Insights from the Father of American Golf
It seems not a day passes when I don’t feel a little bit more “in tune” with life due to my love of
golf. I know it sounds corny and silly to some…but like I’ve mentioned in my previous writings,
perhaps those people aren’t in my target audience. Golf is magical to me, playing golf on a
well designed course enhances the magic inherent in the game, and once the game and the
honor it is intended to be played with begins to blend into your everyday life, then your life
begins to be transformed for the better. And that all begins when you commit everything you
have to the game.
With my entire life becoming bombarded with golf, I began to review the autobiography of
Charles Blair MacDonald. For those of you unfamiliar, CB MacDonald is considered by some
to be the Father of American golf. He was exposed to golf in St. Andrews in 1872 at the age of
16, brought the principles of the game back to the United States, become a founding member
of the USGA, the winner of the inaugural US Amateur, and became one of the greatest golf
course architects that ever walked the face of the planet. It is my opinion that without his
influence, the game of golf as we know it would not have developed nearly as much as it has.
And, therefore, we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
Nevertheless the point of this quick blurb is that upon reviewing the notes which I took during
my first reading of the book, I found a passage that I found to be quite profound and spot on in
regards to how I view the game and due to it perhaps I have the delusional belief that Mr.
MacDonald and I are kindred spirits in relation to golf. Anyway, here it is and it starts with CB
MacDonald talking about the great Bobby Jones…
“Bobby Jones says that his first win in a U.S.G.A championship was at Inwood in 1923. In the
previous seven years he had played in eleven national championships and never won one. He
states that he became discouraged, but…learned how to control himself…overcoming the
feeling that if he missed a shot it wasn’t necessary to throw his club…He says he still has this
feeling, but his only way of showing it is by becoming red behind the ears…After conquering
himself and winning the open in 1923, won five national championships in the next four years.
To attain self-knowledge there is no place more likely to give one an insight into his own
character and enable him to find himself than on the golf links, and there one should go
if he desires to acquire that knowledge of himself….”
Then he speaks about golf in general;
“Attempting to wholly posses (golf) is like attempting to square a circle, to capture
perpetual motion, or discover the fourth dimension. No one can teach you to control
yourself; it is a battle with yourself, you alone must conquer yourself.”
And then CB MacDonald goes on to quote Henry Chellew from the University of London;
“When walking up the fairway after the ball we are in Nature’s great scheme, out of doors,
giving rein to our pent-up energies and mental complexes. Indeed we endow our mind the
wings, uplift our hearts with the zest of the game, and expand our lungs with life giving
energies. This is…the wisdom of the Book of Life itself, wherein we drop the artificiality of the
life of the city, and we become awhile real human beings. Golf enables us to advance in the
great business of being a human being. The man who regards golf as a matter of “card and
pencil” is not a golfer at all, for he has lost his soul in arithmetic, whereas the true golfer puts
his soul into the game for the love of it, and not because it amounts to a mere matter of
mathematics as he wends his way back to the clubhouse.”
Frankly, I don’t think I can add anything more to those thoughts other than to say that is how I
feel as well. Golf is great for many reasons, but perhaps the greatest reason is that it is Golf.