Slow Play – Even In the Old Days of Golf

Take From the LA84 Foundation's Digital Archives

Take From the LA84 Foundation's Digital Archives

The cartoon is from the September 1913 issue of The American Golfer. The related story centers on the slow play of a talented young American amateur named Heinrich Schmidt, from Worcester, MA, who lost to Harold Hilton in the sixth round of the 1913 British Amateur Championship at St. Andrews. Here is how the article describes the characteristics of Schmidt’s play,

…his deliberative methods anterior to making the making of a shot, the painstaking care in sizing up the situation before selecting the particular club requisite for the stroke, the practice swings indulged in through the green and the same scrupulous care, only very much more so, when the sacred precincts of the putting -green were reached.

Later in the article, the writer admits that the British critics have a point,

Our players generally are painfully slow, even in friendly matches, aggravated ten-fold in competition.

Earlier still, in the December 1901 issue of the magazine Golf, an anonymous poet succinctly and most colorfully describes his attitude towards slow play,


A malison[curse] upon the man who thinks by taking thought
That he can lengthen out his drive or hole the putt that’s short.
Upon each separate blade of grass he meditates eternally,
Awhile the field upon him wait and objurgate [castigate] infernally.

Reginald Arkell (1882-1959) was a British script writer and comic novelist who wrote many musical plays for the London theatre. He was also a poet who published a book called Playing the Games in 1935 (London: Herbert Jenkins Limited). And presumably Mr. Arkell was also a restive  golfer as his poem, A Public Nuisance, makes clear.

A Public Nuisance

You know the fellow,
I have no doubt,
Who stands and waggles
His club about.

Empires crumble
And crowns decay:
Kings and Communists
Pass away.

Dictators rise
And Dictators fall—
But still he stands
Addressing his ball.

Arkell seems to be describing a tardy golfer, but then again he could have been characterizing a lame political leader of the time. Any thoughts?



  1. Hello, from a new fan of your blog! I like the old cartoon – what’s shocking to me is that they’re complaining about a 3 hour round. I’d give anything for a 3 hour round! Hell, I’m happy with a 4 hour round.

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