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Friday, 15 January 2016

Bobby Jones on Smoking

There is nothing like a good smoke--especially on the golf course. I still smoke; having given it up for 25 years, I went back to it after a personal calamity, and have never really wanted to quit since. It's easy to quit if you actually want to.  If, in your heart, you don't truly want to quit, then spark one up, Johnny!  Trying to quit when you really don't want to is a waste of time.  And the cure is probably worse than the illness, with all the suffering you go through torturing yourself.  

Bobby Jones talked about smoking in his book, Down the Fairway.  He wrote:

  "I remember Perry (Adair) had a birthday at Ekwanok and got a pipe for a birthday present and smoked it; the first time he ever had smoked.  Gosh--he was sick!  And when I say sick, I mean sick as our British cousins mean sick, if you get what I mean.  We were rooming at a little cottage, and Mr. Scott and I thought Perry was awfully funny.  We jumped him from one bed to another, trying to make him snap out of it.... I wasn't smoking then.  I smoke a good deal now, and once in a while some golf writer takes a crack at me about it.  When Walter Hagen was giving me that beautiful lacing in Florida, one scribe said he went around the course with 71 strokes and I with 75 cigarettes.  Some people seem to think that's a bad idea.  I don't know.  I didn't smoke 75 cigarettes, of course.  But I do light a good many, in a hard round.  Light them, smoke them a bit, and throw them away.  It's something to do, and seems to release a little of the tension... It's easy to say cigarettes are bad for you.  But what about that stretching and stretching and stretching, inside your head?  It's easy to prove cigarettes are all wrong for you, physically.  But championship golf is played mainly between the ears.  If you don't smoke, I suppose you are better off--maybe.  If you do smoke, I'd say you were better off smoking, in a hard round.  I noticed Ted Ray is never without his pipe; and old Harry Vardon smokes pretty continuously."

My wife has pretty much accepted that I am probably not going to quit, but has made me smoke a pipe if I must smoke.  She can tolerate the smell of pipe tobacco.  I excuse myself by telling her I have the smoking gene.  I got it from my father, who was never happier than when he was having a smoke.  So, I say, hate the sin, not the sinner.  If it was good enough for Bobby Jones, my father, Ted Ray, and Harry Vardon, it's good enough for me.  

When I find myself up against it, playing Carl the Grinder for two bucks, I'll probably be smoking like I'm going to the chair.  That's just how it must be--at least for now.