Be a Happy Golfer; Just Play and Have Fun


Here is a list of golf books that you might consider to help you improve your game:

The Happy Golfer by H. Leach
Advanced Golf by J. Braid
How to Play Golf by H. Vardon
Golf Faults Illustrated by J. H. Taylor
Golf for the Late Beginner by Henry Hughes
The Golfer’s Pocket Tip Book by G. D. Fox
Modern Golf by P. A. Vaile
Success at Golf by H. Vardon, F. Ouimet, and others.

Though their titles look current, these books were included in an advertisement in the September 1914 issue of the magazine Golf/USGA Bulletin. The first golf instruction book published in the U.S., Golf in America: A Practical Manual, by James Lee, appeared in 1895.

 Of course, if instruction books don’t help enough, you can always take lessons from a Professional. And neither lessons or books will help much if you don’t practice. But then Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers tells us that 10,000 hours or more or practice are needed to excel. What to do?

 For a while, most of us keep buying books, taking lessons and practicing when we can. But at some point, the only thing to do is stop, clear your head, get up there and hit the ball.  

That’s what “The Duffer” talks about in an encore appearance:

           THAT GAME OF MINE

Will that game of mine ever come to me?
Will there come a blissful day
When I shall cease in the bunkers to flounder
And shall hit the ball away—

When the slice will be forgotten
And the pull a thing of the past—
When like land to a shipwrecked sailor
My game shall appear at last?

I know I’m the veriest duffer
But I cling to the splendid hope
That some distant day in the future
I shall hit on the happy dope

That will heal all my golfing distresses,
And turn all my sorrows to joy—
Yes I feel that the glad time is coming
When I’ll romp around the course like a boy.

When I’ve taken my last instruction
From the hundred and fiftieth pro’,
And have let the last book on the subject
Add its weight to my burden of woe—

Oh then perhaps I may reach it;
When from the theories at last I am free,
The game I have chased like a phantom
Shall smilingly come unto me. 

This poem appeared in the January 1915 issue of The American Golfer. “The Duffer,” who wrote the poem in last week’s Post as well, was a man named B. C. Tillinghast. He was, in fact, the father of the great American golf architect, prolific writer and accomplished amateur golfer, A. W. Tillinghast. Among Tillinghast’s 88 original designs are  Baltusrol’s Upper and Lower, Winged Foot’s East and West, and Bethpage Black, the site of next week’s United States Open Championship.

To further make the point about how far books will take you, consider the following eight lines, slightly edited from the original in The American Golfer:

He’d studied Taylor, Braid and Leach
      And all the scribbling pack,
And was in actual play a fraud,
     In theory a crack.

And so his caddie volunteered
     Words that were unkind:
“You ought to bring a bag a books,
     And leave your clubs behind.” 

Enough said.

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