Suppose you lived in Orlando and wanted send Tiger off to the 2009 President’s Cup matches. Chances are you would not have known where to go or when. Things were different 95 years ago.
If you lived in Boston and the date was March 29, 1914, then in the late afternoon you might have decided to go down to the harbor where the steamship Lapland was docked. You’d have gone there to wave goodbye to Francis Ouimet, the current U.S. Open champion, who was off to England for the Amateur and Open championships. At the dock you would have been “surrounded by a hundred and more golfers who risked the loss of a good Sunday dinner in order to be on hand and give a rousing cheer when the ocean liner started on its way across the deep.”
The quote is from an article in the May 1914 issue of Golf Illustrated. Also included is a song about Ouimet written by “the golf poet-laureate of Boston, Joseph A. Campbell…” that a few of his friends might have sang on board ship before it sailed.
Oh! He wasn’t known in Europe till last Fall,
But they know him now in far off Hindustan,
In Bombay, in Baroda, in Bengal
He’s known to ev’ry blooming Englishman.
He had read about this Vardon and of Ray,
But they didn’t seem to feaze the lad at all,
He just simply kept on playing,
Did not mind what folks were saying,
And proved himself the topper of them all.
Oh! Francis, Francis Ouimet,
You’re a golfer through and through,
You rose to the occasion
When our last hope was in you;
May your good luck never fail you,
May your shots be always true,
God bless you, Francis Ouimet,
All our caps we doff to you.
Oh! He’s always on the job when Duty calls,
He’s the golfing pride and glory of the Hub,
He’s modest and his modesty enthralls,
And a deadly shot he is whate’er the club.
He knows we like to hear the Lion roar,
And to see the knots a’tying in his tail
And Johnny Bull he’ll show once more
What he showed him once before,
That the golfer who is best must prevail!
Ouimet along with his sailing partner Arthur G. Lockwood, 1903,1905 and 1906 Massachusetts State Amateur Champion, landed in Dover, England on April 6th. Unfortunately, both golfers faired poorly at both the British Amateur and Open. Ouimet would later write in his book, A Game of Golf, first published in 1932, “My trip to England was a horrible failure from the competitive point of view…” (p. 62)
So neither the golf trip nor the song turned out to be memorable. But had you been at the dock, you would have had a good story to tell.
(Note: After Francis Ouimet returned to the U.S. , he did win the 1914 Amateur Championship, becoming the first career winner of both the U.S. Open and Amateur Championships.)