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Friday, 15 January 2016

Bobby Jones on Throwing Clubs

There was a time when I would let myself get mad as hell on the golf course.  Unfortunately, I have a temper.  It isn't easily roused, but once it is, look out.  Time, life, and golf have pretty much beaten me down to where I rarely permit myself to get angry on the golf course, or anywhere else for that matter.  I figure, at the end of the day, I'm not really good enough to get angry on the golf course anyway.

Occasionally, I must confess, I toss the odd club when playing alone, or with my long-suffering wife who inevitably gives me "the look," and says, "If you can't have fun, stop playing."  She just doesn't get it.

Bobby Jones had a temper.  When he went to compete in his first national open championship as a fresh-faced fourteen year old, that temper was on display, and he received some criticism about it.  I was reading Down the Fairway, and I couldn't resist sharing Bobby's writing about his "bad boy" days.  He wrote:

  "It's sort of hard to explain, unless you play golf yourself, and have a temper.  You see, I never lost my temper with an opponent.  I was angry only with myself.  It always seemed, and it seems today, such an utterly useless and idiotic thing to stand up to a perfectly simple shot, one that I know I can make a hundred times running without a miss--and then mess up the blamed thing, the one time I want to make it!  And it's gone forever--an irrevocable crime, that stroke.... I think it was Stevenson that said that bad men and fools eventually got what was coming to them, but fools first.  And when you feel so extremely a fool, and a bad golfer to boot, what the deuce can you do, except throw the club away?....
Well, well--Chick Evans, writing years later, said I had conquered my temper not wisely but too well; that a flare now and then would help me.  I liked that of Chick.  But I could have told him I get just as mad today.  I stopped club-throwing in public, but the lectures didn't stop coincidentally.  A bad name sticks...
  Well, well--I don't throw clubs any more, in public, though once in a while I let one fly, in a little friendly round with Dad and Chick Ridley, and Tess Bradshaw--and get a great deal of relief from it, too, if you want the truth."

He was some character, that Bobby Jones.  If you get a chance, read Down the Fairway.  It's a gem.