berwick links where he would dispense
ginger-beer and the like innocent refreshment, though it was said that
to the initiate few a more generous and cordial liquid might be
proffered. I do not know. What I do know is that when we went out, of a
morning, and came to Crawford at his booth, he would often ask us, "Is
Ar-rthur oot the day?" rolling the "r's" upon his tongue as if he loved
to prolong the sound of his hero's name. It is thus that he would put
the question--for all his worship, making use of the familiar first
name. And then, if we were able to comfort his soul by the assurance
that the great man would soon appear, he would hoist a little flag on
the booth's peak, for honour's sake. And one day it happened that the
Grand Duke Michael of Russia, coming to the tent and seeing the flag,
inquired of Crawford in whose honour it was flying. I do not know
whether the Grand Duke had been put up to making the inquiry, and asked
it humorously, to see what Crawford would say. At all events he had his
satisfaction, for in answer to the query, "Whom is yon flag flying for?"
the uncompromising reply was given, "A better mon than you." No doubt
loyalty here leaped over the bounds of courtesy, but there is sign of a
better quality than mere rudeness in the reply. Very well must Crawford
have known that if he had chosen to reply to the foreign prince that it
was in his honour that the bunting waved, it might have meant a piece of
gold transferred from the princely pocket to Crawford's, but he did not
hesitate. Partly perhaps the native disdain of the foreigner rang in the
reply, but chiefly I think a very rugged honesty, which, in spite of the
lamentably rude form of the speech, has its dignity.

[Illustration: A.J. Balfour.]

[Illustration: Crawford.

Dispenser of refreshing drinks and counsel.]

We had great fun on the short North Berwick course, in those days, where
nothing really paid you but accuracy in the pitch, developed to a nicety
by Johnny Laidlay, who was always there. And besides him were Walter de
Zoete, poor John Penn and many good golfers besides. I think it was with
me as partner that Arthur Balfour first played that foursome against De
Zoete, and Penn, which afterwards, with Johnny Laidlay taking my place,
was played times without number. "Mike" Mitchell was one of the regular
frequenters, in the Eton holidays, and playing with him as partner he
and I once did three successive holes in two each on that old short



In 1887 we were back, for the amateur championship, on that Hoylake
links which was the arena of the preliminary trial trip that Macfie won
in 1885. I see that Arthur Molesworth was in that tournament of 1887,
and survived until the fourth round, where he was beaten by J.G. Tait,
eldest brother of poor Freddy. Another name of note is that of a small
boy, appearing in such big company for the first time, Harold Hilton. He
was beaten in the third round by Mr. John Ball, "old John Ball," as we
called him for many years, although when I first went to Hoylake he was
only John Ball the second, his father and Johnny's grandfather being
still alive. One of the most remarkable points in the championship of
the year was the game that Johnny's father put up all through it. It
never was a showy affair at all, that game of his, but it was wonderful
how effective it was on the Hoylake course which he knew as well as the
inside of his own pocket. He beat Hilton, as noted, then he knocked out
J.G. Gibson, the Black-heathen, who had been going strongly and had
defeated Henry Lamb the round before; and in the fifth round, which was
the semi-final, I came up against him. I had only survived the previous
round by the skin of my teeth, and remember all about it well. It was
against Mr. Gregor Macgregor, a sound player, and a Scot, as his name
suggests. I was getting on fairly comfortably with him, with a hole or
two in hand, when he played a stroke in which I was morally sure that he
hit the ball twice. I did not know whether to claim the point or not,
and, not being possessed of the ideally equable temperament, was upset
by the incident and played the last holes very badly, halving the round
and being rather lucky to win the nineteenth hole. I forget whether, in
point of fact, I did claim that foul, which I knew that Mr. Macgregor
was quite unconscious of making, but what I do know is that I received
from him afterwards one of the very nicest letters ever written, saying
how sorry he was that anything of the kind should have happened, and
that I should have been upset at all. So the conclusion of that
nineteenth hole left me with John Ball, the elder, to play in the
semi-final; and meanwhile that other John Ball, whom we distinguished as
Johnny, was knocking Jack Tait out in the other semi-final. They were
playing ahead of us, and as we went to the seventeenth (now the
sixteenth) hole old John Ball was one up on me. And I had not played at
all badly; only he had played in the most gallant way and had really
hardly made a mistake. He was one up sheerly on the merits.

Then he said to me, as we walked after our second shots to the
seventeenth hole and an emissary came back to say that Johnny had beaten
Jack Tait, "It would be a funny thing if father and son had to play it
off together." It was an innocent remark enough, and yet it nettled me a
little, and I said in answer, "Wait a bit, Mr. Ball: you haven't done
with me yet." Perhaps I ought not to have said it: it was rather a
boastful answer. I can only plead the excuse of comparative youth. I
sincerely hope it was not that reply which put him off his next stroke,
but something bothered him as he played it. I saw him look up once, as
he addressed the ball, at the legs of the people standing (or not
standing as still as they should have been) opposite him. Anyone who
knows Hoylake will know the stroke he had to play--to pop the ball over
the cross bunker before the green, of the then seventeenth and now
sixteenth hole. What happened was that he took his eye off and popped
the ball into the bunker instead. I lofted mine over all right and won
that hole. Then, by a lucky approach and a good putt, I got the last in
three; and that was a stroke better than the hole ought to be done in
and one too good for Mr. Ball.

So then the next, and the final, problem was the worst--Johnny! I dare
say I was a little lucky in that match: I know I had one rather lucky
shot. I got into the bunker just before the green, going to the short
hole, called the Cop. I dug the ball out, pretty near the hole, and
holed the putt. It was fortunate, but I have always contended that with
practice, the judgment of the strength with this dig shot is not nearly
so difficult as it seems to the uninitiated, and at Westward Ho! there
was every opportunity for initiation, in the shape of bunkers close to
the hole. Moreover, in those days, there was no rule forbidding you to
test the consistency of the sand by a trial dig into it before the real
shot. I have always thought the rule which forbids the testing dig a
very bad one, because a clever bunker player ought to have the advantage
of his cleverness, and this prohibition takes away much of the
advantage and puts him more nearly on a level with the man who has no
idea of judging strength with this shot. Then, two holes from home,
Johnny broke his brassey. I see that Mr. Everard, speaking of this
incident in the Badminton Book, described it as "the very bad luck to
break his favourite brassey." That is interesting to note now, as a sign
of the times. It indicates an importance belonging to a brassey which it
certainly would not have now, when a full second shot with a wooden club
is hardly ever wanted. But of course it was hard luck then, and perhaps
it was due to that that I got dormy one up. Then Johnny obligingly
topped his tee shot going to the last hole. I did not play the hole very
bravely, and had to hole rather a good putt to get a four. I do not
think Johnny troubled to putt out. He was a little nearer than I was,
but not stoney. Anyhow, that was the conclusion of a lucky championship
for me.

This reference to the far greater importance, in those days, of the
brassey reminds me of a queer notion that Johnny Laidlay had. If he had
a big match to play he always bought a new brassey for it. His theory
was that he could play better with one that was strange to his hand. If
this paradox is at all to be explained it must be by psychic, rather
than physical reasons. I take it to mean that, just because the club was
strange to his hand, the strangeness subconsciously suggested to him the
need for a closer keeping of the eye on the ball. And the subconscious
suggestions are always the best. I may be quite wrong, but that is the
only explanation I can find for it. But in this again we see the vastly
greater importance of the brassey in the days when the gutta-percha
balls were used. It was equally important with those eclipses with which
I won both these championships. Johnny Ball and Johnny Laidlay always
stuck to the gutties, I think. Certainly the latter did, and so would I
too, had the old short course at North Berwick been my chief golfing
haunt; for there the value of the pitch shot was out of all proportion
greater than on the larger courses elsewhere. But as for the reason why
the brassey was so much more in vogue then, it has been rather
misunderstood. It was not because you drive so much further off the tee
with the rubber-cored balls than with the gutties--if both are hit dead
true there is not a mighty difference in this. But it is because you can
drive the rubber-cored balls so very much further with the iron clubs
than you could the gutties. That is the great difference. Ironing range
means a considerably longer distance with the rubber-cores than with the
solid balls, and the distance gained by taking a brassey instead of a
driving mashie or a cleek is as nothing compared with what it used to

It is very difficult to draw a correct comparison between these courses
of St. Andrews and Hoylake, then and now, in respect of the difficulties
that each presented to the golfer. The whins at St. Andrews encroached,
on what is now either the clear ground of the course, or is dotted only
with occasional trappy bunkers amongst which the ball often finds quite
a good lie, in such a dense mass that a wandering ball was hardly worth
the trouble of looking for among them. At Hoylake the little rushes,
which are now scarcely to be regarded as a hazard at all, used to be
very dense too, and in the summer and autumn a tough long grass grew
among them, so that your ball lay as if in a plover's nest, and
sometimes it took you several strokes to get out. It was a horrid
hazard. Then at some of the earlier and later holes of the course the
remaining posts and rails of the disused racecourse were very vexing. To
find yourself tight up against a post was only a little less annoying
than to hit it with a full shot and to find your ball come dancing back
to you or flying past your head as if it meant to brain you. All these
things happened. Then the rabbit holes were more numerous and came
farther out on the course. It was about this time that I was moved to
much fury in course of a match by seeing my ball lying at the bottom of
a burrow, where I could not reach it, and, when I was on the point of
dropping another ball with loss of stroke (as was specifically permitted
by the local rule regarding rabbit holes), being told, "You mayn't do
that--it's a lost ball." "Lost, be d----d," I said. "What d'you mean by
lost? Why there it is: you can see it for yourself." "Yes," said the
other, "but a ball is lost unless you can garther it"--he was a Scot,
with a patriotic accent, and he spoke of the ball as if it were a daisy
or other flower. I concluded the round under protest and a cloud of
wrath; and, what made the cloud blacker--the Committee upheld the view
of the "gartherer." Possibly they may have been right, but certainly I
did not think so at the time.



In the autumn of 1887 I did a very foolish thing: I went to America. I
do not by any means imply that it is not an essential part of a liberal
education to visit that great country, nor do I mean that it would be
any act of foolishness on the part of a golfer to go there now, but I do
mean that in my own golfing circumstances, and in the golfing conditions
of the States at that time--which was a condition of no golf at all--it
was very silly of me to go away from golf for so long. For that is what
it involved. I was abroad for several months. At that date there was no
golf in the States. I did not touch a club while I was there; and after
I came back, after this long while of letting the hand grow unfamiliar
with the club, the game never came so easy to me again. From that
experience I believe that it may be taken as a maxim by all golfers who
have learnt the game as boys, that they run a risk of losing a measure
of skill and confidence, which they may never regain, if they do not
touch a club for many months together. You see, this game that a man has
grown up with, learning it as his muscles grow, so that it is more or
less literally true that he has "grown into it," is rather different
from the game that he learns later, after his muscles have set. The
effect of going away from golf for a long time is that you lose some of
these lessons that you have acquired as you grew; you have then to
re-learn them, so far as you may, as if they were a new acquisition that
you had to take possession of after you have finished growing; and you
never acquire quite the same unconscious and instinctive grasp of them.

I went to America again the following year. But it did not matter then.
The harm had been done; the first and best lessons, or a large number of
them, were lost--their teaching laboriously and only partially to be
regained. And on that second visit I actually did take out some clubs.

It is a condition of things hardly to be realized now, but at that time
there was not, to my knowledge, such a thing as a golf club or a golf
ball in the United States. Canada had its established Clubs and courses
at Quebec and Montreal. Probably somewhere, in secret places, some few
Scots were pursuing their national pastime, on very "natural" courses,
in the States too: it is impossible to think that it must not have been
so. But probably their sanity was shrewdly doubted, and they did not
court the public eye. As for "natural" courses, the whole boundless
prairies at certain seasons invite the knocking of the golf ball about
on them.

On this my second visit to America it had been suggested, I think by Mr.
"Bob" Purdey, with whom I stayed near Meadowbrook, on Long Island, that
I should bring some clubs over and show the people what sort of a game
golf was. But I went first to Mexico and subsequently to California,
leaving the clubs in New York the while, and when I came back sundry
members of the Meadowbrook Club turned out on a certain Sunday to see
me give an exhibition show. We cut some holes in the soil, probably with
carving knives, and I proceeded to instruct them, by precept and
example, as to what golf meant. I cannot think that my exposition was
very effective. They did not seem to think that it meant very much. They
tried shots for themselves, and the result of those trials was not such
as to give them a very exalted opinion of golf. The most favourable
criticism that I can recall was that "it might be a good game for
Sundays." I do not think it was extravagant praise.

I believe that was the first time golf was ever played in the States,
though there may, of course, have been these secret Scots, as I have
said. However, the Meadowbrook people were so far impressed as to ask me
to send them out some clubs, when I got back--which I did, from the shop
of Peter Paxton, then at Eastbourne. But what became of those clubs I
never heard. Neither they nor my excellent example inspired America with
golfing zeal. That great country had to wait before awaking to a true
sense of the merits of the great game. But time has its revenges and the
awakening has come. Also, at the moment of writing, it has the effect of
making England conscious that she must "Wake up"; for that
twenty-year-old Mr. Ouimet has just taken the American championship, in
a manner that has made history, out of what seemed the securely holding
hands of either Ray or Vardon.

I think it was in 1888, soon after I came back from America, that I had
my first match of any public note with Johnny Laidlay. I think it was
the Town Council or some other people anxious to attract golfers to
North Berwick--is it conceivable now that there should be a desire to
attract more?--that gave some prizes for a scratch tournament open to
all amateurs. Johnny Laidlay persuaded me to enter (he was my host for
the occasion), and he gave me a good hammering in the final bout. For we
both survived till the final, and I remember that, starting out, we both
played badly enough for a hole or two. Then I lighted a pipe and smoked
it, and it is a sign of how times have changed that one of the Scottish
papers, commenting on the match, said, "At this point Mr. Hutchinson lit
a pipe and smoked it and actually did not remove it from his mouth while
playing the strokes--a thing never seen before in a big match." That
seems queer comment at this time of day, when the incense of tobacco
curls perpetually upward from the pipe of champion Ray and when the
cigarette of Harold Hilton is like the fire that is never quenched. But
the soothing of the nerves and accuracy of game that I had hoped to
follow from the lighting of that particular pipe did not ensue. Mr.
Laidlay found his game, while I was still looking vainly for mine, and
he hammered me, if I remember right, pretty easily. The reporters were
fairly out after me that day. They criticised the pipe unfavourably, and
then one of them recorded a painful incident of the game in the
following terse and pregnant sentence: "Here Mr. Hutchinson broke his
niblick, his favourite club." I do not know whether this literary
gentleman had seen me in bunkers and niblicking out of them so
frequently that he inferred the niblick to be the club that I most loved
to have in hand; at all events, that was his comment, and it went home.
I think they must have had a golfing reporter at this time with a vein
of ironic humour about him, for it was then, or nearly then, that one
of them wrote about Captain Willy Burn: "Here the Captain hit one of his
characteristic shots--far into the whins!" Whether it all was irony or
innocence we did not know, for this commentator did his good work by
stealth and we never found him out.

I was in no way surprised at losing that match with Mr. Laidlay,
especially at North Berwick, where he was very strong. But I did lose a
match about this time which I had not thought of losing, and by its loss
did a little towards the making of golfing history. All history is
curiously made. The coming of a little sandy-haired boy from Northam
village to do the work that an odd boy does about our house near Northam
village is not an incident that looks big with history, but when the
little boy's name is known to be J.H. Taylor, the historical importance
becomes evident. He left that "odd boy" work and went as a gardener's
assistant, where, for a short while, we lost sight of him. But then he
was put on as an assistant on the Westward Ho! links in aid of Sowden,
the old Californian Forty-niner, who looked after the green, or left it
to look after itself. We passed the time of day with him, quite as if we
were his equals, with no notion of his future greatness. Then the
Northam village players (I hardly know whether their Club was formally
instituted by that date) said they would like to play the Royal North
Devon Club a match. I was put to play Taylor. I did not think much about
the job. I had hardly seen him play a stroke before. Going to the very
first hole I remember a shot of his with a cleek: it went low; I thought
he had half topped it; but it continued going. It had seemed certain to
fall into the bunker guarding the green. But it carried that bunker and
lay close to the hole. Again and again I found the same deceptive
low-flying shot going a great deal further than I had expected it to. I
began to realize then that it was because of his stance, with the ball
so very far back towards his right. I also began to realize that I was a
hole or two down. I did not play well; really, at that date, I ought to
have beaten him. But he was one up with four to play, and then I laid
him a stimy. He had two for the half. But instead of putting round, as
all ordinary men of experience would, he tried to loft, for the hole,
with his ordinary--and his only--flat iron. He just failed: but he holed
the next putt, though he was not dead. Finally he beat me--I think at
the last hole--and I congratulated him, as in duty bound, adding that
when he knew a little more he would not be trying to loft stimies when
he was one up and had two for the half. So I said, thinking to be wise,
whereas it was I really who did not know--not knowing of what Taylor
even then, and even with a flattish iron, was capable in the way of
putting stop on the ball.



In 1888 I lost the amateur championship at Prestwick, and I lost it
badly. I do not mean by that that I lost it to a bad player. It was Andy
Stuart who knocked me out, and for his game I have always had a high
respect. But I do not think that either of us played very well in that
match. I know that I did not. For one thing (or for two things) I topped
two tee-shots running, and one of them was going to the "Himalayas
Coming In," which, as all who know Prestwick will realize, is not a good
place to choose for a tee-shot "along the carpet." He was three up and
five to play, and I worried him down to one up and two to play, but he
did the seventeenth hole better than I and finished by laying me a
stimy. But I do not think I should have holed the putt anyhow--I was by
no means dead--and at all events he won the hole and so the match.

And then the next morning, when he was stropping his razor, he cut his
hand so severely that it was against the doctor's advice that he played
at all, but play he did, and seeing that he was far from his best by
reason of this damaged hand and that it was Johnny Ball that he had to
play, it is no great wonder that he was defeated; and he had all my
sympathy. He had my sympathy by reason both of his damaged hand and of
his defeat, but still I did think that if he were going to cut his hand
at all, it would have been as well that he should have done so the
morning before. In that case I, and not he, might have been up against
Johnny on the morrow.

I have no reason to look back on that match with pride, but I remember
it with special interest, because it had one of the most extraordinary
incidents in it that ever did happen in any match at golf. And this
notable incident was as follows. Going to the hole after the Himalayas
going out, which was much the same then as it is now, save that the
green was not levelled up and that the tee-shot probably did not run as
far, I sliced my second very badly, right over the hillocks on the right
of the green. I went over the ridge, with my caddie, to play the ball,
and pitched it over, with a loft, to the place where I thought the green
to be. Then I ran up to the top of the ridge, and looked, but could see
no ball. I asked then, as I came down over the ridge, where the ball
was. There was a small concourse of perhaps a score of spectators. "Oh,"
they said, "the ball has not come over." "Not come over!" I repeated,
filled with astonishment. "Why, I know it has!" As a matter of fact it
had been lofted high into the air and both I and the caddie had seen it
with the most perfect distinctness. Still, it appeared that it was not
there; it almost seemed as if the ordinary operations of Nature's laws
had been suspended and the solid gutty had been dissolved into thin air
in mid flight.

Then, as we all were looking about, in much surprise, a man spoke up. He
was a Mr. Kirk, a townsman of St. Andrews and a fine golfer. He took
part in the first amateur championship when it was played at St.
Andrews, but he had come to this one as a spectator only. He said,
"Well--I did think I felt a tug at my pocket." (By this time we all were
very much intrigued to imagine what could have happened to the ball.)
And at that he looked into the outside breast pocket of his coat; and
there the ball lay, on his handkerchief, like an egg in a nest.

Has a more wonderful thing ever happened at golf? I, at all events, have
never heard of any more extraordinary series of small marvels ever
taking place. In the first instance it was wonderful enough that the
ball should thus plump down so cleanly and neatly into the pocket at
all; then that none of the score or so of watchers should have seen it;
next, that not even the man into whose pocket it thus plumped should
have noticed it as it came down, imperilling his very nose and eyes;
and, finally, that it should have landed so gently that he did not
actually realize that anything had struck him--only "fancied he felt
something tug at his pocket." Naturally, if it were not for the cloud of
witnesses, I should never have ventured to tell the tale. My own
character, if I have any, for veracity is not nearly high enough to
stand such a strain.

These are the facts; and then of course arose the question as to what
should be done with the ball. As it happened, it did not arise in a form
very acute, because Andy Stuart was well on the green in two and I, in
Mr. Kirk's pocket, standing on the edge of the green, in three. We
agreed finally that the pocket should be emptied where the pocketer
stood, and from there I played out the hole and lost it. It is almost a
question whether such a shot as this did not deserve to win the hole.

Curiously enough the only other golfer I ever knew who played a ball
into a man's pocket is Andy Stuart himself. He hit a full drive right
into the coat tail pocket of Lord Lee, the Scottish Lord of Session. But
his lordship was very far from being unaware, like Mr. Kirk, of the
pocketing. He was quite painfully aware of it. As Andy was at that time
at the Scottish Bar, it seems to me that it was a very injudicious
stroke for him, as a rising young advocate, to play.

The curiosities of that great shot of mine are not exhausted yet. For a
full quarter of a century I told that story, saying that not a soul had
seen the ball come over the hill, and that, but for Mr. Kirk bethinking
himself of the fancied tug at his pocket, I should have had to treat
that ball as lost. And then, one day when I was waiting before the
Clubhouse at Biarritz, there came up to me one whom I knew by sight
only, Colonel Von Donop, of the Royal Engineers. He introduced himself,
using as the medium of introduction that stroke and that ball. It
appears that he, though I had not known it all those years, had been
standing further along the ridge at a point whence he could see both me
as I played the shot on the one side and the little crowd of spectators
on the other. He saw the ball rise into the air, and also saw it drop,
as he thought even at the time, into a spectator's pocket. He also saw
the discussion and the search which took place when I came over the
hill, and when I replied with some indignation to the statement that the
ball had not gone over also. He was just about to come forward to
explain what he had seen when Mr. Kirk found the ball and the incident
terminated. It was the last and crowning act in the curious comedy, that
I should discover, twenty-five years later, and in the south of France,
that there had been an unsuspected spectator of that funny little
episode in the West of Scotland.

Johnny Ball, thus defeating Andy Stuart, found himself in the final face
to face with that very frequent foe, in this and after years, Johnny
Laidlay. The latter had been playing very finely: he had won a
tournament with a good entry at Carnoustie, and had picked up many
medals in the Lothians, but he could not hold Johnny Ball in that final.
The Sassenach seemed to have the better of the match all the way and won
quite comfortably. The Hoylake folk had comfort at length in the long
deferred fulfilment of their great hopes for the local hero, and
certainly they have not to complain that he has disappointed them since.

There was something very attractive about the Prestwick golf at that
time. Nor has it lost that special attraction since. The West of
Scotland did not then, nor does it now, take the same general interest
in golf as the East, but there was a very zealous and very friendly
society of golfers belonging to the Prestwick club. It was the country
of the Houldsworths, the iron people, who took the keenest interest in
golf. Mr. William Houldsworth, known as Big Bill, was most kind to me
when I was a boy at Westward Ho! He made frequent pilgrimages to that
green. He was my first host at Prestwick, at his house of Mount Charles,
some miles out, and I think looked on it as some disgrace that, coming
from his house, I should lose the championship. At Prestwick itself too,
looking out on the fourteenth green, lived Mr. Whigham, the father of a
family of great golfers, both the brothers and the sisters. And about
the whole course there was, and still is, an air of friendliness. It is
not great golf, but it is exceedingly pleasant golf and also it is
exceedingly difficult golf. In the days of the "gutty" ball it was
great, as well as good, golf, but the golf there has never, to me, worn
the very business-like aspect of the East Coast golf. I do not say that
it is any the worse for that--on the contrary. It lies in a district of
more kindly climate and more rich pasturage than the East, and I
remember one open championship there when Willie Fernie, always a fellow
with a ready jest, came in humorously lamenting that he had lost his
ball twice "on the putting green." It was a sad grassy year that season,
and if you might not actually lose the ball on the putting green itself,
you might, and you did, spend many a minute in search for it only just
off the green. No mowing could overtake the growth. And of course
Prestwick has all the picturesqueness of the Clyde estuary--the Kyles of
Bute, Arran and the rest of the professional natural beauties of that
coast--for its setting.



I have not said very much, or not as much as the subject deserves, about
Johnny Ball as a golfer; have not attempted any appreciation of his
game. He would not, as I have indicated already before, do himself any
kind of justice at the beginning of his career, when he was off his
native Hoylake heath, and this failure was a source of bitter
disappointment to his friends at home. They began to be afraid whether
he ever would make that mark which they knew his golfing talents ought
to put within his achievement. They need not have feared.

So now that I have brought the course of this faithful history to the
point at which he and the Scottish Johnny--Laidlay--came together in the
final of the amateur championship, it seems as if both of them had at
length "arrived." They have set their names on the scroll of Fame and
will grave them constantly deeper as the years go. The one, to be sure,
was destined to perform many more deeds of glory than the other, and the
English Johnny to win a big balance of their matches, but they were in
constant competition with one another, and for four successive years at
this time one or other of them was amateur champion. It was not indeed
until after that great tournament had been going for six years that
another name than theirs and my own was inscribed on the championship

[Illustration: John Ball.

As a Yeoman (S. African War).]

[Illustration: _From "Golf and Golfers" (Longmans, Green & Co.)_

J.E. Laidlay.

Characteristic throw forward of the body at the finish of approach

I may have suffered--probably I have--under many illusions with regard
to my ability to play golf, but I never so deluded myself as to suppose
I was as good a player as Johnny Ball. I believe I am right in thinking
that Johnny Laidlay has just the same opinion of him, in comparison with
himself. He, too, I believe, would put Johnny Ball on a pedestal by
himself, and leave him there, as the best match-player that we ever have
had among the amateurs. I say match-player with deliberation, for of all
amateurs by far the best score-player that we have seen is, in my
judgment (and I cannot believe that anyone is likely to think
differently), Johnny Ball's younger schoolfellow at Hoylake, Harold
Hilton. But of course his is rather a younger story, and so, too, is
that of Jack Graham, another Hoylake prodigy, of Freddy Tait, of Bobby
Maxwell and others. Still, I make no exception of any of those later
ones when I claim that Johnny Ball is the best amateur that has ever
been seen, for a match. It did not need that he should win the open
championship and the amateur championship eight times, in order to prove
this. I knew it well, even before he ever won either championship once.

It has always amused me, as it has amused Johnny Laidlay too (we have
compared notes about it), to hear people in some of these latter years
saying, as Johnny Ball won championship after championship, that "he is
as good as he ever was." But the one who has always been most of all
amused by these statements is Johnny Ball himself. Perhaps the most
humorous thing about it is that they are invariably statements made by
those who never saw Johnny Ball at all when he really was at his best.
Those who did see him then know better than to make them.

I know that I never started out to play a match with Johnny Ball without
the full consciousness that if we both played our game I was bound to be
beaten, or, rather, that it could only be by an accident if I should
win. It is a feeling I have never had, when I was playing tolerably
well, with any other amateur, except when playing Bobby Maxwell over
Muirfield. But then I cannot pretend that I was playing at all as
strongly as I once might have played when I had to encounter that great
man. Still I do not suppose I could ever have held him at Muirfield. He
was not quite as terrible elsewhere.

Curiously enough I have had rather the better of the exchanges, in the
so-called "big" matches, amateur championship matches, and the like,
that I have played with Johnny Ball. He would sometimes miss a short
putt--in fact, I always rated him as good for a couple of missed short
putts in the round--and that just gave one a chance to come in. But as
to "friendly" matches--though I am sorry to say I have had but few with
him--I think he has beaten me every one. It is true they were always on
his native Hoylake. With Johnny Laidlay, on the other hand, of whom I
never had the same consciousness of being in the hands of a stronger man
as I had with the English Johnny, I have had the worse of it in the
"big" matches. I beat him, I remember, in an international match, but he
beat me at least twice in the amateur championship, and I have not a win
from him to my score in that encounter. Yet in the "friendly"
matches--and we have played a great many, for I have very often been
the guest of his kind hospitality, both at North Berwick and
elsewhere--I do not think that I have come off at all the worse.

But Johnny Ball, at his best, and especially at Hoylake, was a terror.
For one thing he was so very long. Generally driving with a hook, the
ball carried very far and then set to work to run till it made you tired
watching it. And then he had that wonderful long approach with his
brassey, banging the ball right up to the hole, with a concave
trajectory--you know what I mean--the ball starting low and rising
towards the end of its flight, then dropping nearly perpendicularly, and
with no run. It is a shot that I have seen played in any perfection only
by three players, and all young ones--Johnny Ball, Hugh Kirkaldy and
Jamie Allan. Only the first is still alive, and he does not, probably
cannot, play the stroke now. I believe it is a stroke that was easier
with the gutta-percha balls than with the modern rubber-hearted things.
At all events no one plays the stroke now. Perhaps that foolishly named
"push-stroke" of Vardon's comes most near to it, and now and again
Taylor gives us something of the sort: but this is with iron clubs, not
with wood. In the old days Bob Ferguson had the stroke, with his irons,
played up to the plateaux greens at North Berwick with great accuracy;
but he did not achieve it so well with the wood.

Then Johnny could drive that gutta-percha ball most ferociously with his
cleek. I remember Colonel Hegan Kennard saying to him, as he and I were
playing a match, "I wish you could teach me to drive as far with my
driver as you can with your cleek."

Johnny had just driven a huge cleek shot to the end hole. And Kennard
was a very fair scratch player of the day. Johnny was full of resource
too. When you had him, as you thought, in a tight place, he would bring
off some _tour de force_, with a great hook or slice, and lose very
little. He delighted, too, in an evil and windy day: the harder it blew
the better he could play and the more he enjoyed controlling his ball
through the storm.

The short game was where he gave you your chances. If you could live
with him at all through the green and up to the hole you need not
despair of stealing a shot or two back from him, now and then, on, and
from just off, the putting green.

And that was the very last point at which you might think to have any
advantage over that other, the Scottish Johnny. He never could quite
trust his wooden clubs. The occasional hook or slice was apt to put in a
sudden appearance, after he had been playing perfectly straight for a
number of holes. On the putting green he improved very much after I had
known him for a year or two. But always, from first to last in a golfing
career which has been crammed full of glorious achievement, once he came
within ironing reach of the green there was no man, till Taylor came,
that was his equal. That is my humble opinion. Bob Ferguson, who was
really his teacher, on that fine old nine-hole course at Musselburgh,
may have been even better at the full iron bangs up to the hole: he had
the concave flight and the straight drop which are worth anything in the
approach; but Johnny Laidlay was better than his master at the little
chip shots. He learned them, no doubt, at North Berwick, where you are
undone, if you cannot play them, and where the other man is undone if
you can. And, then, Johnny Laidlay was a very fine finisher in a tight
match. How many times I have known him do that last hole at North
Berwick in three--a hole hardly to be reached from the tee and guarded
by a very tricky valley--when the match depended on it I should be sorry
to say. I always thought his stance, as he addressed his ball all "off
the left leg," an ungraceful one, and am inclined to think it the cause
of the occasional uncertainty of his driving, but his manipulation, by
which I mean his hand and finger work, of his iron clubs was beautifully
delicate. I do not think he had given much thought to the way in which
the different strokes were played--the slice and the pull and the rest
of them--but there was not, so far as I know, a stroke or a subtlety
with the iron clubs that he was not master of. His clubs were all
curiously thin in the grip, and one of his great theories was that the
club should be held as lightly as possible. There is not a doubt that
most men can put more cut on the ball with a lightly than with a tightly
held club, but further than that, there is not any very general
recognition, so far as I know, of a virtue in the light grip.

After I lost the amateur championship at Prestwick in 1888, these two
Johnnies, the English and the Scottish, held it between them, winning
two apiece for four years, so that it was not until Mr. Peter Anderson
won, in the seventh year of its institution, that we let it go out of
the hands of one of the three. Neither Johnny Laidlay nor I were fated
to win again, but as for the other Johnny, there seems to be no saying
when he will be done with it. To be sure he has a few years' advantage.



In 1886 my father took a house at Eastbourne, and I was no longer at
Westward Ho! as constantly as before, although a frequent visitor there
at the house of Claud Carnegie. He and I used to have many matches on
terms that are rather to be commended as a means for bringing together
two players of different handicaps. We used to play level, but I had to
give him five shillings before starting and at the end he paid me back a
shilling for every hole that I was up. It came, of course, to the same
thing as giving five holes up, but it is rather a more amusing way of
stating these odds. The five shillings puts me in mind of a very much
more gambling match that was played about that time, when I was at
Hoylake. There was at that date a very festive company of Edinburgh
golfers going about the various links under the leadership of old Mr.
Robert Clark, who edited the great book on golf. There was Sir Walter
Simpson, who also wrote a great golf book and was the son of the doctor
who discovered the blessed uses of chloroform, Hall Blyth, Valentine
Haggard, Cathcart, Jack Innes, and a few more--all, I fear, except Hall
Blyth, gone over to the majority.[4] Five of these warriors started out
one day at Hoylake to play a five-ball match, for a fiver a hole,
and--this was the prudent stipulation of Mr. Robert Clark, in his
ancient wisdom--they were to settle up at the end of each hole. The man
who happened to fall into bad trouble would thus have to part with four
fivers on the putting green, so it must have needed a well-filled
notebook to make a man sure of living through to the finish without
bankruptcy. I had suggested that a six-ball match would be really more
fun than a five-ball, and that I was willing to make the sixth; but the
well-meant suggestion was not taken in good part. I forget the ultimate
result of the encounter.

Naturally I was at Eastbourne a good deal, as I had no other home than
my father's, and I arrived just at the time of the first laying out of
the original nine-hole course there. Mayhewe was the most active of its
originators, and he and I planned it together. It implies no reflection
on the designers of the later eighteen-hole course to say that the old
nine-holes were better than any of the later developments. It is a very
different problem laying out nine, and laying out eighteen holes on
almost the same circumscribed piece of ground; for the later additions
to the area do not amount to a great deal.

It is amazing to me now to think how ignorant we were in those days of
the proper treatment of inland putting greens. We could plan the rest of
the course well enough. But the great idea was to keep on rolling and
rolling and rolling--the heavier the roller the better--until we had the
surface just round the hole so slick that if there was any gradient at
all the ball would not stay near the hole even if you placed it there by
hand. There was (there still is) a green called "Paradise"--and no
green was ever named more aptly according to the classic principle of
_lucus a non lucendo_. If you were below the hole, and below it on this
green you were sure to be, because the ball would not rest above, you
might putt up to the hole, and if you missed the hole the ball would
come trickling down to you again, and so you might go on putting "till
the cows came home." By which time there might probably be a little dew
which possibly might allow your ball to come to rest in the hole's
vicinity. But long before that you would have come to the conclusion
that golf, on Paradise green, was not a good game. One device used to be
to cut some jagged raw edges to stick out on the ball's surface, before
driving off the tee for this hole. Thus jagged, the ball would not fly
properly, but it was better to lose a shot, owing to this jaggedness,
through the green, than to lose twenty on the putting green. On the
rough edges of its scars the ball would come to rest even in Paradise.

However, this is a picture of that green at its most grievous worst. It
was not always thus, and on the whole the course, with its drives over a
great chalk pit and over the corners of one or two high woods, gave us
great fun and was not a bad test of golf. Peter Paxton was the
professional, a humorous little fellow and a wonderful putter on those
tricky greens. I remember, when he sent us his credentials, he added the
comment "and, Sir, I drink nothing stronger than cold water." I liked
the "cold," as if he feared that water with the chill off might go to
his head. He grew braver later.

This course at Eastbourne, be it understood, was technically of the
"inland" kind, though at the seaside. It was of the chalk-down soil;
and it was among the first of the new supply of inland courses which the
ever spreading vogue of golf demanded. Still we looked on these inland
greens as giving us at best only a poor substitute for the real game. We
had yet to learn of what inland soil, cleverly treated with an eye to
golf, might be capable. The only inland Club which was at this time of
any weight in the general golfing councils was the Royal Wimbledon,
which had seceded from the London Scottish, building itself a club-house
at the opposite end of the common. Some of the golfing leaders of the
day, such as Henry Lamb and Purves and others, made this their
headquarters, and there they were already hatching schemes which were
ultimately to lead to all that great development of golf in the East
Neuk, so to say, of Kent, and at first were to take form in the St.
George's Club and links, at Sandwich. Purves, with characteristic,
energy, was scouring the coast of England in these years, looking for
links as by Nature provided, and it was here, at this point, that he had
his great success. Of course there was much palaver and indecision, as
well as prolonged negotiations with the landowner--or his trustees,
seeing that Lord Guildford was then a minor--before any real move could
be made; but when it was made it meant a very great deal for London
golfers and gave an immense drive forward to the already fast booming
boom of English golf. In 1886 Mr. Du Maurier, the _Punch_ artist, was at
St. Andrews, already, as I remember, in large goggles and having trouble
with his eyes, and he then drew a picture of "the Golf Stream," as he
called it--a succession of pilgrims of all sorts, sexes and sizes,
making their way to St. Andrews. Will it be believed that this was the
first golfing picture in _Punch_; that it was the very first mention, as
I think, of golf in a comic paper? What would _Punch_ do to-day, we may
ask with wonder and dismay, if all the humorous opportunities which golf
gives its artists and its writers were withdrawn from them? They would
feel impoverished indeed. A year or two later, when I was editing the
Badminton Book on Golf, Mr. Harry Furniss showed me a letter he had just
received from Mr. Frank Burnand, then staying at Westward Ho! and then
editing _Punch_. Harry Furniss was, and is, a golfer; Frank Burnand was
not. "I think you would like this place," wrote the author of _Happy
Thoughts_--"there are fine golfing sands (_sic_) here." Therein he
expressed an even happier thought than he knew, for Westward Ho! at that
moment happened to be suffering from a considerable drought, and a heavy
gale had scattered the dry sand far and wide out of the bunkers, so that
"golfing sands" gave rather an apt description.

The Badminton Library of Sport was then coming out, volume by volume,
and delighting all to whom Sports and Pastimes made appeal. I do not
wish to bring too great discredit on a very eminent firm of publishers,
but it is a fact, sad as it is true, that when I first waited on them,
obedient to their summons, in Paternoster Row, and they broached to me
the subject of a golf book in their series, they made the very shocking
suggestion that it should be included in the same volume with other
Scottish sports, such as skating, curling and perhaps tossing the caber.
They did not know, they said, when I met them with some mild
expostulation, whether the game was "of sufficient importance to carry a
volume to itself." I must do them the justice to say that they quickly
saw and repented of their error, and I believe that ultimately the golf
volume did better than any other in all that popular series.

While I was doing some of the writing for this book, Sir Ralph Payne
Galway was writing the Shooting volumes, and we were both staying with
poor John Penn at his house in Carlton House Terrace. One night John
Penn asked Mr. Purdey, the gun-maker, to dinner, to talk guns with Sir
Ralph; and these two sat long over the dessert, after the rest of us had
left the table, talking of loads and bores and so on. The next morning,
while we were at breakfast, a four-wheeler drove up to the door, and Sir
Ralph, looking out, said in dismay, "By Jove, John, I believe that under
the influence of your champagne I must have ordered a whole 'bus load of
guns from Purdey." We looked out, and the four-wheeler was filled, from
roof to floor, with guns. It appeared, however, that they were not all
on order, but had merely been sent round by Mr. Purdey for inspection.
This, however, is not golf; nor was Sir Ralph then, I think, a golfer,
in spite of the good service he has since rendered to the dynamics of
the golf stroke and in spite of the excellence of the "P.G." ball.


[Footnote 4: Re-reading this, in 1919, even Hall Blyth's name has to be
added to those that have gone.]



In those days Professor Tait used to be a great deal at St. Andrews, in
the intervals, which were wide, of his professional duties in Edinburgh.
He used to play a round of golf, generally by himself, generally talking
to the ball all the time, as if asking it why it behaved as it did, and
very frequently laughing at it--for he was essentially a laughing
philosopher--long before the ordinary golfer had his breakfast. Six
o'clock, it was said, was his hour for starting, and the rest of the
day, when he came back, he had at his own command for study, of which he
did an enormous amount, for tobacco, of which he consumed a mighty deal,
and for chaff and talk, of which he was most genially fond. He was a
lover of humanity, and not even the biggest fool on the links (which is
a liberal order) was made conscious of his folly when it came up against
the Professor's learning. He used to let me come into his laboratory in
Edinburgh, and in return used to employ me in driving balls at a
revolving plate of clay and all sorts of experiments.

Poor young Freddie was not yet of the stature to drive very fiercely,
though he was already fiercely keen. He was at school at Sedbergh, in
Yorkshire, where Fred Lemarchand, who had been at Oxford with me, was a
master. Lemarchand putted the weight for the University, being a very
strong fellow, and developed into a very useful golfer. And he,
apparently, made it his business to get "rises" out of young Freddie,
telling him in chaff that the Scots did not know how to play golf: that
Johnny Ball and I were better than their best amateurs, and so on. I
have always wondered whether this chaff helped to incite Freddie to
become the great golfer that he was. Golf, to be sure, was bred in
him--his eldest brother Jack was a fine player--but perhaps Lemarchand's
chaff gave him an added zeal. I remember him first as a stalwart, very
cheery little boy hitting a ball about with very slight respect for
human life or limb.

It was about this time that I moved a resolution at a general meeting of
the Royal and Ancient Club that their local rules, such as that touching
the dreary palisaded cabbage patch magniloquently styled the
Stationmaster's Garden, should be taken out of the body of the rules and
be printed under a separate heading, in order that the many Clubs which
were being established in divers places might adapt more easily for
their own use the rules capable of universal employment, and might make
their own separate local rules besides. This was passed, and was a
useful move for those other Clubs, which heretofore had included in
their own rules regulations dealing with a Stationmaster's Garden, a
railway and other "amenities" which had no existence at all on their

And a little later a Committee, of which I was a member, was appointed
under Lord Kingsburgh to revise and amend the rules. We worked hard at
the job and evolved something that we thought very admirable, whereupon
Sir Alexander Kinloch, on the presentation of our work to the general
meeting of the Club, proposed "that the Committee be thanked for their
labours and that the result be put into the fire." I think if it had
been any other than Sir Alexander that had brought forward the proposal
we should have been very angry, but we all knew him and liked him too
well to mind. He was rather a specially licensed person with a knack of
putting things into words which might give offence if anyone chose to
take it. "What's the good," he said once, to another general meeting,
"of all this talk about first-class players? There are only three
first-class amateurs, Johnny Ball, Johnny Laidlay and Horace
Hutchinson." That is as it may be; but evidently it was not a remark
that was likely to be received with universal favour.

Sir Alexander, father of the present baronet, Sir David, and also of
Frank,[5] the writer on golf, was not a first-class player by any means,
but he had all the qualities that are connoted by that phrase which was
much more often heard then than now--a "first-rate partner in a
foursome." He was one of those who liked his caddie to point out to him
the line of the putt. Taylor, the one-armed man, who became the
caddie-master at St. Andrews later, used to carry for him, and there is
a picture of him in the Badminton Book showing the line. We used to be
allowed to do a great deal in the way of brushing loose impediments,
often more imaginary than real, out of the line with the club: there was
no rule against the caddies indicating the line by a club laid right
down on that line, and a cunning caddie would often select the roughest
spot on the line on which to lay it--with the result that when the club
was lifted again that spot was just a little less rough than it had been
before. Some of these good old "partners in a foursome" were not at all
pleased when the rule was so changed that the caddie was not permitted
to touch the line in giving this indication. At first the modification
was only to the extent of requiring that the line should be pointed out
only by the end of the shaft of the club, and not by the head, but this
too was liable to abuse, for the effect often was to leave a little mark
on the turf, which served as a guide for the eye.

I do not know whether our general recommendations regarding the rules
were actually consumed by fire, as advised by Sir Alexander Kinloch, but
at all events they were not passed. They were remitted back to Lord
Kingsburgh, as a committee of one, to revise, and he brought them back
with one only, so far as I know, modification of importance. It was a
modification of great importance to the slow player and the short
driver, and probably is largely responsible for the modern congestion of
greens. It is also responsible, no doubt, for the saving of some lives;
but they would be, at best, the lives of short drivers, who, perhaps, do
not matter. There used, even of old, to be a rule that parties behind
should not drive off the tee until those in front had played their
seconds. Obviously this put people who could drive only a hundred and
fifty yards very much at the mercy of others coming behind who could
drive two hundred yards. In the new version of the rules, according to
Lord Kingsburgh, the parties behind had to wait to drive off, not only
till those in front had played their seconds, but also until they were
out of range. Manifestly that gave the shorter drivers a much better
chance for their lives. At the same time it delivered the longer drivers
behind right into their hands. They could be as slow as they pleased,
and had no fear, under the law, of being harassed by those who came
after them. Lord Kingsburgh himself was a short driver, and of course
sympathized with his kind. I imagine he made golfing life much more
pleasant for himself for the remainder of his days by this enactment.
For his version, which altered the old in hardly any other respect than
this, was passed by the meeting. There were more short drivers than
there are now, in the days of the solid "gutty" ball.

The best of the players more or less resident at St. Andrews in the
later eighties were Leslie Balfour, Jim Blackwell (it was extraordinary
to what extent he lost his game after a residence of some years in South
Africa), Mure Ferguson, Andy Stuart and David Lamb. Leslie I have always
regarded as one of the soundest golfers I ever met. "If you're playing
your best you'll beat him, but if you're playing anything below your
best he'll beat you." This used to be Johnny Laidlay's verdict on him,
and it always seemed to me to express the reliable quality of Leslie's
game very well. I cannot but think that Mure Ferguson became a better
golfer in the later years than he was in these early days at St.
Andrews, but it is rather difficult for me to do justice to the great
game that he had in him because he seldom happened to play his best
against me. I have seen him play great matches. In the amateur
championship at Hoylake he was in the final with Johnny Ball, and though
that champion of champions was four up at one moment of the match, Mure
had him square with two holes to go--a great performance! Then Johnny
went out for a great second shot to the then seventeenth (now the
sixteenth) hole, right across the corner of the field, and so gained the
green with his second; and that stroke virtually settled the match.
Johnny asked me afterwards if I thought he was right in going for it.
All I had to say was, "Absolutely, if you felt that you could do it." It
all lay in that--in this confidence in himself. And no man knows Hoylake
distances better. No doubt Mure was, and even is, a fine match-player,
especially a fine finisher of those few last holes when the match is to
be decided by them. David Lamb, brother of Henry, who has been often
mentioned, was a great player in his day, but he could not make much of
the game unless all was going right with him. And the quality of
match-playing depends very largely, as I think, on the ability to make
something of the game (if possible sufficient to avert defeat) when
things are not going kindly. But of all these St. Andrews' players, just
a little the best of the bunch, in my opinion, was Andy Stuart at that
particular moment. His golfing day was rather a short one, but few folks
realize how great a player he was, when at his best.


[Footnote 5: Frank Kinloch, as gallant a golfer of his class as ever
held a club, has died since this was written.]



In 1889, having, as aforesaid, exhibited to the Meadowbrook Club, on
Long Island, a specimen of what they were good enough to say "might be a
very good game for Sundays," I returned to Great Britain a brief while
before the amateur championship and went up to St. Andrews, very short
of practice, to take part in it. The second or third round brought me up
against Johnny Ball, and I put up a very poor fight against him. He was
playing respectably enough--not more, for he never has been a real lover
of St. Andrews--but I know that he had some satisfaction in thus getting
back on me a bit of what was his due. I know that he had a little of
this feeling because Johnny Laidlay told me that Hilton said to him, as
we started off, "If there is one man that Johnny Ball would like to beat
in the amateur championship, it's Horace Hutchinson." So he had his
wish, by some four or five holes, and it was at this same championship,
I think, that we first began to have an idea how sore a trouble Hilton
was going to be to us in the years to come. For he was playing Johnny
Laidlay, who was then at just about the best of his game--which is
saying much--and he stuck to Johnny like a man, though he was hardly
more than a boy, and Johnny confessed to me afterwards that he acquired
a great respect for Hilton's play from that time forward.

Now the outstanding feature of that meeting was, beyond all possible
question, the match between the two Johnnies, Laidlay and Ball. It was
not the final match, but probably it decided the final result. They
halved the round. Then, setting forth for extra holes, they halved the
first of these--and not too creditably, if the truth be told, for I
think the figure was five apiece. But the second hole they both played
like tigers. They had two good tee shots, Johnny Laidlay's being a yard
or two the longer. So Johnny Ball had to play. He took his cleek. Now to
reach that second hole in those days, when the ground was not so keen
and it was a gutty ball that had to be dealt with, with an iron club, at
all was no easy matter; but Johnny's shot looked a beauty. I judged it,
as it ran over the gradients, after pitching, to be as near perfection
as a shot could be, and to be resting very near the hole. Johnny Laidlay
then had to play; he, too, took a cleek; he, too, played a shot as near
perfect, as it seemed to me, as might be. My only doubt was whether it
was quite strong enough, whether it would quite hold its way over the
undulations, whether it might not possibly die away, even towards the
bunkers on the left, a little short of the green. I was, as events
proved, wrong in my estimate of both shots. Johnny Laidlay's had just
the strength to take the undulations at the right curve: it lay on the
green quite near the hole. Johnny Ball's had been a shade too strong: it
had even over-run the green and was in the bunker, just beyond. Of
course that was the end. No doubt it was a most unlucky shot; no doubt
it was a shot that deserved to win, rather than lose, a championship.
But I do not mean, saying this, to imply that there was any luck in
Johnny Laidlay's winning that match and that championship. His shot was
perfection. But Johnny Ball's was very perfect too. It must have been
given an unduly running fall. However, such is golf, and such is life.
Then Johnny Laidlay had to play Leslie Balfour in the final, and beat
him, as he really was likely to do, if both played their game. Gallant
player as Leslie was, Johnny had all the advantage of the years on his
side. Yet the time was to come, and many years later, when Leslie
actually should win the championship, beating Johnny in the final, and
in a very wonderful manner, as shall be told in its due place in the

Now all this while I have said mighty little about the open
championship, because really the golfing world in general took little
interest enough in it at that time. It was regarded as virtually an
affair of the professionals. Now and then a few of us amateurs took part
in it, but it was with scarcely an idea of possible success. And then,
all at once, something happened, in 1890, which put the open
championship within the possible grasp of the amateur, and therewith the
general interest in that great competition became at once very much more

Johnny Ball had won the amateur championship that year at Hoylake,
defeating Johnny Laidlay in the final. My own part in the contest was an
ignominious one, for I allowed myself to be defeated rather weakly by
Johnny Laidlay at the last hole after being one up with two to play. I
missed a short putt at the last hole, of which the memory is still

I was playing fairly well that year, notwithstanding, and went to
Prestwick for the open championship--began by missing a very holable
putt at the first hole and continued in a like vein throughout the two
rounds. So that was the end of me. And then I, having finished my futile
efforts, heard that Johnny Ball, who was still out, was doing terrible
things. I went out to meet him, and as he reeled off hole after hole in
the right figure it became apparent that "bar accidents" he was going to
do the most terrible thing that had ever yet been done in golf--he, as
an amateur, was going to win the open championship. Dr. Purves was
hurrying along at my elbow as we went, with the gallery, towards the
sixteenth hole. "Horace," he said to me, in a voice of much solemnity,
"this is a great day for golf." It was.

Johnny was playing with Willy Campbell, poor Willy Campbell, splendid
player, most gallant of match-fighters, certainly deserving of
championship honours and only missing them on the last occasion of the
championship being played at Prestwick by one of those fatal accidents,
very near home, bar which, as aforesaid, Johnny Ball was bound to win
the championship of 1890. But poor Willy on that occasion got heavily
bunkered; lost his head a little and perhaps his temper more than a
little. He had strokes to spare; but he wasted them hammering in that
bunker, and when I came into Charlie Hunter's shop at Prestwick half an
hour later I saw a sad sight. Willy Campbell was sitting on an upturned
bucket on one side of the door, his caddie had a similar humble seat on
the other side of the door, and both were weeping bitterly.

This, however, is a digression into a vale of tears. Johnny Ball did
not digress into any such vale. He continued the scoring of the right
figures and accomplished the great feat, for an amateur, of winning the
open championship. It was a win which made a difference. It seemed at
once to bring the open championship within the practical horizon of the
amateur for all years to come. It had broken a spell. Incidentally it
may be noted that it put Johnny Ball's name higher than any other's had
ever been, for he held the championship of the amateurs and of the
professionals at the same time.

And what interested me much at the moment was the attitude of the
professionals towards the result. I had expected that they would feel
rather injured by seeing the championship which they had been used to
regard as theirs going to an amateur. To my surprise that did not appear
to disconcert them in the least. What they did resent, however, so far
as resentment may be carried within the limits of perfectly good
sportsmanship, was that it should be won by an Englishman. You see, it
was not only the first time that it had ever been won by any other than
a professional, but also the first time it ever had been won by any
other than a Scot. That is a fact which will strike the reader with
astonishment now perhaps, when the poor Scots must have become fairly
well inured to Englishmen annexing the championship. Taylor and Vardon,
to say nothing of Harold Hilton, have taught them to grin and bear it as
best they may. But up to that time a Scot had ever been open champion of
the game of Scotland, and Scotland did not much like another taking it.

So that was "a great day for golf," as Dr. Purves had truly said to me.
It gave an added interest to all further competitions for this open
championship; for what an amateur had once done, it seemed as if an
amateur might do again, and thus the active interest was no longer
confined to the professionals. The amateurs became at once something
more than mere lookers on. There was only one man who did not seem to
realize that Johnny Ball had done a big thing, and that was Johnny Ball.
A week or so later he was playing a friendly match at Hoylake, and just
as he was starting a stranger came up to him and said, "Can you please
tell me, is the open champion playing here to-day?" and Johnny answered,
"Yes, I believe he is." On which the stranger started out at score over
the links in search of this "open champion," whom, presumably, he
expected to recognize by some special halo set about his brow if he
should come across him. Willie Park, fine all-round golfer and
magnificent putter, was the previous holder of the championship, which
he had won in 1889 at Musselburgh; and that was the last occasion on
which this open championship ever was played on that excellent old
nine-hole course. Just at this time the Honourable Company of Edinburgh
Golfers migrated down to Muirfield, and that green, instead of
Musselburgh, became the third championship arena, the other two, at that
date, being St. Andrews and Prestwick.



In 1890 I took rooms in London, near a studio, and begun the serious
study of anatomy and sculpture, with the idea of taking up sculpture as
a profession. It was an idea which conflicted a good deal with the
whole-souled devotion to golf. But following an attack of influenza, I
went out to Biarritz in the winter and there found some of the most
curious and amusing golf to be played that a man could meet with--up and
down immense cliffs, in lies that were unspeakably bad, and yet, withal,
the whole making, by some extraordinary means, not only an interesting
species of golf, but also a species that has produced some fine players.
Massy was then a boy there, going out in the sardine boats when he was
not at golf, and thus gaining a perfect indifference to stormy weather
which has been very valuable to him in his after life at golf. The
storms on the Basque coast are not to be beaten: they are scratch, or
even _plus_, as tempests.

Then Lord Kilmaine gave that Cup for foursome match competition between
Biarritz and Pau, which has been the occasion of grand fun every year
since. We had a terrific match on the first occasion of its playing.
Eric Hambro and I--he was only a boy then, though a big one--played
Johnny Low and poor Bobby Boreel, for Pau. We were any number of holes
up--I forget how many, but the result looked a dead certainty--and then
at one hole we put three shots running out of bounds. That was the
beginning of our undoing. Hole after hole slipped away, and I know that
it was only by a kindly dispensation of Providence that we even halved
that match, which we had reckoned as safely in our pockets. And in
playing off the tie, I think (I am not sure) that we were beaten.[6]

[Illustration: The Chasm on the old Biarritz Course.]

[Illustration: Arnaud Massy.]

But the result of these matches mattered little. What did matter was the
admirable fun we had out of them, the going and coming, to and from Pau
and Biarritz, the entertaining, the mutual compliments, the eating and
drinking. All the amenities of the match were so pleasant; for, with the
foursome for the cup, was played, at the same time, a team match, of
sides representing the two places. Some humorous incidents nearly always
occurred to make us all happy. After I married, my wife, walking in the
gallery, would often hear delightful comments on my play and other
qualities, and one or two of the most pleasant of these were culled in
these Pau and Biarritz matches. On one occasion I had Roller, the old
Surrey cricketer, as my partner. He was not playing with very great
confidence, and my wife overheard one man in the gallery say to another:
"Old Roller seems a bit nervous, doesn't he?" To which the other
replied, "Well, you'd be nervous, too, if you were playing with Horace
Hutchinson." "Why?" asked the first man, innocently. "Because he's got
such a devil of a temper" was the reply. That is the sort of comment
which it is most unfortunate that a wife should overhear.

A failing common in our family is that of going white-haired at a
comparatively early age. I began to put on that "crown of a virtuous
life" when I was no more than sixteen. Partly on that account I have
usually had the credit of being some years older than I am, and the
golfing reporter, with the usual unconscious humour of his kind, began
to write of me as "the veteran" at the age of thirty-five. One of the
most constant habitués of Biarritz was the fine old sportsman Mr.
Corrance, in his day the best shot in Norfolk, and, besides, a fine
fisherman, billiard player and expert at all sports and pastimes
demanding quick harmony of hand and eye. In the course of one of these
Pau and Biarritz matches, when I was playing for the seaside place and
we were not going very strongly, Mr. Corrance found himself walking
beside my wife. He knew her quite well, but for the moment had forgotten
her name, and at once began to discuss with her the chances of the
match. "The mistake is, you know," he said, "playing Horace Hutchinson.
He was a good player once, a very good player; but he's too old now"--I
think I was thirty-eight at the time--"they ought to have put in a young

One of the attractions of returning year by year to Biarritz was to note
the constantly increasing skill and power of Massy. Just off the green
at Biarritz the course was very loose and gritty. The accurate approach
was most difficult to play. Massy, of his own genius, had developed the
playing of the stroke very perfectly, and very curiously. He used to
swing the mashie very far back, in proportion to the distance that the
ball had to go, and to let it come back to the ball very slowly, with
very loose wrist. It is a stroke quite of his own invention, so far as I
know, and I never saw anyone else play it quite in the same way nor as
accurately. And out of the ranks of the Biarritz caddies came other good
and great players, such as Gassiat and that Daugé of whom Braid declares
that he can drive a ball to carry as far as his (Braid's) ball will go
with run and all. It seems a large order, but no doubt this Frenchman is
a wonder.

On the way home from Biarritz we used sometimes to take a rest at other
French golfing places, and most delightful was Dinard, where the course
goes out beside a sparkling sea. It was good golf and beautiful. And on
one occasion we took the Channel Islands on our way, and there my wife
had yet another chance of hearing pleasant things said of me. Stuart
Anderson was at Jersey. He was son of the English clergyman whom we have
all known at North Berwick. A match was arranged--I think with some
little money on it, though I had none--that I should play him thirty-six
holes; and coming out in the train from St. Heliers to Gorey, where the
links are, my wife heard some one say to another, discussing the match,
"I hope Anderson beats that fellow Hutchinson; he swaggers so." However,
on that occasion, I escaped the salutary chastisement. I played fairly
steadily, and after a while Stuart Anderson broke up a little and let me
win pretty easily. The course at Jersey is a worthy school for those
great golfers, the Vardons, Ray and so on that it has sent out since;
but at that time the one who gave most promise was Renouf. He was not
more than a boy, but he was a demon putter.

I had for caddie at Jersey a very small and very stolid little boy. Most
of the Jersey folk are bi-lingual, speaking English and French
indifferently, but this little boy seemed to have no tongue at all; I
could not get a word out of him. But towards the end of the round there
is, or there was, a hole which was just to be reached by an extra long
drive from the tee. I made a very fine drive to this green, and the
ball, as we came up, proved to be stone dead, just six inches to the
right of the hole. And then this astonishing little boy did open his
mouth, and, still with the solemnity of a cod-fish on his face,
ejaculated this comment on what was perhaps the very finest stroke I
ever played in my life--"Too much to the roight!"

It was perfectly just criticism. The shot was "too much to the
roight"--by six inches, at the end of a very long drive. Had it not been
so, the ball would have been in the hole. I do not know to this day
whether that little boy was a humourist of the very finest and
dryest--really of the _extra sec_--quality, or whether he was just the
very stupidest thing ever made in the Channel Islands.

From there we went to Guernsey, where the caddies were certainly
anything but stupid. They were little girls, bare-legged and
bare-headed, but wonderfully keen and wonderfully pious, for they would
make the sign of the cross over the line of the opponent's putt to
prevent the ball going into the hole. And really it is extraordinary how
difficult it is to putt straight along a line that has been thus
crossed. Guernsey has a course which is finer in some of its natural
qualities than that of Jersey, yet it does not seem to have grown a
single great golfer, whereas the Jersey soil seems to bring them up like
weeds. It is rather curious. But the great days of the Jersey professors
had not yet dawned. Harry Vardon was still working in a garden not far
from the Gorey links, with dreams, perhaps, of future glory, but no
present achievement. Massy was picking the ball up with his marvellous
nicety from the loose rubble of the stuff just off the Biarritz greens,
but had not yet gone in the train of Sir Everard Hambro, my own most
kindly host at Biarritz, to North Berwick. The Scottish golfers had
received the first shock to their national pride, in seeing the open
championship of their own game won by an Englishman. It had not yet
entered into their astonished heads that it was to be won by invaders
from outside the British Islands.


[Footnote 6: I have been since assured, by Eric (now Sir Eric) Hambro,
that we won on the last green.--H.G.H.]



What between trying to be sculptor and succeeding in getting married, I
did not pay all the attention that I should have done to golf in the
early nineties. Hilton was runner-up in the amateur championship, first
to Johnny Laidlay and then to Johnny Ball, in 1891 and 1892
respectively: so we may regard him as thoroughly well arrived. In 1893
Mr. Peter Anderson, at Prestwick, beat Johnny Laidlay in the final for
the amateur championship and so broke up our triumvirate. I was not
there, and know nothing of the merits of that champion, who soon, on
account of an unfortunate chest weakness, migrated to Australia. But the
amateur championship of 1892 deserves a special word, because it was
played for the first time at Sandwich. It was a sign of the times, sign
of a generous policy on part of the Scottish clubs, sign of an extension
of the golfing spirit, that this South-country green was welcomed into
the sacred number of those on which championships should be played.

In that same year, though I was not golfing very assiduously, I was at
North Berwick when the open championship was played at Muirfield, and
had a narrow escape of winning that open championship. It was the first
year that the competition was extended to an affair of seventy-two
holes, stretching over two days. Previously, two rounds, or thirty-six
holes, had decided it, and at the end of the first two rounds I
astonished myself and most other people by finding myself heading all
the field. I forget by how many I had the advantage, but I think it was
by two or three strokes. Then, on the morning of the second day, hitting
off from that first tee at Muirfield, which then was not far out from
the wall, I pulled my very first shot over the garden wall, and took I
forget how many to the hole. But I remember intimately that this evil
start had a baleful influence against which I struggled in vain; I went
from bad to worse, and what my eventual score was for the seventy-two
holes I do not know.


    J.E. Laidlay.
    Horace G. Hutchinson.
    John Ball, junr.
    P.C. Anderson.]

[Illustration: H.H. Hilton.]

Really it was rather hard luck: if only they had deferred that extension
of the test, from thirty-six to seventy-two holes, for one year more I
might have written myself open champion, but it was not to be; and as
it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, so that extra day gave
Hilton just the opportunity he wanted. I can see him now as he came up
to the last hole--I had gone out to meet him hearing that he had been
doing very well--walking along at top speed, chatting volubly with his
friends, very pleased with himself, as he well might be, brimful of
confidence and with the smoke trailing up from his cigarette, even while
he was playing the ball, so that it seemed impossible that he could see
through it to hit the ball correctly. But he did hit it mighty
correctly, for all that, and won the championship. I believe he did
several conjuring tricks during the course of the round, such as holding
mashie pitches from the edge of the green. But however he did it, he
won, and therewith, from that time forward, established himself as very
distinctly the best amateur score-player that we have ever seen. Of that
there can be no question.

So far as I can make out I played very little golf in 1893. Probably I
was amusing myself with being ill, in some form or other, but in 1894, I
had golf and greatness thrust upon me by being elected captain of the
Royal Liverpool Golf Club. The local people showed me no little
kindness, and made my year of office very pleasant. I stayed at the ever
hospitable house of Alec Sinclair, most cheery of companions, just
beside the links, and I see by the record that they were kind enough to
let me win the first medal on the first day of the spring meeting and
again the first medal on the first day of the autumn meeting. The
following year I was not at the spring meeting, but at the autumn
meeting I won the first medal on both days. The next year again I won
the second medal on both days of the autumn meeting--rather a quaint
record and one that I am proud of.

I am proud, because those Hoylake medals were not very easy to win. The
local talent, with Johnny Ball and Hilton always on hand--Jack Graham
was not yet a force to reckon with--was very formidable. But I remember
that on one of these winning occasions I had a portentous piece of luck.
It was playing to the then third hole. We drove from the present second
tee, but the green was about where some estimable gentleman's
dining-room now stands--far to the left of the present second green. It
was a ridge and furrow green, so that though you could reach the hole
with an iron club for the second shot you were grateful enough if you
holed out in four. By some providential chance my second, with the
driving iron, found its way into the hole, saving two clear shots. It
is the biggest and best fluke I ever had on a medal day, and I took good
advantage of it.

By way of showing what an extraordinary condition the handicapping at
some of the Clubs had fallen into at that date, I may note that Johnny
Ball, Hilton and I were all handicapped at Hoylake, for a short time
about this period, at _plus_ eleven! You see what the effect was--you
see what kind of player a scratch player would be, when there were such
penalty handicaps as this. As a matter of fact I believe the absurdity
arose from a tender feeling for the too acute sensibilities of certain
players who had been what was known as "scratch" in the old days and
liked to style themselves so still, and yet could only be kept on the
scratch mark, in any reasonable handicap, by penalizing the good players
to such a terrific extent as this.

In that year, 1894, when I was captain of the club, the amateur
championship was played on the Hoylake course, and I have a lively
remembrance of it because it was the first time that I came up against
poor Freddy Tait, as a grown golfer, and suffered at his hands and from
the peculiar characteristics of his game. Again and again I had the
better of him, in a tight and well-fought match, and again and again he
came up, from somewhere right off the green, with a wonderful approach,
which he followed by a good putt and so halved the hole. Going to the
last hole we were all even. His second was away to the left, far off the
green. He laid up one of his usual approaches and put himself within
holable distance. My own second was a very good one, and I had a chance
of a three. I know even now that I went for it all too boldly, rather
tired by the recoveries of the gallant Freddy. He holed his putt. I,
with a much shorter one to hole, missed: and so he won hole and match.

He was really but a lad then, though a strong and sturdy one, but in the
next round he met his master in Mure Ferguson. That brought Mure into
the final with Johnny Ball against him, and very gallantly Mure played.
Johnny had some holes the better of him to begin with, but he was not,
even then, playing quite like his old self, and he let Mure wear him
down, and only by a very daring and splendid shot at the seventeenth
hole did he take the lead and practically settle the match, and the

Freddy Tait was the very keenest golfer, as a boy, that I ever saw. I
had watched him at St. Andrews, growing up from small boy's to young
man's estate, and acquiring the mastery of his clubs as he grew. He was
a favourite with everybody. At this time, when he beat me at Hoylake, he
was still in the hard-hitting phase of his game, rejoicing, as a young
man will, in his strength, and delighting to let the ball have it. And
he had great strength. Later, as his game developed, he grew to play
more within himself with more reserve force to call up when occasion
required it, than any other first-class player, and at times he played
very finely and very accurately indeed. But at all times, even when he
was not playing accurately, he was very dangerous, just by reason of
this, his marvellous faculty for recovery, which he exhibited even in
this match against me at Hoylake. You never had him beaten at any hole.
That not only made him in himself very formidable, but it also made him
very difficult to play against, because you never felt any confidence
that you had him. I do not know whether it was this quality of his game,
or some other influence more psychic and personal, but for some reason
Harold Hilton appeared to find it almost impossible to produce his true
game when he was brought up against Freddy Tait. He gives some account
of it in his own reminiscences, showing too that by steadfast work and
stern endeavour to get the better of that influence--really it was as if
Freddy put the evil eye on him--he was succeeding in conquering it. He
made a progressively better fight in their later matches. For Johnny
Ball, on the other hand, Freddy had no terrors. I was surprised, looking
through poor Freddy's biography, written by Johnny Low, to see how
consistently Johnny Ball had the better of Freddy--I think with only one
exception of any importance at all--in the many matches that they played
together. I had thought the balance would have stood far more level,
especially as Johnny was not quite at his best when Freddy began to
tackle him. Their matches were well fought and close, but Johnny won a
very big majority.

[Illustration: Freddy Tait.

(With Championship Cup.)]



I have said that a little white-haired boy used to carry my clubs at
Westward Ho! in my Oxford days. Also that, a few years later,
reappearing as an assistant greenkeeper on the course, he was put
against me, representing the Northam village club against the Royal
North Devon, and gave me a beating. The next year the Club organized a
professional tournament. Archie Simpson, at that time in the best of his
form and one of the most likely champions, though he never did win the
championship, came down to take part in it, and at a certain point in
the competition word came in to the club-house that Taylor (he was the
little white-haired boy, and the lad who beat me for the village club)
was leading the great Archie, and likely to beat him. Therefore there
sallied forth a gallery to see this great thing happen; and thereby
effectively prevented its happening, for the gallery affected the
untried nerves of the lad, he fell away from grace, and Archie Simpson
just got home on him.

Soon after that, Canon, now Monsignor, Kennard, carried him off to take
charge of the green at Burnham in Somersetshire, and a year or two
later, at the open championship at Prestwick (I think in the year that
Auchterlonie won) Taylor electrified everybody by putting in a first
round which was better than ever had been heard of before. But he could
not keep it going and failed to make good.

[Illustration: _From "Golf and Golfers" (Longmans, Green & Co.)_

J.H. Taylor.

(With his eye on the place where the ball used to be.)]

[Illustration: Harry Vardon.

"Will it go in?"]

In 1894 the open was at Sandwich. From first to last there was one, and
one only, most likely winner--J. H. Taylor. His driving was of so
marvellous a correctness that it was said that the guide flags were his
only hazards, and his pitching was perfect. He was but twenty-three, and
I feared all the while lest he should not be able to keep it up. Coming
to the last hole he had strokes to spare to win it. I think a seven
would have served him. I found myself beside Philpot, so long at
Mitcham, but an old Northam man, and said, "He's bound to be right now,
unless he goes to pieces altogether." Philpot answered with confidence,
"He won't do that, if I know anything of 'un." And he did not. He played
that last hole quite sufficiently well. The championship was his.

It meant a great deal, that championship. It meant a great deal not only
to Taylor personally, but also to all English professional golf. You
see, Taylor was really the first English professional. Hitherto, when we
wanted professionals, we had always been importing them from the North.
It did not occur to the English caddie that he might become a
professional, that there were possibilities, and money, in it. But all
these possibilities the success of Taylor revealed to the English.
Moreover, Taylor in himself was not only a very fine golfer; he was also
a very fine, in some respects a very remarkable, man. He had a
character. He was determined to go straight, to give himself all
chances. He was teetotal. He had himself perfectly in hand in every
way. He was a great example to the profession and to all the English
that should take it up, following his example. It is not easy to
over-rate what that success of Taylor's meant for the professional golf
of England. It was an influence which re-acted upon Scotland too.

The next year, at St. Andrews, Taylor won again, and really there seemed
no particular reason at that time why he should not go on winning
indefinitely. He was distinctly more accurate and certain than any of
the older men, and there seemed no immediate sign of any younger man
coming up to dispute his supremacy.

And then at Muirfield, the following year, I heard (I was not there) to
my surprise that one Harry Vardon, a Jersey man, had tied with him. We
had heard of the Vardons by this time, but the common idea was that Tom,
the other brother, was the stronger man. It was not Taylor's idea,
however. He told me afterwards that he had realized, even then, even
before the competition, what a terror this Harry Vardon was. Perhaps it
was the consciousness of this that helped Harry Vardon to beat him in
playing off the tie; for beat him, to my great surprise, he did, and so
there we have the second of our great men already arrived.

In spite of this defeat by the great Harry, whose unique greatness even
then we did not at all fully appreciate, the big man in golf was still
Taylor. He was still at the very top of his game. And about the same
time we began to hear that there was a young fellow working as a
club-maker at the Army and Navy Stores, who was capable of playing a
very good game of golf. He was said to be a cousin of Douglas Rolland,
the great driver, and, like him, to come from Elie, in Fifeshire. His
name was James Braid. Few people knew much about him, but the few who
had seen him play had the greatest opinion of his game. He was brought
forward, on half-holidays when he could get away from the Stores, to
play exhibition matches, and amongst these matches was one that he
played against Taylor at West Drayton; and he played that great man to a
level finish.

That was a result which caused a buzz of talk. The young fellow at the
Stores was evidently worth watching, perhaps worth exploiting. Not very
long after this the newly formed club at Romford, in Essex, found itself
in want of a professional. James Braid was engaged for the post.

I had a game with him shortly after he was appointed to that job, and
what impressed me about him more than anything else was the enormous
distance that he could smite the ball with the cleek. I remember that
this ability to get huge distances with the iron clubs was the quality
that had most struck me when first I became acquainted with the game of
Rolland, and I said to Braid, "It seems to me you can drive just as far
as Douglas Rolland can." He looked at me a moment, as if in a kind of
mild surprise that I should make such a comment, and said, "Oh yes, sir,
I think I can do that."

It was an amusing answer: also it was an answer which meant a good deal,
coming from a man so absolutely unable to swagger or to over-rate his
own power as James Braid. I realized that we had here a great force in
golf; but it was rather a long while before he made that force fully
felt. Nevertheless it was there: he too had "arrived," though it was
not for a year or two that he was fated to begin the writing of his name
first on the championship list. But he was there: the triumvirate was

Never, as leaders at any game, were there three men so closely matched
with methods so widely different. You may put that down in large
measure, if you please, to the physical, anatomical differences of the
three: there was Taylor, square, short, compact, stubby; there was
Braid, long, loose-jointed; and there was Vardon, a happy medium between
the two, and really a very finely-shaped specimen of a powerful human
being. It is hardly to be questioned which of the three had the most
perfect and beautiful style. Vardon hits up his body a little, away from
the ball, as he raises the club--that is a movement which we should tell
a learner was apt to unsettle the aim a little. It did not upset
Vardon's aim; but then Vardon was rather past the learner stage. For the
rest his style was the perfection of power and ease. Taylor, with the
ball opposite the right toe and every stroke played rather on the model
generally approved for the half iron shot, had a style as peculiar as
his "cobby" build, and specially adapted for it. Braid swung in a
loose-jointed way at the ball that did not suggest the mastery and the
accuracy which he achieved. I have spoken of a kind of "divine fury"
with which he launched himself at the ball. Those were long before the
days of his studies in "Advanced Golf" and so on. I doubt whether he
played according to any very conscious method. But the results well
justified the method, or the method-lessness. For a while there was
little to choose between these three great ones.

[Illustration: James Braid.]

[Illustration: Horace Hutchinson and Leslie Balfour Melville at the
starting box at St. Andrews.]

But by degrees it became evident that there was a choice: that one really
was distinctly better than the other two. Certainly there was a while,
just before he had to go to a health resort, with a threatening of
tuberculosis, when Harry Vardon was in a class by himself. For a while
he was, I think, two strokes in the round better than either Taylor or
Braid, and, I believe, better than any other man that we have seen. He
was the first professional I ever saw play in knickerbockers, and with
the flower at his button-hole he set a mode of gaiety and smartness to
the rest which younger men were not slow to follow. There was a gay
_insouciance_ about his whole manner of addressing himself to the game
which was very attractive. It was as different, as their styles were
different, from the imperturbability of Braid or again from the tense
and highly strung temperament of Taylor. The three great men provided a
striking contrast in every particular. But they had this in common, that
they all took the game earnestly and kept themselves very fit and well,
in order to do their best in it; therein marking a new point of
departure from the usual mode of the Scottish professional of old days,
who was a happy-go-lucky fellow, not taking all the care of himself that
he should if he was to excel in such a strenuous game as golf. And the
example of these men was infectious, so that we have now arrived at the
date of the coming of the great army of English professionals.



Lord Moncrief (then Wellwood) writing in the Badminton Book on Golf, had
said that ladies were relegated and restricted to a species of "Jew's
quarter" where they were graciously permitted to play with a single
club, the putter, those little strokes which we all of us are fond of
saying are the most important in the game of golf, but which we all feel
to be the least interesting.

It was either in 1892 or 1893 that Lord Eldon asked me to stay with him
at his Gloucestershire place, Stowell Park, on the Cotswolds, and there,
incidentally, I received quite a new impression as to the possibilities
of feminine golf. I had already played on the long links at Prestwick in
foursome matches with the Misses Whigham--Johnny Laidlay being the man
on the other side, and taking one of the sisters as his partner, while I
took the other; but they had not then come to their full golfing due.
They were rather in the phase which would now be known as the "flapper
stage." Still, they played remarkably well. But the most remarkable
thing, as we thought then, was not that they should play the long game
so well, but that they should play it at all. It was like Dr. Johnson's
comment about the dancing dogs. They played, and we as their partners
played, with all consciousness that we were guilty things, doing that
which we ought not to do. It was an enormity for ladies to play on the
long links at all.

At Stowell Lord Eldon had a course of nine very good and interesting
holes in the park, and there I found the Scott brothers, Osmond and
Denys, playing with their sister, Lady Margaret. I had never at that
time seen any lady capable of playing at all the same kind of game that
Lady Margaret could and did play. You must remember that these were the
days of the solid gutta-percha balls, which were far less easy to pick
up clean off the ground and raise, without putting a little slice on
them, than the modern rubber-cores. The ladies have especially been
helped by the more resilient balls which rise more readily. But Lady
Margaret Scott had a perfect facility in picking the ball up with her
brassey, off the ordinary lie of the course, and sending it flying
straight to the mark without any slice on it. She had a very long, an
exaggeratedly long, swing back, but then the weakness of the extra long
swing back was not realized at that time as it is now, and certainly she
never seemed to lose control of the club, although there must have been
some wasted labour about it.

I never had seen a lady able to play golf at all as Lady Margaret played
the game. She had all the crisp and well-cut approach strokes at her
command. It was some years after this that the ladies' championship was
started. Meanwhile ladies, greatly daring, had begun to play on the long
links. As a rule they would have been both better and happier on their
own short putting greens; but there were exceptions who were quite able,
by their skill, to appreciate the longer courses and to play them as
well as the men. As soon as ever the ladies' championship was
instituted, Lady Margaret Scott (now Hamilton Russell) justified all the
opinions I had formed of her game by winning that championship three
times in annual succession. And I think that the only reason why she did
not go on winning it was that she did not go on playing for it. Surely
she had done enough for glory.

It is very unprofitable work trying to estimate the relative golfing
merits of different generations, but I am disposed to think that our
best ladies of to-day (whom shall we name? I think Miss Ravenscroft and
Miss Leitch) are not greatly better, if at all, than Lady Margaret at
her best. We have to take the difference in balls into consideration for
one thing. It is certain that the change to the livelier ball has helped
the best of the ladies more than the best of the men. But I get a
certain line of comparison in this way: some of the finest of the lady
golfers, when ladies first began to invade the long links, were the
Misses Orr. They used to play at North Berwick. But they did not, in the
daring fashion of the ladies to-day, claim to play at reasonable hours.
They started very early and were finishing their round when lazy men
were finishing their breakfast. They were just about representative of
the best feminine golf of the time, and on the only occasion in which
they took part in the Ladies' Championship one sister beat another in
the final. I played one of them at Nairn, giving, as far as I remember,
a half, and that seemed to bring us very nearly together. In these
latter days, since the ladies have claimed, and as I think, quite
rightly claimed, practically an equal right to our long links, we have
had several matches at odds of a half, and again they have worked out
very level. There was that much-talked-of match between Miss Cecil
Leitch and Harold Hilton. The lady won it. I do not think that either
played up to his or her true game, unless it was perhaps Miss Leitch in
the final round. But the match was a close one, showing that the odds
were adequate for bringing the sexes to something like a golfing
equality. Then again, giving the same odds of a half, we played a team
of men against a team of ladies at Stoke Poges. The one side was just
about as representative as the other. Our masculine side won. To this
day I do not know how we won: I do not understand how it is that the
best of the men (speaking of amateurs) is able to give the best of the
ladies anything like a half, but it does appear that these are very
approximately the right odds, and it also appears that these have been
just about the odds ever since the ladies began to play the long game.
The inference is that the quality of the game of the best of them has
not greatly altered. I know that when I played Miss Violet Hezlet in
that Stoke Poges match, I found myself hardly at all in front of her off
the tee, when we both hit good shots, going against the wind. Down the
wind it was quite another story: I could outdrive her usefully with the
wind behind. And here I think it possible to give ladies a hint by which
they might profit: if they would but tee their ball high, going down the
wind, they would find it far more easy to give it that hoist into the
air which is essential for its getting advantage of the favour of the
breeze. They seem to have a lofty-minded idea that there is something
not quite right about putting the ball on a high tee--that it is rather
on a par with potting the white at billiards. It is splendid of them to
have such fine and noble ideals, but it would be to their practical
advantage to forget them now and then.

And I am quite sure that the ladies, as a rule, do not take the pains
they should about their putting and the short game generally. There is
but one of them, Miss Grant Suttie, so far as I have seen, who really
studies her putts as a good man player studies them, and that is because
she has played so much with men at North Berwick and has adopted their
methods. She has her advantage therein, for she is the most certain on
the green of all the ladies. It is a wonder, seeing that it is a part of
the game which demands delicacy of touch and no strength of muscle, that
ladies do not putt far better than men. As a general rule they putt far

Naturally, when this incursion of the ladies arrived on the links of the
men, it intensified the trouble of those problems of the congestion of
the green which were already beginning to be acute. Naturally, too, men
dealt with the incursion according to their powers and according to
their gallantry. No doubt it was felt that it was a hard and
discourteous thing to deny the ladies equal rights, even over the
private courses. Obviously, on the public courses they had the equal
right, and they were not shy of claiming it. On the private courses we
used to hear at first, "It's absurd, these ladies not sticking to their
own course: they can't drive far enough to be able to appreciate the
long course," and so on. But then it very soon became evident that they
could drive further and play better than a large number of the male
members of the Club, which rather knocked the bottom out of that
argument. As a rule some compromise was effected, the ladies being
restricted to certain hours--after all, the men were generally workers,
so that they had the more claim to have the course at their disposal in
their hours of leisure. A very good form of compromise is that which is
in vogue at Biarritz, and it may be commended to the notice of other
Clubs. There is one afternoon in the week set apart for all and sundry
ladies, but besides this there is a permission for ladies whose handicap
is four or under to play at any time and on equal terms with the men.
This seems to meet the case admirably, for it keeps off the links the
inefficient lady players who would be apt to block the green and whose
right place is their own short course, while it freely admits those who
are capable of appreciating the blessings of the long course and are
quite as good golfers as the average of the men whom they will meet
there. As time goes on it appears as if we shall be fortunate if the
ladies do not take exclusive possession of the links, and only allow us
men upon them at the hours which are the least convenient.



The first architect of the inland courses, when golfers began to learn
that inland courses might, in some large measure, give them the game
that they wanted, was Tom Dunn. He went about the country laying the
courses out, and as he was a very courteous Nature's gentleman, and
always liked to say the pleasant thing, he gave praise to each course,
as he contrived it, so liberally that some wag invented the conundrum.
"Mention any inland course of which Tom Dunn has not said that it is the
best of its kind ever seen."

His idea--and really he had but one--was to throw up a barrier, with a
ditch, called for euphony's sake a "bunker," on the near side of it,
right across the course, to be carried from the tee, another of the same
kind to be carried with the second shot, and similarly a third, if it
was a three shot hole, for the third shot. It was a simple plan, nor is
Tom Dunn to be censured because he could not evolve something more like
a colourable imitation of the natural hazard. A man is not to be
criticized because he is not in advance of his time.

Moreover, these barriers had at least the merit that they were
uncompromising. You had to be over them, or else you found perdition,
and if you only hacked the ball out a little way beyond the first
barrier with your first shot you could not carry the second barrier
with your third. You were like a hurdle racer who has got out of his

The course, constructed on these lines, on which I used to play most,
from London, was Prince's at Mitcham--the most convenient of access of
all, before the days of motors. I used to have great matches here with
Jack White, before Sunningdale was made and he went there in charge.

Subsequently the mantle of Tom Dunn, as course constructor in chief,
fell on the shoulders of Willy Park, and his ideas were more varied. He
was also a good deal more thorough, more elaborate and more expensive in
his dealings with the inland courses. He was the first to advocate the
wholesale ploughing up of the soil of the course, and the re-sowing. He
architected Broadstone, Sunningdale and a host more, and when he had
finished with the Sunningdale green he had certainly produced the best
thing in the way of an inland course that up to that time had been
created. He did his work well, but it was not entirely or even mainly
due to him that Sunningdale was so good. The soil was more light and
sandy, more like the real seaside links, than that of any other inland

They had done wonderful things at New Zealand, where Mr. Lock-King, with
Mure Ferguson aiding and abetting, had fastened mighty engines to pine
trees and dragged them up by the roots, fashioning a golf course out of
a pine forest.

That was pioneer's work in a double sense, for it not only engineered
this particular course where the trees had covered all the land, but it
also showed to other people how possible it was to make a course out of
forest in other places. It is not only possible, but it is also a good
deal less laborious, to grub up the forest trees than it is to get rid
of a very dense growth of smaller undergrowth, such as there was to deal
with at Le Touquet, in France, for instance. Then the soil in all this
pine forest country, such as we see about Woking and Byfleet, is very
light and sandy, as the inland soils go, so that it was fine natural
material for golf when once the trees had gone. The latest construction
of the kind is at St. George's Hill, near Weybridge, where the trees had
been much better cared for for generations and in consequence were far
larger and more difficult of up-rooting than at New Zealand. There they
had to blast the boles of the trees with dynamite before they could get
them out of the ground. But of course the bigger timber was of greater
value and helped to pay the labour bill.

These forest courses have done another thing for us, they have taught us
the value of a tree as a golfing hazard. Our forefathers would have
scoffed at the idea of a tree on a golf links, although there was for
many a long year opportunity for the golfer to find trouble in the trees
which came out threatening the course at a certain point at North
Berwick. But then they did not have their actual roots in the soil of
the links itself. They were outside it, over the boundary wall. But as
for the opportunities which the tree hazard gives for those subtleties
of slicing and pulling round, or of cutting the ball up with a very
vertical rise, let those who have seen Harry Vardon on a course of this
tree-beset kind bear witness. And the tree has at least this virtue:
that it is permanent. It does not get trodden down and hacked out of
existence by a niblick as the faint-hearted whin does.

At Woking the natural trouble on the ground was heather rather than
trees, and a fine course they have made of it. But of all, that at
Sunningdale has always seemed to me just about the best of the inland
ones--certainly the best of the earlier made ones. Then I was at Walton
Heath, as a guest of Mr. Cosmo Bonsor's kindly hospitality, when that
great inland green was opened. Harry Colt had by that time gone to
Sunningdale, and was making improvements on the original plan of Willy
Park, but Walton Heath was a monument to the skill of that other of our
amateur course constructors, Herbert Fowler. He made a very good thing
of it, as the wonderful success of that Club has testified since. But it
soon passed out of the hands of Mr. Bonsor, and for how much the energy
of Sir George Riddell, who acquired the chief interest in it, counted in
its popularity it would be very hard to say. Assuredly it counted for a
great deal. Then they had James Braid, importing him from Romford, and
his attractive personality and great fame helped the Club. Another like
him, our old friend Taylor, was by this time established at Mid-Surrey,
and the Club there was a power, by reason of the goodness of its green,
its numbers and the strong players belonging to it.

It would be a very dull and futile business to go into all the
development of the inland golf which went on during these years. Enough
has been said. But you could not draw anything like a full picture of
the golf of the last fifty years without noticing this development. The
inland Clubs, and especially those about London, have become a force. As
their members go forth to play from the big City which is the common
centre they are the better able to make their opinion felt; and their
word has become of importance in modern golf. It is possible that it is
destined to have a larger importance yet. But I have no business with

And also there are big inland Clubs, which have already brought weight
to bear on golfing counsels, in the Midlands. They have associated
themselves into a Union, as have several other clusters, and all these
help in the forming and expression of opinion. But, apart from all this,
the great reason why they attract members and why they are able to carry
weight at all is that their courses are so good. The course constructor
has been learning, and so has the greenkeeper. I had a delightful letter
from Peter Lees, the famous greenkeeper to the Mid-Surrey Club. He
writes: "When I find the worms too numerous, I reduce them." The worm
used to be the great trouble and despair of the guardian of the inland
putting green in the old days, but here we have Lees writing of dealing
with them as it were by the very nod of Jove. When he finds them too
numerous, he "reduces them." The mode of reduction is so well known and
so easy that he does not think it worth while to waste a word of
explanation on it. We have the nice story of a certain greenkeeper of
the olden school being asked, "What kind of grass is this?" the inquirer
referring to a sample that he had just picked up from the course. "Oh,"
came the puzzled reply, "there's only one sort of grass--green grass."
That is a reply that is almost typical of the "green-ness" of the
greenkeeper in the earliest days of the management--if that is the right
word for it--of the inland greens, but the modern keeper has to
"discourse in learned phrases" of such varieties as fescues and poas,
and hardly thinks himself entitled to full respect unless he can fire
you off all the Latin names of the varieties of grasses that occur on
our inland greens and courses. The keeping has really become quite a

And at their best, that is when the weather is treating them kindly,
there is not that vast difference in quality between the best of our
inland greens and the seaside greens which our forefathers have led us
to suppose. The big merit of the seaside links, which the inland can
never hope to match, is that it is such a good all-weather course. With
its porous soil it does not become so water-logged in the wet years, nor
does it become so dessicated in the dry. It is a more perpetual joy. But
the days are long past when men could say that the seaside links were
the only ones worth playing on, or that the seaside Clubs alone were
worthy of attention.



Whether on account of ill-health, or for what reasons, I do not know, I
was not a very sedulous attendant at the championships in the later
nineties. The consequence was that I missed seeing one or two very
notable finishes. I was not at St. Andrews, for instance, that year when
Leslie Balfour-Melville won, having carried each of his last three
matches to the nineteenth hole, and each of his three opponents being
obliging enough to plop his ball into the burn at that very crucial
point of the business. What made it the more notable is that the last of
these burn-ploppers was no other than Johnny Ball himself. Neither was I
at Muirfield when Dr. Allan won, bicycling over each day, from a
considerable distance, to the course, and playing without a nail in his
boot--surely the most casual and unconcerned of champions. And I missed,
too, that great finish between Johnny Ball and Freddy Tait, at
Prestwick, when they were all even at the end of thirty-six holes, after
playing the ball out of water and doing all kinds of conjuring tricks at
the thirty-fifth hole: and then Johnny settled the affair by getting a
scarcely human three at the thirty-seventh. But I was at Sandwich a year
or two before when Freddy Tait did win the championship, beating Harold
Hilton in the final. I was even one of his victims on that occasion. He
was playing well, but he gave me a chance or two going out and I was two
up at the turn. Then, at the tenth hole I had a bit of bad luck: I lay,
off the tee shot, in the middle of the course, right in a deep divot-cut
left by a never identified but never to be sufficiently execrated
sinner. So Freddy won that hole, and he out-played me soundly on the
long holes coming in. I remember that I had a great fight the day before
with that very gallant golfer, who never did himself full justice in the
big fights, Arnold Blyth. We halved the round and I only beat him at the
twenty-second hole.

[Illustration: Amateur Championship, St. Andrews, 1901.

J.L. Low (driving) and H.H. Hilton.]

[Illustration: Amateur Championship, St. Andrews, 1895.

John Ball. F.G. Tait (studying his putt).]

I was at St. Andrews, too, in 1901 and saw the finish between Harold
Hilton and Johnny Low, one of the best that ever has been played. Here,
too, I was the victim of the ultimate winner; and I do not know that I
had any need to be beaten by him, for though Hilton won this
championship, he has said himself in his memoirs that he was not playing
as he should, at the time. I believe the truth to have been, as he
himself suggests, that we were all a little frightened of him. I
remember we started in pouring rain, and he won the first three holes
off me. Then the weather improved and so did I, so that I wore off these
three holes and got one up with five to play. At this fatal point I
pulled my tee shot into one of those pernicious little bunkers on the
Elysian Fields called the Beardies, and the final holes Hilton played
more strongly than I did and won by two and one to play. It is a curious
thing that the only other time of my meeting him in the amateur
championship, which was at Hoylake in the year that Johnny Ball won from
Aylmer in the final, the match was almost a replica of this former one.
Again he won the first three holes, again I wore him down and got one up
with five to play, and again I chucked away the advantage, and it looked
almost sure that he would again win by two and one. But I holed a good
putt at the seventeenth to save that hole. He gave me no chance of
winning the last, and so again he beat me. These are the only two
meetings we have had in the championship, and neither, from my point of
view, is very glorious in the telling.

The year 1900 was a very unhappy one in the history of golf. In that
year a Boer bullet ended the life of one of the most gay and
gallant-hearted fellows that ever took up a club, Freddy Tait, and
incidentally took a good deal of the interest out of the golf of our
generation. That year, and also the next, Johnny Ball was out at the
war, and did not take part in the championship; and I think that these
are actually the only two occasions since the institution of the amateur
championship that he has not had a hand in it. He is very capable of
taking a master hand still.

I have said little of the open championship during these years, for the
reason that it has never had anything like the same attraction for me,
either to play in or as a spectacle, as the amateur, in which golfers
are brought together in matches, and there is the clash of temperaments,
the man to man contest, the one bringing out (or driving in, as the case
may be) all that is best in the other. I cannot see that any scoring
competition ever competes, in the human and psychological interest, with
such duels as these.

But the story of the open championship for very many a year now--that is
to say, from 1899 right away to 1913--is the story of the repeated
triumphs of three men, Taylor, Vardon, Braid, one or other accounting
for the championship in no less than fifteen of these years, and for the
rest allowing a win each to Harold Hilton, to Herd, to White, to Massy
and to Ray--a wonderful record, but one which shows a certain monotony.
Of the championship of 1902, both amateur and open, the story has its
peculiar interest, because this was the year of the introduction of the
indiarubber-cored--then called Haskell--balls, about which many fables
are to be narrated. And I am going to cut the story of these
championships rather short, at this point, because I seem to have so
much to say both about the first Haskell ball championship and also
about the amateur championships of 1903 and 1904, that either one of
them cries aloud for the dignity of a chapter all to itself.

These, or just about these, were the years of the formation of the
wandering teams, notably of the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society,
formed on the model of the wandering cricket clubs, such as the I.
Zingari and the Free Foresters. These admirable institutions had no
club-house, no green, only a corporate existence, and they said to the
various Clubs, "Now, you give us the free run of your course and a free
luncheon and other entertainment, and if you do this we'll be so good as
to come down and play a team match against your members and probably
give them a jolly good beating." That was the kind of proposal which
they made to the Clubs, and the pleasant sign of the times and of good
sportsmanship and feeling is that the Clubs were so very ready to
entertain it--both the proposals and the societies. There were the Bar
Golfing Society, the Solicitors', the Army--every self-respecting
profession had to have its Golfing Society. The Oxford and Cambridge, of
which I had the honour to be first president, being succeeded in that
honourable post by Mr. Arthur Balfour, went on pilgrimage actually as
far as the United States; and very well they did there, under the
leadership of Johnny Low and with Johnny Bramston, the Hunter brothers
and other fine golfers assisting. But as for the most part of these
golfing enterprises of the wanderers, who, generally speaking, had their
headquarters in the great metropolis, it is evident that they had to
find their happy hunting grounds somewhere round about London, within
reasonable reach, and that was only possible by virtue of the rise of
all those inland greens within a short distance of the big town, which
has had the further effect of drawing down into what we call the
"Southern Section" the very big majority of the best professional
players. This geographical golfing phrase of "Southern Section" is one
that has arisen only out of the conditions created by that great
tournament for the professionals promoted by the _News of the World_
newspaper; and that competition itself is a witness to the growing
recognition by the English world of the importance of golf and of its
financial meaning. Golf was of use in the way of big advertisement.
Also, the largest proprietors of the _News of the World_ were, and are,
very good golfers and sportsmen, and doubtless appreciate all the good
sport that this tournament provides. But, at the same time, we should, I
think, wrong their commercial instincts if we did not realize that they
see good advertisement in it besides. Men's motives are mixed. How well
that team of Oxford and Cambridge graduates that went to America
performed, we hardly realized at the time. We had a tendency to
under-rate the American ability for golf, and the very fact that these
pilgrims did so well inclined us all the more to make light of the
American prowess. We are now, in course of the story, within sight of
the year when Mr. Walter Travis, coming over here, was to give us a very
different idea of the American capacity. We then began, perhaps, to go
to the other extreme and to over-rate what they could do. They seemed to
have "established a funk," to put it in homely phrase, which only Harold
Hilton, going to America as our amateur champion and coming back with
all the glory of the American amateur championship about him too, could
altogether dissipate. But before that happened a lot of water had to run
under the bridges.



In 1891 my brother-in-law, returning from a visit to America, came down
to stay and to play golf with me at Ashdown Forest, and brought with him
a dozen or two of a new kind of ball which, he said, had lately been
invented in the United States and was the best ball in the world. The
balls were called, as he told me, Haskells. We went out to play with
them. He, as it happened, played very badly, and in a very short time he
was perfectly ready to go into any court of law and take his oath that
they were the worst balls in the world. I had formed my own opinion of
them, much more in accord with the verdict with which he had first
introduced them to me than with that condemnatory one which he passed on
them after two days of being off his game; but I refrained from
expressing my opinion too emphatically, with the result that when he
went away he said that, as for the remnant of the balls, he was not
going to be bothered "to take the beastly things away," so that I found
myself the possessor of a couple of dozen or so of excellent Haskell
balls--being, as he had said, in the first instance, the best balls in
the world--at a time when no one else in Great Britain had such a ball
at all!

[Illustration: Old Leather Ball.]

[Illustration: Hand-hammered Gutty.]

[Illustration: Machine-marked Gutty.]



Gutty _v._ Rubber Core.]

It is quite true that some months previously, at North Berwick, I had
been given to try, by a professional who had just returned from the
States, a ball which I now recognized to be the same, in some of its
essentials, as these Haskells which my brother-in-law brought over. It
was the same, except for one external but extremely important
essential--its nicks were ridiculously too light and slight, not nearly
enough indented. So I tried that ball and found it wanting--it would not
fly at all. But what I did not realize at the time was the reason why it
did not fly; or, if I did realize, as one could not fail to do, that the
nicks were not emphatic enough, I had not a suspicion of the merit of
its interior qualities. I had not appreciated that it was an amazingly
good ball if only this slight matter of its exterior marking had been
attended to. I had taken no more thought or notice of it.

Armed with these new weapons I prepared to go out to Biarritz, where the
annual foursome match against Pau was just impending. My partner was to
be Evy Martin Smith, and as soon as I arrived I told him that we must
use these new balls for the match. He strongly objected, being a firm
Conservative, tried the balls, with every intention of disliking them,
and disliked them accordingly. The fact is that I was, at this moment,
just the last man in the world to appear on any scene as an advocate of
a new ball. Only a year or two before I had taken an unfortunate
interest in a patent substance called "Maponite," of which, in addition
to a thousand and one other things for which gutta-percha and
indiarubber are used, golf balls were to be made. And wherein exactly
was the weak point about the stuff as a material for golf balls I never
knew, for the trial balls that they made for us were excellent--I
remember that I won an open tournament at Brancaster with them--but as
soon as ever they began to turn them out in numbers they were useful for
one end only--for the good of the club-makers--for they were hard stony
things which broke up the wooden clubs as if one had used the clubs as
stone hammers.

So I was not a good apostle of a new ball--rather discredited in
fact--but I did induce Evy Smith to play with the ball finally, under
deep protest, and we justified its use by winning. Meanwhile the balls
were beginning to filter from America into England. It was difficult
indeed to get people to appreciate their merits: the balls were not
numerous, and were still hard to obtain. At Johnny Low's request I sent
him one for trial. He was writing at that time in the _Athletic News_.
He wrote a most amusing article about the ball--said that he had tried a
stroke or two with it in his room, and had found it so resilient that it
went bounding about the room like a fives ball in a squash court and
finally disappeared up the chimney and was never seen again.

In fine, he gave the ball his banning, "not because it was an expensive
ball"--it is to be remembered that it was rather a shock to be asked to
pay two and sixpence for a golf ball, whereas before we had paid a
shilling as the normal price--"but because it was a bad ball," meaning a
ball "singularly ill-adapted for the purpose" of golf. So difficult is
it for even a clever man and wise in the royal and ancient wisdom, as
Johnny Low undoubtedly is, to keep an unprejudiced judgment about any
new thing.

Expensive as the ball was in the beginning, it was soon found that it
was far more economical than the solid "gutty"; both because it lasted
in playable condition far longer and also because it did not knock about
the wooden club to anything like the same extent. But within a very
short while there came such a demand for those balls, so greatly in
excess of the supply, that there was a time when as much as a guinea
apiece was paid for them, and numbers changed hands at ten shillings.
That was round and about the time of the championships, both open and
amateur being held that year at Hoylake, and both these championships
were won with the Haskell balls.

I am calling these balls Haskells, because that is the name by which
they were known and spoken of, after their American inventor, at this
time. The reluctance of players to use them, and the gradual overcoming
of that reluctance, had many comic incidents associated with it.

The amateur championship that year was full of wonders. It was won by
Charles Hutchings, he being then a grandfather and fifty-two years of
age. He knocked me out, among other better men, beating me at the last
hole. And then he beat that brilliant and greatly to be regretted young
golfer, Johnny Bramston. In the final he had to play Fry, and
established a very big lead on him in the first round. He had about six
holes in hand with only nine to play, and then Fry began to do conjuring
tricks, holing putts from the edge of the green, and so on. In the event
Charles Hutchings just won by a single hole after one of the most
remarkable final matches in the whole story of that championship. And it
is to be noted that these two finalists, who proved themselves better
able than most others to adapt themselves to the new touch of these
livelier balls--for nearly all the competitors used the Haskells--were
extremely good billiard players. Fry had won the amateur championship of
billiards more than once, and Hutchings was quite capable of such
atrocities as a three-figure break. I think the sensitive fingers of
these billiard players helped them to get the touch of these livelier
balls which were so "kittle" for the approach and putting.

After the amateur came the open, in which I did not take a hand, but I
heard a great deal of the preliminary discussions about it. Of course,
if the amateurs were difficult to convince about the merits of the new
balls, the professionals, who had their vested interest in the old, and
did not know how these were to be affected by the coming of the new,
were harder still to convince. However, the balls were too good to be
denied. Andrew Kirkaldy, a shrewd man, and one, besides, who had no
interest in the sale of balls, solid or rubber cored, was one of the
first and most enthusiastic converts. "The puggy," he declared, "is a
great ba'." He called it "puggy," which is Scottish for monkey, because
it jumped about so. "Ye canna' tak' eighty strokes to the roun' wi' a
puggy--the puggy will na' gae roun' in eighty strokes." However, on the
morrow of making that brave statement, he contrived, even with the
"puggy," to take several strokes more than eighty to go round the
Hoylake course for the championship. Alec Herd was one of the most
uncompromising opponents of the new ball until the very day of the
championship. He had declared that he hoped everybody else would play
with the Haskell, but that for his own part he meant to stick to his old
friend. And then, on the day of the play, behold Herd, who had said
these things, teeing up a Haskell himself on the first tee, and
continuing play with it until he had won the championship! It was a bit
of luck for him, hitting on the truth about the merits of the ball just
at the right moment. I do not think he would ever have won the
championship save for the Haskell ball. At the same time it is only fair
to him to say this, that he was--at least I think so--quite unlucky not
to win the championship two years previously. It was the year that
Taylor won at St. Andrews, and at that date, and for some little while
before the championship, Herd had certainly been playing the best golf
of anybody. Then the weather changed, just on the eve of the
championship. There came abundance of rain, which put the greens into
just the condition that Taylor liked. He won that championship, and
Herd, I think, was a little unfortunate not to win. But fortune restored
the balance of her favours by giving him this win at Hoylake with the
new ball long after we had ceased to think him a likely champion. Thus
once again, "justice has been done." Therewith the Haskell ball made its
reputation and came to stay. There was a talk of ruling it out, by the
Rules of Golf Committee, but Hall Blyth, then chairman, agreed with me
and others that it had won its way too far into popularity to be made
illegal, and the idea of legislating it out was dropped.



Willy Park, always a man of some practical ingenuity, as well as a
magnificent golfer, had lately invented and patented a peculiar type of
putter. He had also invented, by way of an advertisement of this
crooked-necked club of his, the dictum that "the man who can putt is a
match for anybody."

Now Park, besides his other fine qualities, was a very gallant golfer.
It had been his way for some years, as soon as some man--be it Douglas
Rolland, or any other--had come to the top of the golfing tree, so that
everybody was talking about him and saying what a fine fellow he was, to
challenge this fine top bird of the roost, and back his challenge with a
£50 or £100 stake. There may have been a tinge of advertisement about
it, for Park was a good man of business and the first of the
professionals to realize what money there was in establishing golf
shops, but chiefly, I think, he played these matches for the pure sport
of the thing.

So now, Harry Vardon, being beyond dispute, at the tree top, Park must
issue a challenge to play him for a money stake, a home and home match,
two rounds at North Berwick and two at Ganton. Now you have to realize
that in those days Harry Vardon was so great a man, there was so much
keenness to see him play, that when he went out the gallery followed
him, they watched his every stroke, and they paid no more attention than
if he had no existence at all to the poor wretch who chanced to be
partnered with him. They would trample on this unfortunate creature's
ball without the slightest remorse: he was rather lucky if he were not
thrown down and trampled to death himself by the throng.

[Illustration: The Amateur Side at Sandwich in 1894.

Standing (from left to right): A. Stuart, S. Mure Fergusson, John Ball,
F.G. Tait. Sitting: H.G. Hutchinson, Charles Hutchings, A.D. Blyth, H.H.

[Illustration: The Professional Side at Sandwich in 1894.

Standing (from left to right): Willie Park, A. Simpson, A. Kirkcaldy, W.
Auchterlonie. Sitting: J.H. Taylor, A. Herd, D. Rolland, W. Fernie.]

[Illustration: "Fiery"--Willie Park's Caddie.]

Willy Park was a shrewd Scot. He was not going to have any of this
nonsense when "the man who could putt" set out to prove, for money, that
he was a match for anyone, even for Harry Vardon at his best. The match
opened, therefore, at its very second shot, on the note of comedy. Park
had gone a little further off the tee than Harry Vardon, toward the
bunker guarding Point Garry Hill. That meant that Harry Vardon had to
play first, and after his play of the second shot the gallery made a
start to dash in, in their accustomed manner, quite regardless of the
other partner to the match. Park proceeded to teach them their lesson at
the outset. He did not hurry, like a guilty thing, to play his shot, as
most of the others who played with Vardon used to do: instead, he left
his ball altogether, with "Fiery," his faithful caddie, standing guard
over it. The people crowded forward as far as Fiery, but they were not
at all likely to go beyond him, most faithful henchman, and rather
truculent watch-dog, with round Scotch bonnet and streamers floating
behind, the clubs loose held, out of the bag, beneath his arm--I rather
think he would have called it his "oxter"--because he had for years
carried clubs before bags came into use, and the fine smoothness and
polish of the club handles was apt to be spoilt by dragging them in and
out of the bag. I never heard nor cared what other name he had than
Fiery, of which the propriety was written in flaming colours on his
face. So he stood, facing and keeping back the crowd from the ball--a
subject not unworthy of an historical picture and by no means to be
disregarded as a point in the golfing story of the last fifty years,
because he was a type, and nearly the last, of the old Scottish caddies,
and because this match was among the last of those of the old style.
Park's school was really a generation behind that to which belonged the
modern triumvirate.

So Park walked on, having left his ball; he walked on to the foot of
Point Garry Hill; then he ascended it, with great leisure, quite
regardless that the people raged together, and he looked at the flag,
which he did not in the least desire to see. All he did desire was to
teach the gallery their lesson, that he, Park, meant to count for
something in this match, that Harry Vardon was not the only player; and
when he had thus taught the lesson, which it were better that the people
should learn first than last, he came back leisurely to his ball again
and played it.

They took their lesson well--a Scottish crowd is not slow at the up-take
and has its sense of humour. Moreover, Park was their man, being a Scot.
They liked to see him taking himself seriously, and they did not crowd
on him inconveniently again.

And it was a most amusing match to watch, though just a little pathetic
too. Willy Park was most emphatically "the man who could putt." He told
me that he had been practising putting for that match to the tune of
from six to eight hours a day. It sounds terribly dull work; but
certainly Park was rewarded for it, for I never saw such putting, day in
and day out, as he was doing about the time of that match. And in the
match he putted extraordinarily. I speak only of the first portion, at
North Berwick. I did not see the latter end of it at Ganton; but I think
the result, if there ever could be, from the start, a moment's doubt
about it, was virtually all settled on the first thirty-six holes. Park
putted extraordinarily, but he still had to prove his dictum that the
man who could putt was a match for anybody. Vardon as surely could not
putt; but then he played all the rest of the game to a beautiful
perfection, whereas poor Park could not drive. He developed, at its
worst, that tendency to hook his drives which has always been a danger
to him. He arrived on the greens one stroke, or even two, behind Vardon.
But then he put the putt in, whereas Vardon often neglected the simple
precaution of laying it dead. So it went on, Park saving himself again
and again by this marvellous putting, and at last, after he had holed
one of fifteen yards right across the green, a crusty old Scot in the
gallery was heard grumbling to himself in his beard: "The on'y
raisonable putt I've seen the day." What he had come out expecting, an
all-knowing Providence alone can say.

But the strain of those repeated saves of holes apparently lost was too
severe to last. Vardon put a useful balance of holes to his credit even
at North Berwick. The final half of the match was to be played on his
own course of Ganton. There was only one possible conclusion to it. At
the end of the North Berwick contest I suggested to Park that he would
have to re-edit his dictum so that it should run "the man who can putt
is a match for anybody--except Harry Vardon," and he confessed, with a
melancholy grin, that he believed he would have to accept that

With the disappearance of the old Scottish caddie, of whom Fiery might
very well stand for the prototype, there passed much of the old order of
golf, making way for the new. These old caddies themselves counted for
very much more in the play of the game than our modern club-carriers,
who are usually beasts of burden (and little beasts at that, just passed
out of their Board School standards) and nothing more. They know the
names of the clubs, so as to give you what you ask for, and that is
about as much as is expected of them. Sometimes they take a keen
interest, and identify themselves with their master's interests; but
such fidelity and keenness are rather exceptional. The ancient caddie
was a grown man: he was not, perhaps, an ensample of all the virtues,
and if he turned up on a Monday morning without a certain redness of the
nose and possibly a blackness of the eye, indicating a rather stormy
Saturday night, of which the intervening day of rest had not wholly
removed the damages, you might admire and be thankful.

But his zeal for your matches was unfailing. He made it a point of
honour to do all that the law allowed him, and all that it did not allow
him, so long as he was not found out, to aid and abet your inefficiency.
He expected that you should consult him about the club that you should
take, about the line on which you should play and about the gradients of
a putt. He was a profound student of human nature, discovered the
weaknesses of your opponent and urged you by counsel and example to
take advantage of them. In my early days at St. Andrews, when I was
playing a match with David Lamb, I was surprised, and more than a little
shocked, by the counsel that one of these sapient caddies gave me: "Let
us walk oot pretty smartly after the ba', sir. Mr. Lamb canna' bear to
be hurried." That was the proposal--that just because Mr. Lamb had a
dislike to playing in a hurry, we should hasten on after the ball so as
to induce him, by the power of suggestion, to hurry also, and so put him
off his game. Needless to say, as soon as my innocence had succeeded in
comprehending the inward meaning of the counsel, I repudiated it with
scorn and rebuked the caddie bitterly for suggesting it; and, equally
needless to say, he thought me both a thankless person and a very
particular species of Sassenach fool for so rejecting it. I have often
thought that had Bret Harte known the old Scottish caddie he would not
have needed to go to the Orient and to the Yellow Race for the type of
mind that he has sketched in his _Heathen Chinee_. Nevertheless there
was very much that was attractive and likeable in these henchmen of a
fervid loyalty and few moral attributes besides, and their
extermination, with that of other strange _feræ naturæ_, is to be



Certainly the Royal Liverpool Club has deserved well of the golfing
community. It started the amateur championship, and in 1891 or 1892 the
idea occurred to some enterprising genius at Hoylake of the
International Match. What though interest rather waned in it, and it has
been abandoned now, during the years that it was played it was an
interest to many, both of those who played in it and of those who merely
looked on. They called me into their counsels and we roughed out some
such scheme as was ultimately adopted. There was much talk as to whether
it were better to score by match only, or by aggregate of holes won and
lost only, or by a combination of the two. I favoured the combination,
but lost, and "matches only" has always been the scoring adopted.

It is not to be denied that we of England received a very grievous shock
when we learned that Jack Graham was not going to play on our side, but
intended to throw in his golfing lot with Scotland, the country of his
origin. Of course he had a perfect right to do so. He is a Scot,[7] I
believe on both sides, but then the idea had been, in the institution
of this match, trial of the golf learnt in England against the golf of
Scotland, and if Jack Graham himself was pure Scot, his golf was pure
Sassenach, every stroke of it learnt on that Hoylake where he lived. It
is not too much to say that that decision of Jack Graham upset the
balance of forces very materially, for this match was always (save for
one occasion) played before the amateur championship tournament, and
Jack was, and is, a terrible player in the early stages of any meeting.
It is apparently his constitutional misfortune that he is not able to
last through a long sustained trial. Twice certainly, and I think three
times, I have taken one of the bronze medals of the championship while
he has had the other: that is to say, that both of us have survived to
the semi-final heat. But further than that, Jack has never been able to
last, and has been beaten at that point by men to whom he could give
three strokes comfortably in ordinary circumstances and in the earlier
stages of the tournament. He has been a terrible disappointment to us
all, in this way, for a more brilliant amateur golfer never played. It
is his health that has knocked him out every time--a lack of robust

This going over of Jack Graham to the enemy, as we regarded it,
introduced another small trouble into the International Match. It was
always said (with what basis of fact I hardly know) that it would cause
too much "feeling" in Hoylake if he were pitted against either Johnny
Ball or Harold Hilton in this match. So the sides had to be so arranged
that this terrible thing should not happen--it was all rather farcical.
As it was, I had to play Jack Graham in the first International Match,
which was at Hoylake, and took a sound beating from him. That first
fight was the occasion of a battle royal between Johnny Ball and Bobby
Maxwell, the former only winning, though it was on his own green, by a
single hole on the thirty-six. During these years Bobby was rather
regarded as the champion of the Scottish amateurs, and the International
Match would be notable, if for nothing else, for the Homeric contests
between these two. The most fantastic of them happened in the year when
exceptionally, as I have noted above, the match was played before, not
after, the amateur championship. It was at Muirfield, in 1903, when I
got into the final, only to be beaten handsomely there by Bobby Maxwell.
We played the International Match the next day, and I had to fight Fred
Mackenzie, who afterwards went as a professional to America and is now
at home again and playing very good golf at St. Andrews. He did not play
very good golf that day, however, though it was good enough to beat me;
for I found myself not tired exactly, but utterly indifferent, after all
the strain of the championship, which I had had to endure up to the
final round, and could not tune myself up to concert pitch at all. But
on Bobby it was very clear that the strain had not told in anything like
the same way. He played extraordinarily. I do not believe that Johnny
Ball played badly at all, yet he was beaten, I think, by more holes than
any other man ever has lost in the International Match. Whenever he did
a hole in a stroke over the right number, Bobby Maxwell did it in the
right number; and whenever Johnny did it in the right number, Bobby
performed a miracle and did it in one less.

One of the most amusing matches I ever did play was with Gordon Simpson,
a few years later, in the International when again it was at Muirfield.
On the first round I was four up at the fourteenth hole; and then I let
him win all the last four holes, so that we came in to luncheon all
even. Then, in the next round, he was four up at the fourteenth, and,
exactly as I had done in the morning, so he, in the afternoon, let me
win all the last four holes. He got a good three at the
thirty-seventh--the hole was in a very "kittle" place and the green was
mighty keen, so that the three was hard to get--and so won the match.
But in the course of that match I did a thing that I never have done
before or since. He laid me a stimy, with his ball so near the hole that
the only chance was to pitch my own ball right into the hole. By a bit
of good luck I did it, but by a bit of unconscionable bad luck, the
ball, after rattling about against the tin inside, came out again and
stood on the lip of the hole. As the match was played, it just made the
difference; but even had I won, it would not have made the difference in
the whole team match. Scotland, as usual, were too good for us and had a
match to spare.

I had played Gordon Simpson once, many years before, in the amateur
championship, when he was a student at St. Andrews' University, and the
circumstances had been amusing. He was the champion of the University,
and when we set forth from the first tee we were accompanied by a
gallery which appeared to me as if it must include all the youth of that
venerable seat of learning. They behaved wonderfully well, with a great
deal of sportsmanlike consideration for my feelings, but at the same
time were naturally so dead keen on their own man that they would have
been something more than human, or older than undergraduates, had they
been able to refrain from a little baring back of the teeth, and just
the murmur of a growl, when I happened to hole a good putt.
Unfortunately things went rather badly for their hero at the start. I
contrived to get a lead of some four holes on him, and hung on to them
till the match was finished. Of course I did my best to win, but I never
in my life won a match which gave me less satisfaction. It was so hard
on the University champion, surrounded by all his best friends. However,
he had his revenge, as said, at Muirfield. But as for this stimy loft,
into the hole and out again, it is quite sure that there was something
not just right about the tins in use in the Muirfield holes at that
time, for it happened to Bernard Darwin to play precisely the same
stroke with precisely the same result in the championship. The fact is
that if the flooring of the tin is set at a certain angle this chucking
out again of a ball lofted in becomes a dynamical certainty. The makers
of the tins ought to see to it that the floor is not set at this angle.
If it is set nearly horizontal the thing does not happen, and it is when
set too vertically that it is almost bound to occur. But, except for
this case of my own ball and that of Bernard Darwin's, I have never
heard of another instance of the kind, though probably golfing history
can furnish many.

The last occasion, before its death of inanition, on which the
International Match was played, it was played in foursomes. I do not
think that was an experiment likely to prolong its life. With all
respect in the world for the foursome as a very pleasant pastime, I
cannot believe in it as anything like the test of golf that a single
provides. To me it is an infinitely more easy form of the game, though
I am well aware there are good judges and good players who think
otherwise. I can only say that for my own part it has always been easier
for me to play well in a foursome than in a single. It is not, I
believe, the common experience.

I am inclined to think it is a pity that the International Match is
dead. There are many who would like it revived. It gave useful practice
to the young players coming on, who thus had a chance, apart from the
championship, of showing what they could do in good company. That was
its value, more than as a spectacle of the two countries set in array
against each other. Scotland nearly always had the better of us. For one
thing they have always seemed to lunch more wisely or more well than we
of England. Perhaps their digestion is more powerful. At all events it
has happened again and again that we have been leading finely at
luncheon, only to be beaten decisively in the end. But if we had had
Jack Graham on our side even this lack of the gastric juices would not,
I think, have turned the day so often against us.


[Footnote 7: Alas, if writing to-day, in 1919, it is in the past tense
that this and some following passages would need to be phrased. He was
gallant in volunteering, joined a Scottish regiment, and met a soldier's



One night I was going North by one of the sleeping trains and, having
business late in the afternoon in Holborn, did not return to the
civilized parts of the town, but dined at the Inns of Court Hotel. There
are little tables for two, and at mine was dining also a man with whom I
got into conversation. He told me he came from Glasgow and was in town
on a business which he dared say I should think a very curious one--a
big lawsuit pending about such a small matter as a ball used in the
playing of the game of golf. Did I play golf? I said, "A little." I also
said that in all the history of coincidences this was just about the
most singular, for that I, too, had been engaged as a witness in the
very same case. It was the case that the manufacturers of the Haskell
ball were bringing against the manufacturers of the Kite ball. The point
was to prove the Haskell patent good for their protection in a monopoly
of making rubber-cored balls. The Haskell people had asked me to give
evidence, because I was the first man to play with these balls in
England, and because I considered them, and _pace_ the law, still
consider them, an absolutely new departure in golf-ball manufacture.

It would be ungrateful not to think that providence designed this
meeting at the Inns of Court Hotel, for my new friend was able to tell
me what the right fee was for me to charge as an expert witness. He told
me that that was what I was--an expert witness. I did not know it
before, although I knew, without his telling me, the ancient divisions
of the species "liar," into "liar," "d----d liar," and "expert
witness." I was prepared to play my part, especially when I heard, with
pleased surprise, the large fees paid for witnesses of this expert and
unimpeachable character.

So, in due course of time, I was summoned up to London to attend the
trial. I suppose other trials are sometimes as humorous, but I could not
have believed it possible that there could be such good entertainment as
I found in that Court, where I sat with much enjoyment calculating,
between the acts, the sum to which my expert witness fees were mounting
up as I waited. The Judge, Mr. Justice Buckley, if I remember right, was
not a golfer; yet the way in which he kept his eye on the ball during
the three days or so of that trial was above all praise. And the ball
took a deal of keeping of the eye on itself, for there were many balls
of different sorts brought into Court, and they were constantly running
off the judge's desk, and tumbling and jumping about in the body of the
Court, where learned gentlemen knocked their wigs together as they bent
down to search for them. There was an old lady who said she had made
balls which were practically identical with these Haskells all her
life--balls for boys to play with. So she was commanded to go away and
to come back with all her apparatus and to show in Court how the balls
were made. She returned, and it appeared that, after some winding of
thread about a core, the next proceeding was to dip the balls into a
molten solution of some boiling stuff which smelt abominably. She cooked
this up in Court, and the whole business was very suggestive of the
making of the hell-broth of the witches in "Macbeth," only that perhaps
the Court of Law did not give a striking representation of the "blasted
heath." The balls were apt to escape from the old lady when they were
half cooked and to go running about the Court where the barristers,
retrieving them, got their fingers into the most awfully sticky state
and their wigs seemed to be the appropriate places on which to rub the
stickiness off.

Willie Fernie was there, enjoying himself hugely too. He, it seems, had
long ago made a ball resembling the Haskell. There, too, was Commander
Stewart, whom I had known in the early eighties at St. Andrews. He was
the maker of the "Stewart patent" balls, which had a vogue for a time,
though they had not the least resemblance to the Haskell balls. They
were of some composition, quite solid, and with iron filings in them.
Nevertheless, Commander Stewart, as it appeared, had made a ball similar
to the Haskell, though it could not have been the one known as his
patent. All these were testimony to what the lawyers call "previous

Then an old gentleman was called who said that he had played at ball as
a boy with another old gentleman whose name he gave, with a ball similar
in all its essentials to the Haskell golf ball. The other old gentleman
was called then, and he was asked whether his memory corroborated this,
and whether it was in essentials the same ball. To which he answered, to
the delight of the Court, that it was not the same ball at all. "What
then," asked the Counsel, in a profoundly shocked voice, "do you mean
to say that you think your old friend is a liar?" "No," he replied quite
readily, "I don't think so, I know it." I looked out to see these two
old friends going out of Court, to discover whether they were quite as
good friends as they had been before, but I could not see them.

I do not remember much about my own testimony. I think what I said was
true, but I am nearly sure that it was quite unimportant. The present
Lord Moulton, I remember, examined, or cross-examined me, but he did not
turn me inside out very badly, and I believe I left the Court "without a
stain on my character," according to the stereotyped phrase. At all
events the conclusion of the whole matter was that we lost our case very
handsomely. The Judge, considering the evidence of the old lady, of
Commander Stewart, of Willie Fernie and so on, said that he thought
there were sufficient witnesses to "previous user," and no doubt
"Messrs. Hutchison, Maine and Co."--I think this was the name of the
firm opposing us--fought a good fight in the best interests of the
golfer, for it would have been a bad job for us all if there had been a
monopoly in the hands of one firm of the manufacture of the rubber-cored
balls. They put the prices up against us fairly high as it was, without
that. Had there been a monopoly of manufacture we might now be paying
five shillings each perhaps, instead of half-a-crown, for the balls--a
very solemn thought. They carried this case to the Court of Appeal, but
that Court only confirmed the finding of the Court below, and thereto
added this further comment, that whether there were "previous users" or
no, they did not think that the invention in itself had sufficient
novelty for the patent to be good. So that "put the lid on," to use
homely phrase.

A while afterwards I met the American manager of a big athletic
outfitting house, and he told me that in his opinion, looking at the
thing with the commercial eye of the manufacturer, if the Kite people
had been "real cute," they would not have driven this fight to a finish.
Instead, they would have come to the Haskell people, when the case
seemed likely to go in favour of the defendants, and come to a
compromise with them. They would then have abandoned the case, as if
despairing of success, under a secret agreement with the Haskell folk to
allow them to make balls on certain agreed terms. The effect of that
would have been that the abandoning of the case would have frightened
other companies out of ever bringing the like case against the Haskell
Company, and the two might have gone on merrily working their monopoly,
at the expense of the ball-buyers, "till the cows came home." That, as
my friend the manager said, would have been "real smart," but I think we
have to congratulate ourselves that this real smartness did not commend
itself to the Scottish firm that fought and won this historic battle. We
pay enough for our golf balls even now, even under the relatively
blessed conditions of competition.

Surely it is not for me, who went no further in study of the law than to
eat, though indifferently to digest, those singular dinners at the
singular hour of six o'clock at the Inner Temple, to criticise the high
findings of the law, but it does seem to my uninstructed wisdom that if
ever there were a substantially new invention, making a new departure,
it was this of these that we then called Haskells and now call
indiarubber-cored balls. Nobody, before Haskell, had ever given them to
us as reasonable things with which to play the game of golf. He gave
them to us as the best balls hitherto invented. They spoilt the game in
a sense, it is true. The ability to hit the ball absolutely exactly has
not the same value now as in the days of the solid gutty ball; nor does
forceful hitting count for as much. On the other hand, the greater
resiliency of the ball makes the game more pleasant, especially for weak
muscles. But that, the quality of the ball, is another story. The story
the Court had to sit in judgment on was woven round about the question
whether substantially the ball was a novelty. They found that it was
not, and we all should be very thankful that they did find so; but at
the same time it is quite possible that we may think it a queer



In the twentieth century I was no longer regarding myself with great
seriousness as a likely champion, and it is very certain that I should
not have troubled to go to Muirfield for the amateur championship of
1903 had it not been for a kindly invitation from David Kinloch to stay
with him for it at his place Gilmerton, about nine miles from the
course. I was salmon fishing on the Wye at the time, and the river was
in good order, so it was a wrench.

I remember that there was staying also at Gilmerton on that occasion
poor Harold Finch-Hatton, most humorous of good companions. We used to
drive the nine miles in a high dog-cart, the horse generally taking
fright at the railway crossing at Drem each morning; so the excitement
of the day began long before we came to the links.

I only arrived the day before the fight began, and I remember my first
tee-shot in that championship as if it were yesterday. I was playing Mr.
Frank Booth, affectionately known as "Father Booth" to men of Sandwich.
The spectators were drawn up in a line parallel with the line of play to
the first hole, and I hit my tee-shot on the extreme tip of the toe of
the club, so that it went out to cover point and right away to the
right of the spectators altogether. I had to play back over their heads,
up to the hole.

After that promising start I played quite steadily and beat Booth
comfortably. Then I went along uneventfully till I met A.M. Ross. A.M.
Ross was already something of a veteran, but he gave me some extremely
tough work. The match had its element of humour. We had not, at that
time, the rule that all putts should be holed out, and very early in the
match he did not give a putt which I thought to be stony dead. Therefore
at the next hole, where he had a putt still more stony, I did not give
that to him. He repaid me again by making me perform a still more
ridiculous task of holing out; and so I him again, until at the end of
that match we were scrupulously, but without a smile or a word said on
either side, holing out putts of two inches with the solemnity of a
religious rite. But it was all with quite good temper on both sides: I
think both of us were too old stagers to take offence. In the last eight
I beat Dick, playing very steadily, and then I met Angus Macdonald. I
had never played him before. He was, no doubt, an immensely strong man.
He was so strong and big that he seemed unable to swing round his body,
as it were. He was the shortest driver for a player of his ability I
ever met; but he was also the longest putter. Time and again, when I
thought I had the hole, having arrived on the green a stroke before him,
he upset calculations by holing a gigantic putt. He smoked all the time,
a long meerschaum pipe, and had all the air of a man playing the game
for pleasure--which is not at all a common aspect for a man to wear when
he is playing a championship heat. And after he had been holing these
prodigious putts time after time, and I had been following them up by
holing humble little things of a yard and a half or so, he fairly
petrified me with astonishment by remarking, in a tone of almost pained
surprise, "You're putting very well!" I looked at him to see whether he
was chaffing, but his face did not show the twinkle of a smile, and I
had to assume that it was simple honest comment, and that he was
accustomed, that he expected, to hole these gigantic putts, but that he
did not expect his opponent to hole the little ones after him. Perhaps
that explains how, being so short a driver, he was yet so good a golfer.
But eventually I defeated him, and thus came into the final.

In the other semi-final tie a terrific battle had been raging between
Bobby Maxwell and Herman de Zoete. Of course I did not see it, being
very fully occupied with Macdonald, but I heard all about it, and what I
heard was that Herman de Zoete was driving tremendous balls, very seldom
on the course, and following up these huge erratic efforts by wonderful
recoveries and putting, so that, as they said, if he had beaten Bobby,
who was playing a sound steady game down the middle of the course, it
would have been a crying iniquity. But it was an iniquity that was as
nearly as possible perpetrated: he had Bobby, as a matter of fact, stone
cold. This was at the nineteenth hole, which they had to go out to play,
having halved the round; and at that hole I believe that Bobby's first
shot was in the neighbourhood of the wall and the second still some
little way from the hole. Herman's first was short of the green, but not
very short. It looked as if he had but to do that hole in four to win
the match, and it did not look as if he could fail to do it in four. But
then, as he told me afterwards, for the first time in the whole match
nerves got hold of him, and having hold of him they seem to have taken
their hold very hard. He was unable, he said, to see the ball with any
distinctness. It looked all in fog; and, playing at it through this
obscuring atmosphere, he sent it about a foot. The end of the hole was
that Bobby, by holing a very missable putt, did get a four, and Herman
took five and lost the hole. The tale, as told me, was peculiarly
painful to listen to, for though Bobby Maxwell is a very pleasant fellow
to play with, still, for the final round of a championship, especially
over Muirfield, I would rather have had to play Herman de Zoete.

However, there it was. And then an unfortunate thing, for me, happened.
On the next day we found the wind exactly opposite in its direction to
what it had been all the week before. Of course that did not make any
difference to Bobby, to whom every grass-blade on Muirfield was a
personal friend and every distance known to a foot, no matter in what
trend or force of wind. But to me, who had been painfully learning the
distances all these days, the right about face of the wind put a very
changed aspect on the business. Not that I believe for a moment that the
ultimate result was affected by it. I have no delusion that in the year
1903, or possibly in any other, I could make a match with Bobby over
Muirfield. Elsewhere it might be another story. As it was, I did make a
very good match with him for fourteen holes, for at that point we were
all even. But then I made the fatal error of letting him win the last
four holes of that round. I hardly know how it happened, for I do not
remember that I played these holes extraordinarily badly, but I do know
that I did not have nearly as good an appetite, when we went in for
luncheon, as I should have had if the break had come at the end of
fourteen, instead of eighteen, holes. To start out, as I had to,
afterwards, to give Bobby four holes up, was rather a large order, and I
found it a good deal too large for me to fill.

I did not play badly. I had a vision of bringing him down to quite a
reasonable number of holes up, and making a close match of it, at one
point on the way out, but there--it was the hole before the windmill--he
made a great recovery out of the rough and won the hole which I had
looked forward to winning. I took three on the green and he only took
one. That was the final touch. He played the rest of the round, as far
as we had to take it, far better than I did--drove much farther, for one
thing, which is always useful--and finally hammered me out by the tune
of seven and six to play. He deserved to win by quite that margin; but I
still cannot help rather regretting that attack of nerves which seized
Herman de Zoete so unfortunately at the approach to the nineteenth hole
the day before. One thing, however, that championship taught me, that if
I was to live with some of these younger golfers and harder hitters I
must do something to add yards to my driving. And the way I tried was by
adding, as soon as I went South, inches--to the number of six--to my
wooden clubs, both driver and brassey. And it had its effect. The extra
length was useful at all angles of the wind, but especially against the
wind, and for some years these long clubs did me very good service. Of
course, the longer the club the lighter you must have the head. That has
to be understood, for otherwise you get a weaver's beam that is quite
unlike the club of the balance that is familiar to your hand. But if
you reduce the head-weight judiciously you can lengthen the shaft
unbelievably without making accurate hitting any harder. And with the
longer shaft it seems, according to my experience, that you get a longer



In 1904, the amateur championship being that year at Sandwich, Frank
Penn[8] entertained me for it at Bifrons, near Canterbury, about fifteen
miles from the arena of action. He used to motor me in each day, and the
driving of a big motor through the streets of Sandwich town appears a
very cork-screwy business. Nevertheless he accomplished it perfectly and
never once bunkered us by the way.

I came across a lot of old friends and enemies at that meeting--first
Johnny Laidlay in the International Match, then Mure Ferguson, if I
remember right, in the first round of the championship; I forget whom
then, but I know that a few more heats brought me up against Johnny
Ball. All these adventures, even that last and worst, I succeeded in
getting through with success, and then I had to meet Bobby Maxwell on
the last day but one of the play. I was playing fairly well, being much
helped by the longer clubs I had taken to since the Muirfield
championship, where Bobby beat me in the final.

[Illustration: Walter Travis.]

[Illustration: Charles B. MacDonald.

From a portrait in plaster by Prince Paul Troubetzkoy, presented to the
National Golf Links of America of which Mr. Macdonald is the founder.]

Staying, as I was, with Penn fifteen miles away, I did not hear much of
the gossip going on at this championship, but from time to time I did
find one man or the other coming to me and saying, "Have you seen that
American who is putting with an extraordinary thing like a croquet
mallet? He's putting most extraordinarily well with it." Of course I had
not seen him: I had been too busy myself, putting by no means
extraordinarily well. That sort of thing was said, now and then, but no
one thought any more about it. It was known that some Americans had come
over and had entered for the championship, but if anybody had prophesied
that one of them was likely to give trouble or to get into the final
heats he would have been looked on as a lunatic. The truth is, that we
much under-rated the American amateur at that time. Partly, I suppose,
this was our "d----d insular insolence," but partly, too, it was due to
the very successful tour in the States, a year or two before, of a team
of the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society. They won their matches so
consistently as to give us the idea that the Americans could not play
golf. The man with the mallet putter was in process of teaching us
better, though even yet we did not realize it. Mr. Harold Reade, the
Irishman, ought to have beaten him, for he was two up and either two or
three to play, but the American played the final holes very finely and
just won. So he survived, until in the heath before the semi-final,
wherein I had to meet Bobby, he had Hilton to play. But Hilton was in no
sort of form and Travis beat him as he pleased. Meanwhile I beat Bobby
and had revenge for the year before, in the Muirfield final, but it was
by no means as I pleased.

I started badly and let Bobby win the first three holes. Then I steadied
down and he gave me chances. It is always a different thing playing
Bobby anywhere else than at Muirfield. Had he gained this start there I
should never have seen the way he went. But he let me get hole after
hole back until on the eighteenth green we were all even, we had played
three apiece, I was stone dead and my ball laid him a dead stymie. It
was not a stymie at all difficult to loft. There was nice room to pitch
the ball and let it run on into the hole. Still, at that crisis of the
match, it was a fine piece of work on Bobby's part to play it perfectly
as he did. Then I holed my unimportant little putt and we had to start
out to play extra holes.

My second shot to the first (or nineteenth) hole, I put carefully into
the bunker guarding the green. Bobby, I suppose, determined to be over,
seeing that I was in, rather over-ran the green. A bunker near the hole
never had the terrors for me that it has for some people: we were too
familiar with them at Westward Ho! Tom Vardon said to me afterwards,
respecting the stroke which I played out of that bunker: "That was a
plucky shot of yours, to go straight for the hole like that." Of course
it is always pleasant to be told one is a hero, but really there was
nothing very heroic about this. If the sand were taken at the right
point behind the ball there was no trouble about the stroke. If you hit
differently from your intention there was bound to be trouble, but that
is the case with most golfing strokes.

What happened in this case was that I howked the ball out fairly near
the hole, about a couple of yards off, perhaps, and Bobby, playing from
the far end of the green, put his just inside it. But whereas I had a
straight up-hill putt to the hole, he had to come along the curve of the
slope, so that my putt was far the easier. I holed it all right. Bobby
allowed a little too much for the slope and that was the end of that
business. "Now see, Horace," he said, as we walked back to the
club-house, "that you don't get beaten by that American."

I started out in the afternoon without the smallest idea in life that I
was to be beaten by "that American"; but I had not played two shots
before I knew that all the best of the fight had been taken out of me by
that stiff morning match. As Andrew Kirkaldy said to me afterwards:
"That," pointing to Bobby, "that was your murderer." He had, in truth,
done most of the killing, and Travis had but to finish it. He did not
really play very well. Still, he was one up on me going to the
thirteenth hole, and there gave me every chance of winning it and
squaring the match, but I played a very bad shot, and followed it with
another indifferent one, and so let him win that hole which I ought to
have won. He gave me no further chances, and beat me by, I think, three
and two. But I reckoned things up afterwards and found, by the score of
the holes, that if I had played as well as I did in any of the previous
matches, I should have been up on him, instead of down, at the point
where he beat me. That, however, is what makes an amateur
champion--that, amongst other things--the ability to "stay" through a
long fight and not to suffer reaction after a hard match.

In the final, Travis had to meet Ted Blackwell, and I never had great
hopes for England as to the result of that encounter. I say this, with
all respect for Ted Blackwell's great game as he developed it almost
immediately afterwards; but he was not his great self then. At that time
he was still putting with a thin-bladed little cleek which must have
been forged about the date that Tubal Cain was in active work as a
smith. Very shortly afterwards someone, who deserves to suffer lingering
death at the hands of all Ted Blackwell's later opponents, induced him
to take to an aluminium putter. The difference it made in his game was
nearer a third than four strokes, as I reckon it. From a really bad
putter he became all at once a very good putter indeed. I knew all about
it, for I had been playing him and beating him comfortably in several
matches at St. Andrews, in course of a little party which Lord Dudley
took up there. I met him again in an international match at Hoylake only
a little later, when he had exchanged the tinkling cleek for the
aluminium putter, and he beat me--not by length of driving, but by
length of putting.

As for this final at Sandwich, which was played in his pre-aluminium
days, Travis has put it on record that he felt confident of winning from
the start; and he looked like a winner all through. With the black cigar
and the deliberate methods, including the practice swing before each
stroke, he was perhaps rather a hard man to play against, but at the
same time, and although I have said that he did not play very well when
I met him, I think those critics make a great mistake who say that he
was not a first-class golfer. He was, and is, a wonderful putter. I know
that, not only by the wonderful week of putting that he put in over here
at that time, but by what Jim Whigham and others who have played a great
deal with him in America have told me. Whigham said that you were
grateful, thinking that you had a lucky escape, if you were his opponent
and he did not hole the ball from fifteen yards. This was at Garden
City, where he knows the greens better than his drawing-room carpet.
Indeed, all Travis's record disproves the statement that "he was not
fit to win the championship." That he was "lucky to win" we must think.
Unless a man is a head and shoulders above his field, he has to have
luck if he is to live through a tournament such as our amateur
championship; and Travis had no such head and shoulders advantage as
this. But put him down at a hundred and eighty or any less number of
yards from the hole, and there was no player, amateur or professional,
better than he. Perhaps there was no amateur as good. His weakness was
out of bunkers and rough ground, but that was a weakness which troubled
him little because he very seldom got into these difficulties. I hardly
know whether he would have won our championship if Ted Blackwell and the
aluminium putter had been introduced to each other a few years earlier;
but it is no use arguing about "ifs." As soon as he had won that final,
the price of Schenectady putters went up a hundred per cent., and Bobby
Maxwell, by way of insult, made me a present of one of them, with which
I often putted till our legislation banned them.


[Footnote 8: Again I have to append the sad note, so often written, that
in the interval between the telling of this tale and its publication,
he, too, has been taken from the world of living men.]



The difference in the golfing condition of the America which I had last
visited in the early nineties and that to which I went again in 1910,
was striking, and not a little amusing. On that former visit I had given
an exhibition of golf to a few indifferent spectators at the Meadowbrook
Club on Long Island, on which they had reported that it "might be a good
game for Sunday"--conveying thereby a studied and profane insult both to
the game and to the day. On my return in 1910 I found an America even
more completely in the throes of golf than any portion of our native
islands. But on this visit my approach to the American courses was made
in an unconventional manner that is worth a word of notice.

Lord Brassey had asked my wife and myself to come with him, on the
_Sunbeam_, to Iceland, across the Atlantic to Newfoundland, and up the
Gulf of St. Lawrence. The first golfing place at which we put in, after
joining the yacht in the Cromarty Firth, was Dornoch, where is as
glorious a natural links as the soul of the golfer can desire or his
most industrious inquiry discover. The conformation of Iceland, chiefly
mountain, or plain strewn with lava-blocks, hardly seems to lend itself
kindly to golf; but on arrival, after many days, during some of them
rather storm-tossed, at St. John's, Newfoundland, we found there a golf
course, still a little in the rough, carved out of primeval pine forest,
of undulating surface, astonishingly good considering how new it was,
and promising to give really amusing and good golf of the inland type in
the future. Neil Shannon, a Troon man, is the professional, and I
astonished both myself and him by beating him.

The next point at which we touched golf was Tadousac, a watering-place
at the mouth of the famed Saguenay River which runs into the St.
Lawrence. It is the oldest fur-trading station in Canada. Here is a
short course, much _accidenté_, at two points traversing a deep ravine
which has real sand in it. There is a more elaborate and carefully kept
course at Murray Bay, a little further along the north shore of the St.

At Quebec, on the Heights of Abraham, in a magnificent situation, is one
of the oldest courses in North America. I was beaten by a putt by the
better ball of two of the native golfers, Mr. Ash and Mr. McGreevy.

Noble hospitality was shown us, both in Canada and in the States.
Scarcely could one be permitted so much as to pay for one's own caddie,
and any question of green fees was dismissed as quite out of the

We sailed up to Montreal on the night of August 12th, and on the 15th I
find the following note in my diary: "Mr. Huntley Drummond took me
around in his car, after luncheon, to the Bank of Montreal, where we
picked up Mr. W. Clouston, and went out to the Beaconsfield course--not
at all a bad green, of the inland type, flat in general, but with the
club-house set on a hill from which most of the course is overlooked.
They do themselves very well in the matter of club-houses in this
country--most commodious, with bathrooms and all kinds of luxuries." On
the following day I played on the Dixie course, also quite near
Montreal, "a really good one--inland in its type, as all are over here,
but interesting and varied and very pretty at a certain corner where
much use is made of a stream, with weeping willows, and so on. There is
one respect in which the architects of the course might have been more
clever, for they have so ordained things that all the hazards are on the
left, all the penalty is for the pulled ball, and a man may slice and
slice to his heart's full content, and never suffer. The turf and the
greens are very good, and the butterflies and grasshoppers very
numerous, and large and splendid of hue."

At Montreal we said good-bye, with many tears, to the _Sunbeam_ and her
host, and made our next stop at Toronto, where are two excellent
courses. On August 19th I find in my diary that "self and A.E. Austin
beat Lyon and Breckenridge on the Lambton course." This Lyon is that Mr.
George Lyon whom we have seen over here competing in our amateur
championship. He has not done himself justice on this side, for he is a
very fine player. He has won the Canadian championship often--precisely
how often, I forget. "Lambton Golf Club very comfortable," my notes
record, "piano set out on balcony, lawn tennis court and all
'amenities.' Beautiful view of course from house--natural sand in
bunkers--very pretty, with woodland, water and undulating open country.
The course is laid on several big levels in terraces. You play across a
stream again and again--it is no course for non-floating balls. Some of
the greens are irrigated by sub-surface pipes from the stream, leading
to porous tiles, from which the hot sun sucks up the water to the
surface. I saw a thing this day that I never saw before--played a ball
up to a hole that had the flag standing in it; the ball jumped up,
wrapped itself up in the flag, and stayed there swaddled up in the flag.
Query--what is the rule that meets the case?"

The next day I played with Mr. Edgar on the Toronto Club's course, but
this is being given up to the builders, and the Club is moving to a
course further out along the lake. There is a third course, also, for
the Toronto folk--Rosedale--which is well spoken of. On the whole I was
very much struck with the quality of these Canadian courses of which we
hear but little over here. Among inland courses they take a very high

Thence we went on by night, a sixteen hours' journey to Boston, where
Charlie Macdonald, the creator of the National Golf Links of America,
met us. Immediately on arrival we started out for the Myopia Club, where
Macdonald and I beat T. Stephenson and Leeds. The last is the
constructor of the Myopia course, and for its construction deserves no
little credit. From what I have seen of American courses I put the
National Golf Links first and this Myopia second, a very good second.
The National is that much-talked-of course of which it was said that it
was to be composed of replicas of the eighteen best holes that its
creator could anywhere discover, and he journeyed over all the courses
in Europe discovering them. My notes on Myopia course run: "fine inland
course--rather many blind shots" (but some of these, I know, have been
eliminated), "steeply undulating, sloping greens, no trees--good test
of golf, long and trying. Record in competition 75."

My next golfing note touches the Brookline course. "Went out in
Willett's car to Brookline, the County Club. This is a tree-y course,
like New Zealand, really good, good greens, well bunkered, a trifle on
the short side, but full of interest. At all the American Clubs great
care is taken in bunkering the courses." This last note is worth
attention, because I see it is a comment of Vardon, after his visit in
which he and Ray had to lower the British flag to Mr. Ouimet, that the
bunkers on the American courses were not severe enough. But he did not
see the National Links. That would have satisfied even his passion for

My notes continue: "Lunched at Brookline, then motored thirty miles to
Essex Club, where Charlie MacDonald and I again beat, as we had already
beaten in the morning at Brookline, T. Stephenson and Willett. The
course tree-y, like Brookline, with great hills here and there. Natural
sand in the bunkers--a fine course. Rather in transition state, as I saw
it, but with all the making of a good thing."

I see that I was at Myopia again on the 23rd, when Charlie MacDonald and
I again beat Stephenson and Leeds. In the afternoon we went to see Mr.
Fricks' grand collection of pictures at his house on North Shore--a fine
sight, though "not golf." But there was little rest from golf when we
arrived, at 3 p.m. on the 24th, in New York, very hot and dusty.
Macdonald motored us out to his house at Rosslyn and then took me for a
round at Garden City in the evening, where I beat him in a single.
"Course very brown and baked," according to my diary, "but quite long,
and putting greens good. Rather ugly surroundings, but fine test of
golf. No trees as hazards, except a line of them on right of the 17th,
which is a very good hole. The finish is to a short hole over a pond.
Doubtless a good course, but not very inspiring."

On the 25th I see that "Charles Macdonald and self played F. Herreshoff
and L. Livingstone, at Garden City, in morning, but lost by a hole, and
in the afternoon Herreshoff and self played our better ball against the
best ball of C. Macdonald, L. Livingstone and R. Watson, but lost by a
hole again." I have a note appended to this day's golf: "Never played
worse--eyes bad with heat and motoring."

I may break off here to give a hint to the British golfer visiting the
States. I doubtless got a little "touch of the sun" on this day at
Garden City, and it is a thing that the Briton coming fresh to American
golf has to be very carefully on his guard against. He is menaced,
really, by three dangers--the blaze and glare of the sun, the abounding
energy of the native golfers and their abounding hospitality. Between
the three he is in much peril of being overdone, as I quickly was. I
played golf on various courses afterwards--on the Shinnecock Hills,
finely undulating, but too short and with too many blind shots, where
natural advantages have not been turned to the best possible account; at
Easthampton, where, for two holes, you actually find yourself among real
seaside sand dunes (unhappily this blessed dispensation does not last);
on the National Links, of which I have already noted my high
appreciation; at Baltusrol, very tree-y and very hilly, but a good,
interesting course, and others too many to name.

Their witness suffices. It suffices to show the zeal and kindness of
your American hosts in taking you vast distances to play on many
courses. It shows the vengeance that golf has taken on them for that
comment on it of a quarter of a century ago when I exhibited to them
some feeble sample of it and they said that it might do "for Sundays."
There are men in America now who will play golf even on a week-day. In
fact golf is, with many, the real interest of their lives. They do a bit
of work, no doubt, urged by the painful necessity of earning a
livelihood, but there are many whom their work does not grip. A quarter
of a century ago the business men of New York talked dollars: to-day
they talk golf. It is a very sanitary change. And not only will they
talk golf, but they will spend money on it. The care that they take of
their putting greens would hardly be credited, without being seen. It is
not enough for them that the turf shall all be of grass, with no blend
of weeds: it is demanded that it shall be all of one variety of grass,
and that variety the finest. The National Golf Links has not only every
green watered; it is watered all through the green, from extensive
sprinklers kept going all night long in the dry weather.



I did not see the finish of the amateur championship of 1905 when Gordon
Barry beat Osmond Scott, but I understand what the moral of that match
was--that indiarubber handles are not good things for a soaking wet day.
We have had one or two terrible soakers for the finish of the amateur
championship, and for the open championship too, in the last few years.
The worst that ever I saw was that in which Johnny Ball beat Palmer in
1907 at St. Andrews. Almost the whole links was water-logged, it had
been raining during most of the week. Johnny Laidlay prophesied that the
man who would win the championship would be the man that had most
changes of clothes, for one got wet through every round. I do not know
how many changes Johnny Ball had, but I do know that he looked dead beat
both in the semi-final and in the anti-penultimate heats, and that
anybody else would have been beaten. It was only his wonderful
match-play ability that took him through. He was not playing at all
well, in spite of his win. In the final it never looked for a moment as
if he could fail to win, and his greater power, in weather like that,
gave Palmer, who was his opponent, mighty little chance with him. After
that, to commemorate his sixth amateur championship, the Royal and
Ancient Club did itself honour by electing him an honorary member. But
he was far from having finished with the championship even then; and I
much doubt whether he has finished even now.

One of the interesting features of recent golfing story is the rise of
fine players of the working-men class in England, as well as in
Scotland, and at Ashdown Forest, where I lived for some years, the
Cantelupe Club, and especially the great golfing family of Mitchell, has
become famous. They became famous even before one of the family, Abe,
rather took a big share of fame to himself. I had a cousin, Tom
Mitchell, in my garden, who was nearly as good as Abe, and when I had a
golfing guest staying with me and did not want to play golf myself, I
used to say, "There's a boy in the garden will give you something of a
game, if you do not mind playing with him." That guest always came back
from his game in a very chastened frame of mind. Abe Mitchell chiefly
made good his name by fine play in the amateur championship, and most of
all in that of 1912, when the tournament was played for the first time
at Westward Ho! That is the last of its kind that I attended, and I had
to go to that because it was on my own old home course. I drew Denys
Scott to start with, and I am afraid neither of us played very faultless
golf. But he redeemed the match by some very fine runs up with his
aluminium putter, and beat me.

One of the episodes of the match was that the poor "Old Mole" came out
to watch it, bringing with him a small pack of whippet dogs which danced
about us as we played, to the exasperation of tried nerves. I have
already paid due honour to the great work that he did in early days for
English golf, and it is only while these pages were in course of writing
that his death happened, where so much of his life had been passed, at
Westward Ho!

Johnny Ball won his eighth championship at this Westward Ho! meeting,
and his final opponent was Abe Mitchell. I was referee and saw the whole
of that match. Johnny had only escaped by the skin of his teeth, and by
his imperturbable match-playing ability, from the hands of Mr. Bond, in
an earlier heat. Mr. Bond had been five up, no less, and eight to play.
And then he drank a bottle of ginger-beer, and never did a hole in the
right number afterwards. But it is all to Johnny Ball's credit, and just
like him, that even when his fortunes were thus apparently desperate he
never did despair. He, for his part, went on doing the holes in the
right number (which was more than he had done on the way out, when he
lost five holes), and won at the nineteenth after a halved round.

Abe Mitchell was not hitting the ball at his hardest in the match with
Johnny, but both played well. In the afternoon it came on to pelt with
rain, which suited Johnny, but Abe did not mind it either. The match
stood all square with three to play and Abe laid Johnny what looked like
a very dead stymie at the sixteenth, but Johnny somehow got round it.
Abe won the seventeenth, thus making himself dormy, and both were on the
last green with two shots each. Johnny holed out in two putts, Abe just
failed to do so. Then they halved the thirty-seventh hole--not with
quite blameless golf on either side--and at the thirty-eighth Abe topped
his tee shot heavily, and that was the end of it.

I regret to say that I did not go to Muirfield in 1909; for they had one
of the finest finishes there of any championship. Cecil Hutchison was a
hole up and two to play in the final against Bobby Maxwell: he did the
last two holes in four and five, and the last on that day was very hard
to reach in two. We may almost say that he did both in the right number.
Yet he lost both, and therewith the championship, to Bobby, who did them
in three and four. The three was scarcely human.

It is not very easy to find a man who, all through his golfing time, has
delighted more in the storms and the rain than Johnny Ball, but I
believe there is one--that same who came as a little flaxen-haired boy
to our house at Northam--J.H. Taylor. He is open champion, for the fifth
time, as I write, and he won that championship at Hoylake in weather as
villainous, especially on the second day, as any that has generally been
served out to us for the finals of the amateur championship. One cannot
say worse of it. He had a stroke or so in hand, of the whole of his
field, at the start of that second day, but the curious thing is that
when the rest of the professors saw what kind of day it was, they never
doubted that Taylor would win. He has a mastery over the ball in these
circumstances, both in the drive and in his low and heavily cut
approaches, that none other can rival--not even Vardon nor Braid

In respect of these more recent years I find that my reminiscences begin
to deal more and more with things I have seen and less with things I
have done--which is as much as to say that they must begin to lose the
vivid personal touch. In 1908 the Royal and Ancient Club did me the high
honour to elect me, first of Englishmen, as their Captain. As one of my
wife's relations was good enough to say--"I'm glad they've made Horace
that--it will look so well in his obituary notice." So it will; but I
hope not yet. I had great ambitions to win the medal on the day that I
struck off the ball whereby I played myself in as Captain, but though I
contrived to hit that ball, and actually to hit it into the air, I was
not well enough to take part in the medal play. In the winter of 1909 a
little party of us--Tony Fairlie, Charles Hutchings and myself had been
at Westward Ho! I had not seen the course for seven years, and it struck
us all, with one accord, as the finest thing in golf (did we make
reservation in St. Andrews' favour? I hardly think so) that we had ever
seen. And during that visit I had played better than I had played for
years and years before. I was in great delight and really had visions of
a renewed youth and of having "got it back." And then returning home, I
caught the worst go of influenza that I ever have had, which is a great
deal to say, and never played golf properly again.

At the moment of writing it is most unlikely, according to all the
doctors say, that I shall ever play, properly or improperly, again; but
it would not do for me to grumble. I have had a very full and pleasant
golfing day--much interrupted, it is true, by illness, but still as
extensive as a reasonable man could ask. And if all active part in the
game is to be denied in the future, at all events I can still take
interest undiminished in the work and play of others. Golf is not only
the best of games to play: it is also, in many respects, the best to
look on at. You cannot sit still, it is true, in the comfort of the
pavilion, nor are aeroplanes as yet fitted with silencers so efficient
that a match can be watched from them without discomposure of the
golfer's nerves, but in the very fact that you must walk, and even run,
if you are to see much of the game--such a meteor as Duncan is not to
be caught without much sprinting--there are compensations. Watching a
modern golf match means a good deal of healthful exercise and produces a
more hearty appetite than sitting in the pavilion at Lords. As for the
rival merits of the games, I need not raise so vexatious a question now
at the very finish of the long round which the reader may have been
patient enough to endure with me. Let it suffice to say that, whatever
other games may be, golf is good enough. If golf, taken sanely and
considered in all its various aspects, fails to satisfy us, we must be
hard to please; and I will ask you to note, as one of the aspects worth
considering, the very striking growth of the game in favour during the
half-century over which this record runs.

So the last stroke is played.

Or is it, of a certainty, the last stroke after all?

That is a question which at once is raised--not fancifully, but in all
seriousness--if we are to place any credence whatever on such
revelations as, for instance, Sir Oliver Lodge gives us in _Raymond_, as
we have in _Claud's Book_--Claud actually states that he has been
golfing--or as Sir Conan Doyle strenuously affirms to be proven true to
his satisfaction. If any one of these even so much as approximate to the
fact, in regard to that world to which we go after death, it must then
be evident that it is a world so like that in which we live and labour
and play golf for our relaxation now, that it is impossible but to think
that there must be something of the nature of the same pastime in that
"beyond." Such revelations, if we attach value to them at all,
inevitably carry the inference that we shall there find golf, together
with other conditions not widely different from those that we have
known on earth--not any "fancy" golf on illimitable Elysian Fields, with
never a bad lie on the whole immense, monotonous expanse, but real golf,
difficult golf, golf with bunkers and all incidental troubles to be
overcome--not without vexation of spirit--golf in which (for we cannot
presume an infinity of halved matches), one or other player will be

So it may be. It needs at least equal boldness to deny it as to affirm
it. And, if it be so, arises then the further question: "Will those who
are champions now, be champions then? Are we to carry on, into that
beyond, any portion of the skill acquired so painfully here below? Will
Harry Vardon still be, golfily speaking, Harry Vardon there?"

It scarcely seems an equitable prospect. Have we not more reason, and
even some high authority, to suppose that the blessed law of
compensation will be in operation: that the first here will be the last
there, and the eighteen-handicap man, now the scratch player, or better,
of that bright future?

This is the vision splendid, for the many--on which they may gratefully
close the page.

_Printed in Great Britain by_ Butler & Tanner, _Frome and London_.





_The "Country Life" Library_



Collected and written by command of Their Majesties QUEEN VICTORIA, KING


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Windsor Castle stands alone among the buildings of Great Britain. It is
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